Giving Good Advice
Giving good advice is what advising is all about! Academic advisors need to base their advice on students' career and life goals, interests, and ability to complete a proposed academic load. As the academic advisor, you should gain an understanding of each student's interests and goals as you get acquainted. The techniques for getting to know advisees covered in Section 2 of the handbook should help. It is also important to assess each student's academic performance and to tailor advice for the student in that vein. Listed below are some suggestions for assessing student progress and helping individuals understand the options they have as WPI students:
- Use degree evaluations found in bannerweb under the advisor menu to track students progress in fulfilling their distribution requirements and progress towards graduation. Students also have the capability of running thier own degree evalaution through banner web.
2. Ask students to make a list of courses they expect to take in the coming six to eight terms.
Have students plan at least 6 terms in advance
Have students post their proprosed schedule online in the student advising folder in bannerweb. You can view the proposed schedule by clicking on the students' name in your advisee list banner web.
Pay attention to courses which may be offered only in fall or only in spring semester, or only during alternate years
Update and change the list at each advising session
3. Encourage students to take a challenging, yet balanced, load.
Balance a term by using humanities or social science electives, physical education, etc.
Avoid combining extremely challenging courses or too many labs in same term
Look for patterns. (Example - If a student has difficulty with engineering mechanics, the student may have difficulties with fluid mechanics, soil mechanics, etc.)
4.Compare current course load to past performance.
Determine if students have performed adequately in the past with this number of units (as defined by WPI standards and students' personal aspirations).
Look at courses to determine if load is balanced. (Example - Are any of the courses in the proposed load known to be especially difficult or easy?)
Look at past performance in similar subject areas to see if any of the proposed courses are in areas of known difficulty for this student.
Decide if the student's expectations and aspirations are reasonable relative to the proposed load
Suggest a different mix of courses, if necessary
Be aware of academic performance requirements for scholarships.
Ask students about scholarships they may have
Adjust course load to an appropriate level if students are financially dependent on a scholarship to stay in school
Estimate Total Student Load.
Balance the academic load around all activities that students may be involved with including work study or other work commitments.
Help the student weigh overloading options with the possibility of taking a course near home or work during the summer.
Be aware of student abilities, since, financially, overloading can be a good option for superior students. It is relatively inexpensive and does not interfere with summer employment. For other students, stress taking classes over the summer, if financially realistic, because it does not increase the academic load during the school year.
Be aware of rules about transferring courses to WPI.
Recognize that WPI has a very elite student body capable of a high level of achievement, but remember that these students still need encouragement.
It is often assumed that highly talented students choose a major early on and have well-defined plans for future lifestyle and careers; however, this is rarely the case. In fact, these students often struggle because they are able to consider a wide range of interests and abilities. They will need assistance in exploring their options and they will need encouragement and support from you.
Students are very sensitive to comments from advisors about their academic ability.
Be tactful when providing potentially negative information.
Encourage students to reach their potential. Early in their experiences at WPI, students may be looking for short cuts and the easy way -- try to help them focus on their long term goals. This is a good time to discuss the "easy course" pitfalls.
Last modified: October 23, 2008 10:13:21