Resources for Undeclared Students

Three years ago, when I entered UC Davis as an Undeclared Life Sciences student, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, what career path I wanted to pursue, or what I wanted to do with my life in general. My interests were very widespread and all over the place. One week I would be inspired by an article I had read about a new, groundbreaking biomedical device and would “decide” that I would major in Biomedical Engineering and the next week I would have a meaningful interaction with an academic advisor and decide I wanted to go into higher education and counseling.

While I only officially changed my major twice (first from Undeclared Life Sciences to Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and then to Biopsychology), I changed my mind about a million other times. While this time of exploration was exciting and having so many options felt freeing, I also really struggled with figuring out how I should go about making this decision and finding resources to help me determine my passions. Many of my conversations with Undeclared students in advising appointments center around this idea – that having so many major and career options is overwhelming and they just don’t know where to start.

If you are in the same boat as so many of us at UC Davis and are unsure about your major or future career, here are some difference resources that you can utilize to help aid your decision.

Major Exploration Tool

The major exploration tool is an online program that asks you to designate different academic and career-related categories you are interested in. Based upon your answers, it then generates a lists of majors that could be a good fit, the major descriptions, and links to their websites.

Major Card Sort Tool

The major card sort tool is an online program that gives you descriptions of various majors and asks you if you are interested, possibly interested or not interested in each description. Once you have responded to all the cards, a list of majors you would most likely be interested in will populate and you can explore the tool’s suggestions.

What can I do with my major or degree?

The Internship and Career Center houses the “What can I do with my major or degree?” web page which has a huge amount of data about UC Davis, the four colleges, and all of the different majors. It includes links to employment and salary statistics for UC Davis graduates.

Career Exploration by Interest Area

The ICC also has a page dedicated to information on different interest areas like Health and Medicine, Food and Beverage, and Biological Sciences. Each interest area has extensive information on related fields and careers, campus organizations, and professional associations.

UC Davis majors

This link lists all of the majors at UC Davis and provides information such as real world outcomes for the major, the requirements, the department website, and major advisor’s email.

Advising Resources:

Student Portal: The Online Advising Student Information System (OASIS)

OASIS provides links for advising, advising resources, important quarterly calendar dates, as well as various forms and petitions, along with GPA calculators and tools., is your personal academic advising tool.

Biology Academic Success Center (BASC)

Location: 1023 Sciences Laboratory Building

Contact Information: (530) 752-0410 or

Schedule an appointment:

Undergraduate Advisor (located at the Biology Academic Success Center)

Undergraduate advisors can evaluate draft study plans for proper course sequences and workload, perform degree checks, and provide information on university and college rules and regulations. Go to to schedule an appointment one of the undeclared program advisors.

Peer Advisors

As BASC peer advisors, we are all currently enrolled  in one of the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Majors. We can help you with questions regarding courses and scheduling, filling out petitions, general education requirements, getting involved on-campus, and on-campus resources.

During the academic year, we are available daily for drop-in advising at the BASC from 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm Monday through Thursday and 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm on Fridays. We are also available in the Academic Advising Centers in the Residence Halls for drop-in advising.

UC Davis General Catalog:

The catalog contains course descriptions from every department as well as important general academic information, college and graduation requirements, student rights and responsibilities and much more! The University publishes the catalog online: – familiarize yourself with it as much as possible.

Good luck with your decision! My biggest pieces of advice are to give yourself time and freedom to explore and to not get discouraged when you don’t like a class or major you thought you would. Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do like.

Katie Galsterer
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year: Biopsychology Major, Nutrition Science Minor


What’s up with the new pre-req check?

This past week, we all received an email about how starting Fall 2017, Schedule Builder will automatically be enforcing prerequisites for courses. Since then, we’ve had several students come into the Biology Academic Success Center (BASC) to inquire as to what that means. If that email was the first time you’ve heard about the new pre-req check, then congratulations,  this means that you completed all of the prerequisites for your classes for this quarter. The College of Biological Sciences actually started using Schedule Builder’s automatic prerequisite checking system for Spring 2017 registration. However, as of Fall 2017 registration, the practice will be campus-wide.

To view the prerequisites for a course, search for the course in schedule builder and then click “show details” on the right side of the screen. Under the course description, you will see the prerequisites for the course listed.

So how will this prerequisite checking system affect your registration? Ultimately, if you are staying on top of your prerequisites, it won’t! However, say you want to register for a class, let’s call it ABC 123, that you haven’t completed the listed prerequisite for, you will now have to fill out a prerequisite petition that is made available to you on Schedule Builder. Also, if you think that another class you have taken has prepared you to be successful for ABC 123, you still have to complete the petition. Let’s take a look at what that would be like.

