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FAQs for Incoming Freshman

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FAQs for Incoming Freshman

Which classes should I take in the fall and how do I get registered/enrolled?

Freshman advising is not done through the department; it is done through University College. It is done May-July through an individualized session meeting with an adviser from University College.  Please call 325-3521 for more information. However, we certainly welcome questions at

What laptop should I buy?

See the laptop requirements at this link for OU Laptop Policy.  

What scholarships are available through CBME and the Gallogly College of Engineering?

Jackie Foos,, is the contact for incoming freshman scholarships from the Gallogly College of Engineering and if you are eligible for departmental scholarships, you will receive an e-mail from CBME later in the summer. Typically scholarship letters go out in July or early August. 

What classes should I take?

Degree sheets are a semester-by-semester of classes you should take, if you follow the degree sheets exactly, then you will graduate in four years. We have three programs, the standard option, the biomed/premed option and the biotech option. The degree sheets are found here.

Isn’t it true that most students don’t follow the degree sheets exactly?

Yes, students are not “one size fits all”! The key classes (e.g. for not falling behind) for first semester freshmen are Chemistry 1315 and Math 1914. To graduate in four years without taking (and passing!) those courses the first semester is extremely, extremely difficult. For the second semester, add Physics 2514 to the required Chemistry and Math courses. It is possible to wait and take Physics 2514 first semester sophomore year, however we do not recommend that path.

What if I am not calculus-ready that first semester (don’t qualify for Math 1914)?

Our recommendation would be to take the necessary math courses during the summer before the freshman year. If taking those courses is not possible, then you should probably plan on taking courses over intersession and/or the summer between your freshman and sophomore year if you plan to try and graduate in four years.

Should I take AP classes and tests?

YES!!! Taking (and passing!) AP tests is an economical way to obtain college credit. A list of AP tests that OU accepts is found here. Another similar option is the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). A description can be found here.   

I passed AP test X, but I am not comfortable about taking the next course, and am thinking I should take the course in college anyway?

Remember the part about students not being “one size fits all”.  In general, we recommend that you go into the next course, because the AP tests are difficult enough that most students that do well on the AP tests would be bored if they had to take the class in college that they passed with AP credit. Again, in most cases, students do just fine in the next course. However, we also understand that not all circumstances are the same, so at the end of the day you should do what you think makes sense for your situation. 

Should I take a reduced number of hours my first semester/year?

Whether you take 30 hours or not, you will pay for 30 hours worth of classes every year (includes summer courses). You can petition and not have to pay for 30 hours, but the most common reason for such petitions is that you can show that there is nothing that you can take that will count towards your degree. Further, the Chem E curriculum gets harder the further you get along.   Hence, we recommend that you take 30 hours of classes that first year, and don’t plan on being here that summer (see next question). Taking general education requirements that appear later in the degree sheet is really a good way to go here if you are having trouble finding classes to take.   By taking these classes early, you should have more time to spend on your harder classes later in your degree program. However, we do not recommend taking substantially more than 30 hours either; college is a significant life-change and you don’t want to overly burden yourself. 

What about internships/jobs during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year?

We highly recommend internships/jobs that are relevant to Chemical Engineering. However, not many of these jobs are offered to students between their freshman and sophomore year, but the number is NOT zero. So getting a job is unlikely, but not impossible.

Relevant to that is the Engineering Career Fair, which is held typically about a month after classes start in the Lloyd Noble center. Company representatives (often OU graduates) come and talk to students with the eventual goal of hiring some of them. Even though chances are that you won’t find a summer job between your freshman and sophomore years, still go. Attending the Career Fair is a great professional development opportunity, regardless of whether one is successful in getting an internship. Students typically try to secure employment in the fall of senior year and those students who have an internship prior to interviewing for full time positions typically find employment more easily and have more employment options. Most of our students will eventually get a job via a process that starts with talking with a corporate representative at the Career Fair.   You will want to sign-up with Career Services before the event. Be sure to bring copies of your resume with you to the Career Fair.   

What If I would like to do research; i.e. my long term plans include graduate school.  Is there something else I can do to gain experience, build up my resume, and make some money in the summer?

Yes, there certainly are other options. Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) are particularly good options. REUs are sponsored by the National Science Foundation or other federal agency via a very competitive application process and are offered at many universities and research institutions around the nation (currently OU Chem E does not have one). The application for REU opportunities are usually due in the spring, but be sure to get an early start to increase your chances of getting one.  We have compiled a list of REUs here. Many REUs will take students between their freshman and sophomore years. A similar option is participating in on-campus undergraduate with an OU professor. This is not likely to have the same financial benefit for students, but students may be able to continue research during the semester and further the extent of their experience.