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Academic Advising

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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 US 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 (180+) hold F-1 status1 and are subject to reporting through SEVIS2. 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 US.  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.3 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 (OPT4or CurricularPractical Training (CPT5).  Both require that the employment be “directly related to the student’s major field.”  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 fundingare ideal for our F-1 students, since the stipends for these educational experiences come 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 US; 2) apply for employment authorization through Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT); or 3) leave the US within an authorized grace period (60 days).  F-1 students who remain in the US 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-1B6 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 or Karen Klopp Edwards or call ext. 3703).  Faculty should feel free to contact us as well!

Advising Students With Disabilities


Students with documented disabilities are 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 Joyce Stern, Dean for Student Student Success and Academic Advising, so that she may meet with them, review their 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 disabilites have a wide range of limitations 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. Some typical kinds of 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 Joyce that has a four-fold agenda:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. Joyce plays this role also, but students often like to have faculty talking with faculty.
  3. The adviser, in partnership with Joyce, can explain the variety of resources on campus that may serve to function as a sort of 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 disabilites 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.
  4. 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 weaknessed 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 confidentiality, making every effort not to disclose this information to other students or faculty except with the student's express permission.

Career and Graduate Study Planning


Career and Post-Graduate Study Planning

As an academic adviser, the CDO relies on you as the first connection in the career development of our students. Below they list many reasons you could send one of your students to see a staff member there. Other resources, such as the Office of Social Commitment and the Community Service Program, can be equally helpful in students' career decision-making and experiential learning. Career Development Office (1127 Park Street, x4940) assists students in their career development through a variety of ways:

  • Career Counseling - The CDO staff assists students with self-assessment and career exploration in addition to enhancing job/graduate school search techniques.
  • Assessment - Students may use FOCUS, an interactive computerized guidance system that helps students explore values, interests and abilities. To assist in the career advising process, the Career Development Office staff may incorporate a variety of other instruments including the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Each of these can be helpful in matching individual interests in occupational choices.
  • Recruiting - Organizations, companies and graduate schools visit the Career Development Office each year to conduct preliminary interviews with prospective candidates. Additionally, students may apply to the Selective Liberal Arts Consortium (SLAC) interview events in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. These interviews provide great opportunities for networking and developing interview skills.
  • Information Sessions - The Career Development Office offers sessions on a variety of topics including resume writing, networking, choosing a major, internships and more. Visit:http://www.grinnell.edu/offices/cdo/ for a complete schedule.
  • Mock Interviews - Practice interview appointments utilize video recording and individual feedback to enhance interviewing skills.
  • Network Opportunities - The Career Development Office works collaboratively with the Wilson Program, Rosenfield Program, and Alumni Relations to bring alumni and other guests to campus for informal networking receptions, Career Connections and recruitment opportunities.
  • Career Resource Library - The Career Library in the Career Development Office houses literature on career fields, information on companies as well as graduate and professional schools, and resources to enhance job and internship searches.
  • Communication and Connections - PioneerLink, the Career Development Office's online career management system provides access to local and national opportunity postings, resume and document tools, and direct application capabilities. The Career Development Office also provides connections to thousands of internships and job postings via subscription databases: (SLAC) Selective Liberal Arts Consortium, (LACN) Liberal Arts Career Network, Internships.com, and Internships-usa.com. In addition, a weekly electronic newsletter is distributed to all students. These newsletters highlight services, event details, internship opportunities, upcoming deadlines, and other resources.
  • Credential Service - The Career Development Office partners with Interfolio.com to provide online credential services which may include letters of recommendation and other documents. Visit:http://www.grinnell.edu/offices/cdo/ for complete details.

Office Of Social Commitment (Doug Cutchins, x4408) directs students to post-graduate service opportunities and advises students in their applications to major scholarships and fellowships.

  • Post-graduation Service Programs - Peace Corps, Teach for America, Americorps, etc.
  • Grinnell Corps programs - Lesotho, Namibia, Grinnell, New Orleans, Nanjing, and Thailand
  • Scholarships and Fellowships - Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes, Truman, Watson, Goldwater, etc.
  • All-campus Merit Awards - President's Medal, Obermiller Scholarship, Wall Scholarship, etc.
  • Alternative Break - Fall and spring break service programs across the United States

COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAM (Center for Religion, Spirituality & Social Justice, x4827) provides a clearinghouse for students to connect with community needs.

  • Connect theory and practice through volunteer service
  • Student-led outreach project with kids, people with disabilities, people in poverty or the elderly
  • ESL or literacy tutoring
  • Tutor or classroom assistant in the local schools or Head Start preschool program
  • Buddy/mentor program for local youth
  • Prepare and serve a meal at the free Community Meal

Internship Guidelines


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 throughout the world with options for variable credit and funding for first-, second- and third-year students. Fourth-year students may only apply for academic year internships. Many summer internships receive Grinnell College funding through one of three categories:  GRINNELLLINK (internships arranged by Grinnell College Alumni) and Grant or Endowed Programs.

Internships funded by Grinnell College, supported by a Faculty Sponsor, and approved by the Curriculum Committee, may receive 2 or 4 credits. Tuition is waived for the first 2 credits if a student receives College internship funding by applying through the Career Develpment Office's Universal Internship Application. Students are billed for any additional credits beyond the original 2 credits. Students who do not receive College internship funding may receive 2 or 4 credits for an internship if approved by the Curriculum Committee.  However, tuition is not waived and students are billed for all credits received.

Students may earn 4 credits for a part-time, academic-year internship. A total of 8 credits for internships may be counted toward graduation requirements; students may not participate in more than two credit-bearing internships. Students may accumulate no more than a total of 16 credits for the combination of practicum and internships. Students may not count toward graduation more than a total of 36 credits earned on internships, personal leaves, special leaves, and off-campus study programs, including ACM Summer Programs.

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. Because of the nature of the internship placement, which necessitates pre-planning and off-campus community involvement, students may not withdraw after registration and no incompletes are granted.

The preferred grading option by the Curriculum Committee is S/D/F. If the Faculty Sponsor believes there is a compelling reason why this internship should be considered for the letter grade option, he/she must submit specific reasons along with the Academic Expectations of the Faculty Sponsor formwith the rest of the Universal Internship Application that needs to be submitted to the Career Development Office by the prescribed deadline each semester.

For internship deadlines, program details and downloadable applications, please consulthttp://www.grinnell.edu/offices/cdo/internships/.

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 can start sooner if you direct it. 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.