Advising Mission Statement
As an academic adviser, a faculty member is both teacher and mentor to students, assisting them in understanding the nature of liberal education, formulating their educational goals, and planning a course of action to achieve those goals. Academic advisers should encourage and assist students to become independent, self-motivated learners who recognize their own responsibility for fulfilling their degree requirements and working toward their long-term goals.
Selection and Assignment of Advisers
All Rhodes students are assigned academic advisers prior to the beginning of their first year. Each incoming student is given the opportunity to indicate departments and subject areas of interest, and every effort is made to assign an adviser from an interest area. Although a student may request a different adviser at any time, ordinarily the first-year adviser serves until the student declares a major, which must be done by the end of the sophomore year.
The Importance of Advising
The importance of faculty advisers to new students cannot be stressed enough. Some students come to Rhodes with an unrealistic attitude about their college education. When they encounter problems, the first non-student they approach is normally their adviser. It is, thus, essential for the adviser to establish and maintain an open relationship with his or her advisees and be prepared to help the student solve his or her problems, either personally or by directing the student to the appropriate resource person. (See the "Referral Resources" section of this handbook for a listing of support services and contact people on campus.)
The Adviser′s Responsibilities
It is the adviser’s responsibility to assist the student in:
- learning about degree requirements and college policies and procedures;
- choosing suitable courses for each semester;
- fulfilling general degree and major requirements in a timely fashion; and solving academic or personal problems when possible, and obtaining the assistance of other people when necessary.
Two activities involve all advisers and students.
- Mid-term grades for all students are visible to advisers. All students should have the opportunity to discuss their grades with their advisers.
- After consulting the schedule of classes, students meet with their advisers to register for the following semester. Many advisers send notes to their advisees as a reminder of both of these meetings, and many find it beneficial to have students sign up for appointments.
General Suggestions for Effective Advising
- Be available to students on a regular basis and be conscientious about posting and adhering to a schedule of office hours for advising conferences.
- Study an advisee’s record such as advising & planning survey, ACT or SAT scores, placement test scores, grades, academic history, and Workday carefully in order to gain insight into the advisee’s capabilities and limitations early in his or her college career.
- Encourage the student to take an active part in course selection from the start. Focus on why to take courses, not what should be taken.
- Try to encourage students not to drop or withdraw from courses too readily. A student with a reasonable expectation of passing a course should be counseled to remain in the course. Suggest that the student drop extracurricular activities instead of courses.
- Be available for advising that is not always strictly academic. Keep in mind that a student’s education and growth require other types of counseling from time to time. Be informed about personal counseling programs available through the Student Counseling Center in the event referral is necessary.
- Tie your academic advising to career development. Encourage the student toward thinking about career plans and explain our Career Services office and opportunities.
- Send occasional invitations to advisees, encouraging them to come in for discussions and mentorship.
Advising Guidelines for Students
- Realize that final responsibility for meeting degree or foundation requirements rests with the student.
- Prepare adequately for each advising session.
- Make preliminary course selections prior to registration advising appointments.
- With the assistance of the adviser and Career Services, clarify personal values, abilities, interests, and goals.
- Become knowledgeable about and observe institutional policies, procedures, and requirements. This requires a careful reading of the College Catalogue.
- Contact and make an appointment with the adviser when in need of assistance or when required. If the student finds it impossible to keep the appointment, notify the adviser before the scheduled appointment.
- Maintain a personal advising folder and take it to every advising appointment. Documents placed in this folder might include grade reports, declaration of major forms, course plan, Workday, and other documents related to the student′s academic record.
- Follow through on actions identified during each advising session.
- Keep the advisor informed about academic achievements, difficulties, and other factors that could influence the student′s academic career.
- Declare a major no later than the spring semester of the sophomore year (March) and choose a new major advisor.
- Evaluate the advising system, when requested, in order to strengthen the advising process.
- Accept final responsibility for all decisions.
Guidelines for Advisers
- Provide a professional, confidential, and caring atmosphere that encourages & respects interaction with students.
- Keep informed of information and resources that can be used to address questions on academic matters. Participate in educational advising programs offered throughout the year.
- Be knowledgeable of institutional policies, procedures, and academic requirements. Provide accurate information to assist students in selecting, scheduling, and registering for courses.
- Stay informed about campus resources (e.g., The Counseling Center, Student Accessibility Services, Career Services, Academic & Learning Resources, etc.).
- Maintain a confidential file on each advisee showing the student′s academic progress. Forward this file to a new adviser if one is chosen.
