Skip navigation

Academic Success

Within this page you will find some useful information on setting up meetings with your adviser, creating a plan of study to decide what classes you should take and reaching out to the faculty through email and office hours. You will also find valuable tips on excelling in your classes and managing your time effectively.

Schedule a meeting with your Academic Advisor!

Academic Advisors are great resources that can help you make the most of your educational experience. They can help guide you toward your interests and make sure you are connected to researchers and professors in the college of engineering.

What can you expect from your academic advisor:
  • Information on their plan of study
  • Expectations they will find in their courses
  • Resources to find help on campus
  • Information on research opportunities
What will be expected from your academic advisor:
  • Planned questions for every meeting
  • Game plan for plan of study
  • Areas of interest like research and minors
  • Full responsibility to handle graduation and plan of study

Tip: Take control of your academic life! Here at college your courses, classes, and grades are all up to you. There are plenty of staff, faculty, and resources you can use to help make all the right choices but you have to advocate for yourself and then ask for aid. The biggest difference between college and high school is keeping track of your deadlines, stay proactive and don’t let them slip by. A planner notebook is a good way to keep track of all the different activities you will have.

Tip: Do research! Look up professors and class times to pick good sections for you.

Tip: Make sure you personalize your classes, take subjects and electives you are interested in, you are here to study and your choices should reflect what you want to know.

What courses will I be taking as an Engineering Student?

Curious about your path to graduation? Want to know what courses should you be taking? Look at the plan.

Every semester you will receive an email from your academic advisor, you will meet with them and talk over the courses you will be taking in the next semester. This is your chance to decide the workload you can handle, the minors you may be interested in and the requirements of your degree.

Tip: It’s important to keep in mind that you will have a narrow window to register for the classes your advisor and you decide on, so stay on top of it and do your research before hand.

Tip: The time planner system is available through MyPurdue in the Academic Page on the left hand task bar. It can help you find what sections of each class to take at what time.

Tip: Know you’re classes, reach out to advisors and ask if you can handle the classes, 15 credit hours or more should not be taken lightly.

Tip: Classes are different experiences for all, don’t underestimate your workload.

Have you worried about having nothing to communicate with faculty members?

Tip: Do your homework by making a research online about a specific faculty member’s research interests, courses taught, and hobbies. Find and read some of her/his research articles if you plan to do a research project under his/her supervision.

Tip: If you wish to meet with a professor on a nonclassroom related topic, make an appointment. Otherwise utilized the teachers’ office hours or the Teacher Assistant’s office hours.

Email example

Tip: Make sure you come prepared some questions to ask regarding the course you are taking, or faculty’s research area or articles, or the topic at hand.

Tip: Listen carefully. You may ask him/her to repeat or explain if you don’t understand a certain part such as "Excuse me, can you repeat what you said?” or “Excuse me, what do you mean by _____?"

Tip: Be open-minded and focus on learning or research rather than grades. For example, "I’m sorry I received low grades in the exam. Could you please help analyze what I did in the exam, which may help me improve my learning in the future?"

Tip: End your conversation within the scheduled time and express your appreciation or thanks.


Etiquette in Communicating with Faculty

Work on the assignment before contacting your professor or TA. During office hours, professors and TAs do not expect you to have solved all the homework but they expect you to have done some progress on the assignment.

Bring a list of questions about the assignment. It is ok if your homework is un-finished because you got stock at some point. Show professors or TAs your work and ask them questions about the parts you got stock or confuse. Professors and TAs appreciate your effort and will be willing to guide you in order to solve your questions.

Try to go to the point and be as concrete as possible. Although giving context is usually very beneficial for people who are unfamiliar with the situation, professors and TAs have experience teaching the class and/or in the field. Do not spend much time giving context (a little is ok) but try to get to your questions as soon as possible so you can discuss them with your professor or TA.

Be prepare to interact and discuss your questions with your professor or TA. In the U.S., faculty rather guide students into finding their own answers instead of giving straight answers to questions. This might be different or new for you. Instead of directly answer you questions, professors and TAs might ask you other questions so you can make the connections and find the answers to your original questions.

