Registration: As Many “Treats” as “Tricks”

Registration for spring is upon us, coinciding with Halloween and maybe scarier than the holiday. It might seem more like a “trick” than a “treat” but consider the following:

The Core

If you’re a freshman, you might wish you could take classes in your proposed major rather than core classes. However Creighton’s focus on the core has a huge benefit. Because every Magis core class counts even if you change majors or undergraduate colleges as so many students do, it’s almost impossible to waste your freshman year. Think of the focus on core as your ticket to graduating in four years.

Also, core classes can introduce you to new fields such as philosophy or astronomy. Use core classes to help select your major and minor or to discover a new passion.


At my big state university, my roommate and I used to sign our registration forms for each other without wasting time seeing our advisors. No one knew or cared about our forgeries. I became, in effect, my own advisor, not the wisest policy. Now with information posted online, students should have even less need for advising. Right?


Personal advising is one of the best services Creighton offers students – a chance to establish bonds with faculty members who can guide you smoothly through your college career.  We know things you don’t like which classes take more time and which won’t be offered next fall because the professor will be on sabbatical etc.  Take advantage of us. We can be even more helpful than


Okay, it’s no treat to be at the bottom of the registration heap facing closed courses. GRRR! But time and more hours will help. At least you aren’t standing in lines for classes that close just before it’s your turn to register like former generations.

Good luck everyone!!! Despite frustrations, you’ll survive.


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Surviving Midterms

Fall break is so close we can almost but first we all have to climb that obstacle wall known as midterms. Yes, even faculty.

You can feel the tension as you walk around campus and see students red-eyed from fatigue. It’s bad enough to have to study for tests or turn in projects in most courses but then you still have to go to class. In that sense, midterms are worse than finals.

Couple of survival tips;

•Don’t study all night and risk getting so tired that you blank out during a test or worse still, oversleep an early exam. Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of getting sick when you can least afford it.

•Exercise to gain energy rather than getting over-caffeinated.

•Ask your professor for as much specific information as possible about your midterm and think what he or she has emphasized in class. Focus on the major ideas and concepts in addition to obsessing over details so you can make more informed guesses.

Lots of students do poorly on midterms, especially if they haven’t had an exam from the professor. After you return from fall break, ask professors in classes where you are struggling for extra help.

And don’t be too discouraged if your midterm grades aren’t what you are hoping for. Many professors use them as a wake up call for improvement. Ask your professor what you need to do to raise your final grade then follow the advice. If you do well, rejoice! You’re on a great trajectory for the second half of the semester.

And freshmen, think of what an enormous adjustment you’ve made in just a few weeks and how different you already are than when you arrived. That’s a huge accomplishment. Most students raise their grades as they move through college and become more accustomed to the demands. You’ll be fine.

Good luck!

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Declare Your Major Now

Declare Your Major NOW

By Dr. Eileen Wirth


Yesterday we added another major to our roster, officially anyhow, although she’s been in our department for more than six months. Now that I’m her advisor, I can access her records and will get her PIN for registering for spring classes.  She was so happy that she forwarded my email welcoming her to the department to her parents.

WHEW! One of the major decisions of college finally taken care of in time to have a major advisor before spring class registration!

I urge the rest of you who have been procrastinating about declaring your major and getting a new advisor to follow suit.  Sophomores, especially, need major advisors to help them plot their major courses for the rest of college.

RSP advisors don’t know the ins and outs of other departments such as which courses work best together or when a required course may not be offered because a professor will be on sabbatical. They’ll be the first to urge you to declare a major even if you aren’t 100 percent sure about it because you can always change your mind.

Unlike a lot of universities, Creighton takes advising very seriously. Faculty form ties with their advisees that often last for years. Those bonds pay off when you need letters of recommendation or job references. I often get such requests years after students have graduated and it helps a lot if I remember you well.

A couple of other points:

•Sophomores will finish with the old core that they started with even if they have transferred from one CU college to another. The new Magis core has no impact on them.

•Declaring your major is easy. Just go online to your college website, find the major declaration link and answer a couple of questions.

•If you want a particular advisor, ask for him or her. As a chair that assigns advisors, I try to honor such preferences. However if you get someone else, it might be because Popular Advisor A is overloaded while an equally good advisor has openings. Again, if you like, you can always ask for a chnge

So if you are a sophomore still seeking a major and an advisor, bite the bullet and declare. Fall break will be a lot more relaxing if you’ve done this.

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What’s Best About Creighton?

Congratulations, students!

You objected to some commercials that most of you didn’t like and Creighton has pulled them. Your voices count along with those of alumni and faculty.

And now I challenge you to help Creighton, including you freshmen who are still getting the ropes of college.

