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The Academic Advising Center

For Pre-Major Advisors

As an advisor at Boston College, you play a critical role in guiding undergraduate students as they adjust to the University community, assess their interests and strengths, and begin to plan their careers. Here are some things to consider as you work with your advisees.

Pre-Major Advising

Advising undergraduates who have yet to identify an academic major is very different from working with students who already have an academic focus. It requires not only a broad understanding of the institution’s curriculum and resources, but also the confidence to encourage students as they explore their interests, gather information, and weigh their options. It demands acceptance of uncertainty and ambiguity, patience with false starts, and confidence in students’ abilities to grow in maturity and in life skills as well as academic competency. It absolutely requires humility and the ability to accept and support students’ considered choices - especially when those choices run counter to your own preconceptions or judgments.

Advising of pre-major students must be grounded in respect for students’ intelligence and good intentions and for their acceptance of responsibility for the choices they make. It is challenging and demanding work, and students don’t always express gratitude, praise, or even affirmation of your good will. Ultimately, the rewards of advising come from knowing that you have helped your students to build skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Philosophy and Purpose

A fundamental precept of the Academic Advising Center is that students benefit from early and consistent connections with University faculty and that, ultimately, such connections foster students’ engagement in the intellectual community. Building advising relationships that support such connections takes time, and the pre-major advising process assumes frequent contact, whether face to face or via email, between advisors and their students.

Pre-major advisors are very often the first faculty point of contact for entering students. The development of mutual confidence and respect can do much to ensure that students engage fully with adults as well as with their peers in the community. Advisors will not know the answers to all the questions their students ask, and students will always ask some questions to which ethical advisors will decline to offer answers. But knowing when and where and how to seek answers, and engaging students in the work of ferreting out information and using it to build their plans, offers invaluable assistance. Well done, advising is a form of teaching - and the habits of inquiry and the skills you help your advisees to acquire will last them a lifetime.

Thank you for committing your time, your talents, and your energies to this important work.

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