Knowing the Rules
The Undergraduate Catalog contains most of the information relating to policies and regulations that both students and advisors need to know. This section of the Handbook is intended to supplement the information in the Catalog. Further information and clarification is available from the Registrar's Office and from the Office of Academic Advising.
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
FERPA is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students' education records. Education records may include grades, grade reports, progress reports, transcripts, handwritten notes, computer records, e-mails, audio and video recordings as well as others.
WPI’s Policy on FERPA
It is important to note that Worcester Polytechnic Institute gives parents of financially dependent students, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code, full access to their dependents' educational records. Access includes parents' receiving copies of their dependents' grade reports each semester from the Office of the Registrar. Worcester Polytechnic Institute assumes that its undergraduate students are financially dependent on their parents unless a parent or student informs us otherwise. If the student is financially independent the student must notify the Registrar of his or her independent financial statuses by using the financially Independent Student form. The form is available in our office for your convenience.
Also note that FERPA generally permits institutions to disclose certain information on a student designated as “directory information”. Please be advised at WPI, the following information regarding a student is designated as “Directory Information”:
- Full Name
- E-mail address
- Home address
- Local address
- Campus mailbox
- Local phone
- Date and place of birth
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees and awards received
- Most recent or previous educational agency or institution
As a member of our adjunct faculty, you need to be aware of how FERPA impacts the following:
Writing Student Recommendation Letters
FERPA rules regarding the release of educational records apply to Letters of Recommendation. If you are asked to provide a Letter of Recommendation on behalf of a student which may contain information such as such as grades, grade point average, or academic performance, etc. you should have the student complete and sign a written authorization giving you permission to disclose that information.
FERPA applies to online classes as well as traditional classes. Examples of educational records that may be created in an online environment include online student tests and assignments, student-instructor emails, and online grade-books. Please take care in protecting student’s privacy.
Returning Graded Assignments, Papers, or Exams
Be aware that under FERPA, graded exams, assignments, papers, or reports should not be left unattended for students to pick up where other students could view the work. All graded work should be returned to students in a manner that protects the privacy of the student (ex. a sealed envelopes with the student's name on the envelope). Prior to releasing any graded work to a student, proper identification should be provided by that student. Also, if you are utilizing your department’s staff in delivering class-work to students, please ensure that the staff member is aware of the coursework and that his/her obligations under FERPA apply.
Notification of Grades via email
Though FERPA does not specifically prohibit the delivery of grades via email, there is no way to verify the identity of the email recipient and therefore not advisable.
Use Of Teaching Assistants
FERPA considers Teaching Assistants to be an extension of the faculty member. Faculty members may even share their sole-possession records with their TAs. Sharing educational information about students with a TA is not a violation of FERPA.
Class Rosters and “sign in sheets”
The use of any record containing the student names and ID numbers for attendance keeping would be a violation of FERPA if passed around the class where students could view others’ confidential information. Official class rosters which include student names and ID numbers should not be disclosed without the advance written consent of each individual student.
Use Of Outside Administrative Support
If you are an adjunct with offices outside of WPI, do not enlist the assistance of administrative personnel outside of WPI in handling grades, assignments or other educational records.
Consequences of FERPA Violation
The consequences for not adhering to the FERPA regulations could result in any of the following:
• Loss of Federal funding
• Conviction of a misdemeanor under the Public Information Act which may result in confinement in the county jail of up to 6 months or a fine not to exceed $1,000 or both
Important note: The above information is intended to give general information regarding some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice on any particular issue.
If you have questions about FERPA and proper procedure, please contact the Registrar’s Office at 508-831-5211 before taking any action.
Registration and Scheduling Procedures
Because so much of academic advising revolves around developing a plan of courses, advisors need to understand WPI's registration and scheduling process and how advisors, departments, the advising and registrar's offices, and the scheduling officer work together to help students register their courses. The following is an overview of the registration process, followed by some specific comments regarding advisors and the registration function.