What WOULD you like commercials about Creighton to say? We need to tell the University what values and experiences we want to project, not just complain about a portrait that many of us couldn’t identify with.

Maybe you should ask your RSP advisors to discuss this in class since it is such an important issue. I’ll start the ball rolling but just to get you thinking:

•I love drop-in visits from alums like one the other day from a guy who graduated in 1993.  I’d only seen him once or twice since but we reconnected instantly and I teased him about several things I remembered about his student days. That wouldn’t happen at mega-state U even if he is an important journalist as he is.

•I’m honored that students trust faculty enough to talk about issues in their lives or concerns about the future, not just come to our offices for signatures on overrides.

•It’s cool to get emails of thanks because, “I got the job!” or “I start my new internship next week.” All those calls and notes on behalf of students really DO make a difference in their lives.

At CU Sunday today, my fellow Arts & Sciences faculty panelists and I talked about the individual attention we give students and the extraordinary research and academic opportunities our students enjoy.  Visitors said later this isn’t something they have heard at other schools. Would this be a commercial that we would resonate to?

But think about what makes YOUR Creighton special and share your thoughts with the fine staff of Marketing and Communication and CSU. It’s time to speak up. Creighton is listening.

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Returning the Investment

A year ago the Heider College of Business had billboards all over Omaha touting the R.O.I. (return on investment) of a Creighton education. National rating services agree. Cool! You will eventually reap the financial rewards of the cost of going here.

But don’t just think of R.O.I. selfishly. Follow the example of some extremely successful alumni honored at this weekend’s reunion banquet. Their Creighton “R.O.I” might better be called “Returning on Investment.”

They included a doctor in California who has provided health care to migrant workers, a Seattle lawyer who has  not only been a White House fellow and U.S. Attorney  but  works for social justice and the poor and a Business College alum who has set up a network to help youth in Denver.

They are giving back – returning to society and other people on the investment their parents and Creighton made in them. In the videos saluting them, all spoke of the importance of Jesuit values in their lives.

We talk a lot “women and men for others” and other Jesuit values but living these mantras starts by deciding NOW that you can’t measure the success of your investment Creighton educational investment strictly in dollars and cents.

College is for discovering who you are and what you wish to be when you are 40 or 60. It’s for getting outside your comfort zone to test possible paths for the future.  It’s for thinking about big ideas in your liberal arts core classes then reflecting on what they mean to you.

This fall a record number of students will go on fall break service trips. They are already “returning” something to other people on their investment in Creighton.  What about you?

After four years here, will a six-figure income, a big house and a fancy car satisfy your notion of a successful life? Or will your “R.O.I” include “Returning” not just ”Return?”

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The Cross of First Assignments

At Saturday evening Mass at St. John’s, Greg Carlson S.J began his excellent homily by noting that many of his students could relate to Jesus’ suffering on the cross as they received their first grades
We laughed but the suffering Fr. Carlson alluded to is real, especially for freshmen.
Most of you who are freshmen probably got A’s in high school without much difficulty. Now you may be seeing the first C’s of your life and are waking up to the fact that almost everyone here is smart.
What can you tell your parents when they ask how things are going? What does this do to your image of yourself?
I’ll tell you a secret. I got a C on my first freshman English paper and learned a life lesson from it People do recover – especially at Creighton where we believe that the cross leads to redemption. Start working on your own academic redemption.
First, read all that red ink CAREFULLY. You ARE smart but the standards and demands here are a lot stiffer. Many of us use first assignments to communicate our expectations to students; now we judge your response. If we see significant improvement on future papers, we tend to minimize the grade damage from the first.
Take advantage of all the help that Creighton offers. Ask your professor how to do better. This always impresses us.
See assistance on papers from the Writing Center. Make a math tutor your new BFF. Seek informal help from fellow students who are doing well. I even encourage my students to submit drafts of papers for a pre-grading review. That’s probably not the norm but seek advice BEFORE you submit your next paper.
If Creighton were easy, good students like you wouldn’t have come. Remember it’s not the “cross” of that first paper that counts but how you rise to the challenge of future assignments.
Good luck!

