Departments and programs are responsible for the allocation of advisers to newly declared majors (sophomores in their sixth terms). The Director of Advising offers some ideas to keep in mind as these allocations are implemented.

  • First, each academic department should have a tried and true process in place for assigning new major advisees to faculty mentors. Often it is neither possible nor desirable for the chair to advise all majors, even in departments with a small number of majors. Students benefit most from having major advisers who have more time for them.
  • Second, it may be possible to allow students some element of choice in their assignment of adviser. Students may be asked to provide their preferences based on familiarity with a given professor or interest in a particular field that is well-represented by a faculty member. This type of system is not always possible in departments with larger numbers of majors and less differentiation across faculty specialties, but some departments have been able to offer a combination of some student choice and a more even distribution across faculty. For an example of a large department that has been able to use technology to survey the preferences of new majors, consult with the Biology department.
  • Third, the assignment of advisees ought to always make consistency and sustainability of advising a priority during the seven terms that a student is pursuing a major. In that regard, faculty who are planning for an extended leave a year later, may not be good choices for new majors.
  • Fourth, some departments will ask junior faculty to take on more major advising and very little liberal arts advising. That is fine, but junior faculty are always better off if they experience a range of students along the typical four-year development trajectory. So, regardless of the number of majors a department may have, chairs ought to leave some slots available for junior faculty to take on first-year and sophomore advisees, if that is possible.
  • Finally, students are ultimately responsible for completing all requirements on time, but departments have a key role in ensuring that students stay on track. Advisers must work closely with chairs and administrative assistants to make sure that their majors are fulfilling their requirements in a timely manner. Chairs are often asked to approve courses taken off-campus on non-Carleton programs to satisfy major requirements. Where this is advisable, chairs ought to consult with colleagues who are specialized in the relevant areas and the adviser so that all are aware of how such courses are being applied. In all cases, exceptions should be noted in writing and applied so that degree audits reflect an accurate picture of the student’s progress towards completion of the major.