First-Year Academic Advising
More information regarding first-year advising, particularly Orientation Advising can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/deanstudents/new/orientation/advisors
Misconceptions about Advising
- My advisor is going to set goals.
- My advisor is going to decide what courses I should take.
- My advisor is going to meet all my advising needs.
- My advisor will always be available (e.g., 2:00 am by email, 4:30 pm on Friday, the last day of add/drop).
- I need to know everything about the curriculum.
- I will need to be a personal counselor.
- I will be responsible for enforcing College rules and regulations.
Goals of New Student Academic Advising
- To provide a structured first contact for each incoming student (first-year and transfer) that will help define the student’s goals and to discuss the goals of a liberal arts education.
- To ensure that a student’s course selections are balanced, consistent with the student’s expressed intentions, and realistic in terms of the student’s goals and abilities.
- To challenge students to try new areas of study, to strive to improve academic skills, and to take intellectual risks.
- To provide a contact person who can over the first (and hopefully the second) year answer questions or direct the student to where an answer can be found.
- Maximize the student's chances of being fully enrolled by approving a list of preferred courses which is greater than the number they need. This way, if a student gets dropped from a class, another pre-approved class can be substituted. Preparing for this possibility also lessens the disappointment in the likely case a student doesn't get all the classes he/she wants.
First Meeting Discussion Topics
- Advisor-advisee expectations (perhaps review the misconceptions listed above)
- Help advisees to define goals, urge them to work on skills and branch out
- Review the Academic Portfolio and other documents on AC Data
- Encourage the following:
- Build upon your strengths
- Work on writing
- Study a foreign language
- Try a laboratory science
- Try something new
- Course load balance
- Range of academic disciplines & divisions
- Diversity of courses in terms of type of assignments
- What are the instructor’s expectations for the course?
- Does the course have finals, papers, heavy readings, labs, or additional meeting times?
- What are the student’s extracurricular commitments, e.g., sports, jobs?
- Consider a range of class sizes
- Is the schedule balanced across the days of the week?
- Morning classes (is the student a “morning person”?)
- The Curriculum: There are 34 majors and more than 800 courses. Academic areas include courses in the following divisions: the Arts, Humanities, Language Arts, Natural Sciences, Performance Arts, and the Social Sciences.
- Longer range planning:
- a. Study abroad
- b. Declaring a major
- c. Other issues: premed, double major, concentration
Choosing Courses: Some Considerations
- Build diversity into your curriculum
- Consider possible majors (list of majors)
- Broaden curricular horizons -- experiment with new fields
- Select courses that will help with particular skills (reading, writing, quantitative skills)
- Foreign language study
- Science for non-science majors
- Arts for non-arts majors
- Foreign literature & culture courses taught in English
- Difficult combinations of courses -- pay attention to test scores, especially for math and science courses (Math placement, recommendation for intensive Economics and Chemistry sections)
- Chemistry151, Math 111, Economics 111, Computer Science 111
- Math 111 vs. Math 105 & 106
- Other courses that tend to land students before the CAS: Philosophy 213, Black Studies 111, Psychology 212
- Courses with prerequisites
- Continue to build upon strengths & strengthen weakness
Encourage students to explore these resources if selecting quantitative or writing intensive courses, even if they don’t anticipate making use of them.
- Quantitative Center: The Q center is open from 9-5 M-F and 7-9 pm Sun-Th for students who would like to stop by and ask questions about tutor resources (for Math, Chemistry, and Physics) or study groups for a specific course. Many other review & help sessions are scheduled on a weekly basis.
- Writing Center: The Writing Center offers appointments on weekdays, Sundays, and evenings to assist students with their academic writing.
- Peer Tutoring
- Disability Services
- International Student Services
- Counseling Center
- Health Services
Other Discussion Topics
- Committee on Academic Standing (CAS)
- Mid-term warning grades
- Caution about relying on academic advice from teammates & friends
- Honor Code (Statement of student rights and responsibilities)
- Take Your Professor Out (TYPO)
- Advanced Placement
- Placement exams (Math, Physics, languages – easier to move down than up)
- Freshman drop (6-8 weeks into the semester)
- Add/Drop period
- Course load: 5 courses, half classes (Theater & Dance, Music)
- Study skills (Learning Skills Inc., Lewis Fleischner, Director; 413-256-4111)
- Five-College courses
- The Pass/Fail option
- “Go to class!” If you notice a student not making it to class or in some other form of distress contact the student and notify the Dean of Student’s office.
- Class Deans (’16 O'Hara, '13 Hart, '15 Boykin-East, '14 Bassett)
- Career Center
- Religious Life Staff