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Advising FAQs

Student Advising Guidelines FAQs

  1. What is a “Major / Minor” and how do I make this choice?
  2. What is the CORE?
  3. What is the typical load for a freshman? Is there a minimum load?
  4. How do I change my major or minor?
  5. How do I change advisors?
  6. May I take a course next summer and transfer it back to OBU?
  7. What is pre-registration and when will it occur?
  8. How do I join the Honors Program?
  9. Is counseling available on campus?
  10. Is tutoring available on campus? 
  11. May I repeat a course?
  12. What is an incomplete?
  13. How do I check my GPA?
  14. How do I drop/add a class?
  15. I’m interested in studying abroad – how do I get started?
  16. How do I participate in music ensembles, applied music lessons, or theatre productions?


Other questions not addressed here?  Contact Doug Reed (reedd@obu.edu)


What is a “Major / Minor” and how do I make this choice?


Basically, your major is the field of study that you intend to pursue, and your minor is a secondary field of study. At OBU, a major will require at least 24 hours and as many as 40 hours of a given set of courses. A minor will require at least 18 hours from a given set of courses. Details are provided in the university's general catalog and your academic advisor can also provide information concerning the exact requirements for a given major or minor.

Choosing a major is an important decision. It will determine many of the courses that you will take, and it may also determine your career path after undergraduate school. You may be fortunate enough to know even before the first day of class what you want to major in and what kind of career you are seeking. However, many students do not know, or are not sure, and many students also change majors several times during their academic careers.

You will feel much better about your choice of major if you have made an informed decision based on reliable information. Begin by exploring possible careers and the kind of majors or minors that people have in those fields. Realize that there are many careers in which a multitude of different majors would provide sufficient preparation. Speak with your advisor, ask a librarian to help you find information, and visit with the director of Career Services. Once you have narrowed the list of possible majors, go back to your advisor and consider taking an introductory course in that discipline.

“What if I just don’t know what I want to major in?” If that is the case, be honest with your advisor. Your advisor will probably place you in CORE classes and allow you time to do the research described above. It is not unusual for freshmen to be undecided, but the longer you put off making a decision about a major and minor, the tougher it might be to graduate in eight semesters, especially in fields like music, science, education and some areas of business.

Finally, there are several majors that do not require a minor. For example, the Bachelor of Music degree does not require a minor.

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What is the Ouachita CORE?


The Ouachita CORE consists of 48 to 49 hours of courses required of all students at OBU, regardless of their majors or minors. The exact details are provided in the university's general catalog. In a few special cases, courses in your major may replace Ouachita CORE requirements.


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What is the typical course load for a freshman?  Is there a minimum load?


At OBU, the minimum degree requirements include 120 hours of credit. This is equivalent to eight semesters at 15 hours per semester. You must average 15 or more hours per semester to graduate in eight semesters. The “typical load” is hard to define for several reasons. First of all, some majors have more highly structured requirements, leaving very few options. Second, your educational background, your personal interests, and your ACT/SAT score are all important factors in determining the best course load for you.

You should discuss this with your advisor, remembering that your advisor knows the proper sequence of courses for the major and has access to your high school transcript as well as your ACT/SAT scores. Your goal should be to complete your first semester with a high GPA.  The challenge is not to overload or underload you. The information your advisor needs but does not have is how hard you are willing to work and how much self-discipline and motivation you possess.

The minimum full-time course load is 12 hours. Be aware that your financial aid status, academic scholarships, NCAA eligibility, and even your parents’ tax status and health insurance can be affected if you drop below a full-time load.


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How do I change my major or minor?


Changing your major only requires you to see your advisor or the dean’s secretary in the area of your new major. Changing your minor only requires that you tell your advisor. Your advisor will inform you regarding any deviations from this procedure.


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How do I change advisors?


Usually, a change in major requires a change in your academic advisor.  Advisors are assigned within majors so that you get the best information possible in that specific discipline. It is possible to change advisors without changing majors. You may do so by discussing the matter with the dean or the dean’s secretary in the area of your major. At OBU, we want you to work with the advisor of your choice.  If you would like to change advisors, we encourage you to do so.


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Can I take a course next summer and transfer it back to OBU?


Yes. Prior to your leaving campus in May, see your advisor about taking a course for the summer. You will be required to fill out a Course Substitution Form (available on your INFO portal, under "Forms") that must be approved by the department chair(s), your dean and the Registrar. Once approval is granted and you complete the course, you must request for an official transcript to be sent to the OBU Registrar’s office. The actual credit earned is determined by this official transcript from the institution where you take the course. Courses not approved in advance may or may not be accepted for specific course substitutions at OBU.


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What is pre-registration and when will it occur?


Pre-registration is usually scheduled for early November for the following spring semester and in late March or early April for the following fall semester. Incoming students are pre-registered during Early Registration (ER) sessions in April or by individual appointment between April and August.

In late October and after spring break, all faculty advisors will post appointment sheets on the door of their office. It is your responsibility to sign up for an appointment. Don’t forget about your appointment. You should prepare as much as possible so that you and your advisor can make the most of your time and get the courses you need to fulfill your degree requirements. Once you are a sophomore and have completed a degree plan, always bring a copy of your degree plan to your advising appointment.

