Fall 2020 Undergraduate Student FAQs

In response to COVID-19 and its impacts to CU Boulder, we have compiled answers to frequently asked questions specific to the needs of both first-year and continuing undergraduates.

First-year Students

Why should I come to CU in the fall?

Fall 2020 will be more than an “online” experience. When you start your journey here this fall, you will take the first steps on your path to becoming an educator and leader, meeting the faculty, staff, and fellow students who will be with you throughout your time here at the School of Education. As one of the smaller colleges on campus, we enjoy a close-knit community, where we know each other by name and share a passion for improving our world. We look forward to meeting you this fall and helping you plant your roots in the School of Education. We are here to support you whether online or in person.

Will the School of Education College Day be in-person?

Your advising team is currently working to create an insightful and welcoming experience for our new students that will likely consist of both in-person and online components. In any event, we are working diligently to ensure that you feel confident joining your School of Education community this fall well-informed and poised for success.

Can I change my major or college over the summer?

Students may contact the Admissions Office to see if they are eligible to change major and/or college.  Students interested in a change should inquire with the Admissions Office before July 1.

What if I want to change colleges after I have received my housing assignment and class schedule?

First contact the Admissions Office to see if you are eligible to change colleges; if approved, contact the Housing Office for guidance: 303-492-6673.

Will students still have enrollment windows, or will all first-years be automatically enrolled in the same courses?

First-year students will be pre-enrolled into most (if not all) of their courses by their advisors.  Modified enrollment windows in the latter part of July will be communicated to students by the New Student & Family Programs Office.  Open enrollment begins on August 3, and it will provide another opportunity to revise the fall course schedule, if appropriate.

I’m a new first-year student this summer term. When will I be able to enroll in fall classes?

You’ll be pre-enrolled in some/all courses and then will have the July 20-21 enrollment window to make course adjustments, if appropriate (enrollment periods display in Buff Portal).

What will my fall course schedule look like?

The schedule for a typical first-year education student includes a student success course, elementary education- or leadership and community engagement-specific courses, and select general education courses per your degree checklist. Your advisor will help you develop your schedule and will enroll you into your courses this fall.

What about AP and IB exam scores?

CU expects to receive AP and IB scores mid-to-late-July, and the Admissions Office will post any AP or IB earned college credit to student records by the end of July.

What if I need to revise my course schedule after the earned AP or IB credit posts to my student record?

Your advisor will help you make adjustments as needed. Schedule an appointment as soon as you find you will need to make an adjustment to your schedule.

Will there be an option to change my enrolled classes?

Possibly, but students may experience some limitations in their ability to switch around their classes due to cohorting. Likely only online/remote classes will be available to switch into, so students should consult with their academic advisor if contemplating any course changes.

What is a cohort?

Cohorts are groups of students within the residence halls, typically organized by college or other affiliated group, to support safety and academic community.  Cohorts within residence halls are managed by the various colleges, schools, and programs.  For Fall 2020, education students will live in Willard Hall.

I’m not a first-year student. Will I have a cohort?


How many students will be in my cohort?

Cohort sizes will vary.

Is there any recourse to switch my cohort?

Switching courses is typically not an option since cohorting is in place to ensure community safety.  First-year education students enroll in similar classes, and we promote a flexible first year.  If you have a question about your housing or room assignment, please contact the Housing Office: 303-492-6673.

If I can change my enrolled classes after the semester begins, what happens with my placement in my cohort?

Because students will remain in their original cohort placement, the ability to switch around classes is limited.  Consult with your academic advisor if you have questions or concerns.

When will I find out my housing assignment & cohort?

The Housing Office will be notifying students throughout the summer, with all students receiving their room assignment on or before August 3.  See the Housing FAQ for more information.

How will my on-campus experience look if I don’t live on campus?

First-year freshman students who are commuting to campus will also be cohorted, meaning they will also have a local community with whom they connect via course enrollments.

Continuing Students

What does the fall 2020 academic calendar look like?

Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, and continue through Wednesday, Nov. 25. Fall break will be shortened (Thursday, Nov. 26 - Sunday, Nov. 29), and then all in-person teaching will shift to remote after Fall Break. The last day of classes is Monday, Dec. 7, followed by Reading Day on Dec. 8, and then final exams will take place between Dec. 9-13.

Why is CU reducing fall break and going remote after Thanksgiving?

We are doing this to reduce post-travel mixing between people after fall break, while still maximizing time for in-person teaching.

Will my meal plan/housing costs be adjusted if I don’t come back after Thanksgiving?

No. The time period after fall break represents less than 10% of on-campus instruction.

When will fall schedules be finalized and how will I know if my course schedule changes?