For the purpose of this blog, I added BIS 104 into my schedule. I have not completed one of its prerequisites, BIS 101, so the following message popped up:

bis 104 no pre req.PNG

Now, let’s say that hypothetically I was planning on taking the equivalent of BIS 101 at UCLA over the summer, so I decided to complete the the prerequisite petition so that I could still register for BIS 104. I would then click on the prerequisite petition and fill it out. This is what it would look like:

pre req petition

Here, I could explain my situation and upload evidence that I was registered for the equivalent of BIS 101 at UCLA. It is recommended that you include as much information on the prerequisite course as possible (expanded course description and/or course syllabus).

As soon as you submit the petition, Schedule Builder will allow you to register for the given class. You do not need to wait for it to be approved. The approval process will not happen until pass 2 (which is in August or September for Fall 2017 registration). At this point, it is at the instructor’s discretion if they approve the petition or not. If they decide not to approve it, then you will be dropped from the course. Therefore, do not assume that if you fill out the petition and register for the class, you will guaranteed a spot.

Also, make sure that when you’re filling out the petition that you are specific about why you do not need to take the listed prerequisite. If you are submitting the petition because you think a different class should suffice as a prerequisite, then be specific about what topics were covered and how it prepared you.
Another feature of this update, is that Schedule Builder will warn you if you save a class that you are currently enrolled in the prerequisite for. Don’t worry, this alert won’t prevent you from registering! However, if you don’t pass the prerequisite class, then you will be dropped from the class, again, at the discretion of the instructor.

pre req in progress.PNG

In fact, dropping you from the class is not the only thing that is up to the instructor’s discretion, it is also their decision to participate in the prerequisite checking system at all. Some may opt out. So if you notice that you haven’t completed a prerequisite for a class, but are not blocked from registration, this may be the case. That being said, as advisers, we strongly recommend completing the prerequisite(s) before you take a class regardless.

Good luck registering and be sure to come into BASC if you have any questions about the prerequisite check or about registration in general.

Katie Galsterer
3rd Year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior Major
Nutrition Science Minor
BASC Peer Advisor

Why UC Davis?

I didn’t have the most linear experience deciding where I wanted to go to college. Rewind to 3 years ago, I was absolutely set on going to a private school in Colorado so that I could be on their figure skating team. I was so certain of my college plans that when I found out that I was accepted to UC Davis, I shrugged off the accomplishment, not giving it much thought, while my friends around me who also got their acceptances were crying from happiness and celebrating.

So what happened? Obviously I’m not at a private school in Colorado. What initially changed my college trajectory was me and my family’s realization that an out-of-state, private school was not financially plausible. So suddenly, with only a few weeks before I had to commit to a school, I needed to find a plan B. At first, I was crushed and didn’t even want to look at other options, but finally, after moping around for a few days, I decided to seriously consider my other options.

My mom and I scheduled tours at four universities around California. First up was UC Berkeley, tempted by the university’s prestige, I really wanted to love it there. But, it just didn’t feel quite right. I couldn’t see myself going there. As cliche as it sounds, it just didn’t click. So, even more discouraged at this point, I moved on to the next school – our very own UC Davis.

I unfortunately don’t remember my tour guide’s name, but I do remember their avid and genuine enthusiasm for the school. And as we walked throughout campus, I was struck by how friendly everyone was. Students biking past yelled “Go UC Davis!” and various other exclamations. (It probably helped that I didn’t tour during midterms or finals.) It seemed as though, even though UC Davis is a large university, it was still a community – an observation that I still stand by today. Having grown up in a town of 7,000 people, this feeling of community and familiarity was and is very comforting to me.

Hearing from the tour guide about the various resources on campus also added to that feeling of community. It was apparent that UC Davis took student support very seriously. My interest was peaked when I heard about all the internship and research opportunities. Previously, I had pictured going to a UC like being a tiny fish in a huge pond, where opportunities like internships were elusive and hard to come by. Hearing that there were centers like the Internship and Career Center was both surprising and exciting.

Incredibly relieved that I had liked the campus, I spent the hour and a half drive home glued to my phone, doing research about the different academic programs at UC Davis. All I knew at this point in my life was that I wanted to major in something science-y, but I knew nothing beyond that. Reading about majors like Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior (my future major), Biomedical Engineering, and Genetics, among many others, made me realize that going to a big university like UCD would give me so many more options than if I went to a small private school. As a very indecisive, stereotypical Pisces, having so many options to choose from was a huge factor in my ultimate decision to attend Davis.

