Frequently Asked Questions

How does teaching and learning work at Alverno? 

Alverno has a long, distinguished commitment to teaching and learning.  Our curriculum and approach to teaching is recognized throughout the world.  The Alverno faculty and staff collaborate to make the educational experience rich and integrated for the students.  We work hard to provide our students with every opportunity – both inside and outside the classroom – to realize their potential and to expand their educational, social, and professional horizons. 

These are some terms and ideas you will probably run across at Alverno, so we are providing a brief definition here to help you in case you have questions about them. 


Through coursework, students must demonstrate abilities in eight specific areas: communication, analysis, problem solving, valuing, social interaction, developing a global perspective, effective citizenship, and aesthetic engagement. 

Academic Evaluation   

The Academic Evaluation (EVAL) lists all of the courses and assessments a student must successfully complete in order to fulfill their degree requirements.  The courses are listed in blocks under General Education, Major(s), and Support(s).  The evaluation shows the courses that are needed, are in process, and those that have been completed and how any transfer credits may apply. 


Each new student is assigned to a professional advisor.  Professional advisors assist students to become independent self-directed learners.  Typically, after completing the first year, a student is reassigned to a faculty advisor in her major area of study.


An assessment provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning.  Assessments are not tests or exams: they are opportunities for students to show what they know. Assessments can take different formats - from sharing their professional portfolio, to participating on a governor’s task force, to giving a presentation, to role-playing, to analyzing a work of art, to performing.


Criteria are the explicit and public expectations given by each instructor for each assignment in each course.  Students are able to use their creativity when doing assignments as long as they are able to meet the criteria while doing so.


Alverno students look forward to and learn from oral and written, detailed comments provided by peers and instructors. Eventually, they request more specific information about how to improve their performances.

Instructional Services Center (ISC)  

Instructional Services provides academic resources to assist students to achieve their educational goals. Classes in math, algebra, reading/writing, English as a second language and computer skills provide a foundation for success in the curriculum. Students can access further support during their academic career through the communication and math resource centers, as well as peer and instructor tutoring, course based study groups, and workshops. Support services and accommodations for students with disabilities are also available.

The Media Hub 

The Media Hub is a resource lab where media experts assist students to use audio, visual and computer technology to create graphic arts, digital images, and multimedia productions.

Progress Report   

At the end of every semester, students receive a progress report that will tell them how they did in all of their courses and validations.  An “S” means successful, a “U” means  unsuccessful, a “UW” means an unofficial withdrawal, a “DW” indicates that the student chose to officially drop the course during the semester, an “I” indicates that the student received an incomplete, and a “W” indicates that a validation was not attempted.


Outcomes describe the end result of assignments, courses, supports, and majors.  By meeting criteria, students are able to achieve outcomes.


When students successfully demonstrate an ability, they earn a validation.  Each class gives opportunities to learn, practice, and demonstrate some or all of the eight abilities.

Does my student need a computer?  

Many students bring computers, but Alverno College has several computer laboratories, including a 24-hour computer lab in the residence halls, and several wireless locations.

How important is class attendance?  

Alverno’s curriculum strongly encourages class participation and small group work so attendance is required.  Encourage your student to refer to her syllabus for specific course attendance requirements.  A student may be encouraged to drop a class if she has missed more than two classes.  A student may be told that she is no longer eligible to continue in the course if she has not met the attendance requirements. 

What if my student has a documented disability?  

Alverno College makes every effort to provide accessible facilities and programs for individuals with disabilities. For accommodations/services, contact the Student Accessibility Coordinator at 414-382-6026.

How do students know how they’re doing if they don’t get grades? 

Instead of receiving a letter grade, students receive detailed feedback regarding their performance on assignments and in the course itself.  Students work with their professors throughout the entire class to be sure they are meeting the criteria required for the course and that they are moving forward successfully.  The goal is that students should know how they are doing from the start to the finish of the course. 