The scheduling and registration process is a joint effort involving departments, through department chairs, and the administration, through the scheduler and the advising and registrar's office. The process begins with the development of the catalog. WPI's catalog contains only the course descriptions, but not the listing of course offerings by term for the next academic year.
The catalog is distributed at the beginning of C Term in order to be used for Advising Day in mid-C Term, the period when students plan their courses for the entire next academic year.
When students register via the web, it is a "live" registration. Students need to be advised to use the waitlist process, as this is the mechanism we use to determine the true demand for a course.
Advisors need to be aware of the following procedures:
Overloads: Overloads are not permitted over the web; students must go to the registrar's office. Overloads are not permitted until the first day of classes for the respective term. Students must first obtain the signature of their academic advisor before attempting to register. Check the Registrar's webpage for the current overload fees. For project overloads, students must obtain the signature and approval of their project advisor and a signature from their academic advisor on the Overload Form. Please note that at WPI the students are ultimately responsible for making the decisions about their schedules. Therefore, your signature does not necessarily mean "permission" for overloading, but rather, it means that you have discussed the options with the student.
Wait lists: Wait lists for closed courses are established chronologically. Students must claim approved seats during the posted time. Wait lists are discontinued at noon of the first day of classes and remaining seats are offered to students on a first-come, first-served basis. The typical advice given to students regarding wait listing courses includes the following:
- While you have nothing to lose by putting your name on the wait list, always have an alternate plan in mind in case the wait list process does not work
- Never miss a class while waiting for the process to work
- Don't drop a class until after you have been approved off the wait list
Be patient and keep checking back -- the process works most of the time!
Consortium registration: Consortium registration information and forms are available at the Registrar's office. Students need signatures in both the Registrar's office and Academic Advising before taking the form to the institution during their designated enrollment period. Academic advisor's signatures are not required on the registration form.
Late schedule changes: During the drop/add period (normally the first four days of classes) can be made at no charge. Advisees should be encouraged to make all changes by the first day or two of classes. Once the add/drop period has ended, late fees apply. No changes are generally accepted after the third week of classes.
Project and ISP registration: Registration for all project activity is conducted by the registrar's office using the Project Registration Form. The same late fee schedule applies to project and ISP registrations.
- Overloads: Overloads are not permitted over the web; students must go to the registrar's office. Overloads are not permitted until the first day of classes for the respective term. Students must first obtain the signature of their academic advisor before attempting to register. Check the Registrar's webpage for the current overload fees. For project overloads, students must obtain the signature and approval of their project advisor and a signature from their academic advisor on the Overload Form. Please note that at WPI the students are ultimately responsible for making the decisions about their schedules. Therefore, your signature does not necessarily mean "permission" for overloading, but rather, it means that you have discussed the options with the student.
Academic reviews are conducted at the conclusion of Terms B and D. The standard for determining satisfactory academic progress is earning 4/3 units of earned credit during the two previous terms. Advisors and parents of dependent students are notified of students who fail to meet these standards.
In order to retain financial aid, students must earn at least 8/3 units at WPI (10/3 if full time E term is included) during the academic year. If a student is placed on probation or reclassified for any reason, the student will lose financial aid. Financial aid is ordinarily available for a period of 16 terms. Students must petition for financial aid past the period of 16 terms.
Students may petition through the Registrar's Office to the Committee on Academic Operations (CAO) for reconsideration of the academic status of warning, probation, or suspension or for other unusual circumstances warranting special consideration. Petition forms are available in the Registrar's Office. Students are requested, but not required, to obtain the academic advisor's signature.
Students who have lost their financial aid because they failed to meet the eligibility requirements may, in cases that involve unusual or extenuating circumstances, such as documented medical problems, file a petition with the Financial Aid Office. These petitions are accepted on a rolling basis and handled on a case by case basis by the financial aid review committee.
Academic advisors may be asked by students to write recommendations or supply supporting letters to supplement their petitions.
