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At Macalester College faculty members have the primary responsibility for advising students and their performance in that role is considered in tenure decisions. The Faculty Handbook outlines multiple categories of advising, but in short we expect faculty to provide meaningful academic guidance and mentoring to their official advisees and to other students with whom they have significant interactions beyond the classroom. Below you will find links to campus resources and advising scenarios to assist you in becoming an excellent advisor.

Excellent Advisors…

know where resources are and with whom to be in contact

  • What advising does my student need at this point in their Macalester career? Check out the Student Advising Lifecycle
  • The whom should I contact list provides phone numbers and email addresses for key campus offices
  • Collaborating with colleagues across campus facilitates the "advising team" approach that Macalester embraces.  It is important to keep FERPA restrictions in mind, but sharing information with staff and faculty who have a "need to know" is appropriate.
  • For a longer, process oriented document consult Advising Guidelines, Recommendations and Resources

build and sustain relationships that are conducive to excellent advising and mentoring

  • Consider preparatory or reflective activities prior to appointments to help you get to know your advisees better. Karl Wirth has developed an extensive set of pre-advising questions to help students reflect on their learning and set goals; you might consider using some or all of them.  An overview of the four-year reflective process is available here.
  • Engage preceptors, lab assistants, tutors, and other peer educators as a way to provide your advisees with additional mentoring.
  • Provide life mentorship in both good times and bad by serving as a sounding board and source of assistance. Being a trusted advisor requires listening and referrals; it doesn’t require fixing or solving all issues presented.

engage in professional development around advising

  • Attend campus discussions and/or workshops about advising (e.g., Talking About Teaching, J-PAW, SPAW, etc) to learn about best practices and to discuss advising with colleagues.
  • Reflect on your own advising and think about how to improve, just as you do with your teaching.
  • Solicit constructive feedback on advising and consider how to improve advising strategies.  Adrienne Christiansen asks her advisees these questions each semester, Advising Evaluation
  • Read articles that discuss advising and that offer strategies or tools for advising. For some suggested articles on the role of reflection in advising, visit the Reflective Practice Toolkit or the NACADA (National Academic Advising Association) website.

customize advising experiences based on student identity and interest

help advisees pick appropriate classes and majors

  • Curious about majors? The Advising Handbook (PDF) suggests appropriate course sequences and tips for students exploring majors, minors and concentrations.  Academic department websites and the College Catalog are also excellent resources. Consider referring a student interested in several majors to faculty and upper-class students in those departments.  The CDC also offers Major Destinations handouts featuring career paths for each major, minor and concentration.
  • Making or revising a four year plan?  Relevant resources include the current Class Schedule and the college’s Graduation Requirements.  If the purpose of developing the plan is applying for Study Away, the Center for Study Away is also an excellent resource.

guide career exploration and planning by helping to establish contacts and identify opportunities

  • The Career Development Center (CDC) is the central office on campus that can help students think about their interests, jobs, and how to prepare for employment after Mac.  Consider the following ways the CDC can help:  have CDC facilitate in-class activities; refer a student to a career counselor; refer an employer to recruit Mac students; consult on job search, career and employment related student issues; collaborate on class and department-specific career events
  • The Internship Program works with students to find internships and to receive academic credit for unpaid experiences.
  • The Alumni Office can help students make contact with alumni in many different fields.  

mentor student projects that range from collaborative research to honors projects, performances, and Senior capstones.

  • Students can participate in collaborative research with Macalester Faculty
  • Through the Honors Program students have the ability to development an independent senior project; each department sets its own expectations although college-wide guidelines do apply.
  • Many students use the Internship Program to access projects and experiences

support graduate school applications with program selection advice, recommendation letters, fellowship application assistance, and networking.

  • Academic Programs and Advising maintains a list of Fellowships and Scholarships for students.
  • The Career Development Center also promotes many external fellowships. Students are encouraged to schedule a CDC appointment to confer on their fellowship application, improve materials, and conduct mock interviews.
  • Get tips for students asking for a Letter of Recommendation.

Advising Scenarios

The following scenarios describe situations advisors encounter with their advisees and possible resolutions.  They are intended to get you thinking about options and should not be considered the only approach that can be used.