New Student Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do to prepare for my class?
Regardless if your class is online, hybrid, or face-to-face at one of CMU's Online locations, there are a few things you can do to prepare:
- Order your textbook/course materials.
- Review the syllabus/course outline prior to the course start so you're aware of the expectations and ready to engage.
- Note assignment due dates and study time on your calendar, be sure to check for pre-course assignments.
- Run the systems check to ensure your computer meets the technical standards necessary to complete course work, which is especially important if you're taking online classes or if there is an online component to your face-to-face course.
Where can I purchase my books?
CMU's preferred book vendor is the CMU Bookstore. We recommend ordering your textbooks 2-3 weeks before the start of class. Even if your syllabus isn't yet available, textbook information will likely be available through the book vendors.
How can I find the syllabus for my class?
Most syllabi are available by viewing the course information in the course search and registration portal. If the syllabus for your class is not available, you'll be able to access it once the course becomes available in Blackboard or you may contact the instructor directly a few days prior to the course start date. Textbooks will be listed through our preferred book vendors.
I've never taken an online course, what can I expect?
You should expect to access your course several times each week at your convenience, as there will be weekly assignments and due dates. There will likely be required discussion board posts where you post an answer to a question or scenario posed by your instructor, as well as post responses to other students. Some online courses may entail group work/projects and some may have a synchronous component whereby you'll have to meet with your instructor and classmates for a live lecture or discussion. The Online Learning Resource Center contains many helpful tips and tutorials to help you prepare for your online classes.
I need a little help navigating Blackboard, who can I contact?
CMU has a great support network in place. If you have questions about Blackboard, you can contact your local CMU center or CMU Online. CMU Online can also assist with time management tips and connect you to a variety of University resources relevant to your course content and expectations.
How do I drop/withdraw from a class?
Students may drop or withdraw from courses in the course search and registration portal, but should use discretion as there could be academic and/or financial implications imposed. Students can drop a course prior to the 2nd class meeting of a face-to-face class or prior to the start of the second week for an online class. After the drop period ends, students may withdraw up until the mid-point of the course. If you have questions or need assistance, contact your local CMU center or CMU Online.
Is there a fee to drop or withdraw from a class?
If you drop a class prior to the start date, there is no fee. On or after the first day of class, a $50 fee will be assessed for each course you are dropping or withdrawing from. Students withdrawing from courses should be mindful of tuition reimbursement rates related to the timing of the withdrawal. Review the drop/withdrawal schedule.
How are tests administered? What is a proctor and how do I know if I need one?
Many tests and exams for online and hybrid classes are administered online. Some courses require the use of software, such as Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor, which prevent you from navigating away from the testing screen. Other courses may require you to use a proctor – a CMU-approved person who can oversee you while you complete a test. You can view the syllabus or check the course in Blackboard to confirm whether online testing is permitted or if a proctor is required. The course search & registration portal may also note whether a course has proctored exams. Visit the proctoring FAQ page to learn more.
Note: Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor software require Windows or Mac operating systems. It is not compatible with Chromebooks or other similar operating systems.
Where can I find the academic calendar?
View the academic calendar. The academic calendar identifies important term dates, billing, payment, and financial aid information, as well as registration and graduation timelines.
As a new student, what else should I know?
- Check your CMU email often – several times a week. It's the main method of communication used by the University. Although not recommended, you may forward your CMU email to an alternate address.
- Familiarize yourself with CentralLink, the student portal. You can find a wide array of information and resources in CentralLink such as the University bulletin, your class schedule, grade reports, degree progress, course search and registration, billing and payment information, financial aid status updates, as well as many other student-related information and links.
- Visit your degree progress page in CentralLink and contact your academic advisor with questions about your program requirements.
- If you didn't already, complete the online orientation. This will answer many of the questions you may have about university policy, academic standards, billing, financial aid, as well as several other important aspects of being a student at CMU.
- Check out other available resources including the Writing Center, Math Assistance Center, Presentation Skills Center, Library Services, and many more.