- Post and keep office hours. Be available beyond those times for special appointments.
- Assist advisees in selecting courses that will satisfy requirements, fit their strengths/interests, and contribute to their career and life goals.
- Assist advisees in an honest self-assessment of academic skills & interests as they make academic decisions.
- Work with Student Life's Student Success Team to monitor advisees′ academic progress and give appropriate advice, encouragement, or assistance if any student is experiencing academic difficulty.
- Initiate contact with advisees on a regular basis, especially in their first year.
- Contact and advise students whose academic success is at risk, especially those who have received notifications of deficient work, low mid-term grades, academic probation, and the like.
- Do not criticize other faculty, staff, or students in the presence of students.
- Keep a sense of humor.
Guidelines for the College:
- Value academic advising as a necessary extension of the teaching/learning process.
- Provide ongoing training opportunities for new and continuing advisers.
- Ensure that academic advising is fully integrated into other programs of the institution (e.g., admissions, orientation, registration, counseling and career planning, etc.).
- Collect data on the impact of effective advising both on recruitment/retention and as an effective intervention for students in academic difficulty.
- Develop and implement strategies to evaluate academic advising as part of the faculty′s annual assessment of performance.
- Communicate academic policies to students and provide supporting rationale for such policies.
As a result of first- and second-year advising, students should:
Take responsibility for their educational and career choices, including identifying goals in attending college.
- Make and keep appointments with their advisor.
- Respond to email and phone calls in a timely manner.
- Develop short- and long-term goals that reflect their values, interests, strengths, and challenges, and articulate these goals during advising sessions.
- Discuss problems they face by assessing what caused them, what can be done to resolve them, and how to avoid them in the future.
- Be aware of and abide by academic deadlines, policies, and procedures.
Develop skills in utilizing campus resources to complement and enhance their education.
- Schedule regular appointments or make regular contact with their advisor during each semester. Come to each meeting prepared with questions or material for discussion.
- Identify websites, campus offices, faculty, and staff they can consult with questions.
- Use information from college resources to assess progress towards achieving goals (e.g., degree planning sheets; information from staff, professors and advisers, department chairs; online advising handbook, College Catalogue, Workday).
- Use campus resources (e.g., Career Services, Counseling Center, Student Engagement, Academic & Learning Resources, and Student Accessibility Services, etc.) to identify strengths, interests, and goals and use that information to inform course selection.
Understand the mechanics of registration as well as the rules and regulations concerning the curriculum.
- Schedule a meeting with their adviser in advance of registration.
- Understand Workday and the Pre-Registration Tree.
- Be able to do basic research on majors, minors, and programs using the College Catalogue, Workday, departmental web pages, and appropriate departmental contacts.
- Schedule courses so they graduate in a timely manner based on their educational plan (Students are encouraged to complete 32 credits per academic year).
- Connect their educational plan to their career goals.
Appreciate and articulate the goals of liberal arts study.
- Explain how their course choices help them fulfill both the college’s expectations for students as well as their expectations for themselves.
- Describe the connection between their course work and their goals, values, interests, strengths, and challenges.
Commence the life-long work of engagement and reflection essential to open, curious, diverse, and accepting communities.
- Get to know well at least one faculty member each semester.
- Participate in undergraduate research, community service, study abroad, and/or co-curricular activities.
- Discuss with their adviser how participating in these activities helps them achieve their goals.
In the first group meeting in August, introduce liberal arts education and the Foundations curriculum.
- Ask students to write a statement of goals and objectives for their education at Rhodes.
- Distribute the college’s vision statement and purpose of the curriculum. Arrange students in groups of three or four and ask groups to identify similarities and differences between their personal goals and those of the college as expressed in the vision and curriculum statements.
- Ask groups to report on similarities and differences. Use this as an opportunity to expand, comment on, and clarify ideas and concepts.
- Ask students in small groups to articulate their understanding of Foundation courses.
- Ask groups to report. (Adapted from Franklin & Marshall.)
- Distribute and review the Advising Syllabus.
- Discuss the learning objectives for advising.
In individual meetings with advisees in August,
- Discuss with the student his/her answers on the Advising and Planning Survey.
- For each course on the student’s fall schedule, ask the student to articulate his/her reasons for selecting the course, level of preparation for the course, expectation of study needed to do well in the course, past experience with/performance in similar courses, greatest anticipation or concern about taking the course.
- Assist the student with selecting and registering for additional courses for the fall semester, if necessary.
Prior to registration in the spring,
- Create an electronic discussion group among your advisees.
