Advisement Information & Policies for Faculty and Staff
The Academic Advising System at SUNY Plattsburgh
The Office of Academic Advising is part of Academic Affairs. The director of academic advising manages the college’s undergraduate Academic Advising System. (Graduate program advisement is coordinated through the academic departments.)
SUNY Plattsburgh has a “decentralized” academic advisement system, which means that academic advising is primarily the responsibility of the faculty within respective academic departments. Students who have declared majors are assigned faculty academic advisors within their majors. If the student’s academic advisor is unavailable, the student should see the respective department chair. The Academic Advising Office is directly responsible for the academic advising of undeclared and transitional students.
Students should be referred to their academic advisors or department chairs for all matters pertaining to degree requirements — inclusive of general education requirements, major/minor requirements, college policies and procedures, academic concerns, as well as to seek referrals for other college-related or personal issues.
Academic departments address major-specific degree and policy/procedure requirements. SUNY Plattsburgh’s advisement system is one of the primary guidance and retention mechanisms in support of the preparation of our diverse student population for a range of professional careers. Advisement insures that students are informed of the college’s expectations and supports them throughout their educational experience. Advisement facilitates students’ maximum utilization of the educational opportunities afforded by the college.
Confidentiality of Advisee Information
All campus employees, particularly department chairs and academic advisors who readily access advisee academic information, should become familiar with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) referenced in the Undergraduate College Catalog. FERPA is the law that established the parameters for the release of student information by the college.
Any questions pertaining to the release of student information and what might be considered confidential should be directed to the registrar, 518-564-2100 . Every effort must be made to protect the confidentiality of advisee academic information and to limit access to the places where such information may be stored. For example, when advisees’ files are not in use they should be well concealed and kept in a locked desk or office. Advisor’s computers should never be left open and unattended enabling others to access advisees’ records electronically.
Definition & Importance of Academic Advising
The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) is an organization of professional advisors, faculty, administrators, and students and others from a variety of settings who do academic advising or otherwise work to promote quality academic advising on college and university campuses. Anyone interested in learning about NACADA and the professional status that is attributed to the practice of academic advisement (professional conferences, etc.) are encouraged to visit NACADA’s website or call 785-532-5717 for information.
Academic advising assists students to realize the maximum educational benefits available to them by helping them to better understand themselves and to learn to use the resources of an educational institution to meet their special educational needs and aspirations.
Academic advising is a multifaceted activity. Advising should assist students to realize the maximum educational benefits available to them by:
- Helping students to clarify their values and goals and to better understand themselves;
- Helping students to understand the nature and the purpose of higher education;
- Providing accurate information about educational options, requirements, policies and procedures;
- Planning an educational program consistent with a student’s interests and abilities;
- Assisting students in the continual monitoring and evaluation of their educational progress;
- Integrating the resources of the institution to meet the students’ special educational needs and aspirations.
Some specific activities and responsibilities that will help the advisor realize the preceeding goals are:
- Acquaint advisees with general/departmental requirements, college regulations, services and opportunities;
- Help advisees understand the relationship of past educational achievements to their present and future educational goals;
- Afford advisees ample opportunities to meet for discussions of their educational experiences and endeavors.
Student benefits students derive from an effective advising program and a positive advisor/advisee relationship include:
- Successful attainment of their educational/career objectives;
- Achievement of GPAs consistent with their ability;
- Higher retention rates;
- Satisfaction with the process and development of a positive attitude toward the institution;
- Development of a meaningful relationship with their advisors.
Academic Advisors Are a Critical Factor in Student Retention
Academic advisement enhances a student’s success and retention. The ultimate goal of campus-wide retention efforts is to increase the academic achievement, satisfaction, and persistence rate of students.
Academic advisors facilitate the student retention process if they:
- Are sensitive to the legitimate needs and interests of students;
- Encourage students’ involvement in course and campus activities;
- Provide students with frequent, specific, and positive feedback about their academic progression and development;
- Identify students whose legitimate needs and interests we do not meet;
- Become knowledgeable about campus resources for meeting a variety of students’ needs and interests, and cooperate with other members of the faculty and staff to use such resources on behalf of dissatisfied or uninvolved students;
- Help students assess whether it is the right time to be at Plattsburgh and if Plattsburgh is the right place for them, or assist them in exploring alternatives.
