Archives—June 2013

Getting ready for graduate school at Michigan Tech

If you are considering continuing with an advanced degree at Michigan Tech after graduation, the first step is applying through the Graduate School.  The admissions staff there can answer questions regarding the application process, requirements, and special programs.  You may apply to graduate school when you have junior class standing (60 earned credit hours).

  • The ME-EM department does offer an accelerated Master’s program which allows students to count up to 6 acceptable credits towards both the BS and MS degrees (double-counting).  Student must have a 3.25 cumulative GPA to qualify and declare their interest in this program when applying to grad school. The application to the accelerated masters program must be submitted prior to undergraduate graduation.  Inquire with the graduate school about which undergraduate credits may be acceptable to use for the MS degree.  Students may only pursue the accelerated BS/MS if they remain enrolled at Michigan Tech.  A student may not have a gap between graduation with the BS and commencement of the MS degree (a break over summer is fine however).  Students may be able to take advantage of the accelerated masters program even if both degrees are not in the same department (e.g. a BSME student might pursue an MS in biomedical engineering or an MBA). Direct inquires about programs and which credits may be acceptable to use for the MS degree to the Graduate School.
  • Students who have room in their schedules for extra courses in their last 1 or 2 semesters of undergraduate work may also consider applying extra credits towards an advanced degree via the Senior Rule.  These credits must be surplus to bachelor’s degree/minor requirements and will be placed onto a separate, graduate-level transcript.  These credits will then only count towards the advanced degree (not double counted with the BS).  Inquire with the graduate school about which credits may be acceptable to use for the MS degree and work with an undergraduate academic advisor to ensure the credits are not necessary for completion of the BSME.  Also, students should consult with Financial Aid if the placement of credits into the graduate level via senior rule will drive their undergraduate credits below 12 total for any semester.  Less than 12 undergraduate credits in a semester, even if it is your last undergraduate semester before graduation, can cause a loss of financial aid in some situations.

If you are thinking of graduate school/post-graduate education at another institution, you must contact that other school to get details on how to apply, required admissions testing (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc), program requirements, accelerated programs, use of senior rule credits, etc.



I am feeling stressed. What can I do?

Stressed? Many things happen during college life that can increase stress. Trying to balance everything – good academic performance, social life, family obligations, employment, activities, etc. – can be tough. First, understand and remember why you are here and keep reminding yourself of that (graduate, get into a desired career, self sufficient income, etc).  Second, remember you are here for yourself and not anyone else. Realizing that you choose to pursue this degree is an important factor in your success.  You do not have to be an ME student/at Michigan Tech/pursuing an engineering career/etc.  You are choosing to do these things and your daily choices need to support that long-term choice.

Why have I chosen to be here? Your goal may be something like this: To earn a nationally accredited mechanical engineering degree at one of the nation’s top engineering universities. To obtain a position with a successful company. To be financially viable and independent in your career.  Go on to earn a graduate degree, etc.  To accomplish long-term goals, you must set supporting short term goals for yourself (exam/project performance, course grades, semester GPAs, Dean’s List, 3.0 cumulative GPA, etc) and effectively work towards them.

