Academic Advisors: Providing student support and advocacy
At Furman, we believe academic advising is integral to the engagement of students in their education, including cognitive, physical, civic, and personal growth. It promotes collaboration between advisors and students that is grounded in the most effective practices of the teaching/learning process and approached from a developmental perspective. Diversity of students’ origins, experiences, abilities, interests, ideologies, and identities are considered in relation to guiding their attainment of personal, educational, civic, and life goals.
What is an academic advisor?
Academic advisors are faculty and professional staff who are dedicated to guiding each student toward self-responsibility for their education and well-being. Each year brings new challenges, whether it's transitioning from high school, or trying to decide whether or not to study away. Academic advisors can help students stay on track to meet their goals. They can answer questions about courses, program requirements, and academic policies and procedures. They can also refer students to other support services on campus. Academic advisors care about more than designing an academic plan or set of courses for the next semester. They care about the student as an individual.
The student’s first experience with advising occurs during Summer Orientation. Summer advising counselors and orientation staff members guide students through the Furman curriculum, and help them create a balanced schedule for fall semester. Then, later in the summer, they will be contacted by their assigned academic advisor to review the student’s class schedule. Once on campus in the fall, the student will meet their advisor and have an individual session before the start of classes. The advisor will meet with the student three to four times during the first semester to assist with college transition issues. The advisor works with the student until they are ready to declare a major. At that point, an advisor in the chosen discipline is assigned.
Working successfully with an advisor requires some flexibility on the student's part. Most academic advisors have posted office hours. However, academic advisors are willing to schedule meetings at other times, as well—
especially if a student needs immediate help.
Students should never be afraid to ask their advisor for help. When trying to get in touch with an advisor, it's always best for students to leave a voicemail or send an email to schedule a meeting. This ensures that students will have the advisor's full attention.
A support system
Academic advisors often become a strong support system for students. While they sometimes need to refer students to a more appropriate resource on campus, they can serve in times of crisis or struggle. These are many topics discussed among academic advisors and students including:
- Declaring or changing a major.
- Selecting an interdisciplinary minor.
- Handling family or personal issues.
- Deciding to transfer to another institution or take a leave of absence.
- Exploring post-graduation plans such as graduate school or entering the work force.