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Congratulations on the completion of your student’s first semester at Gonzaga University!  Your student will be joining you around the family table soon.  Here are some topics that may come up over the Holiday break, and how you can help your student conquer some common first semester challenges:

  • Registration Woes: Spring semester is the first opportunity for your student to be in charge of choosing their own classes.  This academic freedom is not without stumbling blocks.  Many courses are full, but there is no need for panic yet!  Have your son/daughter try the following suggestions, if the course they need is full:
    • Clarify NEED versus WANT.  Encourage your student to be flexible in their course/instructor selection.  As first year students they have last pick of classes.  If their desired course is a NEED (usually only pertains to nursing, human physiology, special education, science and engineering majors in freshman years), then have your student pursue the following course of action:
      • Using a Course Authorization Form, see the Professor, Department Chair, and finally, Academic Advisor to get signed into closed courses.
      • No luck?  Go see the department chair and express concern, ask about waiting lists
      • Still don’t have a full schedule?  Off to the Dean’s Office!  Each College/School has its own Dean, so be sure your student knows where to go.  If not, ask Academic Services, advise@gonzaga.edu.
    • For all course needs and wants, encourage your student to keep checking Zagweb through the Holiday break.  Students will be making changes to their schedules now through January 21st, the last day to add courses to spring schedules.  The course your son/daughter is looking for, may open up.
    • Your student will have a full schedule before spring semester starts.  If he/she is struggling to do so, have him/her see their advisor, or visit Academic Services, for other course options and advice.
  • First Semester Grades: Your student can see his/her first semester grades on Zagweb shortly after Christmas. If you wish to see grades as well, ask your son/daughter to log on and show you. You may also request grades be mailed to you by the University if a FERPA waiver is on file. To learn more about this Federal law, click here.  To have your student complete a waiver, click here.  Send completed waivers back to our office via e-mail, advise@gonzaga.edu or via fax, 509-313-4062.
    • Are the grades not what your student (or you) were expecting? The transition to college-level course work can be rocky, depending on your student’s level of preparation and study habits before their entrance into Gonzaga. Your student may be accustomed to A’s and B’s, and if they’ve set this as their standard, the grade reflecting their work here may be less than expected.  College-level work usually requires more effort on your student’s part. He/She may also need to re-evaluate their study habits.  What worked in high school may not be working now.
    • Encourage your student to engage in activities and seek resources for the spring semester that will help build confidence and academic success for future terms.  Some suggestions include signing up for an Academic Success Coach or peer tutor through the Tutoring for Academic Success Program.  Academic Coaches work with students on a variety of skills, including time management, study strategies, organization, and more.  For more information about these programs, please visit our website, www.gonzaga.edu/academicservices, and click on the links.
  • Was Gonzaga the Right Choice?:  It is not uncommon for students to have doubts about their college selection at the end of their first semester.  For some, they may have had a hard time connecting or finding their niche; others may feel lost academically after their first major doesn’t work out like they’d hoped.  Whatever the reason may be, please encourage your student to reach out to a University faculty or staff member.  There are many resources available to students to help them get connected, like the varied selection of Clubs & Organizations, University Ministry groups and retreats, and residence hall activities.  If your student doesn’t know who to ask, direct them to Crosby’s Student Activities Office or Information Desk.  Your student is also welcome in Academic Services, College Hall 326.  We can provide academic and referral resources for a myriad of opportunities across campus, as well as major discernment conversations.

Looking ahead to January:

A new year often brings about resolutions, and perhaps, your student could try something new in their academic world.  In January, we’ll provide you with a few ideas to share with your student, as well as provide you with the basics of spring semester, an academic calendar and finals schedule to plan your student’s trip home for breaks and the summer.  See you then!


  1. We really appreciate all the information, hints and advice from the Parent and Family Advisor; in fact, we look forward to it! We find the topics timely and helpful in keeping an on-going dialogue with our son. He too struggled making new friends and keeping busy at the start of the year. It has been fun to hear the cheerfulness in his voice when he calls home these days, as he is feeling very much “at home” now at GU.

    Thanks especially for the holiday advice, we have used lots of your ideas for planning family time and holiday gift ideas from family…

    Thank you for keeping us informed!

  2. I really appreciate the regular information Gonzaga shares with parents and families. We can definitely relate to this one as our son is struggling with making friends and connecting with other people. We are glad to hear that there resources he can use. We have been very impressed with the communication from GU. Great job!!