Major Advising

Formal registration meetings with major advisees can often be improved by including several components.

Expand All
  • Current semester progress

    A conversation about current semester progress and courses and an informal conversation about personal issues, if appropriate, can be helpful to students and advisors.

  • Overview of remaining semesters

    At the first meeting with an advisee, pulling out a blank sheet and listing each remaining semester in the student’s program, with a few lines under each to write in courses, can help a student keep a big-picture view of the time and courses remaining. Plug in major courses, remaining general education courses, and openings for electives to help students make intelligent choices in their course selection. In this way, you can also see together opportunities for study abroad, needs for summer study, or potential planning difficulties if courses aren’t chosen carefully now.

  • Reviewing Gradtracker with the student

    Pull up the student’s page on GradTracker, and move down the initial audit screen step by step. This will move you from Reviewing the number of earned units this far to overall progress toward the degree audit, general education, and major/minor requirements. Such a step-by-step review, conducted a couple times a year, is quite helpful in keeping the student on track for graduation. Plus, it reduces the chances of the student being "surprised" by something come senior year. Also, students sometimes neglect to mention poor performance on a course (e.g., a D on a major course requiring a grade of C- or higher), having dropped a required course, or some other issue that might be helpful for you to know when discussing course choices for an upcoming semester. A quick review of progress on Gradtracker can bring such things to light. And remember, even something simple like a quick assessment of "Earned Hours" on the transcript to ensure the student will reach 35 units by the end of senior year can catch unanticipated problems.

    Remember: Students and advisors should count every semester to make sure the student is making good progress toward the 35 units minimum required for graduation.

  • Planning specific courses (and alternatives if necessary) that fit the overview

    Students should come to each registration-advising meeting with courses already chosen for the coming semester. As advisors, we can help be sure the student is making the wisest choices. Helping students choose the most appropriate electives (rather than choosing electives by teacher or time of day) and anticipate which courses will be offered during coming semesters can be invaluable as the student creates the best education possible while here at Richmond. Department and school websites now carry information about majors and minors, and the GradTracker "What If" screen allows you to see the student’s progress on courses required for any major, minor, or concentration. Sometimes students will mention interest in a given departmental elective, courses that might be useful in the pursuit of a particular career or graduate program, or a wish to participate in an independent research project or internship. Having conversations about such things can help students talk through their options and make well-reasoned choices. If you are not comfortable recommending courses that might relate to career or graduate study, Career Services staff can help students make appropriate choices here. Otherwise, your own personal experience and your knowledge of your major field are particularly valuable to advisees who are still just developing an understanding of a liberal education.

  • Opportunities for advisees to ask questions or raise issues

    Always be certain your advisee has time to ask questions. "Why" questions can be especially helpful: "Why that course?" "Why study abroad there?" "Why not consider taking these courses?" In addition, serious issues can be missed simply because advisors forget to ask, "How are you?" or "Do you need anything else?"