Thursday, August 3, 2017

Foundations Friday Recap

Did you miss the Foundations Friday chat with Dean Grabiner and Dean Kuan Tsu? Here's a recap of the questions that were asked.

External Credit
I received a 5 on an AP exam but don’t feel ready to take the higher level course in that subject. If I choose to take the introductory level course in the subject I received AP credit for, what will happen?
Barnard’s policy is that you can only get credit for EITHER the AP score OR the equivalent class. If you choose to take a class that is understood as equivalent to an AP score you've sent it, you'll receive credit for the course, and the AP credit will be removed.  And we do encourage that you not become so attached to the idea of coming in with AP credit that you avoid taking an equivalent class when it makes educational sense.

I was wondering if you could clarify some of the rules for AP credit with psychology?

Introduction to Psychology and the Psychology AP is the exception to the AP credit policy that you can only receive credit for an AP test or the equivalent class at Barnard, but not both. If you receive AP credit for psychology and take the course Introduction to Psychology at Barnard, you can receive credit for both AP and the class. See Psychology Department FAQ page for this and more.

Is it possible for me to be exempt from a prerequisite course by using AP credit in the spring semester?
Your AP credits stay with you during your time at Barnard. If there's a higher level course you'd like to take in the spring, feel free to use your AP credits to skip over the intro course if allowed!

When are we able to see the credits we get for AP credits on our transcripts?
After the registrar has processed your scores. You should be able to see them in mid- or late-August. If you see AP tests listed in your Course Plan or Timeline for fall 2017, click on Unofficial Transcript to see the credits you've been granted. The same is true for IB, A levels, and other similar exam-based credit.

I took courses at a university before I arrived at Barnard. Can I transfer these credits to Barnard? When and how should I do that?
If you took college courses before you came to Barnard, you can submit these credits for transfer if the course fulfills the following conditions stated in the Barnard College Catalog:
The courses must be intended primarily for college students and taught at the college by members of its faculty, and must be in excess of the courses required for the high school diploma. With the exception of Advanced Placement courses overseen by the College Board, courses taught in a high school, either by specially trained high school teachers or by college instructors, will not be credited toward the Barnard degree.
If the course fulfills these conditions, then you can submit these credits for approval after you complete 12 credits at Barnard (usually after your first semester). You can be granted a maximum of 15 credits for these courses. While you’ll have to wait a little bit before you can receive the credits, it’s never to early to have your official transcript from the different college or university sent to the registrar’s office, For more information on external credit, click this link:

How do I know if a course fulfills a Foundation requirement? How do I know if a course fulfills multiple Foundations requirements?
To see which courses satisfy the Foundations requirements, you may refer to this handy list:  
You'll notice that some courses satisfy more than one of the Foundations requirements. Remember a single course can fulfill requirements within two different ones of the following categories: Modes of Thinking, Distributional Requirements, Major requirements, minor requirements, elective credits.

How do I know that I am fulfilling Foundations requirements? Is there a record of some sort? How do I indicate that I want a course to fulfill a certain Foundations requirement?
On myBarnard, you can track your Foundations progress under the “My Progress” tab in Academic Advising. For courses that can count for more than one requirement (e.g. a Mode of Thinking, a Distributional Requirement, a possible major requirement), the computer will try to maximize your credit.  You shouldn't have to tell anyone which things you want it to count for -- and you may see things move around as you take different courses. Courses will show up under the appropriate category once the semester begins, and once you complete all the necessary course in any area, My Progress will show that requirement as "Fulfilled."

Does participating in a varsity sport fulfill the P.E. requirement?
Yes, a varsity sport can fulfill the P.E. requirement. If you are a confirmed member of a Varsity team, you don't need another PE class and should register for your varsity sport on myBarnard to ensure you are getting the proper credit. Do this by searching the Student Planning catalogue for PHED-UN1005 INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS and selecting the section that corresponds to your team (e.g. Section 012 INTRCOL ATH:WOMEN'S FENCING).

