1: Advising at Grinnell: Responsibilities

Responsibilities of Advisers

Advising is an extension of teaching, a conscious concern for the questions that students have about the importance of their studies, the direction of their intellectual development and educational objectives, and the future of their lives. Grinnell's approach to advising relies on strong mentoring relationships between faculty members and students initiated during the tutorial, developed further when students declare a major and begin working with their major advisers, and deepened in upper-level research and coursework, where students often find new mentors among their professors.

The student and his or her adviser work together to develop a program of study recognizably liberal in both breadth and depth and adapted to the particular interests and long-term goals of the student. Because the College articulates a set of ideals rather than requirements that characterize liberal arts education, the advising relationship is crucial in shaping the academic plans and aspirations of our students. Conversations about curricular planning at Grinnell should begin with the assertions presented in "The Elements of a Liberal Education" of the Grinnell College Academic Catalog.

The responsibilities of the faculty adviser are:

  • to help the student plan his or her program of study;
  • to provide a sympathetic hearing and, as needed, advice or referral on academic and career concerns;
  • to be readily available to the student, giving each an opportunity to know a faculty member well and a sense that someone is personally interested in his or her welfare; and
  • to encourage each student to develop the ability to make responsible decisions.
Essential Advising Resources

College Philosophy and Policy:

Questions about College regulations or practices not answered in these sources should be addressed to Joyce Stern, Dean for Student Academic Support and Advising, x3702, Paula Smith, Dean of the College, x4268, or Cheryl Chase, Registrar, x3450. Answers are often just one phone call away.

Information about your Advisee:

Advisee data is in two places: in 'hard copy,' in the student's advising file folder, and electronically, online via PioneerWeb "Advising Information." Each adviser receives a file folder of information about each new advisee. Tutors should take time to thoroughly review these folders prior to New Student Orientation. These folders contain

  • high school transcript;
  • admission application, including essay;
  • Advising Information Form - completed by the student in the summer before arrival;
  • approval of transfer or advanced placement credits, if any;
  • standardized test scores;
  • an academic planning worksheet called 'Four Years at Glance'; and
  • math and foreign language placement information.

Each piece of information in the folder lends insight into the new student you are about to meet, from data such as grades and test scores to a personal essay reflecting the student's values and significant life experiences. The Advising Information Form, which the students complete during the summer prior to fall enrollment, includes information about the student's goals at college, including a list of possible courses for the fall. The form asks the student to list several courses so that there is room for adjustment, but good advising may lead to other courses in the final registration.

Initially, there will not be much advising information on PioneerWeb that's not already in the file folder, but as the semesters progress, critical information will appear online. Within PioneerWeb advisers can access:

  • grades
  • credits earned
  • standardized and placement test scores
  • course schedules
  • GPA
  • academic evaluation of progress toward a major and the degree.

Because advisers are not sent individual grade reports or course schedules, advisers should review the status of their advisees online. Excellent times to do this are at the beginning of the semester and just prior to a pre-registration advising appointment. Another feature of Pioneer Web, academic evaluations, can be particularly helpful to students and advisers as they develop a four-year plan and as a device for monitoring progress towards graduation. Essentially it's a summary (printable) of a student's "degree audit"; it includes courses completed, courses in progress, and transfer credits organized by division and by department. The academic evaluation should be consulted prior to pre-registration each semester and any time there is a question about a change in registration, major, or other program.

Interpreting Test Scores

To interpret an individual student's standardized achievement test scores, please refer to the following concordance table which compares scores of the two national achievement tests.

1440 and up 33 and up
1400 - 1430 32
1360 - 1390 31
1330 - 1350 30
1290 - 1320 29
1250 - 1280 28
1210 - 1240 27
1170 - 1200 26
1160 and below 25 and below

Grinnell College first-year students have an average (mean) composite score of 1394 for the SAT and 31.0 for the ACT. Nationally, the average SAT score is approximately 1010 and the ACT is 21.0. Although the writing scores for both ACT and SAT are recorded in a student's official college record, the Admission Office currently does not use the writing portion of either test to determine admissibility. International students also have scores for the TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language). It measures a person's proficiency in English; it is not meant to be an indicator of academic ability. In order to measure language competency, sub-tests are broken down into three areas: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and grammar. The test is available in internet-based format in nearly every country from which our students enroll. The scale range is 0–120.

We do not have a minimum TOEFL requirement for admission to Grinnell College. However, because of the high demands placed on our students in terms of reading and writing, we look to admit applicants who can demonstrate a very strong command of the English language. As of June 2015, the mid-50% TOEFL for entering international students was 104–112.

Advising the First-Year Student for Registration

Understanding the Liberal Arts:

Helping a student craft a liberal education in an individually-mentored curriculum is the exciting and challenging task of the adviser. Encourage your students to read "Education in the Liberal Arts" in the Grinnell College Academic Catalog and other works on the liberal arts, such as "Only Connect. . ." by William Cronon. These documents will provide basic grounding in the meaning of a liberal education and assist with initial decisions of course selection.

A few good rules of thumb are:

  • The student should develop his or her command of written English, not only in the tutorial but in at least one other suitable course as well, such as an intensive writing course.
  • The student should develop his or her knowledge of mathematics, a foreign language, or both.
  • The student should take courses in each of the three main divisions of the curriculum - humanities, science, social studies - and normally should not take more than two courses (8 credits) in any one division in any semester. One exception to this may be students pursuing a course of study that requires math, such as physics. In this case the student would take Tutorial, Math, Physics and one other course.

Additionally, planning a solid schedule requires careful consideration of the following:

  • Prerequisites. Is the student taking the prerequisites for the courses he or she wants to take next semester or next year? Check the Departmental Advising Suggestions section to be sure.
  • Background required. Does the course have a prerequisite? Is the student prepared for this course? Caution is needed in the case of first-year students registering for 200-level courses for which some verbal or mathematical sophistication is assumed, or for some advanced language courses where skill in literary analysis is expected. When choosing between two levels, opt for the higher level in most cases. And create a "fall back plan" for the student, reassessing after one or two class periods whether or not they have been placed too high in their math or foreign language class.
  • Workload balance. How much and what kind of work does the course require? Do the courses balance with each other? Consult the "Syllabus Summary" compiled by the Academic Advising office each summer and distributed in August.
  • Teaching methods. A student may want a combination of lecture, workshop/lab/studio, and seminar courses.
  • Related interests. Things that a student may consider a "hobby" or an extracurricular interests may be pursued in courses at Grinnell. Music, theatre, and art are some of the areas where a student might find this type of course (but don't assume that such courses involve light workloads!). A student's passion for creating change - environmental, societal - can also be enhanced through coursework, or even concentrations, and should be mentioned to the student as options.
  • New disciplines. The college curriculum includes disciplines not usually available in high schools - American studies, religious studies, sociology, economics, anthropology, and philosophy are examples. The first-year student should explore new fields along with further work in more familiar areas.
  • Future plans. The regulations on declaring and completing a major can be found in the Student Handbook. Departmental information is also helpful to consult. Encourage students to talk with faculty in the departments in which they are interested.
  • Pre-professional planning. Students who plan a pre-engineering or pre-health program or teacher certification, or who have other strong professional interests, should discuss their programs with the appropriate pre-professional adviser at an early date.
Pre-Professional Adviser List

General Advising Strategies

  • Register for four 4-credit courses or three 4-credit courses and one 5-credit course in the case of intro languages. Academic Skills labs such as reading, writing, math and science labs are worth 1 credit and may be added to this registration as needed. Physical Education activities are worth 1/2 or 1 credit and may also be added.
  • Students with transition difficulties may be advised to take 3 courses + reading, writing and/or math labs for credit, or to start with 4 courses to give some latitude for an eventual drop.
  • Use "Syllabus Summary" to guide a balance of types of work
  • Use placement information in student folders - math/CS, and languages, as applicable.
  • Language and math level can be changed - students can drop back within the add/drop deadline
  • Program/Department-specific guidance -see Departmental Advising Suggestions
The Four-Year Plan

As part of the major declaration process second-year students are required to submit to the Registrar a four-year plan of study. However, many advisers work with their students in the first or second semester to create a tentative four-year plan. Following is a list of questions you may want to have your advisees consider as they formulate their plan.

