Undergrad FAQs



Contacting Faculty

  • How do I contact my professor?

The best and easiest way to contact any English department professor is by email. Click here for a list of office hours, email addresses, and office phone numbers for English department instructors. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response. You can also drop by your professor's office during his/her office hours, which are listed on your syllabus. If your professor is a member of the English department faculty, check the Faculty & Staff Office Hours page for an office phone number. If your professor is a graduate instructor or an adjunct, he/she will not have a phone in the department and is contactable by email or in person during office hours only. If you are trying to contact your instructor in an online class, email or Blackboard are your only options. For email addresses of faculty in departments other than English, click here for the university's people directory.

  • How can I find out when my professor's office hours are?

Click here for a list of faculty and instructors and their office hours and email addresses. Your professor’s office hours are also listed on his or her office door and on your syllabus, which is your first and best resource for information about the class. If you are taking an online class, your professor will not hold office hours and can be contacted by e-mail or Blackboard only.

  •  I've emailed my professor but I haven't heard back. What should I do?

Please give your instructors 48 hours to respond to your emails. They may be getting emails from many, many students, and responding as quickly as they can in the order in which they received them. If it has been 48 hours and you still haven’t heard, please send the e-mail again, but copy it to the English department by typing english@usm.edu in the cc: line. This will send a copy to the department program coordinator, who will make sure it gets to the instructor.


  • How do I know who my advisor is?

Your advisor will be listed on your SOAR Student Center page. If you do not have an advisor listed, or you would like to change your advisor, please e-mail the English department at english@usm.edu and we will adjust your information in SOAR.

  • Why do I need to be advised when I already know what classes I want to take?

Your advisor’s job is to look at your transcript and advise you which classes you need to take to graduate in four years with the degree of your choice. If you already know the classes you need to take, think of advising as a free degree audit, a double-check to make sure you don’t find yourself missing credits you need when you’re ready to graduate. Even if you are absolutely, positively sure you know what you want to take, advisement is a good chance to meet the faculty, who might have interesting suggestions for classes you might want to take in the future.

  • How will I know when advisement is?
Advisement dates are listed in the Academic Calendar. You will also see posters all over the Liberal Arts Building and receive notice over the English department listserv. Your advisor may contact you via your USM email address to let you know when he or she will be available during advisement, and your advisor's office phone number is listed on your SOAR page.
  • When can I enroll in classes?

After you have been advised, please allow your advisor 24 hours to check the eligible-to-enroll box on your account, and then check your Student Center for your enrollment appointment. General enrollment dates can be found in the Academic Calendar.

  • I've been advised; why can't I enroll in classes?

There are a number of reasons that you might be blocked for enrollment. It might be that your eligible-to-enroll box has not yet been checked, or it might be that there is a hold on your account. A hold on your account could be the result of an unpaid bill, a required 099 enrollment that has not been fulfilled, or a hold from the athletic department if you are an athlete. You should be able to tell from your Student Center what the problem is by clicking on the Do-Not-Enter sign, but if you have any problems, please call the English department at 266-4320 and we will happily check your account to see what has gone wrong and direct you to the appropriate person to help you get things sorted out.

 Grade Issues

  • I think I received an unfair grade.  Whom can I talk to?

The first person you should talk to is your instructor. Take your exam or your paper to your instructor’s office during his or her office hours to discuss the assignment. If you still feel that your grade was unfair, you can make an appointment to talk to the Chair of the English Department, Dr. Luis Iglesias. He will talk to you about your situation, and about the grade appeal process. To review the grade appeal process on your own, please click here to download a .pdf from USM'S Student Handbook.

  • What does an NA on my transcript mean?

“NA” means “not attending” and it is given to students who sign up for a class but don’t attend it. “NAs” count as “Fs” in your GPA, and you will also be charged for the class, as financial aid will not pay for a class that you haven’t attended. Check your schedule at the beginning of the semester and make sure that all the classes are ones you plan to attend. If you don’t plan to go, drop the class while you still can on SOAR, and if it is past the deadline, see procedures for dropping a class after the deadline. If you feel you have been given an “NA” in error, please contact your instructor.

  • My incomplete has suddenly turned to an F.  What should I do?

Incompletes only stay on your transcript for one semester. If you have not completed your work at the end of the following semester (not including summer), the “I” disappears and is replaced with an “F.” If this has happened to you, contact the instructor of the class right away. It is possible that he/she will still allow you to finish the work you are missing and will change your grade once your work is graded. This option is at the sole discretion of the instructor, and you must contact him/her to find out whether or not he/she would be willing to accept work a semester or more late.


Adding and Dropping Classes 

  •  All my classes have been dropped from my schedule.  What should I do?

