Things you should know by sophomore year

Here’s a list for you of things I’ve found that sophomores in particular should definitely know. Some of this is specific to my major (engineering mechanics).
  • “The flowsheet is a guideline, not a rule.”  I have heard that many times.  Let me clarify what it actually means.  The flowsheet is basically a list of every class you need to take in order to graduate.  However, if you have AP or transfer credit, or some special circumstance such as getting departmental approval to take different classes, then you won’t actually take every class on the flowsheet.  Where the “guideline” part comes in is in the order that you take the classes.  You have a lot of freedom here and do not have to follow the flowsheet exactly (of course, be aware of prerequisites and concurrent enrollment).  You can consider the flowsheet a guideline for the order you take your classes, but a rule for what you need to take.
EM majors: For those trying to give themselves lighter loads, I recommend splitting up linear algebra and differential equations, since you don’t really need both in the same semester.  You can also separate the two 8-week physics classes.  TAM 324 and 335 do not necessarily need to be taken together as well. 
  • Some classes can only be taken in a specific semester (unless exceptions apply).  This is indicated by a letter next to the class name on the flowsheet.  For mechanical engineering, these classes include ENG 100 and ME 390 (fall only), and for engineering mechanics, TAM 195 and 470 (fall only), and TAM 252, 302, 412, and 445 (spring only).  You may need to plan ahead to make sure you will be able to take your required classes in the right semester in time to graduate at your desired time.
  • Check your DARS report. The DARS report can be really helpful because it lists all your classes, grades, GPA, etc. and gets updated regularly.  It’ll tell you which requirements you still need to graduate, total hours you have, what your academic standing is. Go to, then click on DARS web for students.
  • Don’t forget about our undergrad office.  If you have questions about classes, etc., you can either email your advisor or the undergrad office.  When the time comes (usually sophomore or junior year), you will need to meet with an advisor from the undergrad office to plan your secondary field and design electives.  If you don’t like your advisor, you can email the office to request a switch.  Paperwork for secondary fields, independent studies, etc. can be found in the office (154 MEB) as well as on the website and need to be turned in to the office. Email mechse-ug-adviseatillinois [dot] edu.
Couple other things: 
  • Independent study credit can go toward your secondary field, even if you did your study before you started your secondary field classes/got your field approved.  
  • If you receive a low D or failing grade in a class, you can retake it for grade replacement.  This means that the new grade you receive will replace the current failing grade.  If the class you received the low grade in is a graduation requirement, this is mandatory.

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