Peer Advising 101: Most Common Questions and How I Google Answers

Peer advisers receive a lot questions that could be answered if the many UC Davis websites were more easily navigable. Much of the peer adviser work comes in the form of knowing what to Google and how to navigate through UC Davis websites to find relevant information. Here are some of the most frequent reasons for visiting a peer adviser and what I will Google to help answer them.

Graduation check

In my experience, the most common reason for seeking BASC drop-in advising is for a graduation check. Graduation checks involve checking miscellaneous college and university requirements in addition to major and general education requirements. I usually find the above links with a Google search similar to this:

basc degree requirements

Seniors who are seeking a pre-graduation degree check will be referred to their major adviser due to the importance of such a check. However, peer advisers are happy to help students who have questions about their major requirements or GE progress. In the BASC office, we use a paper copy of the GE requirements as a visual reference for explaining the overlap rules and which requirements are satisfied by major courses. Degree requirement PDFs for each CBS major are available on their respective BASC website pages (Select Major > left sidebar > Major Requirements (B.S/A.B.)).

basc major requirements

Alternatively, you can find degree requirements on the general catalog.

I will also pull up the student’s OASIS and MyDegree.

mydegree google.PNG

MyDegree provides a visualization of one’s progress in GE and major requirements as per their OASIS record. Ignore the “degree progress” bar at the top of MyDegree and focus on what it says about the completion of each requirement. Always compare MyDegree alongside OASIS in case MyDegree omits a class. Mistakes sometimes arise through MyDegree, so use the resource with caution and clarify any possible mistakes with a major adviser.

Schedule planning

The second most common reason for seeing a peer adviser seems to be to plan upcoming schedules. I will still bring up OASIS and MyDegree to keep track of what courses they have taken already. Schedule Builder is an obvious resource for planning schedules and checking course offerings for the following quarter. For planning more than one quarter ahead, I google two additional things:


On the general catalog, I navigate to “Departments, Programs, & Degrees”. This brings up a full list of departments within the University. If planning the order to take upper division BIS courses, for example, select the Biological Sciences department and then navigate to the BIS courses tab in the upper right. This provides a full list of BIS courses, their descriptions, and prerequisites.

general catalog
The tabs next to BIS courses contain degree requirements for B.S. and A.B. in Biological Sciences.

My second google search:


The course search tool allows us to look back in time at what courses were offered during past quarters. This can help give an idea of when courses are offered in the future. For example, if CHE 8A has been offered every Fall and Spring for the last three years, but never in Winter, we have good reason to believe it will continued to be offered in Fall and Spring but not Winter. Another way to check when courses might be offered in the future is through the OASIS academic plan tool (Forms and Petitions > Submit A New Form > Academic Plan). If you select a course on a quarter it is not typically offered, the academic plan will warn you with a small red warning next to that course.


Is it too late to drop a course?

Another very common type of question I get is “how do I add, drop, P/NP a course? / is it too late to drop, add, P/NP a course?” To answer the second question, I generally google:

ucd calendar google

The UC Davis academic calendar outlines important deadlines each quarter, including last day to add classes, drop classes, opt for P/NP, and add/drop with a PTA/PTD.

The question of how depends on what action they are trying to take. If adding, dropping, swapping sections, or electing P/NP before the relevant deadline, simply use schedule builder. Click Edit next to Letter Grading to change to P/NP, and click Actions to Swap sections or drop.

svched build

Late adding a course is also done through schedule builder after receiving the PTA from the professor. Late dropping requires adviser approval, and the petition is initiated through OASIS.


Web searching may seem menial, but with these simple Google searches and knowing how to navigate the links I provide above, the majority of questions I get from other students seeking drop-in advising can be answered. The amount of information available spread across innumerable UCD websites can be daunting when trying to figure out (for example) “can I graduate?” Concise Google searches and knowing where first to look is how peer advisers answer those sort of questions for students every day.

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year, Genetics and Genomics major


Making a Four-Year Plan

Pass 1 for Winter 2016 is coming up. Some of you may already have a beautiful schedule lined up and some of you may still be frantically searching for classes to take, feeling lost and anxious. Whichever individual you are at the moment, you should seriously consider making a rough four-year plan or revising one you already have. Creating a four-year plan can seem daunting, time consuming, and unnecessary; however, in the long run your academic life will be much easier with a pre-planned schedule. Think about all those pass times that you won’t have to stress over! For many of you, creating a four-year plan may mean making life defining decisions such as: Should I go to Medical School? Will I be taking a gap year before work? Do I want to change my major? Am I finally going to minor in Spanish like I said I would?  Our recommendation is: make a plan now and don’t be afraid to change it along the way! Here are some simple steps to get started.


