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Challenging a Course for Credit

A student who has acquired sufficient knowledge through experiential learning or non-accredited learning experiences has the option of earning college credit by challenging designated courses.

The challenge will normally be completed within the first 10 instructional days of a semester . It is important to note that not all courses can be challenged.

A Helena College instructor who normally teaches the course will determine if the student’s previous course work and/or experience supports the challenge request. The request must be approved by the Division Chair or a full-time faculty member and then validated through the Registrar’s Office. The exam must be completed with passage of at least 80% of the exam contents (written, oral, and/or hands-on content) in order to receive credit for the course.  A grade of “CH” will be placed on the student’s transcripts with successful completion of the examination. The grade received for the challenge does not affect the student’s GPA. A student must register and pay tuition for any course being challenged. A student cannot challenge more than 25% of the credits required for his or her degree.

Determine what Program to Select

Not everyone knows what courses he or she wants to take in college. Some people end up changing their program of study while in college; some return to college at a later date to explore a new program of study.

Choosing a program takes thought and sometimes research.

  • Think about what you like to do and learn about
  • Think about how you like to learn: hands on, listening, reading, repetition, research, following directions, following someone’s example
  • Think about what careers or further education you want to pursue
  • Think about what is important to you: money, security, creativity, working with people, working with numbers, problem solving, working outside, working inside, good benefits like health insurance, working with spatial concepts, creating, building and making things

Your advisors can help guide you to the best program option based on your unique skills and career goals.

Distinction Between Degree Programs

Helena College offers Certificate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associates of Applied Science programs.

The Associate of Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) degree is awarded to any student satisfactorily completing a program as established by Helena College. These programs require very concentrated coursework within the student’s chosen field of study and few general education courses.

The A.A.S. degree is not designed for transfer; however, graduates may be accepted into baccalaureate programs offered at several four-year institutions. A passing grade of “C-“ or better in required courses and a 2.0 (2.5 for Nursing) minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) are required for a degree to be awarded.

Minimum Requirements for A.A.S:

  • Completion of all required semester credit hours (varies by program)
  • An overall GPA of 2.25 upon completion of the degree
  • A grade of “C-” or higher in each course in the program of study

If you choose a career path that requires more than two years of higher education, then you will most likely choose to pursue an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree here at Helena College.

The Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees are general education degrees. Most students use these degrees to transfer on to four year institutions. Completion of either program indicates the student has completed a course of study equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.

Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees do not officially include a major or minor course of study; nevertheless, students do complete a 24 credit program of study option for either an A.A. or A.S. degree.

A.A. Degree (5+ credits in social science/humanities) Students seeking an A.A. degree must complete an additional 5+ credits in humanities/social science—these additional credits must include one foreign language course.

A.S. Degree (5+ credits in math/science) Students seeking an A.S. degree must complete an additional 5+ credits in math/science. Students must complete the second half of one of the science sequences noted above.

Minimum Requirements for A.A. and A.S:

  • Completion of 60 semester credit hours, 15 credits of which are at the 200 level
  • Completion of 36 credits in General Education
  • 24 Credits in a Program of Study
  • An overall GPA of 2.25 upon completion of the degree
  • A grade of “C-” or higher in each course in the program of study

Drop/Add Classes

Students registered for fall or spring semesters and attending classes may drop or add classes during the first 15 instructional days of the semester. The student must initiate the drop/add process which can be done online for the first five days for adding classes and for the first 15 days for dropping classes.

After the online drop/add window has passed, a drop/add form must be completed and returned to the cashier along with a $10 processing fee. If a student drops a class AFTER the first 15 days and prior to three weeks before the end of the course, a “W” (withdraw) will be given. Students cannot drop a class during the last three weeks of the semester and will receive a letter grade from the instructor based on coursework completed.

Drop/adds are not used to withdraw completely from Helena College. Drop/adds for summer semester courses are computed on the same ratio stated above for hours attended to total course hours; the course schedule outlines summer deadlines.

General Education and/or Developmental Courses

The General Education Core of Helena College provides students with the broad foundation of knowledge essential for success at the associate and baccalaureate levels.

All students are prepared for independent, abstract, and critical thinking; responding creatively to problems; applying quantitative and mathematical knowledge; finding information; and communicating both orally and in written forms. This is done to engender life-long learning skills, a foundation of knowledge in a variety of disciplines, and a broadened perspective on our interdependent, changing global community.

Developmental courses are designed to help students work on their skills so they can be successful at the college level. Taking a developmental course can be helpful for students who have been out of school for a while to refresh their skills and be better prepared for college coursework. Courses numbered below 100 are not applied toward program completion requirements.

Students seeking more than one program must inform the Registrar’s Office and/or the Financial Aid Office. Students will be required to use the catalog in use at the time the program is declared unless a Request to Graduate from Alternate Catalog form is completed and approved. Students entering after a one-semester time lapse (excluding summer) or longer will re-enroll under the current catalog.

Withdrawal from Classes

Withdrawal from Helena College is the student’s responsibility. In order to withdraw from all classes, a student must meet with Academic Advising and complete the withdrawal form. It is important to note that a complete withdrawal cannot be done online. The form must be completed, signed by the student, and collected by the Student Support Center.

If a student withdraws from the College after the first 15 instructional days and prior to three weeks before the end of the course, a “W” (withdrawn) will be assigned. During the last three weeks of the semester, a student may not officially withdraw and will receive a letter grade from the instructor based on an evaluation of the total work done by the student in the course. Withdrawal from a course in which the student has received an “FX” for academic dishonesty is not permitted.

Obtain an Incomplete

An incomplete (“I”) grade may be given with the approval of the Registrar’s Office when, in the opinion of the instructor, there is a reasonable probability that students can complete the course without retaking it and without instructor participation. The incomplete grade is not an option to be exercised at the discretion of the student and is given only in cases of extreme personal hardship or unusual academic situations. Eligibility for an incomplete is determined within the following guidelines:

  1. An incomplete may be assigned to a student when he or she has been in attendance and doing passing work up to three weeks before the end of the course, and for reasons beyond his or her control, he or she has been unable to complete the requirements on time. Negligence, indifference, or excessive absences are not acceptable reasons.
  2. The instructor will set the conditions for completion of the coursework. When these conditions have been met, the instructor will assign a grade based upon an evaluation of the total work done by the student in the course.
  3. An incomplete (“I”) which is not made up during the next regularly scheduled semester will automatically convert to a grade of “F.”

Repeating a Course/Changing a Grade

Students may retake a course to improve their grade by registering and paying tuition and fees for the course. They must submit a Request to Change Grade for Repeated Courses to the Registrar’s Office upon completion of the course. The letter grade for the repeated course will be posted to the student’s transcript and the previous grade will be replaced with an “R” to indicate that the course was retaken. A grade of “R” is not calculated into GPA.

A student’s academic standing (Dean’s list, probation, suspension, etc.) cannot be retroactively changed by retaking classes.

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