For First-Year Faculty Advisors

An Introduction to Advising at MHC

The Mount Holyoke academic advising system has as its guiding principle the belief that academic advising is a natural component and extension of faculty teaching.  The quality of academic advising thus depends on the active participation of all faculty and the commitment of faculty members to advising excellence.

Engaging Advisees in Dialogue

Being a "good" advisor begins with good listening and involves engaging students in dialogue rather than merely conveying "advice".  Some students will tend to view advisors as authorities who will tell them what to do, but a good advisor encourages students to consider their own roles in preparing for and building their advising relationship.  Prescriptive advice may not meet the needs of a specific advisee.  Dialogue is the best route toward learning about your advisee and offering appropriate suggestions.  The key tools for good advising are to:

  • Learn about the needs and preparation of your advisees
  • Know the curriculum and requirements and know where to refer students
  • Clarify the terms of your advising relationship from the start

Follow-up and Advising Teams

It is best to help first-year students develop their own individualized "advising team".  This requires follow-up meetings, within the first two weeks of classes, at mid-semester, during official advising periods, and toward the conclusion of the semester.  Guide students toward appropriate additional mentors and advisors, including internship advisors in the Career Development Center, faculty from other disciplines, staff members, and peer advisors in the residence halls.

Advising Materials

Every faculty member advising new first-year students will receive the following material:

  • Advisee folder with email address of advisee
  • High school transcript (if available)
  • Distribution Planning Chart
  • Big Picture semester calendar

New advisees and their email addresses are visible in the ISIS Advisee Summary.  For their first semester here, their names will appear in bold on the ISIS display, so that they will be easy to spot.  You'll find their pre-registration choices on ISIS under Advisee Details in the pull-down menu: SCHED Student Schedule; you'll also find the Advising Information form, if they filled it out, on the same pull-down menu: (IIFA New Advisee Info).  We hope that this will be useful during your meeting with them.  Many students reveal important information on these forms.

Please see the following PDFs for quick reference guides and information: