First Year Advising Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently-asked questions offer information on making appointments and issues that students have raised with us.

If you have a question that is not listed in the following FAQs, please email fyadvising@american.edu or call (202) 885-7000 for more information.

Course registration FAQs, AU Core, & Intended Major Requirements

The New Student Registration Webinar walks students through what courses to register for and how to plan and register courses. For more information on how to choose courses, please see the First-Year Course Registration page

Additionally, First Year Advisors will be giving students advice and feedback throughout their first year on campus. Students can email their assigned advisor or make an appointment with them if they have any questions or concerns about their courses.

If students are Undecided, that is okay! This first year is about exploring an intended major through the AU Core Curriculum. Students will work with their First Year Advisor to explore interests and complete first year AU Core Requirements (AUx, Complex Problems, Written Communication and Information Literacy I, and Quantitative Literacy I).

All first year students will have an intended major in their first academic year. Upon completion, students can officially declare a major, add a minor (if they choose), and add a second major (if they choose).

Students can change intended majors over the summer. After the first semester, students will be able to change intended majors as long as minimum GPA and any other requirements are met for the new intended major. Minimum GPA requirements can be found on individual Major pages under "Academic Programs" in the Course Catalog.

Depending on interests, students should work with their First Year Advisor to see if a double major is possible within their ideal time frame and if they should start taking courses in a potential double major in the first year.

Electives are courses that are not required for intended majors, minors, or part of the AU Core. Electives are an opportunity to take courses to explore other areas of interest that students would otherwise not take as part of their major curriculum while still gaining credits towards the 120 credits minimum needed to graduate.

A waitlist occurs when a course section is full and appears as a yellow box with a red outline on the Student Planner in Eagle Service. Seats open up to students on the waitlist when another student drops the section. Students on the waitlist eligible to register for a course will receive an email before 8am the morning after the seat is available. Students have until 5:59am the day after this email was sent to register. Student should check their AU email daily when on a waitlist. Students will have to register by the deadline or the spot will be forfeited. Emails are sent 7 days a week and all deadlines are in EST.

Before students wait list a course, they should always first register for either another section of the same course (if possible) or register for an alternate course – “Wait to wait list.” Planning a course without wait listing does not hold a spot on the waitlist nor are spots guaranteed once someone is on a wait list.

To wait list for a course, click the “Waitlist” button in Eagle Service under the course info. Eagle Service shows the total number of waitlisted students. Students can check their spot on the waitlist on the MyAU Portal under the Academics tab called “Waitlisted Sections” and under the course in the Student Planner in Eagle Service. One can only be on 3 waitlists total and cannot wait list for more than one section of a course. If students are waitlisted for a required course, they should consult with their First Year Advisor for appropriate back-up courses.

The AU Core is the curriculum all students will complete over their time at AU with an inquiry-based focus. The required courses are outlined here: https://www.american.edu/provost/undergrad/core/overview.cfm

Students can see the requirements for all majors, minors, and certificates in the "Academic Programs" section of the Course Catalog. Students can check their progress through Eagle Service (under "My Progress" in the Student Planner) and consult with their First Year Advisor if any questions arise.

All students can make changes to their schedule including adding or dropping courses during the add/drop period. The add/drop period is the first 10 business days of the semester. During the add/drop period, students may add or drop courses or change course sections, except when academic unit or teaching unit explicitly prohibits it, without penalty or notice on their transcript. Students should consult with their First Year Advisor prior to adding or dropping a course.

After the add/ drop date, students can withdraw from a course up until the tenth week of the semester. The Academic Calendar outlines specific deadlines and the percentage of a refund one may be eligible for depending on when they withdrew from a course. Students should consult with their First Year Advisor prior to withdrawing from any classes.

Students should expect to take at least 12 credits, which is considered full time student status. We recommend students complete on average 15 credits every semester. This will keep them on track for graduating.

Especially during the first year, we would recommend keeping credit loads between 14.5-16.5 credits.

