The Basics

Why are you There?

You are there to encourage your advisees to take initiative, and to take responsibility for their academic careers.  You are there to help your advisees reflect carefully on choices they are making, given their particular interests, skills, and aspirations (you can break the ice by asking about these when the advisees show up in your office); to be a mentor when you can and when you are needed; to keep tabs on academic problems, and stay in touch with appropriate deans and instructors where problems--personal or academic--come to your attention.  And of course you are there to provide the best advice and encouragement, in academic matters, that you can.

You are expected to have one-on-one meetings with your advisees prior to course selection, until they have selected a major.  You may also need to discuss an advisee's situation with him or her, and with other professors and deans, where problems arise that need attention or intervention.

What does Advising Require?  

Advising requires energy, engagement, and common sense, but it should not require a large amount of preparation.  You are not expected to do research for advisees, or to become deeply involved in non-academic personal struggles, though we would ask you to be alert for any signs that an advisee might be encountering some kind of personal trouble and contact--or encourage him or her to contact--people who can provide assistance.  For you this usually means contacting the advisee's Commons Dean. Occasionally, if the advisee is making an effort but having trouble obtaining information about a course or an area of study, you might judge it best to pick up the phone and ask a question or make an arrangement on your advisee's behalf, but if you do, you might also do it to model alacrity and assertiveness, in the hopes that the advisee will follow your example the next time.

You should also use your instincts if you think advisees are selecting courses that are going to get them into trouble.  If, for instance, someone who got Cs in high school Biology and low SATs in math is planning on taking Cell Biology and Organic Chemistry, plus Chinese or Macroeconomics, in addition to your challenging FYS, you might want to suggest a different path. But you also have to let your advisees make their own choices, whatever you advise.

You will have the help and support of your Commons, which will offer pre-advising, so that advisees are well prepared to meet with you.  

Checklist of things to review before Orientation advising sessions:  

1) College-Wide Requirements. (Four courses of a variety of kinds is usually sufficient to get a good start on these in the first semester.  It's good to have them well on the way to completion before junior year, when serious work on a major begins).

  • At least 36 courses (or course credits) total for graduation
  • Distribution requirements (7 of 8 needed before graduation).
    1) Literature (LIT)
    2) The Arts (ART)
    3) Philosophical and Religious Studies (PHL)
    4) Historical Studies (HIS)
    5) Physical and Life Sciences (SCI)
    6) Deductive Reasoning and Analytical Processes (DED)
    7) Social Analysis (SOC)
    8) Foreign Language (LNG)

  • Cultures and Civilizations Requirements
    --one course in AT LEAST THREE of the following regions:
    1. SOA: South and Southeast Asia, including the Pacific
    2. NOA: North Asia including China, Korea, Japan and the Asian steppes
    3. MDE: Middle East and North Africa
    4. SAF: Sub-Saharan Africa
    5. EUR: Europe
    6. AMR: the Americas

    --AND at least ONE
    CMP course: a course that focuses on the process of comparison between and among cultures and civilizations, OR a course that focuses on the identity and experience of separable groups within cultures and civilizations.

  • A second College Writing course (after the first semester, preferably before Junior year).

  • Physical Education (before graduation).

2) What Students Cannot or Should Not Do (Some are permitted by bannerweb during registration, some not, but all are bad ideas.)

  • Two courses in the same department (note, the FYS is in the FYS program, not your department, so students may be fine taking a second course in the department from which you come);
  • a second College Writing course (in addition to the FYS) in the first semester
  • two beginning language courses at the same time;
  • more or fewer than 4 courses (a student should almost always begin with 4, as one can be dropped during the add/drop period if necessary).

3) The pages for students on Advising and Course Selection on this website. Browsing through these will allow you to see what you can ask students to do and know when they meet with you.  Especially helpful might be the answers to students' Frequently Asked QuestionsIf you read this document from beginning to end, you should be well prepared to advise!  Also especially helpful (and short, is the document How to Choose Courses, most of which we owe to the wisdom of Yonna McShane in CTLR.

4) Your advisees' transcripts and standardized scores.  These can help you to respond to your students' plans, though they do not always accurately predict how students will perform.  Remember, too, that these materials are extremely sensitive and confidential.  They are available HERE, and instructions for them (should you need instructions) are HERE.

5) Registration procedures. Registration is now done, even by first semester students, on banner web.  The link above leads to the registrar's instructions for First-Year students.

6) Extra writing or math help for students.  Check with Shawna Shapiro of the Writing Program and Mary Ellen Bertolini of the Writing Center for writing or Jeanne Albert of CTLR for math.  

7) Fall Courses only 2/3 (or less) full.  If your Fall advisees are looking for courses that have seats, this is a list of courses that departments or instructors have advertised as seeking first-year students.  This list changes frequently.  Have it open on your desktop for students who cannot seem to find the right course or backup!