So, after realizing that I could easily see myself biking around the campus for the next four years and learning about the different academic programs offered, my mind was basically made up. I ended up cancelling my tours at the last two schools I was considering attending and submitted my intent to register that next week. And, here I am, 3 years later, incredibly grateful for my winding journey that led me to become an Aggie.

Katie Galsterer
3rd Year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, Class of 2018
BASC Peer Advisor

Navigating online UCD resources

UC Davis has about a billion different websites (a very scientific measurement, I know), so it can be challenging to figure out what website to go to if you are looking for something specific. Here are some of the academic websites and their functions that I have found to be very helpful as a UC Davis student.

My UC Davis

If you only remember one website from this list, remember My UC Davis, because it has links to just about all of the following academic websites and much, much more. So when in doubt, if you can’t remember the name of a UC Davis website and a google search has failed you, try going there. You can find a link to Schedule Builder, OASIS, Canvas, and Smartsite, as well as a link to your student record under the “Academics” tab.


On OASIS, or the Online Advising Student Information System, you can view your past academic record, see if you’ve made the Dean’s Honors list, submit forms such as a change of major form or an excess unit form, and have some fun with your GPA. That sounds a bit hard to believe, right? Fun and GPA in the same sentence? However through OASIS’s “What if GPA” tool, you can see how your GPA would change based on predictions for the grades in your current classes. Another function of OASIS is creating an academic plan. An academic plan is essentially a schedule of your courses until you graduate. You can start a new academic plan by going to the “Forms & Petitions” tab, clicking on “Submit a New Form” and choosing “Academic Plan.” If you want help creating an academic plan, feel free to come into the BASC to meet with a peer advisor. We are academic plan pros!

Schedule Builder

If you are a registered student, then you have used Schedule Builder, so I won’t bore you by going over its basic functions. However, there are some functions on Schedule Builder that aren’t very well known, but are very useful. For example, if you are looking for a class that fulfills specific GE requirements, then first click on “Add/Search Courses” and then “Show Advanced Options.” From there, you can check which GE requirements you want a class to fulfill and also filter the search by choosing the number of units, if you want a lower or upper division course, and by any time preferences you may have.

Class Search Tool

For those of us, myself included, who entered UC Davis Fall 2014 or later, this is probably one of the lesser known websites. Schedule Builder has essentially taken over the main function of the Class Search Tool which is to look up the different classes that are offered each quarter. However, the one thing that Class Search Tool can do and that schedule builder cannot is to go back to previous years so that you can see what was offered. Why would you want to do that? Well, if you are considering taking summer session, the classes offered during summer session aren’t typically posted until March. This search tool will not be able to tell you for sure what will be offered, but you can look up if a particular class has been taught during the past couple summers. That can be an indication of if it might be offered this year. Also, while searching for courses you can view prerequisites, the GE credits allotted to each course, and drop deadlines.

BASC Website

The BASC website has so many awesome resources that you can utilize. For every College of Biological Sciences major, there are detailed requirements as well as sample study plans. Additionally, there’s information about our college requirements, changing your major, research and careers, and links to forms and petitions. Some of the more common petitions are the petition for substituting a different course for one of your major’s restricted electives and the late drop petition. You can also make an appointment with your major advisor on the BASC website! If you have not explored it yet, I highly recommend doing so.

General Catalog

Visit this site if you want to read descriptions of majors and minors, courses, and get more information about the university and college requirements. The detailed  major requirements that can be found by clicking on “Programs and Courses,” the major you are interested in, and then “Requirements,” is great to have open if you are working on your academic plan on OASIS. Additionally on the general catalog, when searching for classes you can see what GE credit a course satisfies, what quarters the course is generally offered, and the prerequisites for each course.

Major Exploration Tool

If you are feeling unsure about which major to pursue, then the Major Exploration Tool could be great resource. It asks you to designate different categories you are interested in and then generates a lists of majors, their descriptions, and links to their websites that may interest you.

Health Professions Advising

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the health field, check out the Health Professions Advising (HPA, for short) website. I am constantly referring to it for my own academic use and, also, when I meet with students. You can view the different prerequisite coursework for each health career by clicking on the “Pre-Health Requirements” tab and then choosing your intended professional school on the right side of the screen. You can also learn about upcoming events put on by HPA by clicking on the calendar shown on the homepage. Their events range from workshops on suturing to seminars put on by admissions boards of different professional schools. If you aren’t sure about what health profession you want to pursue, then you can explore them by browsing through the “Health Careers” tab. Finally, if you want to talk to a health professions advisor there is also a link for scheduling an appointment on the homepage as well.

