Frequently Asked Questions

 

Contacting Faculty

How do I contact my professor?
First, check your syllabus for the class to see if your professor has indicated the best way to contact him/her. If the syllabus doesn't list a preference, the easiest way to contact your professor is by email. If you know your professor's first and last name, you can look him/her up in the People Directory. If not, you can look up the department in the A-Z Index to find a complete list of current faculty. 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. Be aware that faculty have a lot of responsibilities besides teaching, and may not be in their offices outside their posted office hours.
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 back, you can contact the department office and the staff will help you get in contact with the professor.
I've been calling my professor's office, but I haven't been able to reach him/her. What should I do?
Faculty have a lot of responsibilities that require them to be out of their offices: they not only teach, but they also serve on department and university committees and spend a significant portion of their time researching and writing to keep current in their fields. They hold designated office hours each week to make sure their students can find them in, so you should check your syllabus to find out when they're guaranteed to be there. If their office hours are not printed on your syllabus, you can call the department office to find out when they are holding office hours.


Advising

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, stop by your department or send an email using the Contact Us button on your department web page.
Why do I need to be advised when I already know what classes I want to take?
Advisors do more than select classes. You should be familiar with your requirements and tentatively plan your schedule before meeting with your advisor, then your advisor can double-check to make sure you are getting all your requirements taken care of.  More importantly, advising appointments are a time you can get to know a faculty member and talk about your courses, your plans, and possible opportunities that could help you in the future Learn how to make the most of your advisement appointment here.
How will I know when advisement is?
Advisement typically happens in March for registration, and and October for spring registration. Exact dates are listed in the Academic Calendar. Departments across campus handle advisement processes differently, so you should always contact your department directly to find out when advisement will occur and how to sign up
When can I enroll in classes?
Enrollment windows are staggered (seniors go first, then juniors, etc.) Check your Student Center in SOAR for your exact enrollment appointment. You can register for classes before or after you see your advisor, but note that if you do not see your advisor to be cleared for enrollment, the classes you registered for will be dropped before the beginning of the semester and it may be difficult for you to get into the classes you want if you have to re-register. 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 enrollment window has not yet opened (check your Student Center in SOAR for the exact time your window), the class you're trying to enroll in might already be full (see A&L Tips for advice on getting into a closed class), or there might be a hold on your account. A hold 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 for a complete guide to registration holds and the office to contact to have them removed, check out the Registrar's Office's Common Registration Errors guide.
I already registered for classes and I have don't have any questions. Is it true that my classes will be dropped if I don't meet with an advisor?
Yes. You need to talk with an advisor, even if you are registered, to make sure you’ve covered all bases. If not, your classes will be dropped automatically before the next term begins.

 

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 and how your grade was determined. If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome of that conversation, you can make an appointment to talk to the Chair of the department to see if he or she can resolve your concerns. If not, you have the option of formally appealing the grade through the Office of the Provost. That process involves multiple steps, including registering with the Office of the Provost, organizing documentation regarding your class experience, and writing a statement about what you think your grade should be and why. The Office of the Provost can explain it to you.  You can also read more details about the grade appeal process in the Southern Miss Student Handbook.
What does a W on my transcript mean? 
A "W" means that you have withdrawn from the class. It will not affect your GPA, but it will remain on your permanent record.
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 take the class, drop it as soon as possible while you still can in SOAR. If it is past the deadline, you will need to request permission from your instructor to drop, a process you can also initiate in SOAR. If the deadline for withdrawing from classes with a W grade has passed, you will need to appeal to the withdrawal committee, who may or may not grant your request. If they elect not to allow you to withdraw after the deadline, you will receive a letter grade for the class regardless of whether or not you've been attending, which will affect your GPA and become part of your permanent record. 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.
I failed a class. Can I take it again for a better grade?
If you failed the class at Southern Miss and you re-take it at Southern Miss, you can replace the bad grade with a better one—but be aware that you can only replace up to 12 credit hours (four 3-credit classes) during your entire undergraduate career.You will need to go to the Registrar's Office in Kennard-Washington Hall to let them know when you want to use this option, because once you have replaced a grade, it counts as one of your four chances and you cannot later remove that replacement and use it again on a different class.
I got a letter saying I am on probation, probation continued, or suspension. What does this mean?
To learn more about probation, probation continued, and suspension, visit our GPA Reqirement page.


Adding and Dropping Classes 

Where can I find a list of all the classes the university is offering? 
You can find the Southern Miss schedule guide here. Note that these schedules are updated weekly, so they may not have accurate enrollment information, and during enrollment periods, a class may show as open that has already filled and closed since the last time the schedule was generated. For the most up-to-date information, search for classes in SOAR. You may also want to check your department website, as many departments offer detailed class descriptions on their sites. 
All my classes have been dropped from my schedule.  What should I do?
There are two main reasons that your classes might be dropped. The first is for non-payment of tuition or other fees. 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, you will need to initiate add requests in SOAR, which will automatically contact the instructors of the classes, who can approve or deny your requests.

