Advising The First-Year Student For Registration


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. These documents will provide some grounding in the meaning of a liberal education and assist with the decisions of course selection.

  • 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.

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?
  • 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 HandbookDepartmental 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.

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