Incoming Freshman

Incoming Freshman

Congratulations on deciding to attend Washington State University Tri-Cities!

The Academic Advisors are committed to helping you throughout your time at WSU Tri-Cities.

Below is a step-by-step guide to learning the WSU academic system and how to select courses.

Apply for admission

  • Apply for admission online. Send official transcripts from your high school and if you were in Running Start, send transcripts from the colleges you attended, including any AP/IB or military credit you may have received.

    WSU Tri-Cities Admissions
    2710 Crimson Way
    Richland, WA 99354

  • If you have admission questions, please contact our admissions office: or 509-372-7250

Already admitted to WSU Tri-Cities?
Follow these steps to preparing for New Student Orientation
and Academic Advising

Step 1: Register for a New Student Orientation

  • Once admitted to WSU Tri-Cities, you will need to register for a New Student Orientation.
  • Orientation is where you will meet other new students, take a tour of the campus, learn ways to get involved at WSU Tri-Cities, get your picture taken for your WSU ID card, learn more about financial aid, meet with an academic advisor, register for your first WSU classes, and find out about helpful resources on campus.

Step 2: Sign up for and take placement exams

  • All freshmen are required to take the English and math placement exams. Be sure to take these well in advance of your orientation date, to give time for your scores to come in.
  • The Writing Placement Exam is required, to enroll in an English composition course. All students are required to take either English 101 or 105 and it is recommended that you take it in your first or second semester. The placement results will be available at orientation.
    • The placement exam will determine whether students would benefit from English 105 Composition for ESL/Multilingual students, or if you would benefit from the English 102/107 1-credit tutorial. There is no way to place out of English. If you have received AP or college level credit for English Language/Comp or English Literature/Comp, you may not need English 101 or 105.
  • The math placement exam is called ALEKS, and can be taken in the comfort of your own home. This will determine the level of math you will need to begin with. The placement results will be available at orientation.
    • Placement scores are only valid for one year, so be sure to start your math sequences in your first year.

Step 3: Meeting with an academic advisor

  • You will meet with an academic advisor at orientation to review your course selections.
  • If you have questions that you would like answered before orientation, or are a Running Start student, you can meet with your advisor before orientation. Find out who your advisor is at
  • Meeting with an academic advisor is required at WSU every semester. Typically, you would meet with them in March and October, as these months will give you time to get your schedule settled before registration begins.
  • You are welcome to meet with your advisor at any other time if you have questions or concerns.

Helpful hints for work/school/life balance

  • If you want to complete your degree in four years without going to summer school, you should take 15-16 credits per semester. However, if you are working and have activities outside of school and take fewer credits, depending on your degree, you may be able to use summer to ‘catch up’.
  • Consider the amount of outside activities you have, including work:
    • Course Load (Hours on the job reduces the time available for school):

      40 work+ hours/week: Register for 3-4 credits/units (1 course & 6-8 study hours)
      Work 30-40 hours: Register for 3-6 credits/units (1-2 Courses & 6-12 study hours)
      Work 20-30 hours: Register for 6-9 credits/units (2-3 Courses & 12-18 study hours)
      Work less than 20 hours: 12 credits/units (full-time & 24+ study hours) may be feasible
      Work 0 hours: 15-18 credits/units (full-time & 30+ study hours)
      Also consider other obligations (i.e. children, church, community, etc.)

  • Balance your classes each semester. Take difficult classes along with less demanding classes.
  • Schedule breaks in between your classes. Try not to schedule all of your classes back-to-back. Give yourself a chance to absorb the material especially if the material is difficult.
  • Be aware of your best time of the day. Are you most alert in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Experiment and plan your classes as well as study time accordingly.
  • If you are taking any online courses, be aware that these courses require at least the same amount of time for preparation and participation as on-campus courses. Plan accordingly.