Advising for Excellence

Dickinson’s faculty-based advising system is an important component of faculty teaching responsibilities. The role of an effective academic advisor is to foster each student’s ability to:

  • consult appropriate people
  • organize information
  • ask thoughtful questions
  • make sound choices about an academic course of study

Entering students are assigned to academic advisors who are members of the faculty or administrators. Students continue with these advisors until they are ready to declare a major field of study, usually in the sophomore year. Because of the critical role that the academic advisor plays in introducing the new student to academic life at the college, these relationships often take on a special character, and may be very long-lived.

Early academic advising relationships often continue even after the student’s move into another field, and provide lasting intellectual contacts between faculty and students. The formal advising commitment may last up to four semesters, until a student chooses a major advisor. When declaring the major, each student requests or is assigned an advisor in the major field. Entering transfer students are encouraged to declare a major when they enroll in classes.

The most successful advising relationships are often those that take the form of a social contract between student and advisor, each party having a set of responsibilities. The critical elements established by the academic advisor in the mentoring relationship, are mutual intellectual respect and responsibility, coupled with a factual base of knowledge on which to give and receive academic advice.

Although faculty advisors must be knowledgeable about the college curriculum and requirements for graduation, they should readily refer students to the appropriate department’s faculty, the Class Dean, Registrar, and/or the electronic course catalog on the college website, so that detailed or idiosyncratic questions may be answered with the greatest depth and accuracy.

Students are responsible for selecting the courses in which they enroll and for the election of courses that will satisfy the requirements of graduation. Advisors are available throughout the academic year, and students are encouraged to meet with their advisors frequently. As an important part of each course request period prior to enrolling for the next term, students are expected to meet with their faculty advisors to review their academic progress and revise their plans. All first-year students and sophomores are required to meet with their faculty advisor, prior to selecting courses online.

Students who have questions and would like to consult with someone other than their faculty advisor are encouraged to speak with their Class Dean by contacting the Advising Office in Biddle House (717-245-1080).

Pre-professional Advisors

Early consultation with pre-professional and program advisors is recommended and sometimes required for students who are planning specific careers or wish to participate in specific programs. The Student Handbook identifies faculty directors and advisors of individual programs.