The Role of the Academic Advising Office
The mission of the Academic Advising Office is to serve faculty, staff and students relative to the designated responsibilities of the assistant to the vice president for academic affairs/director of academic advising in support of their respective endeavors and in support of the college’s mission and strategic initiatives.
To carry out our mission we:
- Coordinate the advising services offered to students;
- Orient faculty, staff and students to their respective roles and responsibilities relative to academic advising;
- Keep faculty and students informed of general education requirements, academic information available via Banner web, and general college policies/procedures.
More specifically, SUNY Plattsburgh’s Academic Advising Office provides the following services to students and for the college:
- Academic advising for all undeclared students
- Academic advising for “transitional” students (redirected from other majors)
- Academic policy, advisement, and registration information for all new students at Summer Orientation
- Respond to faculty, staff, and student questions about college policies and requirements
- College-wide Functions (Registration, Retention, etc.)
- Coordination of advisor assignments for all new/readmitted students
- Assist in the registration of new students who did not attend Summer Orientation
- Process all college withdrawals and leaves of absences (for non-medical reasons)
- Activate COS surveys and academic advising surveys
- Academic Intervention
- Coordinate the Academic Progress Review
- Academic support programs for first year students on academic probation
- Academic intervention for academically at-risk students at midterm
- Testing Services
- Administration of the CLEP testing program
- Pre-law advising and LSAT administration
Student Role & Responsibilities
It is important to emphasize that the responsibility to meet requirements for graduation at the intended graduation date, both with respect to selecting courses and to completing them satisfactorily, ultimately rests with the student. Ideally, a student should meet two to three times with his/her academic advisor or, at the very least, once prior to the start of each course registration session.
Students are ultimately responsible for understanding and satisfying all degree requirements. Students have an important responsibility in the advising process and are encouraged to take the initiative to seek advisement and to develop close relationship with their advisors. Mutual respect between advisor and advisee is a goal of effective advisement programs. Students share the responsibility of establishing a productive and respectful relationship with their advisors.
Department Role & Responsibilities
Departments are responsible for orienting and training new advisors about departmental policies, procedures, departmental/degree requirements and expectations. Departments may refer new advisors to the director of academic advising for an orientation/training session on the college’s undergraduate policies, procedures, general education requirements, and general advisor information.
Departments establish their own procedures and/or practices relative to academic advisement responsibilities, e.g. group course selection assistance prior to registration (as opposed to individual advisor/advisee appointments); centralized placement of advisees’ files in department’s main office to allow any faculty to assist a student in the absence of his/her designated advisor (as opposed to advisees’ files in respective advisors’ offices); welcoming/orientation/recruitment gatherings for new students, etc. In an effort to maintain some consistency with general campus-wide advisement practices, departments are encouraged to consult the director of academic advising to discuss their departmental advisement practices.
The department is responsible for academic advisor assignments:
Upon entering the college, or upon changing majors, departments should promptly assign each student to an academic advisor via the completion of a Curriculum and Advisor Assignment form or noting assignments on the Advisor Reporters obtained from the Academic Advising Office. Advisor assignments must be forwarded to the Academic Advising Office for official processing. Students who do not have an assigned academic advisor are referred to the department chair.
Requests for a change of advisor should be honored if students feel it is in their best interest to work with a different faculty member.
If a student’s advisor leaves the campus, or is on sabbatical, the student should promptly be assigned a new advisor. Notification of such changes must be forwarded to the Academic Advising Office and the department should further notify the student of this change.
The department is responsible for establishing advisee folders:
The department should have a system for starting an advisee file for each new student; maintaining academic information for each student (Degree Works audit, curriculum requirement sheet, record of student contacts, copies of academic forms, etc.); and forwarding the student’s advisee file to a new advisor if that student should change a major/advisor.
The department is responsible for the evaluation of credits.
The department should provide a new student, or a student changing majors, with an evaluation of previous credit, a check against graduation requirements, and a formal list of courses remaining for graduation. A copy of the student’s Degree Works audit reflecting the student’s new major requirements would be appropriate for this purpose (see Degree Works for details).
In the absence of a student’s academic advisor, the department chair should be able to review and verify completion of degree requirements for students in their major.
Advisor Role & Responsibilities
Shows concern for them as individuals is one of the factors frequently mentioned by students as being important to them in the advising process. Students who feel that their advisor cares for them as persons are more likely to value their advisor’s advice, and are more likely to return to their advisors when they are experiencing difficulties. Mutual respect between advisor and advisee is a goal of effective advisement programs and it is incumbent upon the advisor to promote this rapport.
