Frequently Asked Questions about Academic Advising

Q: What should I do to prepare for NSO?
A: We encourage you to review any material previously sent to you prior to attending your New Student Orientation session. NSO marks the beginning of your college career, and we want you to take charge of your college education from day one! We suggest bringing a folder with all of the information you have received from UWM. As you progress through your time at UWM, add advising information to this folder.

Q: How do I get an advisor?
A: UWM students are assigned an academic advisor based on their intended major. UWM is broken down into several schools and colleges, so you will be assigned an advisor in the school or college that your major is in.

Q: What can I expect from my advising session at New Student Orientation?
A: At New Student Orientation you will have the opportunity to meet with an advisor from your school or college. You will learn about degree and major requirements and register for classes. All students will learn about graduation requirements and leave orientation with a course schedule in hand.

Q: What if I have questions after orientation? How do I make an appointment to see my advisor?
A: Each School and College at UWM has its own advising office.

Q: What is a typical schedule for a new student at UWM?
A: We recommend new students to register for 12 to 16 credits, depending on a few factors. A student’s intended major and outside responsibilities may impact the number of credits he or she may want to take during the first semester. Having a lower credit load during the first semester will help students as they make the transition from high school to college. During college, students spend less time in class than they did in high school; however, it is expected students will spend approximately 2-3 hours studying outside of class for every hour spent in class.

Q. How do I get the results of my placement tests? What do the scores mean?
A: An academic advisor will discuss your placement test results with you at NSO.

The University of Wisconsin Placement Tests are designed for the sole purpose of placing students into college level courses. The questions on the placement tests are specifically selected with this single purpose in mind. The tests are not intended to measure everything that is learned in high school. Nor are the tests designed to compare students from one high school with students from another or to measure success in college-level courses.

Q: How should I prepare for Placement Tests?
A: All new students will be required to take placement tests in English and Math; some students will want to take additional tests in chemistry and/or foreign language. Placement tests will be your first academic interaction with UWM and will set the tone for your academic experience; testing should be taken seriously. A low placement in math may affect your ability to register for required courses in the fall.

Please use the following resources in preparation for your placement test:

  • Visit the UWM testing website to find sample questions in English and math.
  • Visit the on-line Early Math Placement Test (EMPT)
  • Visit which is a free online ACT/SAT test prep site.
  • Review the contents of your high school courses. Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers if you may borrow books or materials from previous courses.
  • Complete sections of any of the ACT or SAT preparation books.
Q: I took IB/AP courses in high school; will the credit transfer to UWM?
A: In order to receive AP credit at UWM, you must take the AP/IB exam and earn the appropriate score. The score you receive will determine if UWM credit will be granted. You must also have your official scores sent to UWM from the College Board or International Baccalaureate Organization. More information about this can be found at College Credits You Can Earn While in High School.

Q: I want to change my major, what should I do?
A: The process for changing your major or program of study is dependent on specific program criteria and space availability. If you have not yet registered for New Student Orientation, you will be given the opportunity to submit a program (major) change request when you sign up for New Student Orientation. If you attend New Student Testing at UWM, you can also request to change your major at that time. If you have already signed up for and/or attended New Student Orientation and have questions about changing your major, please contact the New Student Office at 414-229-5842.

Q: I am still undecided about a major, what should I do?
A: Choosing a major can be overwhelming for undecided new students. At UWM, there are many resources available to help you in the decision making process. We want you to take the time to try new things and explore the options that are available to you. Choosing a major is often a process that evolves over time. Talking with your advisor, mentor, career counselors at the Career Development Center, family, friends and faculty will help you eventually determine the path you wish to follow.

You can get started now by visiting the Career Development Center’s website where you will be connected to a number of very good resources. You are encouraged to look at the following section taken from the website. There you should be able to find some basic information to get you started in this process.

A good way to get started on exploring major and careers is to enroll in the course “Educational Psychology 101 – Planning Your Major & Career”. This two credit course will help you explore careers and majors that fit your interests, skills, and values.

Q: How do I find out about Study Abroad opportunities?
A: UWM offers many exciting study abroad opportunities. The Center for International Education is dedicated to providing UWM students with high-quality, safe, and affordable international academic opportunities that allow them to develop knowledge and skills needed to become productive and successful members of the global community.

Q: Are there opportunities for new students to do research with faculty members?
A: The Office of Undergraduate Research has a variety of research opportunities available to students of all ages. New students may be eligible for a variety of undergraduate research opportunities. Through this office, students are paired with faculty members based on shared interests. There are a wide variety of research projects available, however, you must apply for the program. More information about research and the application process can be found on the Office of Undergraduate Research website.