Roles of Advisers: a Cal Poly Perspective:
By: Kathryn Rummell
The first recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award
Because each college handles advising differently and faculty advisors’ jobs vary even within colleges, your first task is to be sure you understand your role as a faculty advisor and how faculty advisors function within the department and college.
Do your majors come to their faculty advisors for help with the curriculum, rules and regulations, and special petitions? Or do they primarily seek faculty advisors’ help with issues concerning professional training (standardized tests, internship opportunities, and the like)?
Are students assigned to advisors or do they choose their own based on their interests?
How many students will you typically advise, and how often will your advisees need to see you?
Will you be responsible for seeing students on academic probation?
If so, what does your department expect from your meeting?
In most cases, your department chair (or lead advisor) can help you understand your role as an advisor, but you should also get to know your college advisor; he or she can prove invaluable in answering questions and helping you navigate the advising system.
Once you understand what your advising responsibilities are, you are ready to meet your advisees. Regardless of your role, remember that your primary goal is to help students succeed at Cal Poly.
The First Meeting
At your first meeting with an advisee, you should begin by getting to know the student on an individual level (don’t forget to introduce yourself!). This first meeting should establish a personal connection between you and your advisee so that he/she feels comfortable coming to you with questions and problems.
In addition, depending on your advising role, you might also go over a curriculum sheet with your advisee, highlighting the requirements for the degree (major/support courses, GE courses, free electives, GWR, USCP, upper-division requirements, and GPA requirements). End the meeting on a positive note, encouraging the student to check in with you at least once a year, more frequently if questions arise.
And finally, to help you remember your advisees, you might keep a file or note card for each advisee, indicating when you met with the student and what you discussed. Doing so means that you can easily get up to speed on the student’s particular situation.