Curricular adjustments should be in place by mid-to-late-July, and the Registrar’s Office will be notifying students once schedules are set.

Is the passing period between classes being modified?

Yes. The passing period between classes will be increased to 20 minutes. The Registrar’s Office is updating start/end times of currently scheduled classes to accommodate this extended passing period. The Registrar’s Office will be notifying students once schedules are set.

When will I be able to adjust my fall course schedule?

Continuing students will be able to make fall schedule adjustments starting on Aug. 3 (enrollment periods display in Buff Portal).

How will in-person classes be structured?

Faculty are revising course syllabi to share this (and other) information. All in-person learning must be calibrated so that classrooms meet physical-distancing requirements. Classes of more than 50 students will not be able to meet in person if all students are present in the classroom on the same day/time.

Will all classes have a remote option? Will I still be able to take classes if I can’t be physically on campus?

Departments and programs must offer enough fully remote and/or online options so that students who are unable to participate in person can make progress toward their degrees.

What does academic support look like?

Resources for your academic success will continue to be available! Tutoring, office hours, help rooms, will all be available through a mix of in-person, remote, and/or online modes.  

How will I get in touch with my academic advisor or academic coach during the fall semester?

Working with your advisor can be done virtually, as was done for most of the spring 2020 semester, typically through Zoom (video chat or telephone). Make an appointment with your academic advisor via Buff Portal Advising or simply email them with your full name, ID, and preferred day and time to meet. 

I’m a new first-year student this summer term. When will I be able to enroll in fall classes?

You’ll be pre-enrolled in some/all courses and then will have the July 20-21 enrollment window to make course adjustments, if appropriate (enrollment periods display in Buff Portal).

I’m not a first-year student. Will I have a cohort?


Is CU extending their spring 2020 Pass/Fail policy to fall 2020?

No, the extended Pass/Fail policy was for the spring 2020 semester only.  However, the timeline for students to choose the Pass/Fail grading basis has changed from the third week to the 10th week of the semester. The deadline to make that change on Buff Portal for the fall 2020 semester is Friday, Oct. 30, but remember that engineering students must be approved via petition ahead of time to take a class on Pass/Fail or Not-for-Credit grading basis.


Program Overview

The following program overviews provide a snapshot of what you can expect to experience in your chosen program whether you're pursuing a major or teacher licensure through School of Education. Our majors and minors are each unique and have their own distinct degree plans. Because of this, it is best to meet with an advisor to get a better understanding of what your experience will look like. Please refer to the School of Education Student Handbook for a more complete list of resources. 

  • Orientation - Each newly admitted student is required to attend orientation. 
  • Regular Advisor Meetings - For your first two years, you will be required to meet with your advisors before registering for classes, but many students prefer to meet with their advisors multiple times during the semester. Your advisor will work with you throughout your program to help create an individualized schedule to include required coursework for your chosen degree. 

  • Orientation - Each newly admitted student is required to attend in-class, online or in-person orientation.
  • Regular Advisor Meetings - Your advisor will work with you throughout your program to help create an individualized schedule that includes required coursework for your chosen content areas and keeps you on track towards graduating. Additionally, they will guide you through the licensure process and your student teaching experience, both of which you can learn more about in the handbooks below.
  • Core Coursework - 3013: School & Society is a required course that introduces students to pressing issues surrounding education within the United States and examines issues of diversity and equity from different disciplinary lenses, including history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology.
  • Licensure Exam - In order to be eligible for student teaching and to recieve your teaching licensure,  you must pass the state-approved licensure exams (PRAXIS II). Exams should be taken nine months to eighteen months prior to the semester in which you plan to student teach. PRAXIS II is a national content knowledge exam that is accepted as a licensure exam in some other states and may be taken in many locations. 
  • Student Teaching - Our program is designed to offer teaching experience amounting to 800+ hours of in-class practica work.

Student Teaching Eligibility

Becoming eligible for student teaching is a process that begins at least one year prior to your expected student teaching semester. The following items should be completed the fall before you begin student teaching. 

