Advising expectations and responsibilities

Both you and your academic advisor chose Dickinson as a small, residential, liberal-arts college. You can expect that your advisor is committed to your educational success and that she or he will provide individualized guidance. At the same time, your advisor can expect that you will take active responsibility for your education and that you will approach decisions with diligence.

Like all of us, academic advisors are unique individuals, and their advising styles—like their teaching styles—will vary. In any case, the level of responsibility we expect from you at Dickinson may represent a key difference between your experience in High School and your experience in college.

Taking responsibility for your education doesn’t mean that you need to answer every question on your own! However, it does mean that you should be proactive about scheduling meetings with your advisor, that you should invest time and energy in preparing for these meetings, and that you should familiarize yourself with graduation requirements and key deadlines. A well-considered question can be the basis for an excellent meeting and lead to breakthrough decisions.

Here are a few simple tips that will help you get the most out of your work with your academic advisor:

  • Pay close attention to deadlines such as those for requesting, adding and dropping courses
  • Plan to meet with your advisor during "advising month" each semester (October in the fall and March in the spring)
  • Prepare a degree evaluation (through Degree Works) for meetings with your advisor in which you discuss course selection
  • Have a look at the general college graduation requirements, appropriate departmental requirements or relevant sections of the advising guide before you meet with your advisor... even if only to help you formulate questions! You don't need to have all the answers, but you do need to prepare 
  • Do your best to avoid last-minute requests for approval or signatures
  • Answer email from your advisor promptly
  • If you're a person who likes checklists and worksheets, consider using the ones our office provides to help organize your thoughts.