- As course registration approaches, post questions that prompt thinking about the larger meaning of education. (“Which courses that you took this semester helped you develop your critical thinking skills? Which required you to reflect on the idea of citizenship?”) Require each advisee to post thoughts prior to their individual appointment. (Suggested strategy from faculty at Elizabethtown College.)
Prior to individualized advising appointments in the spring,
Ask students to reflect on their experiences as a college student by completing a self-evaluation. Sample questions used at Lawrence University and adapted for Rhodes are below.
- In general, what are the ways that Rhodes is/is not meeting your expectations?
- What experiences at Rhodes have been most rewarding?
- What experiences at Rhodes have been most frustrating?
- In what way(s) are you meeting the mission and educational goals of Rhodes?
- What have you found to be the most stimulating academic or intellectual experiences so far?
- Which learning strategies have you found to be most useful?
- Which learning strategies have you found to be least effective?
- Given your experiences so far, how do you anticipate approaching the second part of the term?
- Other comments:
In spring semester of the first year or fall semester of the second, hold a group advising meeting.
- Distribute copies of the vision statement and Foundations statement of purpose and ask students to write a statement of their educational goals now. Suggest that they refer to, where appropriate, ideas in the distributed document. Tell students that these statements will be the starting point for individual conferences in the coming weeks (prior to registration).
- Ask students whether any of their Foundations courses have achieved any of the goals in the statement of purpose. Which ones? Why? Which ones have not? Why not? (Suggested strategy from faculty at Franklin & Marshall.)
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended, is a Federal law which provides that colleges and universities will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.
What Constitutes “Education Records”?
Education records as defined by FERPA include, but are not limited to, grades, the admissions application and supporting, and any documents, notes, or information added to a student’s record by the Student Success team, Registrar’s Office, or by the faculty adviser.
It is important for faculty members to understand that education records do not include “records of instructional, supervisory, administrative, and educational personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute.” This definition means that faculty members may make any notes about a student (an advisee or a student in class), and if those notes are not shared with someone else – another faculty member, the Dean, a counselor – those notes are not open to the student or the parents. However, as soon as, or if, those notes are shared with someone else, they become part of the student′s education records.
Who Has Access to Education Records?
- Off Campus -- The law stipulates that no one outside the College shall have access to students’ education records nor will the institution disclose any information from those records without the written consent of students. There are exceptions, including disclosing information to appropriate officials in connection with a health or safety emergency or to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena.
- On Campus -- Only those members of the College community, individually or collectively, acting in the students′ educational interest are allowed access to student education records. These members are defined by the College to include personnel in the Registrar's Office, Rhodes Express, Student Success Staff, Financial Aid, Institutional Research, and College officials with a legitimate educational interest as determined by the Registrar. Faculty advisers are included in the category of College officials with a legitimate educational interest to view student education records.
What Information Can and Should Be Provided?
- To Anyone -- At its discretion the institution may provide directory information in accordance with the provisions of the Act including name, parents′ names, campus and home addresses and telephone numbers, campus e-mail address, dates of attendance, year of graduation, degrees and honors awarded or expected, academic major, and faculty advisor. Students may withhold directory information by notifying the Registrar in writing at least 60 days to the first day of class for the fall semester. The request for non-disclosure will be honored by the College until rescinded by the student in writing. The request for non-disclosure, unless rescinded, remains in effect even after the student leaves the College.
- To Parents -- In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the College does not disclose student records without prior consent of the student. Students may provide their parents (or other authorized individual) with access to discuss their academic record with college officials by completing the FERPA release form. Requests for a FERPA release must be obtained from the Registrar or Student Life Office and are valid for one academic year.
- To Students -- Students may not inspect and review the following records: financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admission to the College, employment or job placement, or honors to which they have waived their rights of inspection and review; or education records containing information about more than one student, in which case the institution will permit access only to that part of the record which pertains to the inquiring student.
For additional information about FERPA, see http://www.rhodes.edu/content/ferpa.
Information about your advisees may be found in
- the Advising and Planning Survey
- Standardized test scores (Workday)
- Transfer or AP credit (Workday)
What to look for on the Advising and Planning Survey
Does the student have a realistic outlook toward the demands of college life?
Consider the student’s
- Projected study hours
- Expected GPA
- Self-assessment of academic strengths
How similar/dissimilar are a student’s areas of interest?