1. Does your course plan meet all the requirements for graduation as listed under "Academic Requirements" of the Grinnell College Academic Catalog? That is, does it meet the following requirements:

  • Satisfactory completion of Tutorial?
  • Satisfactory completion of a major?
  • Completion of at least 124 credits?
  • No more than 48 credits in any department?
  • No more than 92 credits in any division?
  • A maximum of 8 credits in practica courses?
  • A maximum of 16 credits in other Music/Theater performance courses?
  • Eight full-time college semesters?
  • At least six semesters in residence at Grinnell?

2. Does your plan contain the elements of a liberal education, as described under "Education in the Liberal Arts" of the Grinnell College Academic Catalog? That is, does it include courses in all of the following areas:

  • Improving your command of English prose?
  • The study of a language other than your own?
  • The study of mathematics to enhance quantitative reasoning skills?
  • The study of the natural sciences?
  • The study of human society?
  • The study of creative expression?

3. Will your plan qualify you for induction into Phi Beta Kappa (assuming a high GPA, of course)? That is, does it meet the Phi Beta Kappa requirements as listed under "Academic Requirements" of the Grinnell College Academic Catalog?

  • At least three semesters' study of a modern foreign language OR two semesters' study of a classical language OR proficiency beyond such level as demonstrated by your educational history?
  • Completion of Math 123-124 or 131 (calculus) OR completion of a higher-level math course?
  • At least 12 credits of study in each of the three divisions with no more than 8 of the 12 divisional credits in one department?
  • At least 4 credits of a laboratory science?

4. Does your plan include a broad selection of introductory (100-level) courses during the first and second years, while generally avoiding such courses during the third and fourth years?

5. How will you enhance your program of study? Have you considered choosing an interdisciplinary concentration under "Courses of Study" in the Grinnell College Academic Catalog to give structure to your courses outside the major? Will you choose to spend a semester doing off-campus study? Will you pursue a MAP or other independent study? Will you plan an internship?

6. What might life look like for you after graduation and what can you do now to enhance those experiences? Do you have a specific career path in mind? Do you expect to attend graduate or professional school? Or, in lieu of this, consider challenging your advisee to ponder and consider "Big Questions"* in the context of his/her four-year plan:

  • Who do I really want to become?
  • How do I work toward something when I don't even know what it is?
  • What do I want the future to look like - for me, for others, for my planet?
  • What constitutes meaningful work?
  • What do I really want to learn?
  • When do I feel most alive?
  • Where can I be creative?
  • Where do I want to put my stake in the ground and invest my life?

* from Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning Purpose and Faith, by Sharon Daloz Parks, 2000. A portion of the Four-Year Plan form is below. Copies of the form are available from the Academic Advising office, Rosenfield Center 3rd Floor. One form per student is also provided in each advising folder given to the First-Year Tutorial instructors.

General Requirements: Maximums:
First Year Tutorial
  • 32 credits in major (48 Gen. Science, 36 Music, 36 English, 36 Theatre)
  • 124 credits to graduate
  • 2.0 cumulative grade point to graduate
  • 92 credits in one division
  • 48 credits in one department
  • 8 practica credits (max. of 4 PE 100 & 101)
  • 16 performance (Music 120, 122, 220, 221, 420;Theatre 104, 204)
  • 8 credits internship (in 2 internships)
  • 16 credits of D grade
  • 18 credits from summer school
  • 12 credits of independent in one department (Plus-2's, 297, 299, 397, 399, 499)
  Humanities Social Studies Science
1st Year      
1st sem.      
2nd sem.      
2nd Year      
1st sem.      
2nd sem.      
3rd Year      
1st sem.      
2nd sem.      
4th Year      
1st sem.      
2nd sem.      

Note: The purpose of this sheet is to assist the adviser and student in their planning of a program of courses well balanced in terms of divisions. Many times students are not aware that they are over-emphasizing a certain discipline. This worksheet may help to remind them that breadth is an important aspect of their education.

Graduating on Time: A Brief Overview of Regulations

Making "normal progress" toward graduation: See the Student Handbook. The usual number of credits required is 16 per semester, but one 12 credit semester still allows for graduation on time. For example: 7 semesters of 16 credits plus 1 semester of 12 credits = (7 x 16) + (1 x 12) = 124 credits.

Graduation requirements: Requirements for tutorial, total credits, major field, and residence can be found in the Student Handbook. Rules to watch:

  • Practicum credits - not more than 8 credits in all
  • Performance credits - not more than 16 credits allowed
  • Independent study - a maximum of 12 credits (plus-2, 297, 299, 397, 399 and 499) in one department may count toward graduation
  • Internship Study - maximum of 8 credits
  • Departmental limit - not more than 48 credits in one department
  • Divisional limit - not more than 92 credits in one division

A student with a well-balanced program in the first two years should have no difficulty with these limits.

"Plus-2s" and other individual work: First-year students may enroll only after they successfully complete the tutorial. First- and second-year students may take only one "plus-2" per semester. For specific prerequisites for individual study, refer to our on-line catalog.


All students may enroll for up to 18 credits without special permission or an additional tuition charge. If students wish to enroll for more than 18 credits, they must obtain permission from the Committee on Academic Standing.

Be aware that the Committee on Academic Standing routinely denies 20-credit petitions from first-year students. The Committee on Academic Standing is also reluctant to approve overloads for students on academic probation or students who have not demonstrated strong academic performance or background.

Overloads do not include music lessons (MUS-120, 122, 220, 221 or 420) or varsity sports (PHE-101). Students will be billed for additional tuition for each credit above 18.

