Parents: Frequently Asked Questions

Academics

Why should my child attend a major research institution like the UO?
How many students are employed or continuing their education after they graduate?
What if a student is undecided about a major? Will this create a problem?
When does a student need to declare a major?
Can freshmen be admitted directly into a major?
Is there a different application process between the College of Arts and Sciences and the professional schools?
How large are classes at the UO?
Do professors teach freshman classes?
How much time will my son or daughter spend in class and/or studying outside of class?
Are students able to get the courses they need in order to graduate in four years?
What if a student gets into a class that they don’t like?
Does the UO give college credit to freshmen for high school courses?
Does the UO offer any special programs for new students?
Does the UO offer an honors college?
What are the advantages of the Clark Honors College?
Does the UO offer any overseas study programs?
What sort of internship and career resources does the UO offer?

Why should my child attend a major research institution like the UO?

Research enriches the teaching and learning process and provides tremendous educational benefits to our students. At the UO, undergraduate participation is a key component of many faculty research efforts. The various departments provide funding to encourage student involvement, while public and private grants help build and equip the UO’s cutting-edge facilities, including the new state-of-the-art Lewis Integrated Science Building, the Global Scholars Hall, and the newly renovated Allen Hall. Through abundant research opportunities, our faculty is kept at the forefront of innovation and discovery.

We are proud of the UO's reputation as one of the nation's leading educational institutions in research and undergraduate teaching. UO attracts top faculty and scholars from around the world and offers students personalized learning experiences, including Freshman Interest Groups, Intensive Freshman Seminars, overseas study, the Robert D. Clark Honors College, and many other academic programs. In fact, the UO has been a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities since 1969. 

How many students are employed or continuing their education after they graduate?

As of fall term 2010, the proportion of UO graduates employed or continuing their education within six months after graduation is 85%.

What if a student is undecided about a major? Will this create a problem?

Absolutely not. In fact, an estimated 20 percent to 25 percent of freshmen come to the UO undecided about what they want to study. And of those students who have chosen a major before enrolling, many change their major at least once, and often two or three times, during their UO career.

Most students have been exposed to only a few of the 77 undergraduate majors available at the UO, which explains why they often change their minds after discovering different options. We encourage students to explore our diverse offerings!

Students will also have the opportunity to explore majors once they attend IntroDUCKtion. They will have a one-on-one meeting with experienced academic advisers who will help them decide what classes to take and what majors to explore.

Students can also get help exploring majors at the UO's Career Center. The center offers individualized career counseling, a resource library, and classes dealing with major exploration and career development.

When does a student need to declare a major?

There is no deadline. Typically, students will have decided their majors by the end of their sophomore year. We recommend deciding on a major by this time so that your student will be on track toward graduating in a reasonable time. 

Can freshmen be admitted directly into a major?

Yes. The majority of UO programs admit freshmen directly into the department, with the exception of our professional schools and a handful of majors within the College of Arts and Sciences. The professional schools include the College of Design, the School of Journalism and Communication, the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, the School of Music and Dance, and the College of Education. Be sure that your child investigates the major he or she is interested in during the application process so he or she will be prepared for additional application materials and requirements. 

What are the differences between the College of Arts and Sciences and the professional schools?

Two professional schools—the College of Design, and the School of Music and Dance—highly recommend applying as an incoming freshman. By applying as an incoming freshman, the student will be on track to graduate on time. The College of Education, the Lundquist College of Business, and the School of Journalism and Communication recommend applying as a sophomore, after completing prerequisite classes. Students should talk to their academic advisers about their intended majors.

The School of Dance is one exception, however. A student who wants to major in dance may declare this as an incoming freshman. The student will not be required to submit any other additional applications, but must attend a placement class during the Week of Welcome.

Intended music majors will need to submit an application for the Music School, three letters of reference, a statement of experience and intent, a repertoire list, and if the student cannot make a live audition then he or she must submit an audition tape/CD/DVD.

Intended Architecture and Art majors must submit additional materials, which include, but are not limited to, a department application, letters of recommendation, and a portfolio. Be sure your student contacts the respective department to learn about their application process and requirements early. Encourage them to ask questions.

How large are the classes at the UO?

They’re probably not as large as you’d imagine. Our median class size is 20, and out of 3,878 undergraduate classes offered per term at the UO, only 137 have more than 100 students. Many courses include small discussion groups and labs for more personal attention.

Since every college, regardless of size, has some large lecture classes, we strongly recommend that students sit close to the front, ask questions, and take advantage of professors' office hours and e-mail to discuss their understanding of the material and their progress in the course.

Do professors teach freshman classes?

The majority of the lectures, classes, and presentations are conducted by full-time faculty. The remainder, generally courses with many small sections, may use graduate teaching fellows who are carefully trained and are under the supervision of full-time faculty. Typically, faculty members give the lectures and graduate teaching fellows lead the small discussion groups that accompany most lectures.

How much time will my son or daughter spend in class and/or studying outside of class?

Courses are measured in credit hours. Generally, students spend one hour in class per week for every credit hour they take. In other words, if your student is taking 16 credit hours during the fall term, he or she can expect to spend about sixteen hours per week in class.

Students should expect to average about three hours of studying (including library work, term papers, group projects, and so on) for each hour spent in the classroom. This is an appropriate and realistic guideline, though obviously there are exceptions. Factors that play into this equation include study skills, subject matter, time-management skills, academic background, and self-discipline. Still, many students will do well to plan for somewhat more than the 3 to 1 ratio.

The UO also has many support services to help students do well in their classes, including personal academic advising and the University Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), which offers courses on study techniques and time management, as well as tutoring services and writing and math labs.