The other main reason that your classes might have been dropped is that you failed to get advised during advisement period. If this has happened, contact your advisor immediately and ask for an appointment. Once your advisor has removed the advisement hold, you will be able to register for the classes again. If it is past the add deadline, you will have to initiate add requests in SOAR. 

If you cannot get into the classes you originally chose, contact your advisor as soon as possible for assistance in finding open classes that fit into your degree plan. 

How do I get into a closed class?
Check out A&L Tips for Success for the best way to get into a closed class. Note that the enrollment limit may be strict, and you might have to take the class the following semester and find another class to take in the meantime. There are no guarantees, but if you follow the tips, you will increase your chances. 
How do I add or drop a class after the deadline for dropping classes has passed?

You only have a week to drop a class completely on SOAR with no grade or financial penalty. Once that deadline for adding and dropping classes has passed, you can initiate an add or withdraw request through SOAR. The process you will follow is just like adding or dropping a class as you normally would, except that instead of the action being effected immediately, SOAR will instead send an email to the instructor of the class asking for permission. If permission is granted by both instructor and chair, the class will automatically be added or dropped with a grade of W on your transcript. If you add a class late, you are responsible for making up all the work that you missed, and instructors may not let you add late at all if you have missed too much work to be successful. Instructors will generally approve withdrawals if you are in good standing in the class, but may not if the reason you are attempting to withdraw is that you have plagiarized or been academically dishonest in the class. Note that receiving a grade of W from a class will not affect your GPA, but will stay on your permanent record. 

Once the deadline to withdraw with a W has passed, you will receive a letter grade for the course regardless of whether or not you continue to attend. If an emergency situation causes you to need to withdraw after the withdrawal deadline, you will need to appeal to the withdrawal committee.

I'm trying to enroll in classes but SOAR won't let me.
There are a number of reasons that you might be blocked for enrollment. It might be that your enrollment window has not yet opened (check your Student Center in SOAR for the exact time your window), the class you're trying to enroll in might already be full (see A&L Tips for advice on getting into a closed class), or there might be a hold on your account. A hold 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 for a complete guide to registration holds and the office to contact to have them removed, check out the Registrar's Office's Common Registration Errors guide
I need to withdraw from a class, but the withdrawal deadline has passed. What should I do?
Southern Miss allows withdrawal after the deadline only in cases of extreme hardship, such as the death of an immediate family member or an injury or illness requiring hospitalization. If you believe you qualify for a hardship withdrawal, you will need to appeal to the university withdrawal committee. To appeal, you will need all of the following: 

1. Withdrawal After Deadline form (you will need to fill out the top, but the registrar's office will take care of getting signatures from the Chair and the Dean)
2. Written personal statement detailing nature and circumstances of hardship
3. Written third party documentation on the hardship, such as a death certificate or hospital records
4. Your current Degree Progress Report, which you can download and print from your SOAR Student Center
5. An email from the instructor of the course stating that you were making satisfactory progress in the class before the hardship. Your professor should email the statement to registrar@usm.edu and copy you; you can then print the email as documentation.

Once you have collected all the necessary information, you will take your packet to the Regisrar's Office in Kennard-Washington Hall. You should be aware that not all requests are granted by the committee, and that the committee meets only periodically during the semester, so even if your request will be approved, it could take up to a month to process, during which time your grade will remain on your transcript unchanged.

You will be informed by email at your eagles address when the committee has made a decision, and if they decide to grant the withdrawal, your grade will be changed to a W automatically. 


Where Can I Get Help?

I'm feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious, and I think I need to talk to someone.
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 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.

There are also resources all over campus to help you. A list of offices that offer tutoring and other services is available here: Academic Help.
I have a paper due and I don't even know where to start.
The first thing you should do is read your syllabus and any materials on the assignment that the instructor has given you. Be sure that you have the best understanding you can of what is expected, then talk with your professor about any advice he or she can give you about how to get started. The Writing Center in Cook Library is also 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 visit the online appointment scheduler.
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.

 

Plagiarism

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're clear on exactly what plagiarism is. Check out the Arts & Letters plagiarism tutorial to learn about the five main types of plagiarism; the information may be different from what you learned in high school.

If you have questions about whether something specific in your paper 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. He or she 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. To appeal a grade, you will need to go in person to the Provost's office for the appropriate form. For detailed instructions on how the appeal process works, you can review the Provost's Grade Review by-laws.