faculty member advising a student

Academic Planning for New Students

Advising @ Grinnell

Who Is My Adviser?

Your tutorial professor is your adviser until you declare a major (typically in your fourth semester). If you are a transfer student, and you have met the Tutorial requirement, you are assigned an adviser in the department in which you have expressed an interest.

Your adviser is someone who will take an interest in you, listen to you as you share your personal goals, and help you plan a course of study grounded in the liberal arts.

Advisers will discourage you from:

  • avoiding subject areas that may challenge your academic skills
  • avoiding subject areas that may challenge your beliefs and values
  • avoiding a subject of which you think you have a phobia
  • picking classes at random with no relation to your interests and life goals
  • taking only courses in which you're convinced you'll get an 'A'
  • taking only courses in which you think that you'll be entertained by the professor
  • having no principled guidelines for choosing classes

Advisers will encourage you to:

  • take a balanced program in the liberal arts
  • thrive
  • challenge yourself to try new things
  • make friends
  • get some sleep

You will also be assigned to a CLS adviser who will help you explore the world of work and to reflect on your own skills and talents. Read more about them on GrinnellShare (login required).

What's My Role as an Advisee?

It is important that you be actively engaged in developing your academic plan with your adviser. Consider the things you most love to study as well as the things you find difficult. Consider subjects you are familiar with as well as ones that are new. A broad liberal arts education involves developing your talents, and taking on challenges. Your adviser will expect you to prepare thoughtfully for meetings, to look at a range of courses, and to reflect on various options. This means doing some background research yourself.

Your adviser will not direct you to a prescribed set of courses. Rather, through a process of dialogue and negotiation, you and your adviser will decide together what you will take each semester. You have an adviser for a reason: to discuss ideas, to get advice, and to receive mentoring as you craft an individualized program of study in the liberal arts.

An important place to start is by completing the Advising Information Form. Your comments on the Advising Information Form will give your faculty adviser a sense of your academic background and interests prior to your first meeting together. Be sure to also complete the form this summer and return it to the Academic Advising Office.

What Kinds of Questions Will I Address with My Adviser?

Think about these questions as you prepare to talk with your adviser in August:

  • What academic subjects do you want to explore? Which might you explore first?
  • What kinds of goals do you have — both immediate and long-term?
  • How can you lay the groundwork and keep open several options for a major?
  • What academic strengths do you feel you have?
  • What personal or academic qualities — such as a disability — should your adviser know about?
  • What academic weaknesses do you need to address?
  • What areas of study are at Grinnell that you have never explored or considered?
  • What does a liberal education look like for you?

Enter into conversations with your adviser about course planning with an open mind. You never know which class might change your life!

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