BEST Guide to Student Success

Critical decision points


Evaluate your interests and aptitudes, as well as workforce demand. High school students should be working on this with their career development counselor during their junior and senior years. If not, Wake Tech's Career Services Office can help you. Online resources, such as Mind Tools, can also help, although interpreting and applying the results objectively may require professional assistance.

Here are the steps for admission:

  • Complete the Wake Tech application online
  • Determine whether you're an in-state or out-of-state resident
  • Submit all official transcripts (high school and any colleges attended) and test scores (Advanced Placement, SAT, ACT, GED or HiSET, CLEP)to Wake Tech
  • Placement testing, if necessary
  • New Student Orientation, in person or online
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Contact Disability Support Services or Military and Veterans Programs, if needed

February or March is the ideal time to apply for a Fall semester start, as Wake Tech begins Fall registration in April.

Complete the FAFSA six to eight weeks before the registration/payment deadline and keep in touch with the Financial Aid Office to make sure they have all the necessary information to put an aid package together for you. Scholarships are available through the Wake Tech Foundation; the application period is March 1 through April 30.

Students should meet with an academic advisor before their first semester to discuss their educational and career goals and to make sure the courses they take put them on the right path. The placement testing process emphasizes past performance so that a high school graduate is enrolled in classes based on his or her grades (unweighted) in high school, unless there is proof for higher placement.

  • A high school student with a grade point average below 2.2 should register for transition courses (ENG 002, MAT 003) during his or her first term, unless there is evidence for higher placement.
  • High school students with a GPA between 2.2 and 2.799 will need to take co-requisite English and math courses, unless there is evidence for higher placement.
  • If you need review/transition courses, you should complete them during your first term at Wake Tech or as soon as possible upon entering the college.
  • An academic advisor in Student Services is not the same as a faculty advisor, who is an instructor in a program of study. Students are assigned faculty advisors during their first semester.

New Student Orientation includes the following:

  • Seeing an academic advisor
  • Completing an assessment in Blackboard
  • Completing registration in Self-Service
  • Obtaining an ID and vehicle decal
  • Signing up for the Wake Tech WARN emergency notification system
  • Paying tuition and fees by the due date
  • Purchasing books and supplies
  • Getting instructions and directions for the first day of class

Academic cycle

  • The typical semester at Wake Tech is 16 weeks long.
    • Fall semester – August through December
    • Spring semester – January through early May
    • Summer term – May through July (10-, eight- and five-week sessions)
  • Other semester cycles
    • "Mini-mesters" can be 12, 10, eight or five weeks long and are accelerated.
      • 16 weeks of work in eight weeks – study time is doubled.
      • 16 weeks of work in five weeks – study time is tripled.
  • Most programs begin in the Fall semester; however, students may enroll at other set times during the year. Academic years are based on a Fall start, such as 2022-23.
  • Use the online calendar
    • Choose "Academic," click "Apply" and then choose "Month"
    • Chart: Click on "Calendar Archives" and then "Academic Calendar Summary"

Students are expected to take the initiative to solve problems. Here are various resources available at Wake Tech:

  • Student Support – Links to an array of programs to help students academically and personally
  • Self-Service – Enter your course plan – preferably three or more terms. Refer to your program planning guide for correct sequencing of courses, and use the course descriptions to determine pre- and co-requisites.
  • Individualized Learning Center (ILC) – Free tutoring is available, and Student Success Workshops begin before the start of each term and are offered every two weeks.
  • Academic Success Centers – Each center has a specific focus and provides resources and support to help students complete their programs of study.
  • Student Success Coaches – Every new Wake Tech student is assigned a coach to help them navigate the college's processes, as well as academic challenges and personal needs.
  • e-Learning Intro – This is required before students can register for any class with an online component.


Registration & Records has created a video to walk students through the process of how to plan and register for a course.