How will I know how my student is doing in class?  

We encourage students to communicate directly with their families about their performance in courses. The best way to find out how a student is doing in class is easy: just ask!  If your student is having difficulty in class, ask her whether she has talked with her instructor; that is the place to start.   Alverno College does not release academic or disciplinary information to parents without a student’s written consent. If desired, an information release form can be obtained through the Advising Office.

What is the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?  

The transition to college brings many changes, and one area that might be new to you is based on the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).  FERPA, as it is called, is a mandated federal act established to protect your daughter’s privacy and academic records.  Previously, as a parent or guardian, you have had rights allowing you to access to your daughter’s educational records.  You will find that in college these records are protected under FERPA.  Should you request access to information contained in these records, your daughter would need to consent to the release of that information.  This can sometimes come as a surprise to the parents of college students.  We encourage you to communicate directly with your daughter about her progress in college.   To summarize what FERPA means to you as a parent or guardian:

  • The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) commonly known as the Buckley Amendment protects students’ academic records.
  • Under FERPA, once a student is over the age of 18 years, information contained in a student’s record cannot be released without the consent of the student.
  • FERPA does contain some exceptions under the act.  The following is a list of some of those exceptions;
    • Personnel within the institution
    • Officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll
    • Persons or organizations providing students financial aid
    • Accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function
    • Persons in compliance with a judicial order
    • Persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons

Where can students get proof of enrollment? 

Students often need proof of enrollment or proof of full-time status as a student. Please go to the Registrar's Office to pick up the form or print out the form from the Registrar's web page.


Does Alverno offer Intercollegiate Sports?  

Alverno offers five intercollegiate sports: volleyball, soccer and cross country in the fall, basketball in the winter, and fast-pitch softball in the spring.  Alverno is a NCAA Division III school and is a member of the Northern Athletics Conference.

Are there opportunities for a student to participate in recreational sports programs?  

There are many opportunities to participate in a variety of activities. All students can become a member of the Fitness Center on campus by participating in a short training session.  This allows them access to cardio and weight equipment.  Alverno also offers a series of 1-credit wellness education classes open to all students. 

The Fitness Center is equipped with weight and cardio machines as well as a variety of free weights. The Fitness Center is open to all students and is available whenever the college is open. Students also have access to a locker/shower room.


How much do books cost a semester?  

Books cost approximately $400, but this can be higher or lower depending on the particular courses.

How much spending money does a student need?  

This is a difficult question to answer.  If students are on the meal plan, they are provided all of their meals in the Commons and in the Pipeline.  Students will need money for laundry, toiletries and any additional food they want to eat.  Most of the campus sponsored activities are free to students and the events that are not free are usually inexpensive.


What is provided in the rooms? 

During the academic year, your room becomes your “home away from home.” We want your student to be as comfortable as possible. Each double room (10’ X 17’) is furnished with blinds, two single beds, built-in desk and drawers, desk chairs, a built-in bookshelf, closets, a sink and vanity, a microwave/refrigerator unit, a computer network/Internet connection jack, and a cable television outlet.

What should my daughter bring to campus?  

We encourage residents to bring a bathrobe, flip flops, fan, dishes, pan, can opener, movies/DVD's, quarters for the laundry.  Check out the complete list.

What shouldn’t she bring?  

In order to ensure the safety of all residents the following items are not allowed in residence hall rooms:

  • Candles or incense (even if decorative)
  • Firearms
  • Halogen lamps
  • Live Christmas trees
  • Microwaves (except those supplied by the College)
  • Refrigerators (except those supplied by the College)
  • Space heaters or other auxiliary heating devices
  • Air conditioners
  • Hot plates, fryers, toasters/toaster ovens (Hot pots and closed coil popcorn poppers are allowed)
  • Some common electrical appliances pose a safety hazard in confined spaces. If your appliance is rated over 6 amps (700 watts), has an exposed heating element (i.e., coils), or is not Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed, it is not permitted in your room.
  • Pets (other than fish)

What if my daughter is homesick? 

