Academic advising assists students in the development of meaningful educational plans compatible with their life goals. This is accomplished through a collaborative effort of the student and the advisor.

Recognizing that the ultimate responsibility of making decisions about life goals and educational plans rests with the individual student, Center for Student Achievement staff and the advisor assist by helping to identify and assess alternatives and consequences of decisions. Together, the office personnel and the advisor provide guidance to the student in developing and completing an acceptable program of study leading to graduation.

What is Academic Advisement?

Academic advising is one of the most important services that college campuses offer. It is concerned with the basic reason your student is in college not only to earn a degree but to become an educated person, a lifelong learner, and a contributing member of the workforce. (From A Family Guide to Academic Advising by Smith and Gordon, 2003, pp. 6-7.)

At USCA, students are required to meet with their advisor at least twice a year. The advisor helps the student understand their program of study, institutional policies and requirements, and works with students to develop academic and career goals.

Student Responsibilities in the Advising Relationship

Students at USCA are required to be advised before each registration period. However, students should take the initiative to develop a close working relationship with their Advisor. Students must be proactive in regards to their educational plans.

The advisee has primary responsibility for:

1. making decisions about his/her educational goals, including selection of courses, major, and career.

2. scheduling an advising appointment during the advising period and arriving promptly prepared to make full use of the advising session. Adequate preparation includes reviewing general education and major requirements, course offerings, academic guide sheet, academic progress, and educational plan where appropriate. An advisee is then ready to effectively discuss selections and maximize use of the Advisor's knowledge and experience.

3. consulting with an Advisor on changes in the approved schedule, or academic plans. An Advisor should be consulted before changing majors, transferring, or withdrawing from college.

4. discussing academic difficulties with an Advisor and taking action to correct the difficulties.

5. reading all college communications and meeting all college deadlines pertinent to him/her. (For example, the USCA Bulletin, the course schedule booklet, the student handbook, letters from the Registrar, Advisement Services, etc.)

Academic Advisor's Skills and Responsibilities

An Academic Advisor assists a student in pursuing his/her educational goals and facilitating access to the full range of learning opportunities and services available at USCA.

To succeed in this helping role, an Academic Advisor must:

1. have a thorough understanding of the current curriculum, institutional requirements, course sequences and general education requirements. In addition to the general education requirements, an Advisor must have knowledge of the specific requirements for major/minor concentration offered by his/her department.

2. have a working knowledge of current institutional policies and procedures.

3. be familiar with current institutional support services, special programs, and co-curricular activities for accurate and appropriate referrals.

4. have basic interpersonal communication skills.

In assisting students in the realization of their educational goals, an Advisor bears primary responsibility for:

1. aiding each advisee to plan each term's program of courses and, as soon as possible, helping to determine a comprehensive educational plan. It is recommended that a degree guide sheet be kept by both Advisor and advisee. The Advisor should explain the general education and departmental requirements, counseling the advisee in the selection of appropriate courses. The Advisor must sign enter advisement notes in Degree Works and should accordingly be consulted regarding schedule changes.

2. reviewing with each advisee, at least once per term, the record of his/her academic progress. An Advisor should maintain accurate records for each advisee, including grade reports, major guide sheet, and notes entered in Degree Works. Advisors should assist advisees in accessing appropriate support services and activities needed to successfully pursue the student's educational plan. The Advisor should support the advisee's periodic review of his/her educational plan.

Limitations On Academic Advisor Responsibilities

The Academic Advisor serves as a facilitator and role model. However, there are limitations to an Advisor's responsibilities.

An Academic Advisor:

  1. can NOT make decisions for an advisee but can be a sympathetic listener and offer alternatives to consider.
  2. can NOT alter the native abilities of a student but can encourage maximum development of talents.
  3. can NOT change college policy or academic requirements but can inform and recommend course of action.
  4. can NOT serve as a personal counselor but can be a resource for referrals to appropriate professional personnel.