Committee on Academic Standing

Occasionally, one of your advisees may need to petition the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) for an exception to an academic policy. All petitions are to be made in writing; most petitions will require a supporting document from an instructor and/or an adviser. Petitions are due in the Office of the Registrar by 5:00 pm Wednesday of the week preceding the next CAS meeting. CAS meets bi-weekly: typically every other Tuesday beginning with the first Tuesday of each semester. It is the responsibility of the student to secure all materials and recommendations necessary to resolve a petition in a timely fashion. Petitions will not be presented to CAS until they are complete. Students will be notified in writing of the Committee's decision as soon as possible after CAS meets. A few common requests to CAS and the documentation required:

  • Adding a course after the deadline. A statement by the student listing the reasons for adding the course and a statement from the instructor assuring that the students can make up the work without undue difficulty, together with the "Registration Change Form."
  • Dropping a course after the deadline. A statement by the student listing the reasons for dropping the course and a statement from the instructor assuring that the student was never in the class, together with the "Registration Change Form."
  • Repeating a course. Students are not required to petition CAS to repeat a class in which he/she received a D or F grade. All other requests for repeating must be approved by CAS.
  • Request for a ninth semester. A statement by the student listing the reasons why the additional term is needed and an endorsement from the adviser and the department explaining the reason for the additional term.
  • Request to graduate early. A student must submit a completed Application for Accelerated Graduation.
  • Request for waiver of requirements or substitution for required courses in a major or concentration. The department or program chair on behalf of the student must present this petition. Transfer course substitutions need not come to the Committee.
  • Other requests. Consult the Office of the Registrar for the required documentation.

CAS meets at the end of each semester to determine the status of students who are not meeting the normal requirements of academic progress. Students may be warned, placed on probation, suspended, or remain in good standing. Questions regarding the Committee can be directed to the Associate Dean of the College or the Registrar.

Off-Campus Study

Grinnell is affiliated with nearly 100 off-campus study programs worldwide, and we offer two of our own: Grinnell-in-London and Grinnell-in- Washington. By the time they graduate, 55-60% of all Grinnell students have studied in a semester-or year-long program, either domestic or overseas.

As an adviser, it's important to raise the topic of off-campus study (OCS) early with your advisees. Although they will not be eligible to study off-campus until their fifth semester at Grinnell, planning should start sooner. Students typically learn about programs and apply during their second year, but this process may start in the first year. Although studying in a new environment is a valuable learning experience in and of itself, the College believes the opportunity will be even more enriching if closely integrated with a student's coursework on campus. During the application process, great emphasis is placed on selecting a program that is compatible with academic goals, thus close planning among the student, his/her/hir adviser, and the OCS Office is advised. Further information is available on the OCS webpage.

Internship Guidelines

Students at Grinnell College may participate in a range of internship opportunities both during the academic year and in the summer. Summer internships are available locally, nationally, and internationally. There are funding options for first-, second-, and third-year students to pursue 8–10 week full-time internships. The Center for Careers, Life, and Service also manages the Grinnellink internship program in which students intern through an alumni connection. Please visit Internships for more details regarding internship funding, academic credit, and the Grinnellink internship program. Students can be directed to the CLS for additional information.

Students may apply for 2–4 academic credits for their full-time, 8–10 week summer internship, which needs to be supported by a Faculty Sponsor and approved by the Registrar, Associate Dean, and the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. Tuition is waived for the first 2 credits if a student receives College internship funding. Students are billed for any additional credits beyond the first 2 credits.

Students may earn 2 or 4 credits for a part-time (14 hours), academic-year internship that has no additional tuition cost. A total of 8 credits for internships may be counted toward graduation requirements; students may not participate in more than two credit-bearing internships. For the purpose of distribution, internships will be ascribed divisional credit (work in humanities, science, or social studies) and will not be listed under the heading of particular departments.

See Internships for program details and access to online applications.

Career and Graduate Study Planning

The Center for Careers, Life, and Service (1127 Park Street, x4940) relies on you, as an academic adviser, to be the first connection in the professional, personal, and civic development of our students. Please encourage your students to come to the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) to address any of the following topics:

  • Assessing their strengths, skills, and interests through career-counseling appointments and self-assessments (e.g., FOCUS, MBTI, StrengthsFinder)
  • Choosing majors or concentrations and discussing how to apply their liberal arts education to the world of work
  • Connecting with community service and experiential-learning opportunities (e.g., job shadowing)
  • Networking with Grinnell alumni and recruiters
  • Planning how to use their academic breaks effectively (e.g., Alternative Break, job shadowing, internships)
  • Searching for internships and jobs
  • Composing and revising résumés, cover letters, or personal statements
  • Practicing for interviews
  • Preparing for graduate or professional school
  • Applying for competitive scholarships and fellowships (e.g., Fulbright, Rhodes, Truman) and post-graduate service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, Teach for America)

Please encourage your students to visit the CLS webpage and to view upcoming events and specific programs and resources.

Advising Students with Disabilities

Students with documented disabilities are welcomed and accommodated at Grinnell College. Not only is this required by law, but it is fair practice for students who need it. All students seeking academic accommodations for a disability must contact Autumn Wilke, Coordinator of Disability Resources in Academic Advising so that she may meet with them, review their supporting documentation, and make decisions about appropriate accommodations. This is the procedure the College has adopted to allow for consistent practice and thorough review of each student's request. Grinnell students with disabilities have a wide range of impacts that need accommodation in order to allow equal access to their education. Since every disability is unique to each person, accommodations are always individually-tailored to the student. Common accommodations include books/texts in an alternate format, note takers, recorded classes, and extra time on exams.

As the student's adviser, you also have an important role to play in supporting a advisee with a disability. With the student's permission, the student's adviser is invited to a meeting with the student and with Autumn that has a four-fold agenda:

  • The meeting serves as the final step in the procedures for determining appropriate accommodations at Grinnell. At this meeting the three of them will discuss the student's disability and how it affects the student, the student's past history of accommodations, and necessary accommodations for their time at Grinnell.
  • At this meeting advisers can clarify what role they feel comfortable playing in terms of advocacy for that student. For example, occasionally it may be opportune for you to help the student navigate a difficulty in one of their other courses with receiving a required accommodation. By talking with the instructor of that course - with the student's permission - sometimes a difficulty can be easily resolved. Autumn plays this role also, but students often like to have faculty talking with faculty.
  • The adviser, in partnership with Autumn, can explain the variety of resources on campus that may functionally serve like an accommodation. Examples of this include writing coaching at the Writing Lab, or subject-specific tutoring at the Math Lab, Science Learning Center or through Academic Advising, visits to an instructor's office hours, or use of helpful technologies. Because these resources are open to all students, students with disabilities don't have to be stigmatized when asking for assistance. Although use of these resources will not be listed on the official Academic Accommodations Form, students should be encouraged to utilize these resources when appropriate to their disability or learning challenges.
  • The student and adviser should discuss how the disability might impact the "big picture" of a student's time at Grinnell. For example, some students need to take an average of 12-13 credits each semester due to a disability and will need to use summers to transfer in credit to reach 124 credits by graduation. Other students need to select courses carefully based on the student's strengths and weaknesses to strike a good balance. This is a conversation that will last over time and exceeds the boundaries of this one meeting.

Advisers are brought into a very small circle of people who are aware of the student's disability and are expected to maintain the student's privacy, making every effort not to disclose this information to other students or faculty except with the student's express permission.

Additional resources for faculty advisers are available on the Disability Resources GrinnellShare site (login required) and faculty members are welcome and encouraged to call Autumn Wilke at 641-269-3124 with any questions about supporting students with disabilities in the classroom.

