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Advising by Year

Students tend to have different academic and personal issues as they progress through their four years of college.

  Academic Personal Advisor's Role
First Year Students
  • Fearful of failing
  • Unsure of requirements
  • Confused or unrealistic expectations
  • New academic demands
  • Vague career goals
  • Managing emotions
  • Finding a social fit
  • Exposure to new values
  • Increased financial worries
  • Separation from family
  • Adjusting to life changes
  • Anxious/vulnerable
  • Be accessible
  • Be a good listener
  • Provide support
  • Give information on
  • requirements, courses
  • Be nonjudgmental
  • Make referrals
  • More aware of expectations
  • Tired of school
  • Impatient to get into major
  • Pressure to find a major
  • Mixed confidence level
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Developing support systems
  • Campus involvement
  • More relaxed
  • Encourage further exploration
  • Help with assessment of skills
  • Focus options on realistic choices
  • Settled into a major or desperately seeking one
  • Looking for enhancements (e.g., minor or double major)
  • Developing faculty relations
  • Application of learning
  • Graduation audit (in spring)
  • Balance of work, study, and free time
  • More confident
  • Looking beyond college
  • Leadership roles in organizations
  • Romantic involvement
  • Begin mentor relationship
  • Encourage responsibilities
  • Provide information on graduate school/careers
  • Encourage creativity to enhance degree
  • Assist with graduation audit
  • Winding down
  • Applying and integrating knowledge
  • Commencing job search/preparing
  • for grad school
  • Nervous
  • Stressed
  • Unsure of future
  • Transition to independent adult
  • Prepare student to make transition
  • Continue discussion of career
  • Continue mentor relationship
  • Write recommendations

Although advising is a process which can occur at any given moment throughout a student’s time at the college, this timeline provides some guidance as to when advising should occur and what can be discussed during a meeting with a student in the first and second years.

First Year

Within the first few weeks, it is recommended advisors meet with their students individually or in small group sessions to initiate discussions on academic and career objectives. This session can start the conversation regarding the students’ experiences from the first few weeks of their time at the college and if any support might be needed to assist them. This is a good opportunity for students to learn more about the services and resources available to them across the campus. Encourage students to visit with the various campus offices which might be able to provide further guidance and assistance to them.

Discussions with individuals or groups can be focused around some general questions such as:

  • “What do you hope to do after college?”
  • “What areas are important to you?”
  • “What majors are you exploring?”
  • “How do these majors connect to your personal and professional goals?”

Late October/Early November
As the second half of the semester begins, be aware of the registration periods for students. Advising sessions at this point of the term allow for conversations regarding midterm grade and other academic progress reports. In addition, students will need to be reviewing registration processes and select appropriate courses for the next semester. As students prepare to register for their next semester courses, it is a good time to review their goals in life, their academic progress following midterm, or perhaps remind them of the various services available to them. This is also a good time to begin discussion about the intended major or field of study.

Early into the next semester, advisors are encouraged to reach out to their advisees to assess the outcomes from the previous semester. Encourage students to seek assistance or make referrals to any academic support or other areas which might be beneficial to your students. Ask the student about their major of choice and discuss with them the process of declaring their major on campus.

Late February/Early March
Visit with students during this time period provides the opportunity to discuss the second-year courses and registration processes. Advise the student on their second year courses and their progress toward declaring a major.

Discuss the possible opportunities for the student as they prepare for the summer sessions. Encourage the student to perhaps seek research or employment opportunities which might be related to their intended major of choice.

Second Year

Following the completion of the first-year, it is important for students to continuing discussing and perhaps solidifying their choice of major. As a policy, students should be officially declaring their major by the time 40 credits are completed. In addition, advisors should continue to review graduation requirements for the students and help provide suggestions to students on maintaining progress.

Review the goals set by the student. Are they progressing toward their major as needed? Is the student happy with their choice of major? What other opportunities related to the major may be possible to help the student explore their options or build work experiences.

As students continue through their second year, it is a good idea to encourage them to think about study abroad opportunities, internships, or even research possibilities. This provides additional means for students to think about and explore potential future careers and develop a broader understanding of the world around them through a variety of experiences.

Although it is important for advisors to provide a good foundation for students in the first and second years, students nearing completion of their programs also need attention. Students should be encouraged to begin discussing their plans for post-completion of the degree. This might include conversations regarding attending graduate schools, building a resume, and job searchers.

Third Year

As a student enters the third year and working toward their major and graduation requirements, advisors continue to have the opportunity to visit with their students to discuss the student’s progress. Again, it is a good time to discuss how the student is doing within their major, evaluating the overall fit for the student, and examine career-related opportunities to build the student’s experience. This can be a good time for students to visit with the Career Services office to discuss internship opportunities, update a resume, study abroad, or perhaps conducting research alongside a faculty member. During this time frame, it is essential to have the student looking past college and how they can work to build their experiences to continue progress toward their career or graduate-school goals.

During the third year, it is also important to be aware of the graduation timeline and expectations. The student should be continuing their progress toward completing the major, but the student needs to be aware of their progress in the Engaged Citizenship Curriculum and understand any other requirements for graduation. This can be a good time for the student to have discussions with the Registrar’s Office to understand the timeline for submitting a graduation application.

Fourth Year

With the student entering their final year, the student should continue to plan how they will pursue job or graduate school possibilities. This will include guiding the student through the continued development of their resume and experiences, attending career and graduate school fairs, participating in mock interviews, and other such activities. Encouraging the student to work with Career Services to explore internship and job placements can be beneficial.

It is also essential to have the student complete their graduation application if it has not already been completed. The student should visit the Registrar’s Office for any questions which might arise.

Disclaimer: The advice and resources offered in this Advising Handbook were developed by a group of Simpson faculty in the summer of 2016.  The information in this handbook has not been approved by the Faculty Personnel Committee nor the dean and is not official College policy. There is no guarantee that following this advice will lead to reappointment, tenure, or promotion.


Last updated 8/18/16