Phone calls, e-mails and letters are the perfect cures for homesickness.  One of the residents said, “My favorite surprise from home is the brown paper packages tied up with string from mom.  She sends me themed boxes full of things from home, usually on top there are bills and other mail but then under those are pictures of my sisters or pictures that my little sister has colored for me.  Then she also includes cookies, banana bread or other homemade tasty things.  She usually also throws in the practical things like Tylenol, band-aids, quarters for laundry, shampoo and toothpaste.  And I get so excited when I get those boxes because I feel like I am being thought of at home and that I am missed and cared for!”

What is a CA? 

Community Advisors (CA) are students who have gone through extensive paraprofessional training in order to assist students on their residence hall floors.  One CA lives on every wing in the residence hall.  CA's help students adjust to the College, answer questions about how to accomplish tasks, listen and refer residents to professional staff members when appropriate and plan educational and social activities with students.  Additionally, they work with the other students in the hall to create an environment conducive to community living. Please be aware that although the CA’s know many students well, they can’t give out information, even to a parent, who calls, asks, or writes to seek information about their daughter. It is best to keep in contact with your daughter if you have questions about her activities.  As previously stated, we strive to create an atmosphere that focuses on building community. A part of this effort is to maintain good communication with students.

What about professional staff?  

In addition to the CA staff being available to assist your daughter, there is a full-time professional staff member, the Assistant Director for Residence Life, who lives on campus with the students.  Although the concept of ‘dorm mother’ may come to mind, this staff member plays a completely different role.  The Assistant Director supervises the student staff and works with your daughter to solve any problem or address concerns that she is having.  The Assistant Director will step in only if your daughter and her CA are unable to resolve the situation. She is fully trained to respond to emergency situations in the building.

What if two roommates are not getting along?  

At Alverno, we believe that part of an education is learning how to live with others and to work through difficult situations. We treat students like adults and try not to solve problems for them.  Instead we support them by giving them the skills to solve these problems themselves.  At the beginning of the year all roommates are asked to complete a roommate contract.  If your student is telling you they are having a roommate conflict, the first question to ask your student is:  “Have you talked with your roommate?”  Many times the two roommates haven’t even talked about the problem.  If talking about it has not solved the problem, have your student talk to their Community Advisor who is trained as a mediator.  After they have talked with their roommate and with their Community Advisor, the last resort would be to have the students talk to a staff member in the Residence Life Office.  Room changes are granted only if space is available and only after all other attempts have been unsuccessful. Although it may be tempting to step in as a parent and take control of a situation, we suggest that you encourage your daughter to speak to a staff member, who can then notify one of the professional staff members. Living in the hall with a roommate is a great place to begin or strengthen problem solving skills, one of the 8 abilities in the Alverno curriculum. By encouraging your daughter to learn how to handle conflict, she can learn how to handle a variety of problems in life.

What about meal plans? 

See the section on Food on Campus.

Does Alverno have cable TV in the residence halls?  

Yes!  Every room, including the lounge areas, is equipped with cable TV with the standard cable channel listing. We would ask that you bring your own cable cord to hook up the cable in your room. The student lounges also house DVD/VCR players for anyone’s use as well as cable TV.

Will I be able to bring my computer and use the internet in my room?  

There are internet computer hookups in every room. Be sure to stop at the desk or ask any staff member about an internet connection form. You’ll simply need some numbers found on your computer and information about the jack located in your room. You will also need your Community Advisor to sign the paperwork and turn it in to the mail drawer listed at the bottom of the document. It usually takes a week or less to get internet access once the form is turned in. Check your mailbox for a copy of the sheet you turn in. This will inform you of when you can use the Internet in your room.

Who do I call in the case of an emergency and I need to reach my resident student when campus offices are closed?  

