Academic Advising – Definition

PAGE: 400
DATE: 04/86
Section: Academic Advising – Definition

Academic advising is the process between the student and an academic advisor of exploring the value of a general education, reviewing the services and policies of the institution, discussing educational and career plans, and making appropriate course selections.
The most effective advisors assist advisees in effective decision making, thereby contributing to the development of mature and self-directed students. This can be accomplished by:

  • Providing accurate information about institutional policies, procedures, resources, and programs.
  • Assisting students in understanding the nature and purpose of higher education and the value of a general education.
  • Assisting students in their consideration of life goals by relating interests, skills, abilities, and values to careers and the world of work.
  • Assisting students in developing ad educational plan consistent with life goals and objectives (alternative courses of action, alternative career considerations, and selection of course).
  • Assisting students in evaluation or reevaluation of progress toward established goals and educational plans.
  • Assisting students in self-understanding and self-acceptance.
  • Making referrals to other institutional or community support services.

This academic advisement process is one in which her or her academic advisor will meet with regularity throughout the student’s enrollment at the University of Maine at Machias. While discussion of the student’s and institution’s objectives, review of personal goals, and advanced academic planning should be of first priority, it is also important for student and advisor to develop a close working relationship in which problems may be discussed as they emerge, changes in the student’s academic program may be considered, academic policies and expectations may be interpreted, etc.
Academic advisement and program planning is carried on through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Most students who have selected a major program are assigned by the Academic Affairs Office to an advisor teaching in that program area. Others are assigned according to general interests which they have identified. Also, in some instances, especially early in a student’s academic career, a student may wish assignment to a faculty member with whom she or he feels special rapport, even though that faculty member does not teach in that student’s major program area.
Requests for a change of advisor should be accompanied by a reason supplied by the student. Also, occasionally it is the advisor him/himself who decides that a change is desirable. Requests for a change of advisor should be submitted through the division chairperson to the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the request involves a change of academic program, and hence a different academic division, the new chair and current advisor involved should both approve the change request and forward same to the Academic Affairs Office. (See Declaration or Change of Program/Advisor, Declare a Minor Form.)
Each full-time student at UMM has an advisement folder in which are kept various academic records, grant of waivers, and other material pertinent to academic advisement. This includes an academic form for specific program in which the student is enrolled.
Academic Program advising forms may be obtained in the Academic Affairs Office. At the time that a change of advisor is made the advisee’s folder should be transferred directly from the former advisor to the newly assigned advisor.
In general the academic advisor should function as amicus curiae for the advisee. The advisor should forward formal requests or petitions on behalf of the advisee through proper channels, and these should include endorsements, recommendations, and/or other comments by the advisor.
In order to complete the registration process a student must first have the signature of his/her advisor on the registration form. No student will be permitted to register without this signature. If the student desires to register for an “overload” (more than 18 credit hours), this request must have the approval of the advisor as indicated by his/her signature on the registration form. The overload request then must be presented by the student in person to the Vice President for Academic Affairs for his/her approval. (See Academic Load Policy, College Catalog.)
Although the final responsibility falls to the advisee, the advisor should regard it an equal responsibility to assure that the student is meeting graduation requirements in proper sequence.
It is particularly important that the advisor establish a quick and close relationship with new students. In the past we have tended to utilize mid-semester grades to attempt to identify those new students who are having academic difficulty. However, the time factor is such that we are often too late, if we wait until the middle of the semester.
There should be mandatory conferences “between all new advisees and advisees on probation and their academic advisors during the third or fourth week of each semester.” In these conferences it should be possible for the advisor to identify potential or existing problems and to help the individual student deal with them. In some cases, for example, students have difficulty in adjusting to dormitory life, and the head residents may be of help in such matters. In other cases it is a problem of social adjustments, and the college counseling service may be of assistance. Many students can benefit from the Learning Skills courses or individual aid offered through the Learning Center. Another common area of difficulty is a failure by the students to understand what is expected of him/her by a given member in a particular course. Often a simple phone call can clear up such difficulties. Occasionally a first year student will become so discouraged or overwhelmed that he/she will simply stop going to classes. More often than not early discovery of such a situation by the advisor and the prompt offer of assistance can repair a serious difficulty.