- If the choices range across divisions, explore this with the student. Note commonalities among dissimilar choices. When you meet with the student, talk about the similarities and differences that you notice and ask the student to articulate these as well. If there are strong and appropriate reasons for the dissimilar interests, it may be advisable for the student to explore a major/minor combination or an interdisciplinary bridge major. If the dissimilar choices are the result of uninformed decision making, you may need to help the student better identify goals and interests.
- Always investigate why a student has selected an area of interest. Explore who or what has influenced the student’s choice of a particular course or field of study.
How well do the student’s academic interests, course choices, and goals align with the student’s level of preparation?
- Consider the preparation of the student (background knowledge, learning skills, performance skills, academic or co-curricular experiences) in light of the demands of a course or discipline (course requirements, reading load, projects & assignments, available time and energy considering other commitments such as work study, athletics, etc.). Discrepancies among various factors may indicate unrealistic choices.
- Discuss with the student how his/her abilities and skills fit the tasks that are needed to succeed in the field(s) of interest.
What concerns did the student articulate?
- Review these even for your strongest student. High-achieving students have the same set of stressors and concerns as other students. Additionally, they often have so many options that they have trouble choosing one. Encourage them to set challenging goals and help them take advantage of opportunities for personal development.
- If the student has disclosed a disability on the Advising and Planning Survey, there are several steps that you can take to support the student. Refer to the “Accessibility Concerns” section in the “Quick Reference/FAQ” portion of this handbook for specific guidelines.
Helping Students Plan Their Schedules
- The initial conversation from an adviser will often define the nature of the advising relationship. For that reason, it’s beneficial to begin the conversation by helping students identify strengths, talents, and skills on which to build.
- Research has shown that a strengths-based approach to advising is more productive and satisfying than a deficit-based approach for both adviser and advisee.
In helping students plan their schedules, have them give careful consideration to:
- Their interests
- Their strengths and limitations as a learner
- Their experience as a self-directed learner
- Reasons for selecting the courses they selected for the upcoming semester
- Background required for a class
- Workload balance (reading, writing, analytical requirements of each course)
- Teaching methods
- New disciplines
- Future plans
- Pre-professional advising
- Additional time commitments (e.g., mock trial, student employment, athletics, student involvement)
Additionally, the adviser and student should take into consideration the student’s:
- High school GPA
- Verbal SAT/Math SAT or individual scores for ACT (Eng-Math-Reading-Scientific Reasoning)
- Expressed attitudes toward the discipline in high school
- Expected hours of study
- Reasons for interest in the discipline (Is the student’s interest genuine and informed? What is the student’s understanding of the course/major in question?)
- Confidence in math/science abilities or reading/writing abilities
- Level of preparation (When in doubt about a student’s level of preparation for a class, have the student speak with the professor or department chair.)
When advising a student who is unable to identify an academic interest:
- Ask the student what s/he doesn’t want to take.
- Ask about areas in which the student excelled in high school.
- Discuss nonacademic interests and listen for clues.
- Have the student identify current interests, strengths, and skills as well as skills s/he would like to develop.
- Encourage the student to undertake assessments through Career Services (offered on an individual basis throughout the year).
If you don’t know the answer to a question,
- Don’t hesitate to say “I don’t know,” and then invite the student to look up the answer with you, using the catalogue or on-line information. First-year students often are unfamiliar with “college catalogues” and “campus resources” and are reluctant to admit when they don’t understand. They will benefit most if you show them how to access information instead of simply referencing records or resources.
- Consult available resources, including your fellow liberal arts advisers, department colleagues, department chairs, and others. An extensive list of resources is available on the Referral Resources page.
If an advisee’s talents don’t seem aligned with the skills needed in a discipline or course,
- Listen carefully to the student’s description of interests, background, strengths, and concerns.
- Use care and sensitivity when advising for or against particular courses or course combinations. (“Based on my experience, Econ 100 and Bus 241 can be a tough combination for a first-semester student. What would you think about taking econ now and business later?” or “Biology 130 is intended for those considering a science major. Are you highly interested in biology and the sciences? Is that the kind of course you want to take in combination with X, since you also plan to play a varsity sport? How will you balance time commitments for each?” Do not say “Your SAT scores are too low for you to do well in that course.” Seek out and build on the student’s strengths and give cautions about difficult courses in general.)
- Encourage the student to gather information from the professor or department chair about the skills that are needed for success in a class. Then discuss with the student how to manage time or use resources to ensure success.
- Be careful not to label or stereotype students or to hold low expectations for their likelihood of success.