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Take a Break for the Arts

Take a study break for the Arts. Yes, I said the Arts.
Research by Harvard professor Richard Light showed that the greatest predictor of success during the freshman year of college is participating in some form of arts activity – it makes little difference what type. Here’s why.
Most of your courses require intense activity from the side of the brain involving logical thinking. The other side controls creativity and emotion. So give your logical side of your brain a rest and release your creativity.
You’re under a lot of stress; singing, playing an instrument, acting, dancing or losing yourself in a painting or making a pot is a great way to relieve that stress. You’ll return to studying chemistry, accounting or philosophy refreshed.
Getting involved in the Arts also is a terrific way to meet students who share your passions. The more friends you make, the more you’ll attach to Creighton, enhancing your odds of success. My daughter, a business major, made some of her closest Creighton friends through being in a play during her first semester. In spite of spending hours rehearsing, she also made Dean’s List.
All career fields emphasize the type of teamwork that most arts endeavors demand. Arts also make you well rounded, which is important in all fields – business, medicine, nursing, teaching etc. Some of my journalism/pre-med majors have found that writing for the Creightonian helped them stand out during their medical school interviews. That’s also true of being in a choir or dance ensemble or a band.
Happily Creighton makes it easy for non-Arts majors to get involved in a wide range of artistic endeavors. Check out the many opportunities that the Fine and Performing Arts Department offers. To ALL students There is something for everyone.
Beyond FPA, audition for a choir at St. John’s or get involved in Omaha’s active indie rock scene. You’ll be happier and, ironically, probably a better student. And if you left your guitar at home, retrieve it over fall break. It might be as important to your success as your calculator!

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Panicked? Seek Help

By Dr. Eileen Wirth

OMG! You’re at Creighton and everything is different, possibly a little scary: a new place, new people, maybe a new identity. So how do you cope?

Panicked? Seek help. Ask questions, especially of your professor.  Answering some questions even before you ask them is also the intention of this weekly “Online Advisor” blog.

One myth I’ve heard many times in my 20+ years of teaching journalism here is that in college you are on your own – don’t count on your teachers for help.

While that may be true at some very large universities it’s quite different at Creighton. Here, most of the professors I know are dedicated to their students. A hallmark of Jesuit education is “cura personalis,” which is Latin for “care of the person.” Lots of people at Creighton – not just faculty—work here because they love students so take advantage of this wonderful gift.

You’ve already noticed that most classes are small enough that your teachers can get to know you by name. Speed that process by dropping in during office hours if you have a question or want extra help. We can’t help you if you don’t ask.

The sooner you adjust to college, the happier everyone will be. When my brother, who is now a university dean, was a freshman he called our parents during the first week to say he just couldn’t cope with the load. Obviously he managed. By the end of the first semester, most of you, like my brother, will wonder why you felt so frightened and overwhelmed.

Welcome to Creighton. We hope this will be the greatest experience of your lives.

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Finals Week Rituals

Happy Finals Week!

We’re almost there and all of us, faculty included, can almost taste the summer ahead but first we have to conquer the final obstacle course of the year.


Dress as grungy as you like, wig out ,then breathe a huge sigh of relief when you finish that last exam. Try these rituals to make the week more bearable:

•Wear your lucky shirt or worst pair of jeans to every final.

•Reward yourself after each test with something delightfully sinful like a chocolate sundae or anything drenched in ranch dressing.

•Read a trashy novel during study breaks. Who knows? It might help you as much as obsessing over theology or chemistry.

•Watch the dumbest TV show you can download on your smart phone.

• Study outside when your room starts to feel like a prison cell. The new hammocks look pretty cool.

When I was an undergrad, I used to take my notes from particularly hated classes to the final then dump them in the first trash can I saw after the test. I won’t say which subjects those were!

All your professors have similar memories of sitting when you do now. And we are just as eager to complete our work on exams as you are.

Good luck! Have a great summer. See you next fall when we will all be psyched up for the year to come.

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Turn Your Study Break into a Career Break

Take a study break that will give you a career break.

The pressure of final projects and exams is intense heading into Dead Week but take a few minutes away from reviewing for tests to review your summer plans. Do they include an internship or volunteer work that will benefit your future career?

Many of you have such experiences lined up including summer classes that will give you an edge come fall or travel to immerse yourself in a foreign language and culture. If so, you can stop reading now.

However if you’ve got some openings in your summer calendar, visit the Career Center or your advisor to check out recently arrived opportunities in your major or prospective major. Maybe you can turn summer into a life expanding experience even if you stay in the Midwest.

Lots of employers and organizations think college classes end in June so they are still sending us requests for interns and volunteers. I had at least half a dozen such requests last week, some of them excellent.

About this time, I WELCOME knowing who’s still available as I hunt to fill such positions. It kills me to turn down good employers or volunteer programs.  Even if a student just stops me on the mall or in the library, I file that information mentally and send emails when I get late requests for applicants.

So no matter how hard you are cramming to get through your history or bio final, take a break to touch base with your advisor or a professor in a field you are considering. Get on their radar so if something potentially awesome comes their way, you might get an alert to apply.

There’s nothing like such a career break to boost your morale for the dash to the finish. Good luck and don’t forget to text your mom for cookies!

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