  • Establish personal priorities that will allow you to perform well academically and meet your goals.
    • How do the daily and weekly choices you make affect the short and long term goals you have set for yourself?
    • If your friends want you to hang out, but you’ve got homework or a test, hang out another day.
    • If you are working too many hours, evaluate your need to work or consider reduced course loads and/or additional financial aid options.
    • If you are involved in too many organizations (including enterprise) or a leadership position that takes away time and hurts your grades; cut back, limit your hours, or postpone participation. You have your entire future to pursue your non-academic interests.
    • Are your expectations of the time commitments you expect from yourself realistic – especially also considering instructors’ expectations of you?
    • It is perfectly OK to graduate in 4.5 or 5 years.  How you perform and what you learn matters most, not how long it takes to earn the degree.  Employers typically don’t care how long it takes you to earn your degree.
  • Attend all your classes.
    • Research at the University of Michigan states that the most important factor for success in college is class attendance.
    • Don’t skip a class to catch up on sleep or to catch up in another class. This time is where you learn what you need to know in order to be successful on quizzes, homework, and tests, and where you should be achieving a deeper understanding of the course material.  Feeling the “need” to skip class for these other considerations is an indication of overall poor time management.
    • If you rely on just reading the textbook, you will miss out on important information or waste time on material that may not be included in the course.
    • However, pre-reading and previewing the assigned material before class times will make those class sessions more effective.
  • Get help when you need it.
    • If you are falling behind in any of your classes, see your instructor, a learning center coach (whenever available), and your academic advisor.  Form study group(s), especially for upper level courses that may not have learning center assistance available.  Utilization of these resources from the very beginning of a semester can also help prevent falling behind in the first place.
    • If you are feeling undue pressure from many/all areas of your life, are overwhelmed in any one aspect, feeling depressed or homesick, or having difficulty coping with anything at all; see an academic advisor or Counseling Services (see link below) right away and nip it in the bud. You have to watch out for yourself, have balance for a healthy lifestyle, and seek help if needed.
    • Also, for any difficulties with substance abuse – including alcohol – please contact an academic advisor or Counseling Services.
    • If your grades or midterm marks are low (or if you feel they will be), see your academic advisor early and often (in your academic career, in a semester, etc).  Keep track of your estimated grades throughout each semester so you realize when things are going well and when they are not, and to what degree.
  • Get your homework done (graded or ungraded), study for quizzes and exams, and work on project progress first. There will be plenty of time for fun after that.  If you reverse this priority your grades and your chance for success will suffer.  Your academics are your current full-time job and must be the top priority in your life in general.

Grades, probation, and suspension:
If you are getting/estimating low grades and/or bad midterm marks (1st-year students), see your academic advisor early on. Once you become a student on academic probation, it can be a very long and difficult process to get yourself back to good academic standing. If your grades do not improve and you have two bad semesters in a row (remaining an academic probation student), you may earn an academic suspension.  If you feel that you are doing the best you can, approaching your academics very seriously, and utilizing resources in a systematic way, but still are unable to get good or acceptable grades, you may want to consider whether or not you are in the right major.

Resources

Career Services offers a detailed career exploration guide called MyPlan.  This may be a very helpful process for you if you are considering a major change or are at least unsure of your current major.  Complete the MyPlan online and then make an appointment with Career Services to review the results with a staff member.  The Career Services web site and staff also offer many other services that are helpful for job searches (HuskyJobs), being prepared for Career Fairs, Career Fair information for each semester, etc.

Counseling Services offers academic and personal counseling and can connect you to resources beyond their on-campus presence if needed. Call 906.487.2538 or go to their offices on the 3rd floor of the Administration Building to make an appointment.  Please contact them ASAP if you are feeling overwhelmed, unable to focus on homework and studying for exams, experience test anxiety, are depressed, have other anxiety, have substance abuse issues, etc. Learn new study skills, coping strategies, and how to focus on what is important to you in order to reach your personal goals.

The Wahtera Center for Student Success offers academic skills development and mentoring/coaching, especially for new students.  If you feel that you are capable of doing well and are feeling good about being at Michigan Tech, but mostly just need some direction on how to approach your studies correctly, the Center for Student Success has programs that can help.  They can also connect you with more experienced students that can help you find your way here at Tech.

Student Disability Services is part of the Dean of Students (DOS) office.  If you have a diagnosed or possibly undiagnosed condition or learning disability, please contact this office to see how to handle your specific situation according to university policies.  You should also always contact DOS if you have to document any excused absences from classes (illness/injury, death in the family, etc).

Academic Approach

When you are in tough class(es) – and especially if anything is not going well – do not just give up.  Do you really want to ensure that you will have to take the class again? Seek help throughout the semester (starting right away in Week 1) and whenever you feel you need it.  See your instructors regularly and an academic advisor as necessary. Go to learning centers in a structured way.  Make regular weekly learning center appointments whenever possible. Even if you don’t feel you need this help, it can only help you improve your performance.

The ME Academic Success Exercises may be very helpful with learning better study habits and skills and understanding university and departmental policies.  These are available to all ME students. Feel free to complete all the exercises and make an appt with an academic advisor to review them.

Homework prepares you to be successful on quizzes and exams and may be collected and graded as well.  Whether it is collected and graded or not, you must do this work.  If you don’t understand how to do a problem, don’t accept that situation. See your instructor and/or a learning center coach. Do the problem over and over until you can do it yourself without error. Repetitive study – including homework – will help tremendously on exams.  As you move into the core ME curriculum, grading will become more and more based on exams for the most part, so exam performance is critical to your long-term success. Take interest in your subjects. One class is a building block for another, so it is important to do well in each and strive to truly learn the material in addition to earning a good grade.