  • FRUSTRATEDKIDTalk to An Adviser (Or Multiple) 

Not sure where to begin when planning your future? When in doubt, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your major adviser or come by during drop-in hours  to see a peer adviser. Trained professionals are available to give you the know how’s and the what’s ups to making an academic plan.

What about Double Majoring?

Finishing a double major at UC Davis requires tactful and strategic arranging of classes and definitely, lots of planning. When making a plan be sure to visit the advisers of both majors you intend to finish.

Thinking About Minoring?

Finishing one minor or even multiple minors is a great way to broaden your academic experience. Most minors require roughly 20 units; it’s also important to check for prerequisites and other minute details. For more information, talk to an adviser for the college or department you plan on minoring in.

Planning on Going to Professional School?NorthHall-Large

For many of you, applying to college won’t be the last time you needed to write a personal statement; find teachers for letters of recommendations; take a standardized exam; and ensure you fulfill all the prerequisites for your future dream school. This is where a four-year plan can really help you reach your professional dreams and make sure you fulfill all prerequisites, GE’s, and university/major requirements before you graduate. Applying to professional school is indeed difficult, but thankfully there are trained advisers available to guide you through the application process. Visit UC Davis’ Pre-Graduate/Professional Advising in 111 South Hall or go to 1011 SLB to talk to a Pre-Health Professions Adviser \

  • Make a List of Prospective Classes  

So, you’ve already seen your major adviser and you’re on track to graduate–Great! The next thing to do is incorporate interesting and/or relevant classes into your four-year plan. Exploring the General Catalog is a great place to begin, as it contains all the major/minor requirements, a list of all the GE’s offered on campus. Tip: The letters and numerals you see here:  QL, SE, SL, VL.—I, II, III. (I, II, III.) These tell you what GE’s the class fulfills and also the quarter that class is offered. (I. means fall, II. means winter, and III. means spring)                                                               You can also narrow down your search using Schedule Builder’s Advanced Options. Extra Tip: Jot these classes down into a planner or into your computer so you can access them later.


  • Sit Down and Actually Make a Plan planning baby

So, you’ve more or less decided on a career and have compiled a list of interesting classes–you’re ready to start planning! Be sure to allocate a time block of a few hours to sit down infront of a computer and churn out a four-year plan. Many students like to use Excel but we also recommend using Oasis‘s Academic Plan form.    Such a form can be found under the Forms and Petitions Tab on Oasis. When plugging and chugging the classes you want to take, be sure to consider a few things…

Fulfill Prerequisites:

Most upper-division major requirements have prerequisite classes, and it is important to make sure you’ve filled in all your prerequisite courses before putting in your major classes. Not having the right prerequisites could result in being dropped from the class or being unprepared for the course, so be sure to take a look in the General Catalog or on Schedule Builder for specific details.

Consider SS1 or SS2: 

UC Davis offers a large majority of major classes during the summer, and students tend to perform better in classes taken during the summer time. Instead of spreading yourself thin with multiple classes, you can focus all your efforts on one class! If you want to get ahead of your schedule or take a load off of your normal academic quarter, definitely plan on taking a class or two in the summer. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can talk to the Financial Aid Office regarding your financial needs or make vacation plans with friends and family.

Make Time for Studying Abroad: abroad

Did you know students can take BIS 101 in Europe every summer? This is just one example of the many classes and places students can explore with the Study Abroad Program. Studying abroad is usually the experience of a lifetime, but there may be a lot of hoops to jump through before actually going abroad. That is why it is important to have a plan, so you have time to prepare documents and figure out living expenses.

Whether or not you’ve decided on a future career, it never hurts to make a four-year plan and then change it as life goes forward. Life happens and your plans may be uncertain; however, a four-year plan may elucidate certain fuzzy details about the future, and set you on the right track to success!

Happy Planning!

Melissa Li                                                                                                                         Class of 2016  Biological Sciences, Emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior                                                Biology Academic Success–Peer Adviser

General Education Courses

Have you wondered why you have to take classes that are not focused on your major? Do you wonder how much of your general education (GE) that you have left to complete? If you asked any of these questions this blog is great for you!