If your classes were there one day and gone the next, they were most likely dropped due to lack of payment. Call the business office at 601-266-4137 to find out how you can fix the situation. Once you have paid the fees, if it is past the deadline for you to add your classes back yourself on SOAR, pick up an Add/Drop form for each class at Student Services, LAB 213. You will need to fill out the forms completely, then have the instructor of each class sign the appropriate form, and then take the form to the department office for the Chair’s signature. Once the Chair has signed, take the forms to the Registrar’s office in Kennard-Washington you will be reinstated. IMPORTANT: Keep attending all your classes. If you are taking an online class, email your instructor and let him/her know that you have been dropped but will log back in as soon as you are reinstated.

  • How do I get into a closed class?
Contact the English department at 601.266.4320 or english@usm.edu to find out if the class can be over-enrolled. 
  • How do I add or drop a class after the deadline for dropping classes has passed?

 Please go to: http://www.usm.edu/sites/default/files/groups/office-registrar/images/onlinepermissiontoaddafterthedeadlinefinal.pdf

  • I'm trying to enroll in classes but SOAR won't let me.

There are three reasons that you might not be able to register.

  1. Your window is not open. To check when your SOAR window will be open, look on your student center page for enrollment dates.

  2. You have not been advised. Only your advisor (or the English office with permission from your advisor) can click your Eligible To Enroll button. Please contact your advisor and make an appointment.

  3. You have a hold on your account. To check to see if you have a hold, look on your student services page for a Do-Not-Enter sign. Clicking this will tell you the reason for the hold. If it is financial, please contact business services at 266-4774. If you are on probation continued or suspension, you will need to talk to Dr. Craig Carey, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and sign a contract detailing your plans for improving your grades.


Where Can I Get Help?

  • I'm feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious.  Who should I talk to?

If you need someone to talk to, Student Counseling Services is the place to go. You can visit their web site or call them during business hours at (601) 266-4829. If it’s after 5:00pm or on a weekend and you need to talk to someone right away, please call 601-606-HELP (4357).

  • I'm having trouble in one of my English classes.  How can I get help?

Your first resource is your instructor. Instructors hold office hours each week specifically to help students who are having trouble. They will be happy to answer any questions you have about the lecture or to go over papers you’ve written and suggest areas for improvement.

If you’re having trouble with your writing, another resource is the Writing Center, located in Cook Library right next to Starbucks. The Writing Center has tutors who will talk with you about your writing project and help you figure out what you want to say and how you can say it most effectively. To make an appointment at the Writing Center, please call 601-266266-4821.

  • I have a paper due and I don't even know where to start.

The Writing Center in Cook Library is a great resource for helping you sort out your thoughts and get started on your paper, no matter what class it's for.  To make an appointment to talk with a tutor, please call 601-266-4821.

  • I signed up for an online class and I don't know where to start.

The Learning Enhancement Center's Student Help Page will get you started with everything from how to log in to Blackboard to how to turn in assignments.



  • How do I avoid being accused of plagiarism?

The best way to avoid being accused of plagiarism is not to plagiarize. Fortunately, avoiding plagiarism is fairly simple: if you use phrases or sentences that you did not write yourself, put them in quotation marks and cite your source. If you copy anything and paste it into your paper, use quotation marks and cite your source. If you copy something but change the wording and the order, this is paraphrasing. You won’t need to use quotation marks, but you still need to cite your source. If you read a great argument that you want to use in your own paper, cite your source. If you want to use a few sentences or a paragraph from a paper you wrote for another class, you still need to use quotation marks and cite yourself and your previous paper as the source.  

If you cite your sources and use quotation marks when necessary, you will not be accused of plagiarism.

If you use another person’s writing without citing the source, you will be caught. The English Department subscribes to a service which, when your paper is entered, will compare it with sources all over the internet, published books and articles, papers from paper mills, and any student papers that have ever been submitted to it before. If the service finds parts of your paper that were copied from a source, they will provide a link to the source, so your paper and the source can be compared side by side. It is never, ever worth the risk. If you run out of time to write a paper, it is much better to ask for an extension or even to submit what you have than to plagiarize. If you fail a paper, you have an “F” on one paper, and still have time to bring up your grade or withdraw passing from the class. If you plagiarize, you may fail the entire course, or if you attempt to withdraw, you will withdraw failing, which counts as an “F” in your GPA. Don’t risk it.

If you have questions about whether something constitutes plagiarism or are unsure how to cite the source properly, just ask your instructor.  He/she will be happy to review it with you, and probably very glad that you asked.

  • I think I have been unfairly accused of plagiarism.  What should I do?
If you believe you have been unfairly accused of plagiarism, you should talk to your instructor as soon as you can to find out why it is that he/she feels you have plagiarized. If you are unable to resolve the issue with your instructor, you may make an appointment with the Chair of the department, Dr. Eric Tribunella. He will talk to you, and to your instructor, about your situation and about the grade appeal process. To review the grade appeal process on your own, please click here to see the relevant information from USM'S Student Handbook. Please note that you must make a good-faith effort to work things out with your instructor before talking to the Chair, because if you have not, the Chair will refer you back to the instructor.
If you are unable to resolve things with the Chair, you may appeal your grade before a university committee.