You can help your advisees check their midterm or final grades in Workday by following the steps below:
- Go to the Academics tab
- View your midterm or final grades
If you have questions, please free to contact the Registrar's office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet with Students Facing Academic Struggles about their Midterm Grades
If your advisee is struggling,
- Ask specific questions rather than general ones to get the conversation started:
- NOT “How are classes going so far?”
- BUT “What do you like best about your classes so far?”
“Which class do you enjoy the most? What do you like about it?”
“Which class is the toughest? What makes it that way? What has helped you in the past in a challenging course?”
- Ask questions that give the student permission not to be perfect. Ask questions that make it clear that everyone expects things to be a little rocky at some point. “The campus starts turning into a pressure cooker this time of year. Many of my advisees struggle with… How are you holding up?”
- Let the student know that you (or other advisees) have struggled too. Normalize the need to seek help. Students feel much better knowing that truly successful students don’t find everything easy. Show the student our campus support services and refer the student to resources that the student could benefit from.
- Let the student define the problem; then help the student to build on strengths to solve it. Empower students to solve their own problems by allowing them to define the problem: If you define it, then the student is cast into a dependent role, which communicates that s/he is incapable of solving the situation. Lead with what the student is doing right rather than immediately focusing on what s/he is doing wrong.
- “What are you doing that’s working for you and helping you understand in this class?”
- “Regardless of the grade you got, what did you do right in preparing for the exam?”
- “What do you need to do to improve your understanding?”
- “What do you think you did wrong?”
- If a student is feeling overwhelmed or disorganized, you might ask the student to “walk you through a typical day” to get a sense of how much time your advisee spends studying, working out, sleeping, etc. It’s a great way to get students talking and you learn a lot about what their lives are really like with this question. (The time log, available through the Academic & Learning Resources website, can help with this.)
- Remember that students need practical help as well as general advice. For example, tell students in specific ways how to approach a faculty member for more information or to talk about a bad grade.
Martin, H. 2000, October. Working with Discouraged Students. Presented at NACADA National Conference, Orlando, FL.
Group Meeting with Advisees
When: Friday August 18 1:00-2:30 PM
Where: Assigned Room on Campus
Please use this time to set the stage for your adviser/advisee relationship.
- Use the advising syllabus to review learning objectives for advising. Discuss roles/responsibilities of advisers and advisees. Explain office hours.
- Review how to access the on-line schedule of classes and how to choose additional courses. Encourage students to take at least one class in which they’re interested. Discourage them from dropping classes before they consult with you in their individual meetings. Refer them to the registrar’s site for info on adding and dropping courses. http://sites.rhodes.edu/academicaffairs/registration-Workday
- Some of your advisees may have fewer than four classes and thus need to do add a course. Although add/drop will be discussed during the individual meetings, please advise them to check Workday for courses to add before your individual meeting.
- Remind students to complete enrollment clearance, which they do electronically.
- Sign advisees up for individual meeting appointments. Provide your office location and phone number. Schedule for the earliest appointments those students who need to add the most classes.
- You can also find a calendar of first-year advising here for the rest of the semester and discuss it with your advisees.
- Ask each student to provide you with a cell phone number or other contact method in case it is needed during the semester.
Individual Meetings with Advisees
When: Monday, August 21 from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Where: Your Office or Zoom (Your Choice)
Before meeting, review student’s Planning Survey, AP credit, SAT/ACT scores, and transfer credit.
- Talk with advisees about their goals, interests, values, & aptitudes before discussing vocational interests, curriculum, course offerings, and fall classes.
- Discuss students’ reasons for the course requests they made.
- If students need to add classes, help them generate a list of at least 3 course options that are available.
- Remind students to complete enrollment clearance via Workday, if they haven’t done so already.
- Beginning Monday, July 24 at 12:00 noon, students will be able to log onto Workday via their own computer (if connected to the network) or any computer on campus to drop/add classes.
Please make sure your advisees (all on Workday):
- Have registered for four courses + first-year experience
- Have all their AP credits transferred (there is some delay on this but we hope we will receive them by the time of your advising meetings)
- Placed in the correct language course (placement exam can be found at: https://www.rhodes.edu/academics/majors-minors/spanish/language-placement)
- Cleared all the holds on their accounts
Advising when Classes Begin
During this time, Drop/Add continues via Workday. If a student wishes to drop or add a class,
- Discuss the student’s reasons for the changes. Sometimes you simply need to assuage fears regarding a course.
- Be mindful that the normal schedule for a first-year student is 16-19 credits.
- Students may ADD classes through August 29 at 5 pm. They may DROP classes through September 13 at 5 pm.