Here are some other helpful links:

First day of class

Students are given access to Blackboard, Wake Tech's online learning system, on the first day of class. Course goals, objectives, assignments and other material can be found there.

Students are expected to attend at least 90% of all scheduled class meetings, both online and in person.

The BEST welcome letter that was sent to your Wake Tech address includes instructions on how to obtain a refund if you withdraw from a class or how to give parents or others access to your personal information.

Online classes:


  • Class locations: Class schedules include a code that indicates the campus, building and room where a class is being held. The campus codes for Southern Wake, Scott Northern Wake and RTP campuses are S, N and RT, respectively. So, a class listed at SE 224 would be held on Southern Wake Campus, Building E, Room 224, while NJ 127 would be on Scott Northern Wake Campus, Building J, Room 127.

Schedule adjustment (adding/dropping classes)

  • Classes are matched with program planning guide sequencing.
  • The time to add classes is limited – one to five days. Classes can be dropped later, but there is a deadline beyond which you must remain in a class.
  • Balance your work and study load. BEST offers a sample weekly planner.
  • Financial aid recipients should not choose classes based on monetary allotments, but on what their background and other commitments will support. If the allotted money is not used, then it remains in the student's account for use later. Awards are prorated based on the number of credit hours. Six credit hours is half-time. Nine credit hours is three-quarter time. Twelve credit hours is full-time.
  • Students are expected to maintain a 2.0 grade point average – a "C" average – to receive financial aid or veterans benefits, remain in good academic standing and graduate. As with the fable of the tortoise and the hare, it's often better to move at a slower, steady pace than to rush and risk not finishing the race.
  • Student Success Coaches can help with time management.
  • Students who are working toward their AAS degrees but want the option to transfer to a four-year college should research the need for course substitutions. Major requirements at one college will vary from the same major at another college. Use the Degree Paths menu link to get started. Once an institution has been chosen, use the Wake Tech college calendar to find out when representatives from that college will be on campus to talk with students about transferring. Contact a transfer advisor at the senior institution if a representative is not scheduled to be on campus.

First month of class

  • Create a regular study pattern and schedule: same place, same time
  • Review course content weekly and cumulatively
  • Use a calendar for due dates on tests and projects and begin assignments early
  • Complete assignments on time and understand the weighting of assignments on Blackboard
  • Use college resources: Library, ILC, Disability Support Services, etc.
  • Maintain at least a C+ average in all classes.
  • Be familiar with all Academic Advising information.
  • Understand the importance of good grades, how to calculate GPA and what it means to be in good academic standing.
    • Think of grades like money in a bank account: A's and B's are like savings, C's are having just enough money to cover the bills; D's and F's are like debts that need to be repaid (with possible penalties). Recommendation: Think of a C as a passing grade, not a D.
  • Communicate with each instructor regarding your progress or status in each class and any problems
  • Problems often surface about three weeks into the semester. Reach out to your assigned Student Success Coach or instructor so problems don’t get out of hand.

Mid-semester break

  • Students should be working with the instructors before a semester break to make sure they are making satisfactory progress – ask what needs to change to perform better.
  • During the break, evaluate priorities – How important are learning, studying, etc., to you? Is work your highest priority? Do you need to adjust your schedule to match priorities?
  • During the break, catch up on missed assignments or tests and maybe even study ahead. But catching up may indicate poor time management or too much work or too many commitments outside of class.
  • Make decisions about staying in or dropping class(es) to avoid D or F grades. There is about a 10-day period after the break (during a 16-week semester) for advising/consulting with an instructor to make the best decision.
  • If a student withdraws from classes and is receiving financial aid, he or she will need to check with his or her assigned financial aid specialist to understand any consequences.
  • If not done previously, this is the time when students who are expecting to graduate the following semester should contact Career Services to update their resumes, prepare for job interviews, etc.

