Advising for Excellence!
Dickinson’s faculty-based advising system is an important component of faculty teaching responsibilities. The role of an effective academic advisor is to foster each student’s ability to:
- consult appropriate people
- organize information
- ask thoughtful questions
- make sound choices about an academic course of study
Entering students are assigned to academic advisors who are members of the faculty or administrators. Students continue with these advisors until they are ready to declare a major field of study, usually in the sophomore year. Because of the critical role that the academic advisor plays in introducing the new student to academic life at the college, these relationships often take on a special character, and may be very long-lived.
Early academic advising relationships often continue even after the student’s move into another field, and provide lasting intellectual contacts between faculty and students. The formal advising commitment may last up to four semesters, until a student chooses a major advisor. When declaring the major, each student requests or is assigned an advisor in the major field. Entering transfer students are encouraged to declare a major when they enroll in classes.
The most successful advising relationships are often those that take the form of a social contract between student and advisor, each party having a set of responsibilities. The critical elements established by the academic advisor in the mentoring relationship, are mutual intellectual respect and responsibility, coupled with a factual base of knowledge on which to give and receive academic advice.
Although faculty advisors must be knowledgeable about the college curriculum and requirements for graduation, they should readily refer students to the appropriate department’s faculty, the Class Dean, Registrar, and/or the electronic course catalog on the college website, so that detailed or idiosyncratic questions may be answered with the greatest depth and accuracy.
Students are responsible for selecting the courses in which they enroll and for the election of courses that will satisfy the requirements of graduation. Advisors are available throughout the academic year, and students are encouraged to meet with their advisors frequently. As an important part of each course request period prior to enrolling for the next term, students are expected to meet with their faculty advisors to review their academic progress and revise their plans. All first-year students and sophomores are required to meet with their faculty advisor, prior to selecting courses online.
Students who have questions and would like to consult with someone other than their faculty advisor are encouraged to speak with their Class Dean by contacting the Advising Office in Biddle House (717-245-1080).
Early consultation with pre-professional and program advisors is recommended and sometimes required for students who are planning specific careers or wish to participate in specific programs. The Student Handbook identifies faculty directors and advisors of individual programs.
Utilizing Campus Resources
Academic concerns are often intertwined with personal development. Licensed and certified professionals as well as peer counselors serve students through an extensive counseling network. Active referral and cooperation within the counseling and advising network encourages students to seek appropriate guidance and support throughout their college careers. When the academic advisor is aware of an advisee’s difficulties, the advisor’s responsibilities include:
- Responding quickly and supportively
- Making a prompt referral
- Following up in a timely manner with the advisee to assure appropriate care
Students can benefit from the very practical help provided by various offices and should be encouraged to seek support before they reach a crisis.
Faculty Advising Guidelines
- Provide adequate meeting time for advising with your students. For first-year students plan to offer at least 20-30 minutes each.
- Be familiar with Dickinson’s graduation requirements and check your advisee’s progress each semester. Encourage them to take advantage of the program evaluation (degree-audit) option available in Banner Self-Service.
- Encourage your advisees to identify areas of interest and help them select a balanced course of study – leading to possible majors.
- If you are notified that an “Early Alert” has been initiated for one of your advisees, ask your advisee to stop by your office to discuss how things are going.
- If your advisee has received a U grade at Roll Call, ask them to make an appointment with you within the next week to discuss their difficulty.
- Make sure your advisees know that they can meet with you during the year beyond course request/registration times. Encourage them to take the initiative.
- Find opportunities to let your advisees know that they can talk about non-academic concerns, if they want to. Use your role as an advisor to help them seek and find the help they need.
- In the course of your conversations, make sure your advisees know about the resources and opportunities available to them at Dickinson College (Class Deans and Peer Advisors in the Advising Center, Career Center, and Internships – all in Biddle House).
- Ask periodically about future plans (beyond Dickinson). Encourage exploration and flexibility in course selection and activities beyond the classroom.
- If you are contacted by parents and are comfortable talking with them, be sure there is a FERPA waiver (in the student’s official life in the Registrar’s Office) before discussing specific information with them. In all cases feel free to refer parents to a Class Dean or Associate Provost Bretz.
- Student files are confidential. You should never discuss a student’s record with another student. Conversations with colleagues about students should be limited to a legitimate educational interest. As an advisor, you may need to be in touch with an advisee’s faculty members if there are problems or concerns, and similarly you may have other faculty members contacting you about concerns with one of your advisees. It is useful to keep the Class Dean informed of concerns about a student, and you should expect to hear from the Class Dean when information has been received that you, as advisor, should know.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that students may have about credits, requirements, major selection, and more related to Advising can also be found under "Student Resources"
The Office of Learning Skills and Disability Services is a part of Academic Advising. For forms, information, and related FAQ for Faculty, click on this link to Faculty Resources for Accommodating and Advising Students with Disabilities.
P. O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013-2896