First- and Second-Year Students:

First-year students are initially assigned an adviser by the Associate Provost & Director of Advising, Yansi Pérez, supported by Maria Reverman in the Registrar’s office and Becky Krogh in the Office of the Provost.  An effort is made to assign students their A&I professor as their adviser, whenever possible. First-year students are assigned only to faculty who will be on campus all year. Sometimes sophomores need to be reassigned for part or all of that year if their adviser will be leading an off-campus program or on leave. Yansi Pérez would be available to consult regarding how faculty members in your department should be assigned as the adviser of these students. It is important that we handle these transitions promptly and smoothly so as not to leave students in doubt about who their adviser is.

Advising Majors

The advising cycle begins in April when sophomores declare a major. The registrar will send names of sophomores who wish to major in your department and the information on your current department advising loads. Remember that your faculty may have sophomore advisees they have formed attachments to. By May, you should have assigned majors to advisers, keeping in mind not to assign more than 18 majors per adviser. After making the assignments, return the list to the registrar’s office.

If your department is not overrun with majors, look at who will be teaching A&I seminars fall term, leaving room in their major advising assignment for new students. Your department might also consider asking its members to alternate major and underclass advising or to decide who is going to do which, when. Check with your department members; some faculty hate advising frosh! Some love it. The Office of the Provost asks that all departments do their best to assign major advisers in a way that maximizes the availability of faculty to do “liberal arts advising” of our first- and second-year students. Yansi would be happy to discuss strategies.

Departments have their own practices when it comes to assigning majors. In some departments, the chair advises all majors; in a large department, this is impossible. In many departments faculty and students are invited to express preferences about the pairing of adviser and advisee. The result is usually an advising relationship that works.

Arguments against the chair advising all departmental majors include:

  • Denies students the opportunity to express a preference for a different adviser, whom they might prefer by virtue of personality, experience, interests, etc.
  • Ties up a great deal of a chair’s time. Chairs will ordinarily see a number of prospective majors who request particular information; the chair must also advise students who plan overseas programs or seek approval for particular courses and students who plan to matriculate in foreign universities.
  • The chair may be involved in negotiations over the satisfaction of college or major requirements with students presenting the International Baccalaureate or other credentials or students seeking credit for courses transferred from other institutions.
  • During the advising and registration periods colleagues in other departments will call for information and advice, adding to the demands on the chairs’ time.
  • In other words, the chair will regularly deal with many irregularities, and these exceptional problems can be so numerous as to preclude seeing more than a few advisees during the relatively brief advising periods.

Arguments for the chair advising all departmental majors include:

  • Close contact with students that it provides the chair.
  • Consistency and efficiency in advising on major requirements.
  • Centralized tracking of student progress toward fulfilling requirements.
  • If the chair teaches a required junior or senior seminar, advising all those students can facilitate a stronger relationship with those majors–both as teacher and as adviser.

It may be wise to hold a special department meeting as the fall and spring term advising periods approach to permit the department to discuss trends and tendencies they have noted in student interest, preparation, enrollment, etc. Some students will try to avoid certain required courses or take courses in a perverse sequence, or they will indulge in a preponderance of courses in one area with corresponding lacunae in others. These patterns of enrollment may need to be discussed by the department so there is a department policy all are aware of. In addition, if your policy is laissez faire, even that is best arrived at consciously and departmentally.

NOTE: First-year faculty should not advise without the Provost’s permission. Continuing visiting faculty generally do not formally advise though some are contracted to do so (call the Office of the Provost to ask).

Tracking Majors’ Progress

Although students are ultimately responsible for completing all requirements for graduation, departments need to play a role in tracking their majors’ progress. In all but a few departments, the registrar’s office has this all automated. Regardless, departments have a major role in ensuring students are on track.

  • Make certain the registrar’s office is notified of any waivers or substitutions.
  • Don’t take a student’s word for it when the degree audit indicates a student hasn’t completed something and the student says he/she has. Insist that the student get this taken care of.
  • Remember that when students repeat a course for which they earned a passing grade, they do not earn new credits with the repeat.