~ So why are GE’s mandatory?
a.) Expand your Knowledge: GE courses allow undergraduates to explore classes outside of their major. This helps the individual become a well-rounded student and provides a broad view of many different subjects and topics.
b.) Develop your BasImportance-General-Educationic Skills: Every profession requires an individual to know the basics, such as reading, writing and possibly math. Having a foundation in these subjects will help you succeed in your future career, as well as in your future courses because the material builds off of each other.
c.) Expand your Views: Taking GE courses may help you find something you are passionate about, which may lead you to a career or major change, or it may help you realize that some subjects are not best for you. GE courses are also a great way to find a minor that you may be interested in.

~ What are the main components of General Education?
GE2 (Pre-Fall 2011)
a.) Topical Breadth: There are three groups, Arts and Humanities (AH) , Science and Engineering (SE), and Social Sciences (SS) with a total of six courses.
b.) Social-Cultural Diversity: The student must complete one courses in the following list. This courses teaches the student about differences in human populations.
c.) Writing Experience: The student must complete three courses and these courses are designed to help students improve and advance in their writing.

GE3 Chart

GE3 (Fall 2011 and On)
a.) Topical Breadth: is a broad grouping of the main themes of courses found at UC Davis. The three main categories are Arts and Humanities (AH), Science and Engineering (SE), and Social Sciences (SS). Each one of these categories needs 12-20 units with a total of 52 units. If you are in the College of Biological Sciences, you will get the maximum of 20 units for the SE column with your major courses. Thus, you would only need to focus on completing 32 units between AH and SS, with a minimum of 12 units in at least one area.
b.) Core Literacies: these types of courses help improve your skills, such as your ability to view images and graphs. They also help an individual advance in their writing and learn about the diversities around the world.
There are four main categories:
I.) Literacy with Words & Images
a.) College English Composition Requirement
b.) Writing Experience (WE)
c.) Oral Skills (OL) *
d.) Visual Literacy (VL) *
II.) Civic & Cultural Literacy
a.) American Cultures, Governance & History (ACGH)
1.) Domestic Diversity (DD)
2.) Other
b.) World Cultures (WC)
III.) Quantitative Literacy (QL) *
IV.) Scientific Literacy (SL) *
* Majors within the College of Biological Sciences will satisfy these categories through their major courses.

~ Where do you find your GE’s?
a.) Schedule Builder: When selecting courses or if you already saved the course onto your schedule builder, the individual will click on show details and there will be a list of what GE credit that courses offers.
b.) Class Search Tool: When you select the course of interest, a course summary will appear and there will be a list of what GE credit that course offers.
c.) General Catalog: When you look at a course you are interested in the General Catalog, under the description of the course, it will list what GE credit it offers.

~ Can you take GE Courses for Pass/ No Pass?
GE2: No, all GE courses must be taken for a letter grade.
GE3: Yes, however there is a certain percentage for each college of how many P/NP courses the student can have.

College of Biological Sciences: One third of the total units may be used for your GE credit P/NP. However, all your major courses, even if they fulfill some GE’s, must be taken for a letter grade.
College of Engineering: All GE’s must be taken for a letter grade
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: Check with your dean’s office
College of Letters and Science: Check with your dean’s office

~ Can one course fill multiple slots?
GE2: Yes, if one course offers GE credit for all three categories (Topical Breadth, Social-Cultural Diversity, and Writing Experience) then that course can be used in each category.
GE3: Yes, depending on the GE credit the course offers, it could fulfill one category in the Topical Breadth and one category in the Core Literacies. The Core Literacies have many sub-divisions but the most important thing to remember is that the course can only go in one of those slots. The English Composition Requirement is its own division and the course that fulfills the requirement cannot be used anywhere else in the GE chart. For example, if you take SOC 1 in Spring 2015, the GE’s it offers is ACGH, DD, and SS. For the Topical Breadth category, you can place it into the SS column and then for the Core Literacies, you can either put the course in the DD or ACGH category.

~ For more information, please visit:
General Catalog
GE Chart

Even though GE courses are mandatory they can and should be fun. Enjoy them and take courses that seem interesting to you!


Rufa Pazyuk                                                                                                                                               BASC Peer Adviser                                                                                                                                           Second Year, Biological Sciences Major

Why Should Students with a Science Major Care about Writing?

