Academic Advising

Academic Advising: Overview | Referrals | Advising Undeclared Students | Students on Academic Probation | Student Alert | Advising Majors

Please note: Some procedures outlined on this page, particularly those related to access codes and registration, may change with the rollout of Banner+ and myHeliotrope on Faculty will have access to training and guides provided by the Banner Implementation Team.

Academic Advising: Overview
The academic advising of students is an integral part of the faculty’s teaching obligations. The college is committed to student graduation after four years of full-time undergraduate study, and faculty participation in advising is a significant factor in student retention as well. Faculty members may be asked to advise undeclared students, undergraduates who have declared a major, and graduate students when applicable. The advising of incoming new students (both freshmen and transfers), first-year students, and undeclared students is coordinated by the academic deans, chairs, and directors, the coordinators of boards of study, and the Advising Center.

The basic tasks of any academic advisor are to develop a thorough knowledge of the institution and academic programs, policies, and services that are available to students, while attempting to perceive and understand the needs of students. By understanding the institution in such manner, advisors may guide students in the matching of their needs with available resources. Ideally, the advising process will provide students with specific and accurate information, advice, and counsel and will enable the student to develop a personal relationship with his or her advisor. The current College Catalog and subsequent updates on the academic program sites, each semester’s registration guide, eight-semester graduation plans, and other college documents (e.g., Liberal Arts & Sciences Advisors Handbook), supplemented by referrals, provide the basis for sound academic advising.

During the advising period that precedes advance registration, advisors often post sign-up sheets on their office doors to facilitate the scheduling of advising appointments. Before meeting with the advisor, the student should prepare a tentative schedule. During an appointment, in addition to the advising itself, the advisor will give the student an Advisor Access Code (AAC) for Web registration or sign the registration form that is necessary for in-person registration. The advisee’s transcript should be reviewed during the advising session, and there should be a discussion about the student’s academic progress. On, you can view your advisees’ transcripts and check their academic progress using the degree progress report. A copy of the advisee’s transcript and degree progress report are also available to each student before advance registration on

Advisors should know when to urge students to see someone else to explore alternatives. Studies have shown that students are far more likely to follow up on a referral if the advisor assists directly in making the original contact. For answers to advising questions about which the advisor or the student is uncertain, please contact the Advising Center.

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Advising Undeclared Students
The advisor of a student who has not yet declared a major should be prepared to explore with the student his or her life goals and education/career goals and to help the student reach at least a tentative decision about choice of major. Students may have questions related to internships and career options related to a particular major. The Career Development Center specializes in working with advisors and undeclared students to help these students find a rewarding and challenging employment experience that can supplement or help determine their choice of major.

The advisor will meet with each undeclared advisee and, with the help of the advisee’s transcript, plan each semester’s schedule and indicate approval by giving the advisee an Advisor Access Code (AAC) for Web registration or signing the registration form for in-person registration.

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Students on Academic Probation
Students in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences who are on academic probation are asked by the associate dean to meet with their advisor to discuss the reasons for their academic difficulties and how they may improve their performance. In the School of the Arts, students who are on academic probation meet with their advisor and/or the chair of their conservatory, the director of the School of Art+Design, or (for arts management students) the dean of the School of the Arts.

Student Alert
If an advisor feels a student is at risk of failing or seems to be dealing with problems or issues outside the purview of the advisor-advisee relationship, the advisor can use the online Student Alert. The Student Alert provides an avenue for faculty to channel their concerns about a student to the At-Risk Committee. When alerts are received, this committee contacts the student to help identify the challenges that are affecting his or her ability to succeed in school. Students are then strongly encouraged to use the services that may help them address these issues. The Student Alert is located under myHeliotrope > Quick Links on on

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Advising Majors
When the advisee decides on a major, he or she will file a Declaration of Major form with the Office of the Registrar, and the student’s advising folder will be sent to the major advisor. The Declaration of Major form is available under Forms on the Office of the Registrar’s site.

The primary responsibilities of the major advisor are to give specific advice about the academic requirements of the student’s chosen major and to oversee the student’s completion of general degree requirements, including the core curriculum requirements. This includes:

  • reviewing the advisee’s transcript and the major plan
  • monitoring the student’s progress in completing major requirements and general degree requirements each semester when the Advisor Access Code (AAC) is given or the registration form is signed
  • ensuring that the student will complete the required number of credits to graduate and will meet core curriculum, liberal arts, upper level, and residency credit requirements
  • signing the graduation application

The major advisor:

  • will also provide guidance about the applicability of courses that a student may have taken (or will take) at another college or university
  • can be expected to counsel students on matters related to their senior project and about graduate or professional school in fields closely related to the student’s major

In addition to making students aware of their major and general degree requirements, major advisors can help their advisees to build other areas of interest by thoughtful choices of elective courses or academic minors. Frequently, major advisors will be asked to write substantive letters of recommendation for students who are assembling a credentials file, either for application to graduate school or for employment.

For specific questions about advising in the major, please contact the faculty coordinator of the relevant board of study.

Updated Feb. 19, 2014

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