Are students able to get the courses they need in order to graduate in four years?

The UO generally does not have a problem with course availability. Occasionally, class sections do close or fill up. But with over 3,800 classes offered each term, students can put together a viable schedule. For most programs, there are many ways to fulfill specific graduation requirements. For example, to meet a science requirement, one student may enroll in a marine biology class, while another may choose a course in physical anthropology. 

If the student must have a specific course that is no longer open, he or she may approach a professor and ask to be put on a waiting list. When possible, the university also attempts to add extra class sections in order to give more students the opportunity to get the classes they want.

The average UO student graduates in 13.8 terms, or just over four years. But most students carrying a standard course load should have no problem completing their graduation requirements in four years. Of course, not all students find that the traditional four-year limit meets their needs. Decisions to carry a double major or to change majors late in a college career may entail extra time as an undergraduate.

What if students get into classes that they don’t like?

Students have a couple of options. The first step is to talk with the instructor. Using our continuous drop/add system, students may also arrange for schedule changes even after classes have begun. Courses dropped during the first week of classes will not appear on final grade reports or on transcripts. Students can withdraw from a class without academic penalty up to a designated date each term. 

Does the UO give college credit to freshmen for high school courses?

Some high schools offer courses to their students for both high school and college credit. Students enrolled in these courses, or in courses at a nearby college, must have an official transcript sent by the college to the Office of the Registrar for evaluation. Students may also take advanced placements tests for AP high school classes or International Baccalaureate tests for IB high school classes and receive UO college credit with a certain score.
Students may take UO CLEP departmental tests to determine if they are eligible for advanced placement in an area of study. 

Does the UO offer any special programs for new students?

Yes! We have Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs) and Freshman Seminars. On average, 60 FIGs are available to freshmen during the fall term. Freshman Seminars are offered to freshmen during fall, winter, and spring terms. FIG classes satisfy general education credit requirements and elective credit requirements. Freshman Seminars satisfy elective credit requirements.  

Every FIG group is focused on a theme, with some FIGs also denoted as “residential” and “challenge.” Each FIG has two general education classes, as well as a “College Connections” course. FIG themes include Human Society, the Arts, and Natural Sciences. An example of a Human Society themed FIG is “World Within Us,” which includes Anthropology 161 World Cultures, Psychology 202 Mind and Society, and Anthropology 199 College Connections.

A Residential FIG provides a unique FIG experience. In addition to co-enrolling in the two core courses and College Connections course, the 25 students will live in the same housing complex, which they share with non-FIG students. FIG students will live close enough so that they can form study groups and find other students with similar interests, but not so close as to limit their circle of friends. For this reason, several theme-related FIGs will be housed in the same residence complex. An example is the Creative Arts Residence Hall where the Architecture, the Music, and the Theater Arts FIGs are located. 

Some students enter the UO looking for academically rigorous opportunities as soon as they step on campus. Challenge FIGs are designed with these motivated students in mind. The courses in the Challenge FIGs are at the introductory level, but because they are often smaller, faculty can engage students in deeper analysis of material than would be possible in a large lecture course. Another way the objectives of a Challenge FIG are met is by asking students to get a head start on course material with a shared summer reading selected by the College Connections faculty. 

Does the UO offer an honors college?

The UO is home to one of the oldest honors colleges of any public university in the United States. The Robert D. Clark Honors College is a small, liberal arts college of 600 students. The purpose of the college is to bring together excellent students and selected faculty members in a challenging and supportive academic program. Carefully designed small classes, a collegial environment, and close advising prepare students for advanced study leading to the bachelor of arts (B.A.), bachelor of science (B.S.), or any other bachelor’s degree offered at the university. The Clark Honors College seeks to inspire students to a lifetime of broad intellectual curiosity and continuing self-sustained inquiry and personal growth. 

Admission to the Clark Honors College is competitive, with over 1,300 applications received last year for 228 spots. For admission, the student must complete the CHC portion of the UO application for admission. In addition, the student must provide two teacher evaluations, a description of accomplishments, the self-introductory statement, and an essay.

Honors college students typically ranked in the top 5 percent of their high school classes, have a GPA of 3.80 or higher, have SAT scores of 1280 (critical reading and math) or higher, and show promise of meeting the high academic standards of the Clark Honors College. 

If a student doesn't meet these criteria, or is not interested in the Honors College, he or she may consider other honors options. They may graduate from a department with honors. Graduating with honors typically involves graduating with a GPA of 3.60 or higher and doing additional thesis work. Students should contact their individual departments to learn more about the requirements. 

What are the advantages of the Clark Honors College?

Small class sizes, close relationships with professors, graduating with an honors distinction, and a chance to conduct your own research are the most common advantages of the Clark Honors College. Honors students have free printing services and use of special facilities.

Does the UO offer any overseas study programs?

Study abroad is a wonderful way to enhance the college experience, and the UO is a leader in this area. More than 1,100 UO students participated in 200 programs in 90 countries in 2012-13. Yearlong, semester, term, and summer programs include the study of environmental science in Australia, journalism in Ghana, and Japanese in Tokyo, just to name a few. 

The UO’s Office of International Affairs is staffed by professionals who help students select the program that best suits their needs. Students do not need to be foreign language majors to participate. UO awards direct credit so students can continue to make normal academic progress toward a four-year degree. Financial aid can be applied to program costs.

What type of internship and career resources does the UO offer?

The Career Center is the university’s primary resource for career-related information and assistance. The Career Center has professional staff members who work with students on an individual basis to locate internships and employment opportunities. Their staff offers individual career counseling; workshops; and advising on resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, and internship and job placement assistance to all students. It also houses a career resource library. The Career Center hosts career and internship fairs each term.