Advising International Students

As a faculty adviser, you will at some point advise international students who bring diverse cultures, perspectives, and goals to the advising conversation. Because of U.S. government regulations, most international students also have special academically-related considerations, even constraints. Although you typically will not know an advisee's immigration status, many of our students have the same classification, thus we're providing information below that should be generally helpful in your role as adviser. Please refer students to the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) for regulatory advising. You may also call us for clarification.

Most of our non-immigrant students (225+) hold F-1 status1 and are subject to reporting through SEVIS. The following issues will impact academic decisions F-1 students make:

  1. A student’s declared major will impact employment options after graduation, if the student elects to stay in the U.S. For example, pre and post-completion employment options for F-1 students are limited to work directly related to the student’s major. In addition, students with S.T.E.M. majors benefit from access to a longer post-completion employment benefits (17 additional months, subject to specific conditions). Visa renewal can also be impacted by a student’s major field of study, depending on their home country and U.S. relations with that nation.
  2. F-1 students must maintain full-time enrollment (a minimum of 12 credits) with limited exceptions. Any drop below full-course-load must be documented and approved by the OISA (and entered into SEVIS) prior to the reduction of courses. Potential exceptions include: academic / linguistic difficulties in the first term; mis-advising; documented medical conditions; or if fewer courses are needed during the final academic term.
  3. F-1 students must make ‘normal progress’ toward degree completion. A program extension requires regulatory approval, processed through the OISA.
  4. F-1 students may typically participate in off-campus study or internships abroad. There may be unique visa and employment issues to consider, so advanced planning is very important.
  5. F-1 students may hold an on-campus job, working up to 20 hours per week during the school year. They may work "full time" on-campus during breaks or over the summer. They may not hold a student employment position during the summer following their commencement. (note: There are some international students, holding other visa classifications, who are not allowed campus employment.)
  6. F-1 students may not accept employment (internships or research) that results in payment (wages, stipends, fellowships, housing, etc.) from a source other than Grinnell College, without first securing employment authorization. The primary options are Optional Practical Training or Curricular Practical Training . Both require that the employment be “directly related to the student’s major area.” Students must consult with the OISA well in advance of needing employment authorization. Summer internships that are funded entirely through Grinnellink or Grinnell’s grant funding are ideal for our F-1 students, since the stipends for most of these educational experiences comes solely from the College and Employment Authorization will not usually be required. Unpaid experiences (with no wage, stipend, housing, etc.) may not require Employment Authorization, however, the work-site may have a different interpretation of this scenario. Working closely with the OISA is advised.
  7. All F-1 students are required to file a Federal Tax Return, even if they don’t have taxable income. The OISA provides basic support (or referral) for students to comply with this immigration regulation.
  8. Criminal arrests, even misdemeanor charges, can have very serious consequences for non-immigrant visitors. The OISA can advise students on these matters, or can refer them for consultation with area attorneys who specialize in immigration and/or criminal law. We also caution non-immigrant students about participation in political activism.
  9. F-1 Seniors receive guidance from the OISA about their next steps through a Senior Packet, group information sessions, and individual appointments. They typically have the following options: 1) “transfer” their SEVIS record to a graduate program in the U.S.; 2) apply for employment authorization through Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT); or 3) leave the U.S. within an authorized grace period (60 days). F-1 students who remain in the U.S. for OPT or for the 17 month STEM Extension maintain F-1 status and are required to report through the OISA during the post-completion employment period. We provide handouts on these options, tips on presenting their status during employment interviews, basic information about the H-1B petition, and we also speak about Re-Entry Shock Theory for those who will return home.

If you receive related questions from students, please refer them to the OISA (specifically they may wish to speak with Brenda Strong, Karen Klopp Edwards, or Jamie Chambers, or call ext. 3703). Faculty should feel free to contact us as well!

Advising Challenges you may Encounter

If a problem feels too big or goes beyond your comfort level, we encourage support for you and your student from the Academic Advising Office, x3702. Here is a starting point for common dilemmas:

Academic Difficulties. If a student is experiencing academic difficulties first have him/her talk with the instructor. This is a logical thing for the student to do, but many do not. First-year students who are apprehensive about discussing difficulties with a professor need to be encouraged to do so. Look into the possibility of a tutor. The Academic Advising Office arranges for tutoring in humanities and social studies. Minna Mahlab (Science Learning Center) and Jim Lawrence (Math Lab) coordinate most science and math tutoring; for tutoring in psychology, contact Barbara Brown, and for help in Computer Science contact the department. Try to identify the source of the difficulty. Is the student underprepared for the course? Is time management a problem? Is the student attending class regularly? Are personal problems interfering with academic progress? Does the student need to be referred to Academic Advising, Health and Counseling Services, the Reading, Writing or Math Lab or Science Learning Center? A last resort is to drop the course, if deadlines allow. First-year students may overlook this possibility, which at times provides the only way a student can salvage the rest of his or her courses. Remember that full-time status is 12 credits. With careful planning students can make up the credits to graduate on time.

Feelings of Inadequacy. You may find first-year students coming to you after a couple of weeks expressing doubts about their ability to do college work. They may feel intimidated by upper-class students or even a fellow first-year student who uses extensive vocabulary or expresses abstract philosophical ideas. Some students may be experiencing a selective educational institution for the first time. A discussion of this normal, temporary panic is often sufficient. If students do need help with basic skills, don't forget the Academic Resource Centers.

Advanced Placement and Dropping Back. Students placed in advanced courses on the basis of school records or placement tests sometimes find they were placed too high. No stigma is attached to dropping back. The error is ours, not theirs. Make this clear to the student. Plan a drop-back option in advance if there is any doubt about the initial placement.

Over-Achieving. A student may become obsessed with grades or use study as a means to escape non-academic problems. The over-achiever spends all his or her time studying and rarely socializes. Students may spend time any way they wish, but we are responsible for assisting students in choosing thoughtfully among the many activities available at Grinnell. This problem usually comes to your attention through someone other than the student concerned. Staff members best able to assist are the Residence Life Coordinators, who know the daily lives of their students quite well.

Confusion over Future Plans. Most students entering Grinnell are searching for a field of interest. Some become confused along the way and don't see a clear goal ahead. Standardized assessments often help. These inventories are available at the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. It may also be helpful for students to meet with a SHACS psychologist for career counseling. When a first-year student is unsure of his or her future plans - as most are or ought to be - a broad program of study is recommended. This permits the student to search while keeping many avenues open, and it also relieves the feeling that every course must be justified in terms of specific goals. Intellectual curiosity is sufficient justification for taking a course.

Loss of Motivation. This is a difficult problem to handle. Everyone is motivated by something - the challenge is to find it. Sometimes it helps to steer a student to a faculty member with whom he or she has had good rapport. Loss of motivation may also be a symptom of depression. A Residence Life Coordinator or SHACS psychologist can help. Not all students really want a college education; others are not ready at a particular time. Sometimes a leave of absence does wonders for a student's sense of purpose.

Personal Problems. See the "Referral Guide for Student Concerns" for appropriate referrals. Do not hesitate to seek assistance in dealing with students' personal problems. Specialized counselors see referrals as an indication that the adviser is competent and knowledgeable about the resources at the College. We do not expect faculty members to serve as personal counselors, but we'd like your help in making a strategic handoff. SHACS' psychologists are happy to consult with you regarding how best to assist and/or refer students.