Last day to withdraw

  • Each semester has a deadline for students to drop classes without receiving an F grade. After that point, the low grade remains on a student's transcript, whether they remain in the class or not.
  • Classes get more difficult as the term progresses, so if your grades are low at the break, it will be even harder to earn a final grade of C or better to be in good academic standing.
  • If a student withdraws from classes, he or she will need to revise his or her academic plan of study and enter it into the Self-Service system.
  • NOTE: For students planning to transfer, other institutions will add all attempted courses into your grade point average. So, if you make a D on a course the first time and then make a B on a second attempt, the new institution will count it as if it were a C in your GPA. If you make two F's and then a C, it will be the same as 0.67 in the GPA, not 2.0.

Early registration

Currently, there is no formal advising period. But when the "schedule opens" is the time when students and advisors decide which courses should be taken during the next term(s). The program planning guides (PPGs) are the recommended sequencing of required courses and are available on the BEST website. It's best to communicate with your advisor or program director before registering to make sure you are making proper choices, especially if you are modifying the PPG sequencing. Part-time schedules are available from your advisor.

About 10 days after the "schedule open" date, the registration period for the following term begins.

  • The Registrar's Office assigns continuing students a priority date based on the number of credit hours completed at Wake Tech – more advanced students get the first choice of classes. 
  • New students are given registration dates based on their date of application.
  • About five days later, visiting (special) students are allowed to register for courses that still have available space.
  • Registration saves space in a class until the payment deadline. Payment secures your place in the class.
  • The Registrar's Office expects students to use the "My Progress" link in Self-Service to make sure they are taking the correct courses. If you have only one semester left before you can graduate, this is a good time to make sure all transfer credits, all course substitutions, etc., have been processed and appear as credit on your record. This will allow you to apply for graduation during the "designed window" and avoid any last-minute surprises. A student cannot apply for graduation until 80 percent of their coursework is complete.

Payment deadlines

There are typically two payment deadlines for tuition and fees: one immediately after the initial registration period and another just before the next term begins. Students who might have difficulty paying tuition could have it broken up into two or three payments by enrolling in Wake Tech's Tuition Payment Plan.

  • It is in the student’s best interest to pay the tuition as soon after registration as possible so that space in his or her preferred classes will be reserved. If a student does not pay the tuition by the assigned deadline, his or her space in all classes will be forfeited, and students on the waiting lists for those classes will automatically fill the empty seat.
  • Financial Aid paperwork should be completed at least six weeks before the payment deadline to allow for enough processing time and notification. Otherwise, students are expected to pay the tuition themselves. Students already receiving financial aid are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA – a "C" average – to continue receiving assistance. If Summer courses need to be taken, students are advised to set money aside for that expense; aid is dispersed based on Fall and Spring enrollment and is not typically available for the Summer term.
  • Sponsorship billing is defined as a third party – company, organization, or sponsor – taking financial responsibility for a student's charges at Wake Tech. There is a form to complete and submit before the payment deadline.
  • Student Money Management provides the resources, tools and financial education needed for students to be fiscally responsible while at Wake Tech and after graduation.


  • Exams are often cumulative and cover material throughout the term. Therefore, there is a need to continually review course content from the beginning. Some instructors will assign projects in place of final exams. Assignments are often weighted, and the information is found on the course Blackboard.
  • BEST courses do not typically follow the exam schedule on the college calendar; however, the general education courses (English, math, humanities, social sciences) will often follow that posted schedule.


  • Students who expect to graduate with a degree will need to check with their assigned advisor before their last semester to make sure all course requirements will be met.
  • Graduating students are expected to apply for graduation before their last semester or term so that their records can be checked by the Registrar's Office for accuracy and adjustments made if necessary.
  • Commencement exercises are typically scheduled during the weekend and are frequently held during the exam period.

Academic workshops

Academic Success Workshops are designed to help students develop successful college study habits. By signing up for various interactive workshops on campus, you will learn how to become a better college student by learning study strategies and tips to reach your academic goals.