Instructors: Your instructor wants you to succeed and robustly learn/retain the course material. He/she is not trying to trick you. Ask questions, learn how to learn and understand your contribution to the process. Explore the subject. Master the material. Instructors don’t ‘give’ grades, you earn grades. Our curriculum is challenging. Get help as soon as you need it (or before that with proactive use of resources). Know your instructor’s office hours and utilize them (or make alternate arrangements to meet with them).  If you have any difficulty in understanding any of your instructors, this is not an excuse to miss class or do poorly.  By seeing your instructor during office hours you should be able to communicate very effectively one-on-one. Your instructors are experts in their fields and enjoy teaching those who want to learn.  Also, if you ever must miss class for a legitimate reason (university travel, illness/injury, death in the family, etc) please communicate this directly to your instructors; in advance whenever possible.  Also document these absences with the Dean of Students office.


Transfer credits from other schools

Transfer Credits: If you choose to take classes elsewhere and transfer them to Michigan Tech, please follow the below procedure.  The Transfer Services web page has links for all the information you will need as referenced below.

  • First, choose courses that are an approved equivalent to Michigan Tech courses required for your degree.
  • To access a list of courses already approved for transfer, use the Michigan Tech Transfer Equivalency System.  This online system is also linked from the Transfer Services page.  It is organized by state and then by institution.  This is the system you should use for these equivalencies rather than transfer guides, etc from any other source.
  • Any courses with an equivalent course number shown on the Critical Creative Thinking (CCT) list or Social Responsibility & Ethical Reasoning list may be used for those requirements.  A course shown equivalent to HUFA 9000L may also be used for the CCT requirement.
  • For HASS courses, any course shown equivalent to a Michigan Tech course number on the current HASS list can, of course, be used.  Also any courses – regardless of subject – with an equivalent course number shown of 9300L (lower-level) or 9300U (upper-level) can be used to fulfill HASS requirements.  The 9300U can also satisfy 3000-level or higher HASS requirements.
  • Any course with an equivalency shown as PEA 9006 is usable as co-curricular activities units.  Most of these are 1 full unit equivalents, as opposed to 1/2 unit co-curricular courses that are typical when taken at Michigan Tech.
  • Equivalent transfer courses to both MA 2710 and MA 2720 are acceptable in place of MA 3710 for the BSME program.
  • If the course you want or need is NOT included in the transfer equivalency system, you can request to have it evaluated for transfer credit by sending the below information (usually included on a full syllabus) to Transfer Services:
  1. University or college name and location
  2. Course number, course title, and number of credits (note if credits are not on a standard semester system)
  3. A short catalog description is not enough information to evaluate a course for possible Michigan Tech credit. You must provide a syllabus.
  4. Textbook(s) used
  5. Detailed description of topics (not just outcomes) and grading system. At a minimum, the description of topics must include a week-by-week (class-by-class) breakdown of the topics/chapters covered.
  6. If all this information is available online, you can send the link(s) to transfer@mtu.edu. Allow several weeks for the course evaluation process to be completed by the appropriate Michigan Tech academic department.
  7. Before submitting a course for evaluation, please make sure that the course is being offered and you intend to take it. Please bear in mind that you will be subject to any prerequisites or restrictions in place at the transfer institution, as well as Michigan Tech pre-reqs, etc.
  • If you will be taking a class at another institution in the state of Michigan (regardless of your residency), fill out a Guest Student Application and submit it to Michigan Tech Transfer Services (application linked on Transfer Services page).  This will streamline the process of becoming a student at another college or university in Michigan.  Transfer Services must complete Part II on the application form (ME advisors cannot complete this).
  • Once admitted as a guest student, register for the course(s) at the other institution.
  • If a transfer course you are taking is a prerequisite for a course you plan to take in your next semester at Michigan Tech, notify Transfer Services of your registration and an in-session (IS) placeholder can be entered into Banner.  The IS will act as a pre-req to allow you to register for the next course(s) you need here at Tech.
  • Complete the transfer course(s).  Grades must be ‘C’ (2.00/4.00 or equivalent) or better to be accepted by Michigan Tech. For example, a grade of “C-” will not transfer.
  • How to complete transfer of credits to Michigan Tech:
    Request an official copy of your transcript be sent to Michigan Tech as soon as you have completed the course(s) and earned a ‘C’ or better.  This will not happen automatically.  You must make a transcript request with the institution where you have completed courses.  Official transcripts are sealed and must be sent to/received by Michigan Tech Transfer Services directly (electronically or otherwise) from other institutions. Do not request these transcripts to be sent to yourself, academic advisors, etc.  Earned transfer credits are not included in any GPA calculations, but can impact your GPAs if the transfer replaces a previous grade of ‘CD’, ‘D’. or ‘F’.  Removal of these poor grades for these calculations may cause GPAs to improve once transfer credits are entered. The earned grade at the transferring institution will not be used to calculate Michigan Tech GPAs.
  • Don’t plan too many transfers if you are planning to graduate within 2-3 semesters
    University policy at Michigan Tech for all students is that no more than 6 of the final 36 credits towards degree requirements (for each undergraduate degree completed) can be transfer credits from other institutions.  Stated in reverse, this means 30 of the last 36 credits to graduate must be Michigan Tech credits.  This requirement is counted from when the transfer credits are entered in banner here at Michigan Tech, so don’t delay on having transcripts sent.  Always get your transfer credits processed as soon as you have grades posted.
  • Study Abroad credits are not necessarily transfer credits
    Typically, study-abroad credits through sanctioned study-abroad programs are considered to be Michigan Tech credits and are normally graded as pass-fail according to minimum standards of grades that are earned while studying through those programs.  Contact International Programs and Services (IPS) for more information on study-abroad opportunities and the pre-departure process.  Courses will be evaluated and possibly approved as equivalent to Michigan Tech courses similarly to the syllabus submission process detailed above.  It is critical that you have all your study-abroad equivalencies pre-approved before leaving Michigan Tech and departing for that experience.

