The senior year of college brings a variety of excitement and stressful experiences for most students. Some of your advisees will be returning to campus after their study abroad. For many of these students the re-entry into North American culture and society brings a significant challenge. After having the level of independence they have experienced abroad, some will describe the Dickinson campus and community as boring, uninteresting and confining. Advisors can help this transition by looking for ways to incorporate these returning students into your department and perhaps asking them to share some of their experiences in an informal setting with other/new majors in the department. Giving them opportunities to help mentor the current sophomores can give them renewed interest and investment in the Dickinson campus experience. As always, your colleagues in CGSE stand ready to help. In fact, they work actively every year to enlist seniors in programs organized to support these priorities.
Your role as an advisor for seniors has many facets – from addressing the details of completing to helping your advisee think beyond college to longer-term goals. This is the time to schedule GRE exams for students planning to apply for graduate school. You are never alone in this responsibility! The Registrar monitors seniors' progress very closely—and you will almost certainly be copied on (virtual) reams of email from Mary Ann Leidigh. Likewise, the staffs in the advising and career offices stand ready to offer assistance.
Several suggestions for advisors:
- Strongly discourage your students from enrolling in courses PASS/FAIL (especially during the Spring Semester). Too many students get themselves in trouble by not meeting the threshold of a passing grade in the Pass/Fail system. Some students have not been able to graduate and participate in the May commencement activities because they did not have enough credits to graduate.
- Encourage students who have time in their schedules to take courses they are interested in and not just load up on 100-level courses, often viewed (by professors) as taking the easy way out.
When possible — Encourage students to consider taking a January term somewhere, rather than taking 5 courses during their last/spring term – remind them that the time it takes to apply for graduate school or to enter the job market is usually equivalent to another class.
- Encourage your students to develop their “portfolio” of courses so they can articulate in interviews why they took specific courses and how this all fits together for their Dickinson degree.
- As a mentor, discuss appropriate graduate schools with those who are interested in pursuing additional education.
- Ask your advisees to think about their 5-year goals and how their Dickinson education is preparing them to meet these goals.
The Registrar runs degree audits for students in their seventh semester of college. Emails will be sent to the student with copies to the Advisor and College Dean. As the major advisor, please take time to read these carefully and follow up immediately with the student regarding questions or concerns being raised by the Registrar.
If your advisee hasn’t completed all of the PE requirements, suggest they enroll in a second-block class and complete these before the second semester.
October is Advising month – but in some cases, the entire senior year requires careful monitoring for your advisee’s progress to graduation.
Be especially aware of “U” grades that come through for your advisees. Failing or having to withdraw from a course can be critical during this year if they do not have extra courses/credits to make up for the loss. If your advisee is counting every credit, make sure they have a plan to make up the lost credit.
Careful planning before course request period for the last semester is especially important. Ask each of your seniors to print off their degree evaluation from Degree Works in Gateway and make an appointment with you to review what course requirements remain and how they plan to meet them.
If the student has more than four credits left to complete – consider recommending they attend a January term course somewhere if their last semester is particularly demanding. (Remind them to complete the form: “Enrollment in Another Institution” to ensure the credit(s) will transfer back to Dickinson.)
Remind your advisee that the Registrar must have a Request to Graduate form on file if they expect to graduate and participate in the May commencement exercises.
An electronic HOLD will be placed in Banner accounts for all students who have studied abroad but have not completed the “Enrollment in Another Institution” form. This hold will prevent the student from requesting courses for the spring term.
Review your advisee’s degree evaluation once more during the Drop/Add period to ensure that they are enrolled in appropriate courses to be able to complete their degree requirements. (Note especially the number of PE requirements completed.)
A follow-up from faculty advisors to the Registrar’s emails are often read more seriously (sadly!) and can save considerable frustration for everyone later in the semester.
Roll Call grades during a student’s last semester are extremely important. If a senior advisee receives a “U” grade, encourage them to meet with the professor who assigned the grade to discuss how they can improve their standing in the class.
Remind your advisees to follow-up on all requests from the Registrar’s Office. It may make the difference of whether or not they complete their degree by May.
Remember that students will not be permitted to participate in the May commencement activities if they have not completed all requirements for their degree at Dickinson College. (Being very close to completing the degree requirements does NOT count!)
Remember to shred any paper documents and records you have for advisees following graduation -- official records are maintained in the Registrar’s Office.
Materials for Seniors
Here you will find checklists and worksheets that the Office of Academic Advising has made available to seniors. You may find them useful in your advising sessions - and of course you can feel free to modify them however you like.