Roommate Difficulties. These should be referred to the Assistant Dean and Director of Residence Life, Andrea Conner. Roommate conversations and mediations are regularly facilitated by the staff in this department in the hopes that difficulties can be resolved. If problems persist, or compromise is not possible due to the nature of the concern, the staff would explore alternate room options.

Academic Progress Reports

Approximately every three weeks each semester the Academic Advising Office sends all faculty members academic difficulty progress forms (APRs) to track students who are not doing satisfactory work in class. Many faculty simply send an email to the Academic Advising Staff or enter it online when a problem becomes evident. These warnings are invaluable to the Academic Advising Office and to students' advisers, as they enable early interventions before failing grades are inevitable. The notices also provide documentation at the end of the semester when students' grades are considered by the Committee on Academic Standing. These reports help the Committee gauge students' performance and effort throughout the semester, and serve as a record of the College's efforts to warn students in a timely manner and to reach out to students experiencing difficulty. Faculty members may return these forms to the Academic Advising Office online, by email, or may call with concerns, ext. 3702.

As an adviser, you can review these reports online. These are provided to you as a matter of information, and we recommend that you keep them in the advisee's folder. How you act on the information is up to you: it's person-dependent. You can presume that a staff member from Academic Advising is likely to be checking in with the student; not every time, but often. A "D" on a quiz (one of 10 quizzes in the semester) is not likely to elicit a response from our office; however, a "D" on an exam, frequent absences, and other missing assignments will cause one of our staff to follow up. Often we will check in with the adviser to see what you know about the student's academic strengths and weaknesses, about course selection for the semester, and about the specific situation. If the student is known to us, this makes it all the more likely that we'll communicate with you. You are also welcome to check with the office to see what we have learned. We do our best to maintain good communication with advisers about academic progress; communication about personal issues is sometimes more difficult because of confidentiality, but we'll share as much as we are able. Often it requires a team effort to help students make better choices about approaching their academic work and, simultaneously, dealing with their personal challenges.

Changing Advisers

Normally, a student's tutorial professor serves as the student's adviser until the student declares a major (by pre-registration in the fourth semester). Transfer students not in tutorials are assigned advisers in the department in which they have indicated an interest. However, if either the student or the adviser feels that the advising relationship is incompatible, he or she may contact the Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising about making a change.

When faculty members go on leave they make arrangements for their advisees to be advised by another faculty member. Major advisees may be assigned to another member of the department. (The Registrar's Office has a "Change of Major Adviser" form.) Undeclared advisees should be guided in selecting an interim adviser; because these students will know few faculty at this point, they should be coached through this process. In both cases the faculty member notifies the Academic Advising Office of these changes.

Major Declaration and the Major Adviser

When the student declares a major, he or she is responsible for securing an adviser in the major department and completing a Declaration of Major form which includes a comprehensive four-year plan. Usually this planning is done with both support from the first adviser and consultation with the new adviser in the major department. As the new adviser in the major department you should feel free to ask the student to revise the plan before signing off on it. Of course, plans should be free from technical errors: the course decisions and credit counts should allow the student to graduate! Also, the major declaration includes an essay which should provide a solid rationale for the student's decision.

When are declarations due? Frequently, the student will begin the process of deciding on their major early in the second year. Not only is it natural for students to be more focused within their studies by this time, but our off-campus study application process requires applications due (with preference for the major declared) by the end of the fall semester. The normal major declaration time is two weeks prior to pre-registration in the fourth semester, around early April.

Whose job is it anyway? Despite this being the student's responsibility, Tutorial advisers often play an important role in this process, offering support and guidance. The Registrar's Office sends a reminder to students in their fourth semester who are still undeclared. This email comes about two months before forms are due, and it includes a link to the Declaration of Major form and the due date. The Registrar's Office sends a reminder to these students' advisers, too. At that point you may decide to invite your undeclared advisees for a group meeting to discuss the process and begin their plans.

A tough choice. Sometimes this planning process comes easily to the student, but for other students it is a difficult decision. If you end up with an advisee who is having trouble deciding, you might begin by probing with some questions:

  • Is it about having to make a choice and feeling like you then can't change your mind?
  • Is it difficult to make a decision because there are too many good options?
  • Is it about feeling like you don't have any good choices?
  • Are your ideas about what you want to study in conflict with the expectations of your family?
  • Do you feel that you'll become completely defined by your major? That it is too limiting?
  • What about double majoring or completing an interdisciplinary concentration?
  • Do you assume that your major has to tie directly to what you do after graduation?
  • What are your options for after graduation? What do you want your life to look like?

Sometimes students' answers to these questions help guide your conversation or let you know you need to make a referral. Remember that students struggling with their choice of major should speak with the staff in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, x4940, or Academic Advising, x3702.

A matter of logistics. Part of process to create a four-year plan includes deciding which courses to take within the major department to fulfill requirements. Students should consult their Academic Evaluation on PioneerWeb (ACAD EVAL). Within this system they can pose "What if ...?" questions to the computer program. So, for example, if you have an advisee interested in a Theatre major, you can provide these directions to your student:

Before you meet with the Theatre department, go to PioneerWeb. Login to PioneerWeb and click on "Course Areas & Academic Info" tab at the top of the page. Then look for the "Academic Information" box. Click on "Academic Evaluation (check degree progress)" link. This will take you to an area where you can check your progress towards your Grinnell degree, AND (this is the cool part) you can ask it, "What if I were to major in Theatre?" and select ok. The computer program will go through all your courses to date and tell you what you would need to take if you were to major in Theatre. In addition to reading the requirements in the College Catalog, this should significantly assist in your planning.

'FERPA' and Confidentiality of Student Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as amended, also known as the "Buckley Amendment", provides that schools must follow certain procedures with regard to students' records. In sum, FERPA establishes three rights for students:

  • the right to inspect and review education records maintained by the college;
  • the right to seek to amend education records; and
  • the right to have control over the disclosure of information from education records.

It is the third point in which advisers will have most direct interest. As the student's adviser you will have access to a good portion of the student's education record (grades, etc.). Detailed information about what defines a student's education record can be found in the "Student Records" section of the Student Handbook. In order to avoid accidentally violating FERPA, faculty advisers should:

  • not share student educational record information, including grades or grade point averages, with other faculty or staff members at the College unless their official responsibilities identify their "legitimate educational interest" in that information for that student.
  • not share by phone or correspondence information from student educational records, including grades or grade point averages, with parents or others outside the institution, including letters of recommendation, without written permission of the student. Refer inquiries from parents to the Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising, x3702.
  • refer inquires from anyone outside the college seeking information about a student to the Office of the Registrar, x3450 or Student Affairs, x3700.
  • not provide anyone with a student's schedule or assistance with finding a student on campus. Refer inquiries to Student Affairs, x3700, or Campus Security, x4600.

There are two common dilemmas here for advisers: parental inquiries and letters of recommendation.