The Austin Hall front desk operates 24 hours, 7 days a week during the fall and spring semesters and can assist you in an emergency. The Security Staff is also available 24 hours, 7 days a week, to respond to any emergency situation that may occur.


All students can have a car on campus, but other transportation is also available. Bus tickets can be purchased in Alverno's Bookstore. Milwaukee County Transit System buses stop near campus as part of their regular route. We have bus routes available in Austin Hall as well as in the Bookstore. 


At Alverno College we believe that a complete education is acquired in and out of the classroom.  Students are strongly encouraged to be active on campus and in the surrounding community.   There are many ways students learn outside of the classroom setting.  Students who get involved typically:

  • have opportunities to pursue interests outside of the classroom
  • make connections with people who have similar interests and meet people with different backgrounds and beliefs
  • acquire leadership skills and learn to work more successfully in groups
  • develop skills, knowledge and experience relevant for life, resumes, scholarships, and getting a job
  • have fun while making a difference

How do students get involved?  And what opportunities are there?  What if a student says there is nothing to do on campus?  

Encourage your commuter or resident student to become involved.  Alverno has more than 30 student groups and a variety of activities offered on campus each week.  The number and variety of student groups vary each semester based on student interest; consequently, developing a new group is an easy process and the Student Life Office is willing to help students with the process.  There is always plenty happening on campus.  For example, every Tuesday and Wednesday night that the College is in session, there is an event in the Mug, the on-campus coffeehouse that is free and open to students and their guests. The best ways to learn about events are through our weekly Campus Newsnet Email, fliers, Alverno Alpha (the College newspaper), and on the Activity Calendar on the Alverno Web site.  Ask your student what they would like to see on campus and then refer them to the Student Life Office with their ideas. 

Can families and friends attend campus events? 

The majority of campus events are open to family and friends. Just ask your daughter or the sponsoring department.

What campus resources do students find helpful?  

Students will learn about these resources during orientation.  But you might want to remind her that the following are available: 

  • day lockers and lockers to use throughout the year
  • Campus Newsnet, a weekly e-mail newsletter, e-mailed to all students
  • insurance information available through Health Services
  • academic and personal support systems
  • emergency loans
  • free membership in the Fitness Center
  • multiple ways to become involved and networked on and off campus

Are there opportunities to work on campus?  

Yes, students can pursue employment on campus whether or not they have received federal college work study on their financial aid.  Working on campus provides a support system for the student as well as an important work experience.  The Financial Aid Office can provide more information.

What counseling and health services are available on campus?  

There is a full-time counselor in Counseling Services and a part-time registered nurse. The counselor provides short-term, individual counseling for students.  Services are free and confidential.  If a student’s needs exceed what Counseling Services can provide, the student will be referred to off-campus resources.  Counseling Services does not provide prescriptions.

There are several volunteer physicians who staff the three-hour weekly physician clinic.  There is no charge to see the nurse for illness assessment and over-the-counter medications.  It costs $5 to see a physician.  Appointments are necessary.

Is there a student health insurance policy?  

Alverno College strongly recommends that each student obtain and verify health insurance coverage while attending classes. Students should have a copy of their insurance card, or their parents’ insurance card with them at school. The college does have a health insurance plan available for purchase; insurance brochures are available in Health Services. All payments are made directly to the insurance company.  Students are encouraged to read the coverage carefully and address any questions to the insurance agents. 

Will parents be notified if a student needs medical attention?  

Each student is asked to name an emergency contact person.  In the event that a student becomes ill while she is on campus and she needs to be transported to the hospital the College will call the person who is designated as the emergency contact.

What if a student cannot attend classes because of illness, accident or family emergency?  Who should be notified?  

If a student needs to miss class she should contact her instructor and negotiate any missed work.  In the case of a longer term absence the student should contact Academic Advising (382-6029).  The Advising Office will complete a long-term absence notice that will be routed to her instructors.  It is the student’s responsibility to call each of her instructors, as soon as she is able, to negotiate any missed work.