Academic Advising

Each new student is assigned to a faculty mentor who provides academic support and direction through the freshman and sophomore years. The administrative aspects of advising, such as changing advisors, declaring or changing a major, or questions about graduation requirements are coordinated by the director of First-Year Programs and Center for Advising and Academic Success (CAAS).

Whittier College Statement on Academic Advising and Mentoring: Theory and Practice

Introduction 

Academic advising has become a well-developed area of study, practice, and research with its own professional organizations and body of theoretical literature, which has been compiled and generated by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).  The Whittier College "Statement on Academic Advising" is adapted from the Lynchberg College "Mission Statement on Advising."  Other materials have been collected from advising materials complied by the American College Testing Service and NACADA. 

Advisement Statement 

The College's primary mission is to educate students in a small college atmosphere where they can learn, acquire skills, and form attitudes and values appropriate for leading and serving in a global society.  It seeks to do this in a context of diverse, friendly and caring community.  Above all, Whittier College is committed to liberal education and excellence in undergraduate teaching.  Academic advising is an essential part of the educational experience at Whittier, since we believe that advising is connected to teaching. 

The primary purpose of the advising and mentoring programs is to support students in the development of an academic career complementary to individual life goals.  The College provides the students with all the necessary information and resources required in making meaningful educational plans.  At Whittier, students obtain academic and career advising from both faculty and staff who are pro-active in promoting excitement about the learning process.  As students develop a habit of life long learning and continuing inquiry, they should ideally assume active roles in educational planning.  They are expected to seek satisfactory progress in their academic careers.  In keeping with the small college collegial relationships between faculty and students, faculty mentors will serve as role models and provide primary advising for students.

First-Year Students and Mentoring 

Since about 1980, the emphasis on advising and on retention placed particular attention on first-year students, recognizing that the first year of transition and adaptation to college is an especially difficult one for first year students. 

The Role of the First-Year Mentor 

Each new student is assigned to a faculty mentor who provides academic support and direction through the freshman and sophomore years.  The administrative aspects of advising, such as changing advisors, declaring a major, or questions about graduation requirements are coordinated by the Director of First Year Experience, the Registrar, and the Dean of Students. 

Advisors should fill three roles for students.  They should serve as resource persons, providing information about Whittier College programs and institutional requirements in order to assist in developing the most coherent plan for their first year of college work.  Secondly, they should serve as a link between students and the College community, referring them to areas of assistance and familiarizing them with the resources provided by the institution to meet whatever needs and goals they might have.  Finally, mentors should assist students in understanding the nature and purpose of a liberal education and the mission of Whittier College and help them develop self-direction in the process of decision-making.