Do not hesitate to ask more questions or to tell your professor or TA that you don’t understand what they mean. In the U.S., those moments of confusion and uncertainty are seen by professors and TAs as positive opportunities for you to learn. Some of the phrases you can use to say you do not understand are: “I’m not sure about what you mean”, “I’m not following you”, “could you please repeat this part”, “This is not clear to me”, or simply say do not understand or you do not know.

Office hours are the best time to get help. Professors and TAs are expecting you and all your questions, so take advantage of it.

Interacting with your TAs, staff and faculty

Faculty Office Hours are perhaps the single most valuable resource students have available. Yet, this resource is the least used by students. It can be intimidating for a student to enter into a faculty member’s office because you don’t know exactly what to expect. My recommendation is to first get to know your faculty in class. Introduce yourself to them and get to know them. This will reduce your anxiety in meeting with them during office hours. When you visit, come prepared, respect their time, and be specific about what your needs are. In advance of at-tending office hours, make sure you have made a sincere attempt on your homework or project. It can be frustrating for faculty when a student come for assistance and hasn’t even attempted the problems. Clearly identify what you understand and what you are having difficulty with. This will demonstrate to them that you have made a sincere effort in working on the problems and will enable you to use your faculty’s time efficiently. Remember that faculty are busy people. It is even ok to shoot the breeze with them briefly, but be careful that you aren’t monopolizing their time. If you follow this simple tip, most faculty will be more than happy to assist you. Furthermore, you are demonstrating your commitment to succeeding in their class and if you ever need a recommendation letter, getting to know faculty personally is an invaluable resource.
  • Professor James D. Jones
  • Associate Professor and Associate Head
  • Mechanical Engineering

What is the best way for students to get support for ESL problems?

We understand that international students have different language proficiency backgrounds, which is why we think it’s important for English Language Learners (ELL) to know about several support services on campus and how to access them. One of these student services include The Purdue Writing Lab. We encourage ELLs to visit the Writing Lab as early and often as possible. We suggest that students prepare for their Writing Lab sessions by reviewing a list of FAQs that is provided by the Purdue Writing Lab

What are some of the ways that the Writing Lab staff help students?

One of the reasons we suggest the Writing Lab to students is because the consultants help all writers through all stages of the writing process. They ask you questions intended to help you clarify your ideas and as well as meet the goals of the document. We recommend that you know what you want to work on before you arrive at the Writing Lab and remember that the consultants are available to help you but they will not do the assignment for you. Since Peer evaluation and critique is very common in the United States Education system International students should be prepared for feedback from others. The consultants will assist you in differentiating between accent issues, grammar issues, and help you avoid pitfalls that online translators can create. We know that the expectations of American English readers may be different than what you have been taught in your previous educational systems but don’t worry. We understand that certain elements of writing such citations and avoiding plagiarism are cultural and we know that most students don’t intend to plagiarize. That’s why we strongly suggest getting feedback on your writing is a great way to become comfortable with the language.

What do international engineers struggle with?

We think that even engineers need to be able to write proficiently. We suggest that all students, even engineers, should consider going to the writing lab in order to improve your writing skills which can help your speaking and grammar skills.

We know that lectures will be difficult, attend extra sessions taught by students have taken the class! Supplemental Instruction (SI)

Tip: The main thing that makes classes hard in college is that they are different. It is an adjustment and as a student you should not underestimate the change. These extra lectures are a resource you can use when lectures become hard to understand and you need review. Students that go to SI consistently get higher grades then their peers!

Classes will be hard but we'll prepare you. These tutors are available and the best part is they've taken your classes and know how to help! COSINE Tutoring

Tip: Tutors on campus are not here to do the homework for you, they are here to help you do the homework. The effort you put in to the assignment they will match but this way you have a better chance at understanding difficult material and getting the best grade for your work.

How can I best manage my time?

A lot of us want to do it all, in order to be more involved without compromising academics and to ensure that you’re staying on top of things make sure you manage your time well and visit the Krach Leadership Center for some free Professional Consultation.

Tip: Get a mortar board planner or use google calendar and list all your tasks for the specific days within them to never be caught off guard with more commitments than you have time for.

Color code tasks based on deadlines such as ‘End of day’, ‘End of week’, ‘Luxury (can do if you have spare time)’.