Study Abroad

If you are considering a study-abroad experience, the first thing you should do is contact International Programs and Services (IPS) by going to their offices on the 2nd floor of the Administration Building or attending one of their publicized information sessions.  Study abroad programs are available ranging from several weeks in the summer to a full semester to an entire year.

It is important that you clarify your goals for your study abroad experience according to these guidelines:

  • “I want to study abroad and I am not concerned about maintaining progress in my degree program(s) at Michigan Tech.”  No real limitations on the programs a student might choose.
  • “I want to study abroad and I want to complete some required credits, but will target general education (UN, HASS) or other common credits (math, chemistry, physics, free electives, co-curriculars).”  Most programs and international institutions will be able to support these kinds of course equivalencies.
  • “I want to study abroad and I want to complete required BSME core credits (ENG, MEEM, EC 3400, etc). I do not want the study abroad experience to extend the time to complete my degree at all”  This will limit your choices of international institutions/locations to those that offer engineering, or specifically mechanical engineering curricula.

Once you have identified a specific experience/location with IPS, it is then critical that you have all your study-abroad equivalent courses pre-approved before leaving Michigan Tech.  Typically, study-abroad credits though sanctioned study-abroad programs are considered to be Michigan Tech credits and are normally graded as pass-fail according to minimum standards of grades that are earned while studying through those programs.  Pass-fail graded courses are not included in Michigan Tech GPA calculations.  Contact IPS for more information on the pre-departure process.  Courses will be evaluated and possibly approved as equivalent to Michigan Tech courses similarly to the syllabus submission process detailed below.

Study abroad courses must be evaluated for equivalency to Michigan Tech courses by sending the below information to IPS (or an ME academic advisor for MEEM courses).