Once a student exceeds 17.5 credits, the number of credits allocated to have full-time status, students will be charged additional tuition as a result of the credit load. Additionally, the credit overload requires approval, which is rarely granted during the first year. Students should discuss with their First Year Advisor for more information.

Students are only required to take the Language Placement Exam at AU if a language is required as part of a major or minor or in order to receive credit from an AP language exam with a score of a 5. 

The language course students should take depends on the Language Placement Exam score and intended major. Student who are intended International Studies majors, should discuss with their First Year Advisor if they want to take Hebrew or Korean due to course availability.

If students are starting a NEW language and have no prior experience with the language, they do not need to take the Language Placement Exam– they will start at the Elementary I level of that respective language. Students should communicate this with their First Year Advisor.

If students are planning to pursue a major or minor that eventually requires Calculus, they will need to complete the Math Placement Exam to ensure placement into the appropriate course. Check the exam website for the list of majors that require the exam. You can find the Math Placement Exam as a part of your New Student Checklist

For more information about the Student Planner in Eagle Service, please visit the Student Planning page from the Office of the Registrar.

You can also review the Eagle Service 101: Building Your Course Planner.

Exam Credits & Transfer Credits Questions

AU will accept up to 30 credits earned from exams. Depending on the course, the credit would count towards a major, minor, part of the writing requirement, or elective credit. More info at: https://www.american.edu/admissions/exam-credit.cfm.

The Quantitative Literacy I (math/ stats) requirement must be completed at AU or through dual enrollment / transfer credit before starting at AU. AP/IB and other exam credits will not count towards the Q1.

Students will need to have their official score reports (e.g. AP and IB scores) and transcripts sent to our Undergraduate Admissions Office at:

American University Office of Admissions

4400 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC 20016

Official transcripts can also be emailed to admissions@american.edu.

After starting at AU, students in good academic standing can take a maximum of 10 credits or 3 courses (whichever is greater) of approved study at another institution on a Permit to Study.

Approval must be secured in advance and all courses must be reviewed and articulated by the major department. Students must receive a C or greater in order for these courses to count towards the total number of credits needed to graduate, but the grade will not be computed in their cumulative GPA at AU. AU Core classes cannot be taken at another institution.

Some schools might have additional restrictions about courses students can take on a Permit to Study. Students should consult with their First Year Advisor for further information.

If students wish to take courses for transfer credit before their first semester at AU, they would need to be pre-approved for the appropriate equivalency. The vast majority of AU Core courses will need to be taken at AU as they are specific to our curriculum and course offerings. Students should work with their first-year advisor to discuss courses that would work best for their academic plan.

Students can view the Transfer Articulation Database to see all courses that have already been approved with course equivalencies. If students decide to take a course that hasn’t yet been articulated, they should work with their First Year Advisor to complete the necessary steps to get those courses articulated.

General First Year Student FAQs

Students can contact their First Year Advisor via email or by making an appointment. You should also be using your AU email account (not a personal email) as all University communications will happen through that account.

Prior to a meeting with a First Year Advisor, students should have any questions prepared to make sure all of their concerns are addressed. If they are coming in to discuss next semester’s course registration, please plan intended classes in the Eagle Service student planner. If students have other questions or forms that need to be signed, they should make sure to bring them filled out prior to their appointment, if possible.

Most students that study abroad for credit do so in their 3rd year. There are programmatic exceptions that allow for studying abroad earlier. Students should work with their advisor to plan for their abroad semester. For more information on study abroad opportunities, please visit AU Abroad.

The university does not allow first year students to do an internship for credit unless they are participating in the AU Cornerstone program. We want students to prioritize their transition (both socially and academically) to the university.

Visit the quick links on the right side for a more detailed list of resources to utilize. We would recommend visiting the following resources as a starting point: Academic Success Coaching, Tutoring Services, Writing Center, and CLEAR.

Please reach out to your First Year Advisor!

Please check ISSS website for resources. You can also schedule an appointment with ISSS advisor!