I am interested in designing my own major and was wondering what the process is like to do so?
It is possible to design your own special or combined major, but most people are able to figure out a way to study what they want within the existing majors.  You can discuss your interests with your adviser or class dean to see what makes sense for you. In order to design your own major, you need to first have a conversation with the class dean.  The process involves petitioning to a faculty committee, called the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing, which meets when the academic semester is in session. Here's more information about special and combined majors and the petition process: and

When do most students declare their major?
Students typically declare their major in the spring of their sophomore year.

When it comes to those of us who are undecided regarding which major to pursue, what are some tips you have regarding choosing classes within your first year?
My advice is to think about exploring your diverse interests -- and possibly using Foundations as a guide to help you choose courses. By utilizing Foundations as a way to explore subjects, you can fulfill requirements while learning what kinds of questions interest you, what kinds of homework you look forward to, what kinds of classes are most exciting to you.

Any suggestions for potential double majors for successfully completing Foundations requirements?
Courses may double count for requirements, so a course you take for Foundations may simultaneously count for the major.

Could you give some more information on the Human Rights joint major program? Is the joint program open to any major at Barnard?
To obtain a joint major in Human Rights Studies, a student must complete requirements for the Human Rights program AND the major requirements for another department. One may combine Human Rights with just about any discipline, but keep in mind the senior thesis has to be on a human rights topic.  Certain majors may not lend themselves to this easily.  You should discuss your interests with the Human Rights Program director.
Visit for more information on the program.

I was wondering if there are going to be language placement tests offered during NSOP?
There will be language placement tests for almost all languages offered by Barnard and Columbia during NSOP. In a few cases, you may just be directed to contact the department. This info will be posted on the FY Blog, and also in the Guidebook app version of the NSOP schedule.

Does Spanish have an online placement exam? When should I take it?
Spanish is the only language to have an online placement test available prior to NSOP. The Spanish placement test is open now on myBarnard. If you are planning to take a Spanish course this Fall semester, please take the online placement exam before you arrive on campus for NSOP. If you achieve a certain score on the online placement exam, you will be asked to take another brief exam during NSOP to confirm your placement.

Do I have to start a language during my first-year or can I start it later? Can I take multiple languages?
If you want to start a language after your first year you can! And depending on your previous language experiences and available space, you can take multiple language courses at once. To fulfill Foundations, however, you must complete 2 semesters of the same language. Additionally, if you're interested in study abroad, some programs recommend you start the language early on in your college career.

How do I know if I should taken an intensive elementary language course instead of a normal language course?
Your placement test results should help you figure out if you're a good candidate for one of these super-intensive courses that compresses a year of instruction into a single semester.  Usually, if you have some background but feel it's inconsistent, or if you know another related language well, this can be a great way to make sure you are covering all the things you may have missed without feeling you're spending too much time on stuff you already know.

Course Selection/Registration
For writing classes with an application process, do we pre-register for all of these courses in advance, or do we wait until we hear back from those reading our applications?  
You’ll need to wait and hear back about your application before you register for a writing course with an application process. With these specific courses you will not be able to enroll in the course until after you have been admitted.

I've noticed that some classes available to first-years are 3000 level classes. Are these classes supposed to be "harder”? What is the significance of the number level of a class?
It is often the case that 1000 and 2000-level classes are more introductory than 3000-level classes, but this is not true across the board. Some departments list 3000 level courses as appropriate to first years. It is specific to each department how they decide which classes are open to first years. See Recommended Courses for First-Years by Department blog post for more info.

There are First-Year Seminar classes listed with no available sections in the fall. Will all of these seminars be available come spring, or will they change?
Spring seminar courses are not yet listed.  You can see last spring's options to get an idea of what may be offered, but it does vary from semester to semester, depending on who is teaching and their areas of interest and expertise.

I'm looking into taking physical education in the fall, but I was curious if I were to sign up for PE now, would I be able to drop the course in the fall if necessary, or is it a set course that cannot be dropped, similar to FYW and FYS?
You can drop P.E. in the fall. FYW and FYS are the only courses you cannot drop once the semester begins.

Are you allowed to continue planning courses after preregistration ends?
Yes! After you register for a FYW/FYS/P.E. course, you can continue to plan your other courses around your FYE classes. There will be one more add/drop preregistration period when you can change your FYW/FYS/PE registration the week of August 14-18. You will not be able to register for other courses until registration begins on September 1st.  

