“College Advising”: Changes to Advising in Fall 2017

On April 12, 2017, Dean Jonathan Holloway announced changes to advising in the residential colleges that will go into place in fall 2017 and will affect many of our longstanding practices.  What follows is an adaptation of his guide to advising for “college adviser.”

Why the changes? 

The recommendations for the changes come from two reports from the Committee on Advising, Placement, and Enrollment (CAPE), and are designed to broaden the scope of advising, shifting it toward more holistic, whole-person guidance for our students, and away from more transactional conversations. 

CAPE’s work focused on conveying to new students that their advisers, beyond offering academic advice, take a personal interest in them and are available to help them make the transition to college. Before they choose their majors, we hope that these students are thinking about how their choices, not just their academic ones, might fit into their future plans. Meanwhile, many of them are trying to understand Yale’s liberal arts curriculum, and in addition to academics they are learning as much as they can about the community that they are now joining.

In other words, one hopes they ask big questions instead of thinking exclusively about requirements, and that they talk about these questions with you. 

what is changing?

The pool of fellows has expanded to include all non-ladder, multi-year instructors, in recognition of the important role they play in the lives of undergraduates because of their frequent interactions with them. 

The length of advising assignments has become more flexible. Starting with the Class of 2021, students may remain with their advisers for up to four terms (through the end of sophomore year), or ask to change advisers at any time after the first term. This is an important change because it promotes continuity during the transitional, pre-major period, while at the same time accommodating students who would like to work with advisers who might share particular interests.

Students will only be allowed only one adviser change per term, and if a student opts for a new (second) college adviser, that person must be a member of the FAS (undergraduate or GSAS) faculty or an assistant or associate dean in Yale College.

Nomenclature has changed. The term “college adviser” will take the place of “first-year adviser” to signal the change in the nature of this advising relationship, the potential change in its length, and advisers’ continued ties to the residential colleges. The Class of 2020 will still have “sophomore advisers” (whom the students selected in spring ‘17) but, starting in AY 2018-2019, all advisers will be “college advisers.”

Paperwork has changed. In a departure from past practice, advisers and first-year counselors will no longer be expected to approve students’ course schedules. Residential college deans already provide guidance to all students for meeting requirements, and they check students’ schedules in order to monitor their progress. Even so, students will still be expected to meet with their advisers and their first-year counselors at the start of every term, and ideally throughout the year, to talk about their academic and personal goals. Advisers will also continue to sign schedules, not to approve them but rather to show that they have met with their advisees.

Within the next year or two, it is expected that course schedules will become paperless, and “wet” signatures will be replaced by an electronic check box.

The group meeting in the residential colleges between advisers and advisees has been phased out. With colleges reporting that this event provides little value beyond making introductions that could happen any time during the first week of classes, advisers will now be able to email or otherwise contact their advisees to find mutually available times and arrange one-on-one conversations during course selection period.

Training for advisers will now be provided centrally by the Yale College Dean’s Office, easing the workload on the colleges during one of the busiest times of the year and providing consistency across the larger pool of advisers. Dean Risa Sodi, in her role as the director of advising, will contact college advisers with information about spring and late-summer advising boot camps for new and veteran advisers.

Whether you are a seasoned adviser or one just starting out, the benefits of attending a boot camp are to give you a better sense of the new scope of advising and an opportunity to talk about best practices with your colleagues.