L&S New Student Orientation – Advising Guide

Seven Steps to Registration success:
Step 1: Choose how many classes to take
Step 2: Learn about degree requirements
Step 3: Review/list course options
Step 4: Explore areas of interest
Step 5: Think about how you will plan your schedule
Step 6: Learn about using PAWS for Registration
Step 7: Understand what happens after orientation

If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed in this Advising Guide and you would like to discuss them prior to attending Registration, please feel free to contact your advisor via email. Find your advisor in your PAWS Account.

Step 1: Choose how many classes to take

If you are planning to attend UWM full-time, you will need to enroll in a minimum of 12 credits.

  • Most courses at UWM are 3 credits each.
  • A minimum full-time load is usually about four courses.
  • Most first semester freshmen take 12-16 credits.
  • A part-time student takes anywhere from 1-11 credits.

As you consider how many credits you want to take, think about how many hours you may need to devote to work and family responsibilities. Keep in mind that you should plan to study at least two hours per week for every credit you take.

  • Time commitment for 12 credits = at least 36 hours/week
  • 12 hours class time + 24 hours study time = 36 hours

Step 2: Learn about degree requirements

Many students enter UWM undecided about a major while some have already narrowed it down to a few options. Regardless of major, there are some courses that every student will need to take in order to earn a UWM degree. We recommend that first year students focus on their General Education Requirements and their Letters and Science Degree Requirements while exploring areas of interest.

The General Education Requirements (GERs) must be completed by all students at UWM regardless of their School or College. The GERs consist of competencies in oral and written communication, quantitative literacy, foreign language, and distribution requirements in the following areas: Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Cultural Diversity.

The L&S Degree Requirements must be completed by all students who select a major in the College of Letters and Science. You will see that there can be some overlap between the GERs and the L&S Degree Requirements. For example, all L&S courses approved for GER distribution areas in Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences will also count toward the Breadth Requirements in Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.

Don't worry if you find the GERs or L&S Degree Requirements confusing at first. We will be going over these requirements in detail during orientation. Just try to get familiar with them now so you will have a better understanding of course options.

Step 3: Review/list course options

Now look through the course options you have available to meet your general degree requirements.

As you will note on your Advising Worksheet, your advisor will fill in the appropriate courses for oral and written competency and quantitative literacy requirements when you come to registration. At this point, concentrate on choosing courses to meet your GER Distribution/L&S Breadth Requirements:

  • Five areas of GER distribution: Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science, Arts and Cultural Diversity.
  • All GER approved courses from L&S departments in the areas of Humanities, Social Science and Natural Science will count toward the same-titled Breadth area in the L&S Degree Requirements. There will be additional courses offered that only meet the Breadth Requirement and do not apply to the GER Distributions.
  • Some Distribution/Breadth courses also are designated to meet the International Requirement (Part B).
  • It is a good idea to take courses from at least two Distribution areas in your first year.
  • Some of the options on our Distribution/Breadth list are offered through our First-Year Seminar program. Seminar courses:
    • Are limited to no more than 20 freshmen
    • Focus on very specific, and sometimes unusual, topics
    • Count for a Distribution/Breadth
    • Provide students with the opportunity to work closely with an instructor and get to know other freshmen in their first semester at UWM

      Please visit First-Year Seminars for a complete listing of the seminars available for fall as well as detailed course descriptions and instructor biographies. Since these classes are small, they do fill quickly and not all seminars may still be available when you attend orientation. Please list two or three options on your Advising Worksheet (PDF) in case your first choice is full.

View the list of Distribution/Breadth Courses (PDF) offered this fall that are open to all freshmen (no prerequisites).

As you explore these lists, you can consult the Undergraduate Catalog for brief descriptions of these courses and the Timetable/Schedule of Classes for more information on the times these classes are offered, building locations, etc. After exploring the Distribution courses, please list at least five classes that interest you on your Advising Worksheet (PDF).

Step 4: Explore areas of interest

Beyond courses you can take that fulfill general Degree Requirements, think about what other areas you might wish to explore or other issues that are of concern to you.

  • Browse through all of the academic opportunities that are available to you at UWM and those in the College of Letters & Science.
  • Consider using the on-line resources of the Career Development Center to begin in-depth career and major exploration (the "Examine" and "Explore" links are usually the most helpful to freshmen).
  • If there are specific areas of interest or needs you would like to discuss further with an advisor, list them on your Advising Worksheet under "Other Courses/Areas of Interest."

Step 5: Think about how you will plan your schedule

When you log onto PAWS to complete your registration, you will be able to do a search of the courses you have selected to see the days and times they are available. You can then select any of the options you find. Some courses will fit into your schedule better than others. Most classes meet Monday/Wednesday/Friday (MWF) or Tuesday/Thursday (TR).

  • Do you want your classes scheduled over five days or less?
  • Would you prefer morning or afternoon classes?
  • Do you want your classes grouped together or spread out?
  • How will work or family commitments affect your course scheduling?

Start thinking through these things now and it will make it easier for you to make decisions about your schedule at orientation.

Step 6: Learn about using PAWS

Try to become a little bit familiar with the PAWS registration process, and make sure you know your e-Panther ID and password when you come to orientation. The following links provide information on these issues:

  • PAWS Tutorial. This site provides detailed information about PAWS registration functions and provides tips for troubleshooting.
  • e-Panther Account. Logging in here allows you to change your e-Panther password if you have forgotten.

Step 7: Understand what happens after orientation

When you leave orientation, your course schedule will be in place. However, since PAWS is a web-based program, you can make changes to your class schedule from off-campus during the summer if necessary.

  • Minor changes, such as changing your Sociology discussion class from 9:30 to 10:30, can be done on your own at any time.
  • Before making major changes, such as dropping your Humanities course to add a Nursing class, you should consult with an advisor.
  • Feel free to contact your advisor at any time over the course of the summer if you have questions or concerns.

We also encourage you to use the online resources of the Career Development Center to continue exploring majors and careers. The more time you spend evaluating your strengths, values and interests, the sooner you will be able to define your academic and career goals. We also suggest you visit this How College is Different from High School web site to learn more about college-level expectations.