First Year Guide: Registration

As you prepare for registration and move through your first semester, the following links will be particularly helpful:

Registration Tools and Information
Four-Year Plans
Tuition Refund and Drop/Add Deadlines
Grades & GPA

Tips and Hints

First-Year Writing Requirement

Be sure to complete your first-year writing requirement during your first year. Upon acceptance to the U of M, you will be placed in one of the following first-year writing courses: Writ 1201, 1301, or 1401. If your test scores and other factors indicate you need preparatory work, you will be placed in Writ 1201. In this case, you will need to successfully complete Writ 1201 before taking Writ 1301; both are required to fulfill the first-year writing requirement. NOTE: Equivalent courses taken through AP, IB, PSEO, or CIS may fulfill this requirement. First-year writing courses from other colleges may transfer and fulfill the requirement upon evaluation and approval by the U of M.

Timely Graduation

  • You need a minimum of 120 credits to earn your degree, so register for an average of 30 credits per year – or, 15 credits per term -- to stay on track.
  • While some courses may be taken in terms other than where they appear on your four-year plan, others must be taken in sequence. In addition, some courses are offered only during fall or spring term. (These are marked on your plan.) If you have any questions, your academic advisor is your best information source.     


When possible, select courses that “double-dip,” i.e., meet two or more degree requirements with one course. Many courses required by CDes majors double-dip with liberal education and writing intensive requirements (see the courses in bold on your four-year plan); other U of M courses fulfill two liberal education requirements.

Major Course Grade Requirement

All courses taken to fulfill major requirements must be taken on the A/F grade base and be completed with a grade of C- or better. It is important to note that while a C- is considered a passing grade, it has a negative impact on your GPA. A full semester of C- grades, or even all C’s and one C-, will result in your being placed on academic probation.

Homework Load and School/Life Balance

Each credit typically equals 2 hours of homework per week outside of class, so for a 15-credit course load, plan on a minimum of 30 hours of homework per week. If you plan to have a job, please be aware that faculty caution that working more than 10-12 hours per week may seriously hinder your academic success. Consider working on campus to reduce travel time.

Withdrawing from a Course(s)

If you need to drop a course (other than to simply readjust your schedule), we advise that you first check with your advisor and One Stop to find out what effect the registration change may have on your degree progress and your financial aid. Also, advisors can help determine whether or not it’s beneficial for you to use your one-time drop.

Consulting before dropping a course is especially important if you are a U of M athlete, an international student, or on academic probation. Pay close attention to the drop/add deadlines. If you feel you need to drop most or all of your classes, be sure to consult with both your advisor and One Stop before doing so.

Online and Distance Learning (ODL) Classes

Talk with your advisor to help you decide if an ODL course is a good fit for you, and be sure to check with a One Stop counselor about financial aid implications before registering for an ODL course. These courses are not always a wise option as they require an extremely high level of motivation and discipline, and they often are not covered by term-based financial aid or scholarships. Note: These courses often begin and end outside of the normal semester dates, so be sure to note the ODL drop deadlines for your specific course and section.