Parents: When a parent declares their son or daughter on their federal taxes as a dependent they may, according to FERPA, have access to the student's education record without the student's express permission. This is the minimum required under the law, but colleges may have their own procedures. Release of academic information without the student's permission is done by a strict procedure at Grinnell; this procedure is administered by the VP for Student Affairs, Houston Dougharty. In most cases, when parents request information about their children, they begin with a question about the student's grades but the quickly shift to an underlying concern (e.g., Parent: "How is John doing in your course this semester?" Faculty: "What is your concern? What are you hearing from him?" Parent: "Well, John has seemed despondent on the phone lately. Does he strike you as homesick?"). Sometimes parents simply want to express a concern and find out what resources are available on campus. It is a good idea to listen to them and reflect on what they're saying. If they press for academic information, let them know you would like to bring the student into the conversation. Then contact the student about the perceived problem and see if he or she feels a need to have you share information back with the parent or if the student will talk with his or her parent directly. Frequently, this resolves the issues at hand. If parents still want access to their son's or daughter's education record or if the concern sounds urgent or dangerous, refer the parents to the Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising or the Vice-President for Student Affairs.

Letters of Reference: Advisers frequently must disclose educational information about students in letters of reference. On most reference forms students will have authorized you to disclose information about them. Students' permission (ideally in writing) for disclosure of this information is imperative. Most students waive their rights to see the information you write; if they have not done so, what you write becomes part of their education record and they have the right to review it and even challenge it. The College publishes students' rights with regard to their education records in the Student Records section of the Student Handbook. When questions arise, students and advisers should consult this online information or call Houston Dougharty, Vice-President for Student Affairs.

Advising Records after Graduation

When advisees graduate, advisers may choose to keep their files for a period of time to assist with reference requests. The adviser is then encouraged to shred the files. Permanent academic records for each student are maintained by the Registrar's Office. If you need information about a former advisee for the purpose of a letter of recommendation contact the Registrar's Office, x3450.

2: Department Advising and Registration Suggestions

Departmental Advising Suggestions

The following pages are devoted to departmental advice for students and faculty advisers, in alphabetical order by department. Suggestions include what courses to take and in which order, with an eye towards leaving open the possibility of majoring in that discipline. You will want to check the Academic Catalog and the online 'Schedule of Courses' in the Registrar’s student resources for additional information.

Both the Adviser's Handbook and Academic Planning For New Students include these departmental advising suggestions.

3: Interdisciplinary Study

Interdisciplinary Courses of Study

Grinnell structures the curriculum departmentally. However, we also offer a number of interdisciplinary courses, many of which are open to first-year students. Below are some examples students can consider for Fall or Spring semester 2013-2014.

  • AMS 130 - Introduction to American Studies
  • ENV 125 - Introduction to Earth Systems Sciences w/lab
  • ENV 145 - Nations and the Global Environment
  • GDS 111 - Introduction to Global Development Studies
  • GLS 227 - The Writers of Modern Life
  • GLS 248 - The Russian Novel
  • HUM/GLS 251 - Children's & Young Adult Literature
  • RUS/GLS 291 - Perspectives in 20th Century Central & Eastern European Literature
  • GWS 111 - Introduction to Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies
  • HUM 101 - Humanities I: The Ancient Greek World
  • Hum 102 - Humanities II: Roman & Early Christian Culture
  • SST/HUM 140 - Medieval and Renaissance Culture: 1100-1650
  • HUM 195 - An Intro to Modern Russian Culture
  • LAS 111 - Introduction to Latin American Studies
  • LIN 114 - Introduction to General Linguistics
  • TEC 154 - Evolution of Technology
Interdisciplinary Concentrations

Interdisciplinary concentrations are offered at Grinnell as a way to pursue a breadth of study across several related disciplines. They are organized programs that a student may choose to complete in addition to a major. Each concentration includes work in several departments and culminates in an interdisciplinary seminar or project in the senior year. Completion of a concentration is entered on a student's permanent record and transcript. Students declare their intention to pursue a concentration by the start of their third year. See Interdisciplinary Areas of Study for detailed information about concentrations offered at Grinnell. Concentrations are offered in the following areas:

  • American Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Environmental Studies
  • Global Development Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Neuroscience
  • Policy Studies
  • Russian Central and Eastern European Studies
  • Technology Studies
  • European Studies
Interdisciplinary Study Themes

Interdisciplinary Study Themes identify groups of courses that address, in a significant way, a particular theme, issue or problem that students and faculty members wish to explore together. They are distinguished by the collaboration of participating faculty members and may have connections to college programming such as a symposium or an exhibition, internships, or to a significant outside event.

4: Best Practices in Advising

Setting Clear Expectations with New Advisees: First Sunday Tutorial Meeting

Handout to Tutees: Preparing for Registration

(This example of a pro-active advising strategy was provided to us from Jackie Brown, Biology. He provides this letter to his tutees at their first meeting on Sunday in August.)

J. Brown


Ph: x3096

Email: [brownj[at]grinnell[dot]edu]

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Preparation for pre-registration advising appointment

You and I begin today a relationship that will last (in a formal sense) until the time you declare your major and choose an adviser in that discipline, usually during the Spring Semester of your second year. Like many things in life, crafting a course of study at Grinnell is going to be a scary mix of freedom and responsibility. I think you already understand the freedom part of this mix -- that Grinnell has no specific course requirements besides the tutorial. Simply stated, my primary responsibility as an academic adviser is to make sure you choose a curriculum that fulfills the broad definitions of a liberal arts education, as I interpret it. Your responsibility is to articulate what your definition is, and to explain how your proposed course of study fulfills it. If our views do not mesh (and there is nothing wrong with that!), we will have to come to some agreement through a process of reasoned argument. In short, you are going to have to convince me that your definition is a good one and consistent with your proposed curriculum. So, to begin this process, I ask you to do the following before coming to your pre-registration advising meeting on Monday or Tuesday:

  • 1. Consider our discussion today and the examples of definitions of the liberal arts you've been provided or heard about. Put into writing your current view of the elements of a liberal education, and how they relate to your academic and personal goals during the next four years. Bring 2 copies to your pre-registration meeting, so I can discuss it with you and keep a copy in your file for future discussion, revision, etc.
  • 2. Using the various resources you've been given (catalog, course schedule, closed course list, writing inventory, etc.), come to the meeting with a plan for 4 courses for this semester. The searchable database on Pioneerweb is also a useful way to search for courses. Make sure courses don't conflict in meeting times -- use the grid on the front on the course schedule, paying attention to lab times for courses in the sciences and arts.
  • 3. For each of the courses you've chosen, list an alternative course, in case your first choice changes between now and Wednesday or is closed.

I'm looking forward to getting to know you, advising you, and learning from you.

Setting Clear Expectations with Advisees for Pre-Registration

From Karla Erickson, Sociology (adapted from emails created by Laura Sinnett, Psychology) This is an example of a pro-active advising strategy. These emails send a clear message about the nature of the adviser's role, the advisee's role, and advising time together. Being direct with students helps them know what the expectations are - they can rise to the occasion, rather than falling short on their responsibilities as advisees. Further, this strategy asks students to be both reflective of their goals and planful of their time with you.


