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Undergraduate Advising & Mentoring

faculty handbook

Your Official Advisees

Most Psychology faculty members are assigned a number of undergraduate Psychology majors as advisees (usually 25-30). (The only faculty not formally assigned advisees are the Chair, the Graduate Program Director, the Undergraduate Program Director, and the PreMed advisor.) Advisors meet with advisees once each semester just before registration for the following semester. Students in their senior year do not need to contact their advisor, which reduces the number of students you actually advise.

Students often feel that they are not getting good advising. We want all of our majors to get excellent advising. This means doing more than just going over the student’s proposed list of courses for the next semester. You should talk to your advisees about how things are going for them in general, their overall plan of courses for their four years at BC, and their thoughts about what they want to do post-graduation. Most importantly, you should talk to students about the importance of getting involved in research early on in their BC career. Encourage them to study the websites of our labs, to find one that interests them, and then try to get a volunteer position in that lab. This can lead to independent study projects and to a thesis.

A Degree Audit is a form that a student obtains and that an advisor can obtain (via Agora) that lists all courses a student has taken or is currently taking, and how the university is counting these courses towards graduation requirements and major requirements. The asterisks on the form indicate that a student has fulfilled that requirement.

You are sent your advisees’ Degree Audits via campus mail before each registration period. You can also obtain a Degree Audit using Agora. (See “Student Advisees” under My Services.)

You can also use Agora to send an email to all of your advisees at once. This is useful for reminding them to contact you to make an advising appointment. The email can contain guidelines on which dates and times work for you, and students can respond with their choice of appointment slot. Typically, 30 minutes is plenty of time to meet with a student. You can ask them to have their courses worked out ahead of time, and to come with specific questions in mind.

The Degree Audit given to you for the purpose of advising has information the students need in order to register for classes. The form lists the student’s access code and registration time. The process is designed to make sure the students need to contact you to obtain their Degree Audit. You are not supposed to give out access codes over the phone or leave Degree Audits for students to pick up.

Michael Moore is the Director of the Undergraduate Program. He is the only one who approves any exceptions or transfer credits for major credit from anywhere outside the College of Arts and Sciences (including study abroad and other schools here at BC). Students should see Michael Moore about errors on their Degree Audit (including incorrect counting of transfer or AP credit) and study abroad approval.

Advisors need to approve a student’s studying abroad by verifying that the student will still be able to complete the major on time to graduate.

Our Policy on Undergraduate Advising

Students may not be given their registration code without first receiving advice from their advisor.

Advisors should send out, in a timely manner, an email inviting students to sign up for an advisement appointment. Advisors may either have their students call to set up the appointment or they may post a sign-up sheet. As the time of the appointments nears, advisors will send out a second, very strong email warning students to sign up immediately or they may not be able to register at their appointed time.

Students cannot register without their access code. Students who fail to get their code before their assigned registration time are at a disadvantage—they will lose whatever priority advantage their registration time afforded them in getting their choice of classes. Students can eventually meet with their advisor, get the code, and register for whatever classes are still open, often slim pickings. Students view this as catastrophic. It is perhaps wise to be a little flexible in helping the student to avoid the “catastrophe” while not coddling irresponsible behavior or turning the advisor’s life upside down to accommodate their irresponsibility.

Sometimes someone misses their appointment or never signs up in the first place. Most of these students eventually contact their advisor either right before their registration appointment time or after. In either case, they usually express great urgency in getting their code, for obvious reasons. Sometimes they have a good excuse why they skipped their advisement appointment. They rarely have a good excuse for never signing up in the first place. Advisors may take all this under consideration in responding to them.

It is not an option to just give the students their code or leave their degree audit somewhere for them to pick up. They have to arrange to meet with their advisor. Whether the advisor goes out of his or her way to meet with the student right away (so the student can still register at their time or soon after) or just does it at the advisor’s convenience depends on the facts concerning the student’s failure to meet in the first place and also on the advisor’s current workload and schedule. One option advisors have, but use rarely, is to “advise” students by phone and then give them their access code by phone. Advisors may do this when they think the facts justify this in order to allow the students to register at their appointed time.

To learn your students’ names, both those in your classes and your advisees, you can obtain pictures from Agora.

Students Having Trouble

When you believe a student is having trouble—whether this is a student in a class or one of your advisees—you should contact associate deans about any student who seems to be having academic or other kinds of problems, even if you decide to give them a break. There is often something more serious going on, and the deans can only know if they hear from instructors. If a student needs some talking to, you can do it and you can strongly suggest they see an associate dean as well. If there is a more obvious clinical aspect to the problem, you can offer the Counseling Service as a no-cost option that maintains confidentiality. For immediate or acute problems, there is a psychologist on call whom you can contact for advice. Also, you can use the BC police emergency number.

For AHANA (Asian, Hispanic, African American, and Native American) students, there is a separate office, but we suggest contacting both the AHANA program and the Associate Deans office (or the Counseling Service) regarding any student having trouble. The AHANA program and the Athletics Department routinely distribute mid-semester grade inquiries in the form of postcards for relevant students. Do not rely solely on those inquiries.

For varsity athletes, contact the Athletics Department.

Students with learning disabilities should be referred to the Connors Family Learning Center (located in O’Neill library). They offer lots of services, including tutoring for all students (not just LD students). The center also offers distraction-free testing sites and proctoring for students who have been identified as LD.

If a student suspects a learning disability and has not already contacted the Connors Learning Center, he or she should do so to start the process of documenting the disability and seeking appropriate considerations (e.g., extended time on tests). The student will have to pay for the formal clinical evaluation to document the LD.

It is the instructor’s decision, but it is suggested that you give students whatever support they need—as long as they have gone through the Connors Learning Center process—as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is taken very seriously.

Students from less affluent backgrounds often don’t seek help from the instructor or TAs during office hours and don’t seek help from anyone else. They are not used to working a system to their benefit or advocating for themselves at the institutional level. If they come from poor high schools, they will be at a serious disadvantage and need extra support.

If a student has a problem with a grade, he or she should start by contacting the instructor, then, the Department Chair (or Michael Moore, director of the undergraduate program). If need be, the student can go to the dean, who may refer the case to a committee.

Confidentiality

Undergraduates should not have access to the grades of other undergraduates. Do not leave Degree Audit forms or papers with grades outside your door for students to pick up. Questions from parents about students’ grades should be referred to the dean.

List of Associate Deans

A list of the associate deans for different class years (freshmen, sophomores, etc).

Faculty-Student Dinners

The Dean’s Office gives faculty money to host dinners for students at their homes as a means of encouraging student-faculty connections. No alcohol for anyone under 21. You can invite students in your classes, in your lab, and/or your advisees.