The Individualized Learning Center Study Skills Center assists students in developing the skills for success in college. Students can make individual appointments or attend workshops on topics such as test-taking skills, test anxiety, note taking, textbook reading, time management, organization and more. The ILC also offers a personalized Learning Styles inventory to help students identify their personal learning strengths and weaknesses.


A student's faculty advisor is a program instructor who is assigned, usually during the student's first term, to assist with scheduling and registration. Academic advisors in Student Services assist with admissions and during the first semester.

Students should contact their faculty advisors each semester to ensure that they are:

  • Meeting personal, academic and career goals
  • Completing course prerequisites or co-requisites as needed 
  • Taking courses in the proper sequence
  • On target for graduation

Instructions for Self-Service:

  • Click "Login" at the top right of the page
  • Click "Self-Service" and log in with user name and password
  • Click "Student Planning" and then "Plan and Schedule"
  • Click on the "Advising" tab at the top left
  • Use the college directory for contact information

If you have not been assigned a faculty advisor, contact your program director:

  • On the Building, Engineering and Skilled Technologies division page, click on your program of study and then the Faculty link.
  • If your program does not list a director, contact the department head listed as Program Contact in the upper right corner of your program page.

College resources

Wake Tech provides students with a variety of resources:  

Services Directory – An alphabetized list of resources, locations and phone numbers

Care Center – A resource for Student Success Coaches, emergency aid, food and technology assistance and Wellness Services

Student Support – Links to Academic Advising, Disability Support Services, Registration and Records, Career Services and other departments that can provide academic, technology and career assistance

Frequently used sites

I need ...
Site/phone #
Pay for classes
Get an unofficial transcript
Find my advisor's name
Check my grades
Accommodations for a learning challenge
Disability Support Services
Assistance with a course*
Individualized Learning Center
Academic counseling
Academic Advising
Financial aid
Financial Aid
Veterans benefits
Student Services
An official transcript
Student Records
Help figuring out my future
Career Services
To buy textbooks

*Contact your instructor for a referral to the ILC, if possible. The instructor will be able to help identify areas needing assistance.

Dates and deadlines

The Registrar’s Office provides links to registration dates and payment deadlines, forms, graduation and transfer credit equivalency, along with how-to information and calendars showing deadlines for withdrawing or dropping classes, semester start and end dates and other details.

Degree paths

Choosing between an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree program and a program that leads to either an Associate in Engineering (AE) degree involves several variables.

AAS degrees

  • Two-year degree plans
  • Lead directly into the workforce
  • Focus on core subject content
  • Include hands-on application of core content
  • Require only five general education courses (Communication, Humanities/Fine Arts, Social/Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences/Mathematics)
  • Require non-calculus-based math courses

Articulation agreements

  • Two-year degree plans
  • Directed toward specific four-year institutions
  • Combination of the AAS and bachelor degree tracks
  • Allow transfer credit for many core technical-level courses
  • Allow substitution of transfer-level courses for technical-level requirements:
    • ENG 111 instead of ENG 110
    • ENG 112 instead of ENG 114
    • MAT 171 instead of MAT 110 or MAT 121
    • PSY 150 instead of PSY 118
  • Graduates employable upon completion
  • Graduates have a university transfer plan
  • Employers typically offer tuition assistance programs for employees who want to pursue additional education

The following programs have articulation agreements for transfer:

Articulation agreement information shows transfer options for all Wake Tech programs

AE degree

  • Designed for transfer to four-year institutions to complete a bachelor's degree
  • First two years are mostly general education classes
  • Entry into the workforce delayed
  • Require higher-level math (pre-calculus and calculus)
  • More theory than hands-on experience

Disability Support Services (DSS)

Assistance from Disability Support Services depends entirely on a student's self-identification. Students must ask for assistance with disability-related issues.

Information about documentation, when and where to submit forms and the processing procedure – as well as other important information – can be found at DSS.