Dear Advisees,

The registration materials are now available in your mailboxes as well as online. For next week, I have my regular office hours posted (10-Noon on Mon/Weds and 2-4 on Tues/Thurs) but obviously I have more times I can meet if you want to get in next week and talk before pre-registration actually begins. When you come to talk, I expect you to have 4 top choices, and at least 2 alternatives, maybe more for the Fall, and to have reconsidered your 4-year plan in light of the choices you plan to make next year, both semesters. DO NOT WRITE YOUR COURSES ON YOUR REGISTRATION CARD. See directions below instead:

Prior to our first conversation, I want you to take some time and write one paragraph about what you hope to accomplish next semester. Then, next to each of the 6 courses you are considering, write 1-2 sentences explaining how that course will fit into that short term plan, and your long term plan for pursuing a well-rounded education and preparing for your future. Also, please write down questions you have so we can make sure you find out what you need to know as well as hearing what I know or might advise. If you have trouble deciding after our first meeting, I am fine with one preliminary meeting next week and a quick follow-up during the following week. If you anticipate needing more than 20 minutes, you can sign up for 2 time slots. Most importantly, if none of the time slots available work with your schedule, please send me an email with several choices about when you can meet and hopefully we can figure out an alternative time.

If you are studying in London or DC next Fall, you need to turn in a Yellow card for Fall 2008, and a Blue card for Spring 2009. If you are traveling elsewhere in the Fall, you will need to pre-register for the Spring using the Blue registration card. If you are off campus currently, I hope you are having a wonderful experience, and look forward to seeing you in the Fall, let me know if I can answer any questions by email. Looking forward to meeting with all of you in the next couple weeks.

Enjoy your weekend and the fabulous weather.


T. Professor


Dear Advisees,

Pre-registration begins on Monday. If you have not already met with me, please sign up for a time slot for next week. I have posted a schedule with over 40 time slots available, so I hope you can find a time (or two) that work with your schedule. I will offer fewer time slots next week, so I hope you will plan to come in this week if at all possible. When you come to talk, I expect you to have 4 top choices, and at least 2 alternatives, maybe more for the Fall, and to have reconsidered your 4-year plan in light of the choices you plan to make next year, both semesters. DO NOT WRITE YOUR COURSES ON YOUR REGISTRATION CARD. See directions below instead.

Prior to our first conversation, I want you to take some time and write one paragraph about what you hope to accomplish next semester. Then, next to each of the 6 courses you are considering, write 1-2 sentences explaining how that course will fit into that short term plan, and your long term plan for pursuing a well-rounded education and preparing for your future. Also, please write down questions you have so we can make sure you find out what you need to know as well as hearing what I know or might advise. If you have trouble deciding after our first meeting, I am fine with one preliminary meeting next week and a quick follow-up during the following week. If you anticipate needing more than 20 minutes, you can sign up for 2 time slots. Most importantly, if none of the time slots available work with your schedule, please send me an email with several choices about when you can meet and hopefully we can figure out an alternative time.

See you soon,

T. Professor


Dear Advisees,

Most of you have met with me to discuss your plans for next semester. Thank you for your advanced planning and preparation. If you have not met with me yet, please sign up for an appointment as soon as possible.


T. Professor


Dear XX and XX,

Please sign up for a time to come see me next week. I just posted the schedule. You will need to meet with me AT LEAST two days before the last day of pre-registration - so that means that you will need to find time to meet with me on Monday or Tuesday of this week. If none of the times I have posted for those two days work for you, let me know by email, and we'll sort out something else.


T. Professor

First Year Self-Evaluation

First Year Self-Evaluation.doc - this useful tool, adapted from a similar resource at Lawrence University, allows for a structured conversation with your student in his/her first semester at Grinnell. Often advisers seek to "check in" with their Tutees, but aren't sure what questions to ask or how to get the conversation going. This document requires the student to reflect on their first few weeks at Grinnell, and provides you (as the adviser) with a concrete way to direct the student in a productive manner. Further, this can be used to facilitate a conversation about liberal education -- what it is and how the student is going about crafting a liberal education for him/herself. Please contact the Academic Advising Office x3702, for other hints on how to use this resource.

Writing Letters of Recommendation

Coaching Students Who Request a Letter of Recommendation

Every faculty member gets requests from students for letters of recommendation, for internships, off-campus study, graduate school and jobs. Here is an example of a best practice in pro-actively coaching advisees or students who may request such a letter. Similarly, this may be something you opt to include in an advising syllabus, or on your professional webpage.

Sample email to students who may request a letter of recommendation

Dear [student], You may eventually ask me to support you with a letter of recommendation for a job, internship, or off-campus study. I will gladly do this for you, when appropriate, and when you follow the guidelines below. Please know that I may not always be the best person to recommend you, and I will be truthful with you when you ask about this. We can brainstorm other people who you might approach. I need several things in order to write a good recommendation letter:

  1. Time before the deadline – While I recognize that sometimes opportunities present themselves and you have little time to respond, it's best to give me several weeks' lead time. A month is a common courtesy. And I need the deadline by which the letter needs to be mailed or the online form submitted.
  2. Description of the internship or other opportunity you are applying for – either send by email or come to my office with printed information about the opportunity and explain it to me face to face.
  3. A copy of all relevant documents you are sending with your application such as a resume and a statement. Provide me a copy of anything specific you will be including in your application that I could make reference to in my letter. I like to shape my letters to reinforce what you say on your application.
  4. A copy of the directions for the recommendation letter. Do they ask for a generic "letter of support" or do they direct the letter writer to focus on anything in particular?
  5. The name of the person I should be writing the letter to and an address. Any time the person who will be deciding on you is named, I should personalize the letters. Also, if it is to be mailed, I will need an addressed, stamped envelope.

Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation

The Writing Lab provides excellent advice.

Preparing Seniors for the Transition Out of Grinnell

This is an example of a pro-active advising strategy. The simple act of sending an email communication such as this can send many direct and indirect messages to your advisees. First, it provides straight-forward, factual information about things seniors should be pursuing in their final semester or year at Grinnell in order to be prepared for life after graduation in May. Second, it sends a less-than-subtle message that you, as their adviser, believe that this kind of planning is important, and that the tools to do this while they're still an enrolled student are readily available to them. This allows students to rise to their new (rather frightening) obligations to look beyond Grinnell to the life they must create for themselves. Keep in mind that, for the first time, these students' next steps in life aren't a matter of applying to a few (or a dozen) places and one will pan out. Prior to this time in their life, determining next steps has been relatively straight-forward; but now every opportunity (and yet no concrete opportunities) seem possible. This very fact can be daunting for so many students that they put off the crucial steps they must take. Below is an example of an email you might consider sending to your senior majors.

From: Karla Erickson, Sociology

Subject: Post-Grinnell Planning and Preparation

Dear Sociology Seniors---

I am writing to you because you are either my advisee or are someone I have worked with extensively over your four years here. I am writing to offer support, encouragement, and if needed, a nudge in moving toward your post-Grinnell plans. Below I outline some resources that are available to you and some "best practices" as I think of them, for making the transition from Grinnell to the next step in your life and career deliberately and with intention. Feel free to share this with other seniors not included in this email. The ideas below represent my views only about recommendations for a rewarding search. I know that this is an anxiety-producing transition, but it can also be a fabulous experience, both in the transitioning itself, but also in the planning and taking control of your future. I hope it will be so for all of you. Here are some ideas:

1) Treat your post-Grinnell preparation like a course. Set up a series of deadlines for yourself, and tasks, assignments and goals to be completed. Approach it with the same focus and discipline you would a course for which you are graded, ultimately this is substantially more important than a grade. Tasks to include will be big and small:revise resume, develop credential file, conduct informational interviews with people in the field, search databases, prepare applications, use alumni network to make connections and identify opportunities, talk to family, talk to recent grads, meet with CLS, spend time researching in the CLS, library and online, meet with profs, meet with other seniors. . . And the list goes on.