A lot of students face their major’s College English Composition Requirement with dread. As you may know, this requirement dictates that to graduate from the College of BioSci, one must take 8 units in English Composition (UWP 1, 18, 19; ENL 3; COM 1-4; UWP 101; UWP 102 or 104 series) with at least 4 upper division units. In short, as a CBS student, writing is all but inevitable. Many students choose a major in the field of Biology to get away from English papers and then get incredibly dismayed when they find out about this requirement. (Note that health professional schools take it even further by requiring a year of English from their applicants!)

However, being a good writer pays off in the real world. We all know that efficient progress in science and technology cannot happen without communication, which is the fundamental vehicle for the sharing of knowledge. Within the scientific community, better communication leads to collaboration, easier access to cross-disciplinary knowledge, and more efficient training. Not only will this skill help you facilitate discussion with other researchers, but it will also allow the public, the source of your funds, to better understand your goals. Some of this communication will be verbal, but a large part of it will be in writing.  Regardless, verbal and written communication are deeply intertwined, and you, as a scientist, will have to be a master of both to get your discoveries and ideas across to others.

“I’m interested in being a healthcare provider though”, you may say. Then you may (and should) also be aware that writing office notes, patient reports, and consultations is part of the job description. Furthermore, a critical part of good medicine is the mastery of the presentation of scientific material to a variety of audiences (e.g. patients or co-workers). Many will have trouble doing this, but writing can help foster this skill by allowing you to improve the conciseness and accuracy of what you are trying to express. On a deeper level, as a healthcare professional, you will accumulate a vast spectrum of experience with the human condition. Throughout the journey, you will undoubtedly encounter fear, pain, struggle, and loss. You will spend a great deal of time listening to your patients’ narratives about their illnesses or health. Once in a while, you may feel that a particular experience has moved you or that you have gained valuable insight. It is only natural that you will want to share these episodes with other human beings. Although it will be easier to verbally communicate with your friends, family, and co-workers, writing allows you to reach out to more people in more places and immortalizes those experiences.

As a concluding remark, I would like to offer some personal tips on doing well in your writing courses:

1. Be patient. Writing takes some “getting back in shape”, especially if you have not had to write in a while.

2. Visit your instructor’s office hours and get a better understanding of what he/she wants.

3. Don’t procrastinate- college papers are not meant to be written at the last moment. Try to space out your writing sessions.

4. Ask another person to help you proofread. This is an important step because you can gauge how well your messages are getting across to people who are not familiar with your topic.

5. Address all parts of the prompt.

Wilson Ng

BASC Peer Adviser 2013-2014

Mythbusters: UC Davis Edition

Between university, college, and major requirements, plus prerequisites for graduate and professional school programs, it can become slightly difficult to keep the seemingly endless amounts of information straight. Incorrect information can often be disguised to seem true, and it’s easy to be misled or overwhelmed by a million different sources. Here are a few common myths that are in need of debunking – test yourself and see how well you know your stuff!




It’s impossible to graduate in four years.

It is absolutely possible to graduate in four years. In order to stay on track, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your major requirements, plan your course schedules ahead of time, and meet with a peer adviser or your major adviser if you need help. However, although it is entirely possible to finish your degree in four years, it is absolutely normal to take more than four years to graduate. It’s difficult to know exactly what you want to study right away – fear not; you’re not alone! Most students change their major at least once before they graduate. If you change your major within the College of Biological Sciences, a majority of the lower division prep courses overlap between majors, so you won’t necessarily be behind on prerequisite courses. Be proactive about planning ahead and taking advantage of the resources available to you!


All preparatory courses in series, such as CHE2ABC, must be taken consecutively and must be finished within the first two years before moving on to upper division courses.

Although a majority of the lower division preparatory courses are in series – MAT17ABC, CHE2ABC, BIS2ABC, CHE118ABC or CHE8AB, and PHY7ABC, these courses do not necessarily have to be taken three quarters in a row. For example, it is perfectly acceptable to take MAT17A during Fall, take a break from calculus in the Winter, and continue with MAT17B in the Spring. It just depends on the rest of your course schedule for that quarter and when you plan to finish the series. However, it’s important to pay attention to when each course is offered – for example, CHE2B is only offered during Winter and Spring. Therefore, plan accordingly! Continue reading “Mythbusters: UC Davis Edition”