Hopefully you learned a new website or a new function of a website and feel more prepared to navigate our online resources successfully. As always, if you have more questions about these resources, come in to BASC and chat with a peer advisor. Our drop-in hours for Winter Quarter are from 9am-12pm and 1pm-6pm Monday and Wednesdays, 9am-12pm and 4pm-6pm Tuesdays and Thursdays,  and from 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm on Fridays.

Katie Galsterer
3rd Year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, Class of 2018
BASC Peer Advisor

How to Prep for Finals like a Pro

Just like that it’s Week 8. Somehow, even though the quarter has felt endless with countless midterms, papers, and projects, it is now coming to a close. So what now? Thanksgiving will tease us with a short break, but then we will come back and will have to get ready to tackle our finals. Unfortunately, unlike many of our friends on semester systems, we don’t have the luxury of a dead week, or even a dead day, so it’s vital to have a deliberate study plan. Whether you’re a first-year student or transfer student, new to UC Davis finals, or a seasoned fourth year looking to spice up your studying routine, here are some tips about how to successfully prep for finals.

Change your studying locations. I recommend switching up where you study. It’s easy to get bored and unproductive if you’re in one place for too long, so explore the campus and the town of Davis! Try studying in the library, the Student Community Center, the residence hall lounges, the arboretum, or coffee shops in Davis (Temple is my personal favorite) and see where you are most productive. Also, play around with different noise levels and see what you like. Personally, when it’s too quiet, I tend to get more distracted than if there is a bit of background noise. However, I have many friends who focus much better when it is silent. For more options for study spots, check out this link:

Find a study group now. If you haven’t already, start talking to people in your classes about forming a study group. Study groups are great resources for not only figuring out what you don’t know and filling in those gaps, but also reinforcing what you do know. You’ll know that you have mastered a topic if you can explain it to your peers.

Experiment with different music playlists. Some students swear by listening to classical music, while others prefer the Top-40. Try studying with different genres of music and see what helps you focus best. A good rule of thumb is that if you find yourself getting distracted by outside conversations while trying to maintain your own conversation, songs with lyrics might be too distracting for you. Personally, I can study subjects like math or chemistry while listening to songs with lyrics, but if I am reading or writing, I focus better with instrumental music.

Make (and stick to) a study plan. Draft a study plan before or during Week 10. Since all of our exams are within 5 days of each other, it can be difficult to prioritize studying for each class. I like using Google calendar to form my study plan, but paper plans or your phone’s calendar work well too! I first determine how many total hours I need to study for each class and then distribute those hours out between however many study days I have. From there, I try to stick to my plan, but if I am on a roll with one subject and don’t want to switch over to a different one, then I reassign some of my hours. Try to avoid crossing out hours without rescheduling them!

Take active breaks. Get your blood flowing during long spans of studying. Whether that means taking a 3 minute dance break to your favorite Justin Timberlake song or going to the ARC, you will be more productive and refreshed if you don’t sit for hours on end. The Atlantic reported that people were actually at their peak productivity if they worked on a task for 52 minutes and then took a 17 minute break away from their computer.

Utilize your resources. Attend review sessions, professor and TA office hours, and take advantage of all the amazing tutoring we have on campus. For those of you living in the residence halls – math, chemistry, and writing tutoring is held in the Academic Advising Centers from 5-9pm in Segundo and Tercero and 6-9pm in Cuarto Monday through Thursday. The Student Academic Success Center, SASC, also has free, drop-in tutoring available for various subjects.

Try implementing a reward system. Especially towards the end of finals week, it’s common to lose your motivation. Consider tempting yourself with yummy snacks or a short episode on Netflix to persuade yourself to study. For instance, every page your read, you get to eat an M&M or after every 2 hours of studying, you get to watch a 25 minute episode of Friends.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Eating, drinking (at least some of that liquid shouldn’t contain caffeine), sleeping, and bathing are all important, so be sure you are caring for your body and not just working your mind all day. Sleep is especially important. It’s been shown that sleep deprivation increases stress, decreases immune response, and impairs cognitive function, so getting a sufficient amount of sleep (6 hours minimum) is imperative to retain information and to be successful on your exams. For more information, check out the research done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

And, finally, stay positive. If a final doesn’t go well or if you have a bad day studying, then reset, go back to your study plan, and move forward!

Image result for finals week meme

Katie Galsterer

3rd Year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, Class of 2018

BASC Peer Advisor