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. Above all, the role of faculty members in advising allows students to better understand their educational world and celebrate their success along their academic and career path. Faculty members advise students who are exploring which major to declare, undergraduates who have declared a major, and graduate students. The advising of incoming students (both freshmen and transfers) and undeclared students is coordinated by the School/Conservatory Directors, the department chairs, the program coordinators, and the Advising Center.
Academic advising is a teaching opportunity that should be conducted with the same degree of purpose as classroom teaching. Faculty advisors teach students to value the learning process, gather necessary information, set priorities, make complex decisions, and evaluate the meaning of their course choices. Advising appointments should also allow students to make connections between what they are learning in and out of the classroom.
The basic tasks of any academic advisor are to develop a thorough knowledge of the institution and the 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 this manner, advisors may provide specific and accurate information, identify their students’ needs, and make appropriate referrals to available campus resources. Ideally, students will develop a personal relationship with his or her advisor through this type of ongoing mentorship. The current College Catalog, the academic program sites, eight-semester graduation plans, and other college documents supplemented by referrals, provide the basis for sound academic advising.
Prior to Advising Week, 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 review his or her Degree Progress Report (DPR) and the course search to prepare a tentative schedule. The advisee’s Degree Progress Report should be reviewed during the advising session, and there should be a discussion about the student’s academic progress.
In myHeliotrope on the faculty/staff portal, the advising menu under “Faculty Services” contains data and tools to assist you in the advising process, including your advisee listing with holds that may bar students from course registration, the course search, and the Degree Progress Report used to monitor your advisees’ academic progress.
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.
- reviewing the advisee’s Degree Progress Report and the major plan
- monitoring the student’s progress in completing major requirements and general degree requirements each semester
- 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
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
- should be familiar with satisfactory academic progress guidelines and forms (for federal financial aid)
- 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 expand other areas of interest by thoughtful choices of elective courses or academic minors (sort by major/minor: “minor”). 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 chair of the relevant department.
Students on academic probation are notified by their dean’s office of their academic standing. Students in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences are required to meet with an academic advisor in the Advising Center 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 staff program coordinator for their conservatory or school, or the assistant dean of the School of the Arts.