  • Meet with your advisor to determine preferred district and grade level
  • Complete required academic and education courses
  • Complete required practicum experiences and pass licensure exam, PRAXIS
  • Maintain an overall 2.75 GPA in your teaching field, and in education courses (3.00 for Master’s Plus students)
  • Complete the Basic Skills requirement
  • Confirm your final student teaching placement with the Director of Advising
  • Sign Student Teaching Eligibility Agreement

Application Process

You will receive a Student Teaching Informational Packet via email the semester before your expected student teaching semester. This packet will include everything you’ll need to know in preparation to student teach. All final dates and deadlines for meetings and required coursework, exams, etc. will be included—make sure you read the entire email and keep it handy over the next few months. The following details some of the steps you should complete in the fall:

  • Begin preparation of professional resume and application materials
  • Block off your calendar for no travel from August-December for student teaching commitment
  • Block of mandatory kick-off meeting in August (date provided in informational packet email)
  • Set meeting with advisor to confirm your preferred districts & grade level placements
  • Study for PRAXIS licensure exam
  • Register for student teaching coursework and seminar course

Fall Timeline

  • Late January - All application materials must be submitted
  • February - April - Applications reviewed by districts
  • July - Program course and licensure exam requirements must be completed and student teaching contract signed
  • August - Mandatory kick-off meeting for all teacher candidates prior to first day of student teaching
  • December - Student teaching ends​

Spring Timeline

  • Mid-September - All application materials must be submitted
  • September - November - Applications reviewed by districts
  • December - Program course and licensure exam requirements must be completed and student teaching contract signed
  • First week of January - Mandatory kick-off meeting for all teacher candidates prior to first day of student teaching
  • May - Student teaching ends​ (Note: even if you are graduating the same spring, student teaching placement may continue through the end of May, and you are required to be present in classroom through the dates set by your school)

The Professional Triad

Our program is designed around three key players: You (as teacher candidate), mentor teacher(s), and a university supervisor.

  • Mentor Teachers volunteer to mentor you throughout your student teaching semester and are chosen based on their desire to help a novice teacher, their strong teaching practice, and their demonstration of school/district leadership. They must also have a minimum of three year’s experience, hold a valid Colorado professional teaching license and have an endorsement in—or meet federal “highly-qualified” criteria for—the same field you will be pursuing.  Additionally, it is their role to help you in the classroom with planning and teaching responsibilities. Mentor teachers also take part in students’ overall growth plan and final assessment.
  • University Supervisors may be a full-time university faculty member, an advanced graduate student who is also an experienced teacher, or an adjunct faculty member with many years of teaching and/or school administrative experience. It is their role to visit your school and observe your work as a teacher candidate periodically throughout the semester. They provide support, guidance and teaching, communication facilitation between you and your mentor teacher, and a comprehensive assessment of your growth.

Co-Teaching vs. Solo-Teaching

Because we are guests in the mentor teachers’ classrooms, we like to first place this decision before the teacher and principal of the school. However, if they have no preference, you then can make the decision.

  • Co-Teaching: in short, the teacher candidate and the mentor teacher collaborate with one another to plan, prepare the classroom for lessons, grade pupil work, etc. Mentor teachers have an active role in the beginning to guide you through day-to-day responsibilities until you’re comfortable enough to plan and teach lessons alone. The goal of the co-teaching model is to provide the teacher candidate a realistic teaching experience (planning, teaching, reflecting, assessing student work, etc.) while the control of the classroom as a whole stays with the mentor teacher. This model is prefered over solo-teaching by the large majority of our teacher candidates.
  • Solo-Teaching: When the mentor teacher feels comfortable leaving the teacher candidate in charge of the class, the solo teaching experience will begin. This typically takes place about 5-6 weeks into the student teaching semester. During this time, the teacher candidate will work as the sole teacher in the classroom for the entire school day for up to 6 weeks. The mentor teacher may come in and out of the classroom but should not be an active participant. The goal of the solo teaching period is for the teacher candidate to demonstrate readiness to lead a classroom.

The edTPA

CU uses the first nationally available, standards-based performance assessment for pre-service teachers: the edTPA. During your student teaching semester, you will complete your edTPA capstone portfolio which will be scored nationally. You will upload your edTPA portfolio to Pearson, the organization responsible for facilitating national scoring.

The edTPA is a summative, subject-specific assessment of teaching performance that demonstrates your readiness for licensure through demonstrating what you have learned from your coursework about research, theory, and best practices related to teaching and learning. There are three main areas: (1) Planning for Instruction & Assessment, (2) Instructing and Engaging Students in Learning, and (3) Assessing Student Learning.

Post Student Teaching

If you wish to pursue a job in teaching once you graduate, you can use your experience teaching and preparing for interviews with your newly updated professional materials (resume, lesson plans, etc.) to hit the job market. Your directors and supervisors will work closely with you during the job hunt and will be available to provide you with references. You will also be officially recommended for licensure.

Student Handbook

Use this handbook to help navigate policies and procedures for the School of Education majors, minors, and teacher education programs. It is our hope that in conjunction with this tool, you may lean on our advising support for guidance. In this handbook you will find many helpful resources to guide you along the way.  

School of Education Student Handbook