Advising Guide

Six steps to registration success:

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’s name in your PAWS Account.

Step 1: Choose how many classes to take

The College of Letters and Science works with every full-time student to keep them on track for a four-year graduation. There are several factors that impact time to graduation, but one of the most crucial is course load. To stay on track for a four-year graduation, a student must complete a minimum of 15 credits per semester during the regular academic year.

Although only 12 credits are required to be considered full-time, a student who takes only the minimum cannot graduate in four years and will incur additional costs for the added time it takes to graduate. Graduating in four years can save you many thousands of dollars. Students are strongly encouraged to register for 15 credits if at all possible.

  • Most courses at UWM are 3 credits each, requiring 5 classes to make up a 15 credit load.
  • Most first-semester freshmen take 14-16 credits.
  • If you feel that you have circumstances that would make it difficult to successfully complete 15 credits in your first semester, be sure to discuss this with your advisor.

As you consider your course load, keep in mind that you should plan to study at least two hours per week for every credit you take. The way you spend your time in college is very different from high school and more self-directed independent study is expected.

Time Spent Studying Graph

Step 2: Learn about 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 is significant overlap between the GERs and the L&S Degree Requirements. Through careful course selection with your advisor, you will find a single course may double count to meet multiple requirements. Don’t worry if you find the GERs or L&S Degree Requirements confusing. Your advisor is available to help you understand your specific circumstances. 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.

A very simple way to begin thinking about your degree requirements for any Letters & Science major is as follows:

  • 12 credits in humanities courses
  • 12 credits in social science courses
  • 12 credits in natural science courses
  • 3 credits in an arts course
  • 9 credits in courses that cover international topics
  • 3 credits in a cultural diversity course

Step 3: Review/list course options

At Orientation, your advisor will advise you on the appropriate courses for English and Math based on your placement test scores and/or ACT scores. In addition to Math and English, choose other courses that will help you meet your degree requirements. We recommend courses from the College of Letters & Science that are designated as GER in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. These courses will count towards your degree requirement no matter what your major ends up being.

It is a good idea to take courses from at least two different areas in your first year rather than take multiple classes in the same subject area.

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

If you already have an idea of what you want to major in, you can also look for introductory courses in that subject area. Browse through all of the academic opportunities that are available to you at UWM and those in the College of Letters & Science.

Finally, you may also want to consider a first-year seminar. These are very small classes (no more than 20) focused on a specific topic. These also count towards your degree requirements and are a great way to get to know fellow freshmen and a faculty member because of the small setting.

  • On your Advising Worksheet (PDF) list at least five and preferable 7 to 10 options for classes you are interested in taking in case the class is full on the day you register.

You can see course descriptions in the Undergraduate Catalog and course times in the Timetable/Schedule of Classes.

Step 4: 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 want 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?

We also recommend you familiarize yourself with the Schedule Planner tool before orientation and watch the following video.

Step 5: 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 Enrollment. 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 6: 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 suggest you visit this How College is Different from High School web site to learn more about college-level expectations.