Our Blog

By: David Garcia

Congratulations on the completion of your student’s first semester at Gonzaga University! Your student will be joining you around the family table soon. Please find a few themes that may emerge during the Holiday break and some ideas and information that may be helpful in overcoming some common first semester challenges:

Spring semester is the first opportunity for your student to take the lead in choosing their own classes. This academic freedom is a great learning experience. They may discover some courses to be full or at capacity, yet there is no need for panic! Encourage your son/daughter try the following, if the course they need is full:

  • Evaluate the “NEED” versus “WANT.”  Encourage your student to be flexible in their course/instructor selection.  As first year students they will 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:
  1. Using a Course Authorization Form, see the professor, department chair, and finally, academic advisor to get signed into closed courses.
  2. No luck? Go see the department chair and express concern, ask about waiting lists
  3. Still don’t have a full schedule? Next stop, the Dean’s Office! Each College/School has its own Dean, so be sure your student knows where to go. If not, ask someone in the Office of Academic Advising and Assistance, 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 25th, the last day to add courses to spring schedules. A slot in the course your son/daughter is looking to add 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 the Office of Academic Advising and Assistance, for other course options and advice.

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 share. 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?
Stepping into college-level course work is a significant shift in thinking and doing, it is a space of changes and in some instances it comes with its challenges. Is your student accustomed to A’s and B’s? If they’ve set this as their standard, the grade reflecting their work here may be less than expected.  If the strategies they used in high school are not complimenting their new academic setting, they are now aware after one semester and can make minor adjustments to achieve success. Developing relationships with their professors to clarify course expectations and to gauge their grades are other ways to avoid surprises.

    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 further facilitate a connection. They may want to peruse the varied selection of Clubs & OrganizationsUniversity Ministry groups and retreats, and residence hall activities. If your student doesn’t know where to begin, 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. They will survive, and connecting to resources on campus will enhance their ability to thrive.

    Looking ahead to January:
    In January, we’ll provide you with a few ideas to share with your student, as well as some good-to-know information for spring semester, an academic calendar and finals schedule to plan your student’s trip home for breaks and the summer. Until then!

    In Peace,
    Office of Academic Advising and Assistance





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