The Admissions Office coordinates evaluation of transfer credit earned prior to matriculation at WPI. To obtain transfer credit after matriculation to WPI, students should pick up the Transfer Credit Authorization Form at the Academic Advising Office and obtain the authorizing signatures before registering for the course. Upon successful completion of the activity, the students should request that an official transcript be sent directly to WPI's Registrar's Office.
8. Advanced Placement Credit
Advanced Placement credit is awarded to those students who take the Advanced Placement Examinations and score a "4" or "5" on the exam. The Office of Academic Advising will notify students in early August of credit earned through Advanced Placement testing. Credit is awarded in the following way:
Any Humanities exam will result in credit for HU 1100, the H&A Department's code for all transfer credit. This credit will count toward the breadth component of the Humanities and Arts requriement.
Elective credit for basic science is given for the exams in Biology and the Physics B exam. This credit is posted as BB 1000 or PH 1000, respectively. This credit counts in the distribution requirements as basic science, but does not replace any WPI course. Students who have earned this credit need to be advised regarding "skipping" WPI's first course in the sciences. These students can be referred to the department or the professor who teaches the first course.
In Chemistry students who score 4 or 5 on the AP exam will receive credit for CH 1010. Students are eligible to earn credit for other chem courses by achieving scores of 70 or better on course specific exams offered by the Chem Dept.
- In Mathematics, students who earn credit by taking the Calculus AB exam, are awarded credit for MA 1021 and MA 1022. Those who take the Calculus BC exam receive credit for MA 1021, MA1022, and MA 1023.
If students earn credit by taking the Physics C: Mechanics exam, they receive credit for PH 1110. The Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism exam is equal to PH 1120. Note: students who receive credit for these should not take the PH 1111/1121 sequence as these will be considered repeated courses.
Computer Science credit is granted for CS 1000 (elective credit) for the A-level exam; an additional 1/3 unit is granted for the A-B-level exam.
In Social Science, the Government and Politics exam earns credit for GOV 1000, which is elective credit. The Micro Economics exam is equal to ECON 1110, and the Macro Economics exam is equal to ECON 1120.
Other ways to earn advanced credit include retroactive credit for successful completion of courses in mathematics, computer science, or foreign language. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details.
Foreign exams such as the International Baccalaureate, the French Baccalaureate, the English A Level exams are eligible for credit and are handled on a case by case basis through the Office of Academic Advising.
9. Changing Majors, Changing Advisors
More than one-half of WPI students change majors at least once. Because WPI students are admitted to the University, not to a specific program, changing majors is a simple process. Each year, during B Term, we ask all first year students to discuss their major with their advisor and then submit the Major Declaration Form to the Office of Academic Advising. However, the change forms are available at any time for students who wish to change majors. These forms are also available on the Web. Students who need help declaring a major or who wish to discuss the various options, should be referred to the Career Development Center.
Students who change their major usually change their advisor. However, students can change advisors for any reason. Conversely, advisors can request that the Advising Office assign an advisee to another advisor for any reason.
Advisor changes are processed by the Academic Advising Office and major changes are processed in the registrar's office.
10.Student Judicial Policies and Procedures
All advisors, and all members of the WPI community, should be familiar with the policies governing behavior on the campus. The Student Life Office has produced a publication, "The Campus Planner & Resource Guide," which documents WPI's policies and the code of conduct that all WPI students are expected to observe (in addition to providing a calendar, list of campus dates and events, and a guide to campus and community services). This publication chronicles the procedure by which a member of the WPI community may be brought before the various judicial or administrative boards and the sanctions, which may be levied, for infractions.
The publication contains WPI's Campus Code, the Academic Honesty Policy, the Policy Concerning Students with Learning Disabilities, the Sexual Harassment Policy, WPI Drug and Alcohol Policy, and other policies and procedures advisors may need for reference. Advisors are encouraged to review this publication on an annual basis.Maintained by firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: October 24, 2008 15:32:04