  1. University or college name and location (including country)
  2. Course number, course title, and number of credits (credits converted to U.S. standard semester credits if necessary, IPS can assist with credit conversions)
  3. Syllabus.  A short catalog description is not enough information to evaluate a course for possible Michigan Tech credit. You must provide a syllabus.
  4. Textbook(s) used (usually on the syllabus)
  5. Detailed description of topics and grading system (usually on the syllabus)
  6. If all this information is available online, you can send the link(s).
  7. Before submitting a course for evaluation, please make sure that the course is being offered and offered in a way that you are at least able to take it.  Do not submit evaluation requests for courses that you are not likely to take.
  • Once you have approved course(s) identified, an academic advisor will sign off your Course Planning Sheet (form from IPS) for individual MEEM courses and on your overall plan for credits to be attempted.
  • If a study abroad course you are taking is a pre-req for a course you plan to take in your next semester at Michigan Tech, notify IPS of your registration and an in-session (IS) placeholder can be entered into Banner.  The IS will act as a pre-req to allow you to register for the next course you need here at Tech.
  • When your study abroad is complete, request an official copy of your transcript be sent to Michigan Tech as soon as you have completed the course(s) and grades are posted.  This may not happen automatically.  You should make a transcript request from the institution where you have completed courses.  Official transcripts are sealed and must be received by Michigan Tech  directly from other institutions. Do not request these transcripts to be sent to yourself, academic advisors, etc.  Earned study abroad credits are not included in any GPA calculations, but can impact your GPAs if the credit replaces a grade of ‘CD’, ‘D’. or ‘F’ from a previous attempt here at Tech.  Removal of these poor grades for these calculations may cause GPAs to improve once study abroad credits are entered.
  • Please keep in mind that there are other international opportunities besides study abroad programs as well.  ME-EM senior capstone design has been offering projects in recent years that require travel to India and these projects are pre-arranged to meet your degree requirements.  I-Design through the Civil and Environmental Engineering department is a possibility as well, but will require pre-approval of the project content for ME students (see an academic advisor for details if you are interested in this and have attended an information session for I-Design).
  • Another option for senior design – which is a study abroad program – is a European Project Semester (EPS) that can possibly fulfill your senior design requirement, but again project pre-approval is required.  Contact IPS for the availability of these EPS experiences and an academic advisor for details of ME-EM department project approval.

Repeating Courses

One of the easiest ways to improve your GPA is by repeating courses, if you have any grades that are less than ‘C’ (‘CD, ‘D’, or ‘F’).

  • If you fail a required BSME course, you will have to repeat and pass the class to meet the degree requirement.  Even if a course is not required specifically, a repeat of a poor grade is probably warranted as well.  All current grades are included in GPA calculations regardless of course status as a degree required course or not.
  • Students may repeat a course no more than two times (3 total attempts allowed).  Special permission from your academic advisor, Financial Aid, the Dean of Students office is required to repeat a course a 2nd and final time (3rd attempt).  You may download the 3rd attempt form here.
  • Students may only repeat courses with a grade of CD or lower. Grades of ‘C’ or better are final.
  • The most recent grade is used in your GPA calculation even if it is lower than the previous grade (including failure after a previous passing grade and loss of credit).  Course attempts are repeats only if the exact same or equivalent (example: MA 1160 and MA 1161) course numbers are completed.  See an academic advisor if you believe you need a similar repeat (only applicable if a course is/was no longer offered after a poor grade in a course is earned, i.e. student did not have an opportunity to repeat).
  • You may transfer credit from another institution to replace a repeatable grade in a course as long as the requirements outlined in FAQ #5 are met. However, earned transfer credits are not included in any GPA calculations. Transfer replacements can impact your GPAs if the transfer replaces a previous grade of ‘CD’, ‘D’. or ‘F’.  Removal of poor grades from these calculations may cause GPAs to improve once transfer credits are entered. Please note once again, the repeatable grade is completely removed from the GPA calculation by the transfer, but the earned grade from the transferring institution will not be used to calculate Michigan Tech GPAs.
  • Prerequisite courses must be passed in order to continue to next course.  In most cases is is not advisable to move ahead in a course sequence if you have not earned a ‘C’ or better in a pre-req course, even though you may have passed the course.  Minimum GPAs are established that must be met in order to maintain good academic standing: University cumulative GPA ≥ 2.00, cumulative departmental GPA ≥ 2.00 (based on at least 16 credits, also required for graduation), current semester GPA ≥ 2.00.Concurrent pre-req courses may be taken at the same time.
  • Repeating courses may impact financial aid. Please visit the Student Financial Services Center to discuss a specific situation.

How to change your major or add a minor/concentration

Change major: Meet with your new advisor.  Advisors for each major are listed online.

  1. Find out the latest requirements for your proposed major from the department offering the major. See Degree Audits or go to the department website for flowcharts. Find out requirements for declaring your new major regarding GPA, probation status, etc.
  2. Some credits you’ve taken may be applied toward your new major – see the advisor for the new major to confirm your progress towards the new requirements and get any information on possible substitutions.
  3. Fill out a “Curriculum Add/Drop Form” to change your major. Take it to the new major advisor to be signed & processed.  Major changes made after Wednesday of the 2nd week of a semester will not be effective until the next semester.
  4. The new major advisor will handle all course enrollment issues and will register students and/or process waivers as appropriate.
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