2) Maybe you do not want to decide right away. Maybe you want the summer "off" with a less demanding job to figure out what to do with yourself next year. That is fine and can be a necessary step for many people. However, what is not fine is failing to make use of the resources that are available to you now that will be much more difficult to access from wherever you make your post-Grinnell home. So whether you aim to have this all figured out by April or early in 2008, there are some skills you need to exercise, and resources you need to make use of now, before you graduate. I have included examples below from the most recent campus memo, these opportunities tend to be ongoing, and so you should plan to do most of them at some point in this semester. Treat this process as an exploration, not only goal oriented, but educational. If by conducting this search you learn several things you do not want to do, that is just as useful as learning what you do want to do, so keep an open mind. Never, ever will programs like those listed below be made available to you in your life after Grinnell, you will have to do this work largely alone, and that takes a lot more effort, so do some of it now while you have infrastructure and institutional support near at hand.

3) Think broadly. Undergraduate majors are not determinative of your future, there are very few avenues that you have foreclosed by choosing to be a sociology major. You may already know that you don't have what it takes to be an opera singer, but beyond that, there are still many interesting possibilities that lay before you that are not immediately connected to Sociology, but will still use analytical and intellectual tools that you have been developing.

4) Start talking to people. The biggest mistake I see seniors make is that they get quiet, and hold in fear and anxiety and that then builds. Contact recent grads about their advice for someone in your position, spend time at the CLS, use the files outside my office (Soc files) to browse, if not for specific opportunities, then just to think about a range of possible futures. I don't know how many of you attended Professor Johanna Meehan's convocation address, but I would agree with her that in this search, you are not looking for the one right answer, you are exploring the connections between your self, your skills and the sorts of opportunities that exist. I think you are looking to develop not a plan A, B and C, but rather a working list of possibilities to which you are open and curious.

5) Talk with each other. You are not competing directly with each other for these possible futures, so you might as well pool resources, share strategies and help each other through.

6) That's all for now, but feel free to sign up to see me or contact me by email if none of the times on my schedule are a possibility for you. Know that if you work with me through this process, I will want you to do some of the things on this list, but I will be an enthusiastic supporter of wherever the process takes you! Call on your other professors, coaches, and staff too - this search need not be bound by discipline. And finally, one of the invaluable, and it really is impossible to put a price on it, of a Grinnell education is that you are forever embedded in a network of Grinnell students who have come before you and, it turns out, are doing pretty amazing stuff with their post-Grinnell lives. Even if it is challenging for you to use networks, networks are what get people into positions, for better or worse, and as networks go, the Grinnell network is one you can feel confident and proud to make use of, so please do not let that resource go to waste.

Serving as an 'Adviser' During a CAS Honesty Hearing

During preparation for a hearing, students may approach their academic adviser, another professor, a member of the Student Affairs staff, or a Residence Life Coordinator (RLC) to assist them in preparing their case. Advisers may use these guidelines at whatever point they become involved in assisting a student. Remember that you are not being asked to serve as legal counsel, but simply to assist a student through a procedure that they may find stressful.

Before the Hearing

  1. Review the letter that the student received from the Subcommittee on Academic Honesty. This is a subcommittee of the Committee on Academic Standing. This letter outlines why the student is being called to a hearing, including the nature of the case and any evidence. It also includes the date and time of the hearing.
  2. Review the section on Academic Honesty in the Student Handbook. Discuss with the student the significance and implications of the evidence the sub-committee has gathered.
  3. If the student wishes to submit a written statement to the sub-committee in lieu of appearing before the sub-committee or in addition to appearing before the sub-committee, you may assist the student in preparing a written statement. The statement should be in the student's own words. You may make suggestions that help clarify the statement. You may also assist the student in editing out inflammatory language and/or subjective statements which are not supported by evidence. Help the student to be thorough and forthright.
  4. Although the student does have the option of not appearing before the sub-committee (if the student submits a written statement), you should discuss with the student any disadvantages of not appearing at the hearing. By and large, it is the Committee on Academic Standing's view that it is to a student's advantage to appear at the hearing.
  5. Help the student prepare for the hearing. Although it is not your role to determine the guilt or innocence of the student in the case, encourage the student to be forthright in the hearing. Use your best judgment in advising the student, taking into consideration the evidence in the case and the student's response to that evidence. Assist the student in preparing for the hearing by having the student explain to you in detail his/her/hir explanation for the evidence. Help the student to anticipate questions which may be asked during the hearing about their explanation for the evidence.
  6. Arrange to meet the student just prior to the hearing so that you can appear at the hearing together.
  7. If you know the student well, or if the student asks you to, it may be tempting to contact the Subcommittee yourself. In most cases this is not appropriate. Questions about procedure can be directed to the Chair of the Subcommittee, but know that it is not appropriate to send comments about the student to the Honesty Subcommittee either before or after the hearing. The Subcommittee's job is to assess evidence of behavior so comments about the student's general character are not relevant to the Subcommittee's deliberations. It is up to the student to tell the Subcommittee about potentially-mitigating circumstances surrounding his/her/hir behavior.

During the Hearing

  1. Remember that you may not speak for the student during the hearing. However, you may consult with and advise the student as he/she/zi answers questions from the sub-committee.
  2. If, for any reason, you feel the student would benefit from taking a break, suggest quietly to the student that he/she/zi request one. At that point, you may step into another room to calm the student, to help him/her/hir clarify a question, raise a new issue or prepare a cogent response.
  3. Please remember that you are not an advocate for the student, but an adviser. Under no circumstances are you permitted to ask questions of the sub-committee or to intervene in the process.
  4. At the end of the hearing, if you find that the student is very upset by the experience, then try to help the student to put the hearing in perspective.

When to Not Be an Adviser

  1. You should consider declining a student's request to be his/her/hir adviser if you feel so strongly about the issues involved in the hearing that you do not feel you can effectively assist the student who seeks your support. Otherwise, remember that you can be an effective adviser even if you sense (or know) that the student is guilty of the charge.
  2. You may decline if you experience a conflict of interest.
Advising Syllabus: Defining the Advising Experience

Academic advising can be viewed as part of the teaching and learning process and articulated as such to your students. An advising syllabus reinforces this message to your student and provides lots of information about your expectations of the advising-related conversations you will have together. Specifically, a syllabus can clarify that advising time is an extension of your teaching role and you have specific learning goals for them, and they have specific responsibilities in the process. Examples of advising syllabi can be found on the Dean's Office web page.

5: Academic Skills and Support

Academic Resource Centers

The Academic Resource Centers (ARC) are a network of professionals who have expertise in teaching a variety of academic skills. Staff in these areas work together to support your success.