Financial assistance

Apprenticeships offer students valuable opportunities for employment in their career fields while pursuing their education at Wake Tech. Students sign an apprenticeship agreement with an employer sponsor. Their tuition is paid either by the employer sponsor or by funds available through  ApprenticeshipNC. Check with ApprenticeshipNC or for more information.

Financial aid is available in several formats for students who qualify. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for financial assistance at least six weeks before the semester or term begins. A student intending to begin the Fall semester should begin the application process no later than April 10. A student intending to begin Spring semester should begin no later than October 15. Financial aid applications are processed only when all paperwork has been submitted, and the process takes at least four weeks to complete.

Hardship assistance: Students who have circumstances that prevent them from attending or completing classes can apply for up to $250 in aid through funding from Duke Energy. Students may apply only once during the 2022-23 academic year and must have a 2.0 grade point average to be eligible.

Scholarship opportunities are described on the Wake Tech Foundation website.

Sponsorships are arranged through direct company contact and approval. Agreements usually specify a work period obligation following graduation.

The Care Center is a resource for students who need emergency financial assistance, as well as help with food, technology, transportation and wellness needs.

Work-Based Learning (WBL) offers opportunities for eligible students to gain work experience in their career fields and earn course credits at the same time. Most BEST degrees offer WBL as elective credit. Typically, only students in Associate in Applied Science degree programs have WBL options, but there are some exceptions. Students should talk with their advisors about the best time to pursue work-based learning.


Importance of grades and GPA

Final course grades indicate the quality of student work. A student must earn a grade point average of 2.0 – a "C" average – to graduate, receive financial aid and veterans benefits and transfer credit to other schools.

Employers often look at grades when deciding the best candidates for employment. Class and lab performance, a good attendance record and a strong work ethic are also important factors in consideration for jobs.

A student must attend 90% of class time in order to get credit for a course. Course content is standardized across the system, so English or math or engineering courses taught at Wake Tech are the same as those courses taught at any other North Carolina community college. Standardization makes it possible to transfer course credit within the community college system.

Each final course grade earns a given number of quality points: A = 4 points (excellent), B = 3 points (very good), C = 2 points (average), D = 1 point (poor), F = 0 points (failure/no credit)

Calculating GPA:

  1. Determine total number of credit hours. For example, four courses worth three credit hours each gives a total of 12 credit hours.
  2. Determine the total number of quality points. For example, a three-credit-hour course with a grade of B (worth 3 points) gives a total of 9 quality points.
  3. Divide the total number of quality points by the total number of credit hours. In the above example, if the grades for the four courses were one B, two Cs and one D, the total quality points would be 24 (9 + 6 + 6 + 3). The quality points (24) divided by the credit hours (12) is 2.0 – just enough to be in good academic standing.

For more information about calculating GPA, see the college catalog.

One poor grade is not necessarily a disaster if other grades are above average; however, one poor grade can drop an overall average below 2.0, with the consequences of blocking graduation, financial aid and transfer credit. Similarly, one mistake on the job will not necessarily cause you to lose your job, but continuous poor performance (tardiness, absences and errors) could result in a warning or job loss.

Consequences of poor grades

Registering for a course is like signing a contract. The college agrees to provide instruction, and the student agrees to commit to learning the information. Good grades are not awarded automatically for attending class, only for performance in class and lab, completion of assignments and test scores. A grade of "C" is considered satisfactory or average.

When a student's performance is consistently below average, his or her academic standing is in danger. An Academic Warning alerts a student that changes must be made while there is still time to improve performance and grades.

Time management

It is important to plan adequate study time. Students often make the mistake of "overloading" their schedules. A full course load is equivalent to a 40-hour-a-week job.

Students often look only at class and lab hours when registering; however, BEST students are expected to study from one to three hours for each hour spent in class or lab. Online or hybrid courses may require even more study time, since the learning is self-directed.

A weekly planner can help students map out classes and study time and identify whether a full course load is practical.