Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Advising: Academic Guide

Mike Bolt, professor of mathematics

Planning your academic life at Calvin

When you go to college for the first time, there’s a lot more to learn than the content of your textbooks. Use this guide to help you navigate the new academic world you’re entering at Calvin.

You will:

How you'll schedule your first semester classes

  1. Advising brochureDuring Passport orientation, meet with a faculty advisor. In this first advising appointment, identify classes you’d like to take and other factors affecting your school life in the fall: musical or athletic activities, interest in pre-professional programs (e.g., pre-medicine, pre-law) or plans to study abroad later on.
  2. At orientation, you may take placement tests for certain classes. Check your Calvin email regularly to see whether you can take these tests online prior to Passport.
  3. Once you’ve completed your advising appointment and placement tests, your advisor will send a worksheet to the Registrar’s office, where a course registration specialist will build your fall schedule.

Sample first-semester schedules

Sample Schedule 1

Sample Schedule 2

Your faculty advisor

One of the keys to your academic success at Calvin is making a connection with your faculty advisor. This professor/mentor will meet with you regularly to help you make wise decisions about the courses you take, the major/minor you choose and your career options. To make the most of your advising relationship, make sure you’re prepared for each session.

How to prepare for your first advising appointment:

  • Review Calvin’s catalog to check out core requirements and look for interesting classes to take.
  • Know your major? Use your program’s website to explore course requirements and other important info.
  • Take placement tests for foreign languages online. If you need to take a test, you will receive instructions from Academic Services via e-mail.

What to talk about in your advising appointment:

What to expect from your advisor:

  • Gives accurate information about core and major/program requirements.
  • Listens to your concerns and goals to help you make wise academic decisions.
  • Refers you to other academic resources to aid your decision-making.

Choosing your major

If you are part of the over 20 percent of incoming students who haven’t chosen a major, you have time to explore your academic options. Start by choosing courses that meet core curriculum requirements in areas that interest you. Other things that might help you decide:

  • Meet with professors who teach in majors that interest you.
  • Take a test in Career Development to assess your strengths.
  • Have coffee with a chaplain in the Campus Ministries office to explore God’s calling in your life.

What is Core?

Whether it helps you find your major or simply makes you a deeper, more knowledgeable person, let Calvin’s core curriculum strengthen your academic life and future career. In most core categories, you can choose from many options, depending on your interests. And depending on your planned major, you may have a modified version of the core curriculum. Have you taken AP courses or lots
of science and foreign language in high school? You might be able to get core exemptions.

Learn more about core requirements.

Academic terms

Academic Evaluation Report (AER): This personalized document records the courses you’ve taken, your grades, course exemptions and requirements. In the fall, you will access it by logging in to your Calvin account.

Registrar: The office where you change your schedule, declare your major, request an advisor and apply for graduation.

Course load: The number of credit hours you take each semester. The average course load consists of 14-16 hours (usually about five classes, ranging from 1-5 hours each).

Dropping/Adding a course: Add a course only during your first week of classes. Drop a course through the ninth week of classes.

Contact us

Academic Advising
(616) 526-6155

Career Development
(616) 526-6485

Honors Program

Off-Campus Programs

Tutoring Services
(616) 526-6113

Rhetoric Center
Writing assistance
(616) 526-7088.

Broene Counseling Center