Regarding the non-FYE classes, when will we actually be registered for them? Will we be able to add/drop non FYE classes until NSOP?
You're only planning your non-FYE courses during the summer. You will meet with an adviser during NSOP, and then you'll actually register Sept. 1 and 2.  You are able to add and drop FYE courses during designated periods up to the end of your Sept. 2 registration period.  After that, you can add/drop other courses, but your FYE course remains fixed as soon as classes begin.

Regarding waitlists, when would you know when you are taken off the waitlist and enrolled into a particular course? In the meantime, how many back-up courses should you register for?
You won't be waitlisting for anything until non-FYE registration begins on Sept. 1.  At that point, you'll be able to register for classes that have space and also waitlist for classes that are full or seem full.  Of those, some are only seemingly full, as they are artificially small in order to save room for you.  Faculty will be managing those waitlists throughout the days of Sept 1-4 in particular, but you'll also find that, as other students add, drop, move around, change their minds, you may get in off of waitlists during the first week or so of classes -- very often, in fact.  If you do get into a class off of a waitlist, you will receive an email saying so. You should then check your registration on Student Planning -- if the class you got into is now showing up as green (registered), then you'll be good to go. If not, contact the Barnard registrar who will help make sure your online schedule catches up with this new reality.

On Student Planning, when should you choose the Pass/Fail option as opposed to the graded one?
Some classes are taught only pass/fail, like P.E. courses, and some you can choose to take for a grade of Pass/D/Fail. Pass/D/Fail is different from pass/fail. Even if you would like to take a class Pass/D/Fail, you should select the option to take the class graded when you add it to your schedule. There is a separate process to take a class Pass/D/Fail. There is no need to decide if you would like to take a class graded or Pass/D/Fail right now. The deadline to elect to take a class pass/D/fail is about a month into the semester, so you have time to see how you're doing and consult with advisers and deans as needed.  Read more about this option at

During the shopping period, are we allowed to shop for two classes with clashing timings? Are we allowed sit in for parts of each of the first lectures, or do we need to decide which class to take before sitting in?
When you’re shopping two courses at the same time, it can be challenging, as instructors partly gauge your seriousness about joining the class by whether you are present.  You also can't register for two classes that conflict (though you can register for one and waitlist or plan another).  Instructors do know that students are shopping, so if you really want to do this, you can, let's say, go to one class on Tuesday and the other on Thursday, but if you do, you need to try to get the syllabus and do the reading for the Thursday class if at all possible. It is not recommended to attend only part of a class and then leave to join another one late. Professors  will find that disrespectful and distracting to them and fellow students.

Important caveat: Some courses will require you to be present on the first day of class to secure your spot in the class. Be sure to check course descriptions to see if that’s noted there.

Religious Absences
What´s the school policy regarding students who miss classes/tests for religious holidays?
From the Barnard website (
It is the policy of Barnard College to respect its members' religious beliefs. In compliance with New York State law, each student who is absent from school because of her religious beliefs will be given an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up examination, study, or work requirements that she may have missed because of such absence on a particular day or days. No student will be penalized for absence due to religious beliefs, and alternative means will be sought for satisfying the academic requirements involved.

Those responsible for the scheduling of academic activities or essential services are expected to avoid conflict with religious holidays as much as possible. If a suitable arrangement cannot be worked out between the student and the instructor involved, the instructor should consult the Associate Provost. If an additional appeal is needed, it may be taken to the Provost.

Our advice on how to do this in practice: In general, if you need to miss classes for any reason, whether for religious reasons, family or personal emergencies, or illness, you should speak with the instructor and make arrangements to make up any missed work if the absences are allowed.  If you'll be absent for an extended period of time, you should also notify the class dean, who can help you plan ahead and think about how to communicate, catch up, or make alternate arrangements if needed.
Missing class in order to travel or for other discretionary reasons is discouraged, but for this or anything else, you should talk to your instructor early in the semester (well in advance of any plans or holidays you know are coming up) to see what may be possible.  You should always let them know what you're doing to keep up/make up work and ask them if they have any other advice

If you have an important religious obligation during NSOP, you should talk with your OL.