In addition to scheduling, your advisor is a good resource for information. Advisors may know about summer jobs, internships and a variety of other opportunities that might be of interest to you.


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How do I join the Honors Program?

There are two ways to join the Carl Goodson Honors Program at OBU. The first way occurs at the beginning of the freshman year. All incoming freshmen with a 3.500 high school G.P.A. and a 28 or higher ACT are invited to join the Honors Program. The Honors Director will send these students a written invitation prior to course registration. Freshmen who choose to be a part of the Honors Program may sign up for CORE Honors courses during their first and second semesters. After the freshman year, students usually know whether they want to continue in the Honors Program. If students decide to leave the Honors Program, they may do so at any time by notifying the director.

The second way to join the Honors Program is to meet certain qualifications. After one semester in residence and the completion of 15 semester hours with a minimum G.P.A. of 3.500, the Honors Director will send qualifying freshmen and sophomores a written invitation. Those who choose to join should send the Honors Director a response by e-mail and two letters of recommendation from faculty members. The Honors Council, a committee of faculty representing each school of the university, evaluates these applicants. The Honors Director notifies students of their acceptance and opportunities.

For more information, see the Carl Goodson Honors Program site.


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Is counseling available on campus?

Yes. Counseling services are provided free of charge by the university counselor, Dan Jarboe, on the first floor of Evans Student Center. Office hours are 8:00–5:00, Monday through Friday. Appointments can be made by calling 245-5591, emailing jarboed@obu.edu or stopping by the office and setting up a scheduled time.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to stop by the counseling office and discuss any classroom difficulties and possible accommodations. Verification of a learning disability by the university counselor is required before accommodations will be made by course instructors.

Counseling services provided address but are not limited to students struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, sexual concerns, sexual identity, grief, adjustment difficulties, roommate problems, dating relationships, physical and sexual abuse, conflicts and divorce in a family, and alcohol and substance abuse. Premarital counseling is also provided for couples planning to get married.

Records are confidential with some exceptions that include a student in imminent danger of harming themselves or another person or where a minor is in a home and sexual abuse is occurring. Referrals are available for off campus counselors and treatment if long term counseling is necessary.


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Is tutoring available on campus?

Yes, tutoring for many classes is available. Contact the Academic Success Center, which is located in Lile Hall, Room 122. You might also visit with your advisor or the professor of the class in which you need assistance.


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May I repeat a course?


Students may repeat courses in which a D or F has been previously earned. The repeat will replace the D or F in the GPA. However, the original grade will still show on the transcript but will no longer count in the GPA.

If a student makes a D or F in a course here at OBU and wants to repeat it, it needs to be done here at OBU. If it is repeated somewhere else, the previous D or F will still remain in the OBU GPA.

A student can take a course the second time in which an A, B, or C was earned; however, it will not count as a repeat. Credit will be awarded only one time, but both grades will be counted in the GPA.

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What is an incomplete?


An incomplete ( I ) is given by an instructor when the student's required work is not completed. This is given at the discretion of the instructor only for a sufficient reason. A grade of "I" automatically becomes an F if not completed by the following semester (Fall & Spring) on the last day to drop a full semester course.


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How do I check my GPA?


There are several ways to do this. Perhaps the simplest and fastest way is to look it up on your password-protected Info Web Portal; all of your current academic information is listed here. Another way to get this information is to request an unofficial transcript from the Registrar’s office or from the Dean’s secretary of the school in which you are a major. Finally, you can ask your advisor to look it up for you at your pre-registration meeting.


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How do I drop/add a class?


The important part of this process is to pay attention to the deadlines! To accomplish either task, you begin by discussing this with your academic advisor. Your advisor will go over the pros and cons of this decision and how it might affect your degree plan, major or minor. The next step is to fill out the appropriate form, which can be found in your INFO portal under forms. Your advisor must sign the form. All of this must be accomplished by the deadlines which are posted in your Dean’s office. The ADD deadline is usually within the first week of classes. The DROP deadline is usually within the first 5 weeks of class.


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I’m interested in studying abroad.  How do I get started?


First, congratulations on asking a question about an experience that will prepare you to deal with the global realities of your day! Traveling and studying in another country will develop your academic and interpersonal skills in ways beyond anything you can imagine at this time. Trust the experience of your peers and professors, and make this a serious goal to achieve before you graduate.

Second, see the Daniel and Betty Jo Grant Center for International Education site to learn more about Ouachita's study abroad opportunities. You may also drop by the Grant Center's office on the first floor of Lile Hall.

Third, think about your plans to study abroad as early in your college career as possible. While you will probably find your junior year to be the ideal time to apply to study abroad, start giving thought to where you want to study in your freshman or sophomore year. The more flexibility you give yourself in your study abroad course selections, the better positioned you will be to take courses that are unique to the university of your choice.

Fourth, attend the fall chapel program and hear from students who have studied abroad.


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How do I participate in music ensembles, applied music lessons, or theatre productions?


Contact the School of Performing Arts for information about music ensembles, applied music lessons, and theatre productions. These activities are considered courses with academic credit. Therefore, your advisor may need to contact the School of Performing Arts to get the proper sequence number for these courses. Some of performing arts activities may also require an audition and/or interview.


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