FAQ on Spring 2021 in CLA

On this page:

These frequently asked questions cover the academic experience in CLA for Spring 2021. For the latest information about University student support services for undergraduates on the Twin Cities campus, see the Undergrad Support page. This FAQ is updated on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available. 


Academic calendar and course registration:

When does the Spring 2021 semester start and end?

The fall semester begins on January 19 and officially ends on May 12.

Can I take all of my spring courses online if I want to or must?

If you are a domestic student, yes. If you are an international student, consult the International Student and Scholar Services website for the possible implications of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rules about taking online classes.

How do I check the format of my courses?

You can review your class schedule in your MyU. One Stop Student Services sent an email to all incoming and returning students about how to do this.

What do I do if I want to change my schedule?

You can use Schedule Builder to find a new course that helps you make progress toward your degree. if you need assistance with this, check your U of M email account for a message from your CLA advising office, since it contains details about how we can help you.

How does CLA decide whether a course should be in-person or online? Why are some courses only offered online?

Faculty and instructors determine the format for their courses, unless a course they want to offer in person enrolls too many students to allow for physical distancing.

In-person courses:

What will happen if state health guidelines change and my in-person course can no longer meet?

An in-person course will shift to a remote learning format if state health guidelines necessitate it. While every CLA course has a Canvas presence, the instructor will determine exactly how remote learning will proceed for their course.

What health and safety precautions will be taken in classrooms, labs, and other academic spaces?

In addition to required physical distancing and the use of masks, health and safety actions will include self-monitoring for symptoms, testing and isolation for those with the COVID-19 virus, and contact tracing and quarantine for those exposed. CLA classrooms, labs, and other academic spaces will be cleaned and disinfected frequently.

If I’m uncomfortable attending a class in-person for health and safety reasons on any given day, will I have the option to complete my coursework remotely?

If you have registered for an in-person course, the expectation is that you will attend the class in person. However, instructors will make accommodations that allow a student to participate in coursework remotely if the student falls ill or is quarantined.

Online courses and remote instruction:

Will socially distanced spaces be available on campus for me to study and attend online class?

As students return to campus this fall, areas such as study spaces, libraries, classrooms not in use, and lounges, will be made available so that students will have various areas to study and attend classes, whether their course is online, remote, or blended. To find and reserve these areas, students should use the Study Space Finder.

General purpose classrooms are available as study spaces during unscheduled times. To see if a classroom is available, students can view each classroom schedule by using the QR code on the classroom sign in the hallway.

What technology will I need to access online courses or remote instruction?

In general, we recommend a Mac or Windows computer made in the last five years or a Chromebook made in the last two years, an internet connection with a speed of at least 3 megabits per second, and a webcam and a headset microphone (or speakers and a microphone) to successfully participate in courses and online office hours that involve live video and conversations.

How will CLA make sure all students are able to learn remotely?

If you cannot obtain the technology you need to be successful in online learning formats, notify your academic advisor. CLA has resources that may be able to assist you.

What do you mean by “synchronous” and “asynchronous”?

In-person courses are synchronous because the teaching and the learning happen at the same time. Remote instruction is synchronous when all course participants engage in learning activities at the same scheduled time, interacting with the instructor and each other via live video, conversation, or chat. Online courses are asynchronous when the instructor prepares course materials for the students to access anytime at their own convenience, and interactions do not happen instantaneously but rather with a time delay via email or online discussion boards.

How can I tell if my online course will use synchronous or asynchronous learning?

"Online" indicates fully asynchronous delivery, and "remote instruction" indicates set meeting times. The course syllabus will have detailed information about the modality of the course with specific information about meeting times and how to access course materials.

What is the difference between remote learning and online courses?

Online courses are designed from the beginning to be online, with careful attention to how to support different types of interactions that are important to the learning process. Remote learning is intended to continue instruction that can no longer be delivered face-to-face, but all remote learning in CLA intentionally draws upon the sound teaching practices typical of online courses.

For Spring 2021 course formats, "remote instruction" indicates that some or all of the course will be synchronous (with set meeting times for everyone), and "online" indicates the course is completely asynchronous (with no set meeting times).

Will the online experience be equally beneficial to what I would get in person?

CLA has facilitated training for our instructors in the principles of effective online teaching, and we developed guidelines for them to adhere to as best practices for their online course design and syllabus. Our faculty and instructors are supported by our Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services (LATIS) team of academic technologists and many other University resources as they design their courses to maximize quality learning under any conditions.

Outside the classroom (internships, research, study abroad, community service):

When will I know whether I can study abroad during a future semester?

The Learning Abroad Center will update their website on a regular basis with information about study abroad programs for 2021.

How will internships be handled?

The latest information about CLA internships for academic credit can be found at the CLA Career Services resource page for students.

Will I be able to get into lab spaces for research?

Departments will have information about lab access as soon as the semester begins.

Academic advising and career counseling:

How will I do my academic advising appointments?

CLA academic advisors can provide full-service advising appointments online via Zoom or by phone. As they are able to return to work on campus, in-person advising appointments may resume.

How will I do my career counseling appointments?

CLA Career Services has been meeting with students virtually via online drop-in sessions and appointments (see our COVID response page). The team has also continued to offer our career management courses, various programming and events, and opportunities to connect with employers remotely.

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