Advisors can develop the relationship with their advisees by making the initial contact with new advisees, e.g. write a letter of introduction, inform advisees of office hours/location, and encourage advisees to stop by for a get acquainted meeting, etc.; becoming familiar with the student’s personal, educational, and career goals; having some knowledge of the student’s academic ability and background; and asking about the student’s progress and determining whether or not he/she needs assistance.
It is the responsibility of the academic advisor to be available:
Advisor availability is the key to developing a positive relationship with advisees. It is an advisor’s responsibility to post a reasonable number of office hours and to be available during the semester to meet their advisees’ needs. An extension of office hours for advising is highly recommended during the course selection/registration period when academic advisors must be available. Posted appointment sign-up sheets are helpful to both the student and the advisor. If an advisee appointment has to be canceled, courteously notify the advisee before he/she arrives for the appointment.
It is the responsibility of the academic advisor to provide accurate information:
Students expect authoritative information about their programs and requirements from their advisor. It is an advisors’ responsibility to:
- maintain an accurate, current advisee file;
- be familiar with program requirements, general education requirements and all college-wide degree requirements and policies;
- be knowledgeable about academic policies and campus-wide academic procedures;
- be aware of other courses and academic programs offered at the college;
- be aware of campus programs and services available to students (counseling, career planning and placement, tutoring assistance, study skills, etc.) and able to refer students to these services when it seems appropriate; and
- be familiar with the various electronic forms that provide a variety of advisee information and serve as tools to facilitate the advising process (see Banner).
It is the responsibility of the academic advisor to provide program-planning assistance:
The academic advisor should confer with each advisee ideally two to three times per semester or, at the very least, once a semester to accomplish the following: assist advisees to identify their interests and educational/career goals; help advisees to understand and to plan a four-year program; discuss program and graduation requirements; assist advisees with selecting appropriate courses for each semester.
This process can be facilitated if the advisor properly prepares for advisee meetings by:
- reviewing the registration procedures, becoming familiar with the Master Schedule of Courses, the current Undergraduate Catalog, the student’s Degree Works audit, and by reviewing their advisor notes; explain which courses are required and which are recommended;
- knowing about specific course sequences that are required in the major — particularly those taught by other departments; determine that the student has had adequate preparation (e.g., prerequisite courses) for courses that are recommended;
- discussing how course work is applicable to careers in the field;
- assisting students in deciding how to utilize their elective courses to best meet their goals.
The advisor should not mandate how a student uses electives but rather, should make recommendations given the student’s interests and abilities. Advisors should keep the following in mind:
- choices belong to the advisee;
- advisors are only responsible for giving their advisees accurate information and advice. If this advice is not taken, the advisor is not held responsible;
- assist students who are completing their studies with a review and verification of all necessary degree requirements; inform the advisee that he/she must submit a Diploma Application to the registrar’s office early in the semester of intended graduation.
Academic Advisement’s Relationship to Course Registration
SUNY Plattsburgh has an advisement-based system for course registration. Students should see their advisors for course selection advice and to obtain necessary registration information (e.g., a PIN code to access on-line Banner registration). Course registration is the event that occurs routinely each semester and during new-student summer orientation, while academic advising involves the continuous relationship and interactions between the advisor and advisee throughout the student’s academic career.
Academic Advisor Evaluation
The Academic Advising Office conducts an advisee opinion survey requesting feedback on what is generally agreed upon to be the ideal characteristics of effective academic advisors; such characteristics as described throughput this publication. Survey results are distributed based upon a formula to maintain the anonymity of the respondents (e.g. advisors with eight or fewer advisees and fewer than five responses, do not receive survey results) therefore, not all advisors may receive feedback results. Questions about this survey should be directed to the Academic Advising Office, 518-564-2080.
Survey results are only one means of documenting advisor effectiveness. Advisors may, among other methods, receive written student or colleague testimonials, participate at professional conferences (such as offered by NACADA), pursue advisor recognition awards given by professional organizations such as ACT or NACADA, etc. as evidence of their capabilities and commitment to effective academic advising.
Performance as an effective academic advisor may be one activity to demonstrate Effectiveness of University Service; a criteria for performance review for academic employees. Academic advisors should discuss with their respective department chairs, deans or supervisors what is considered acceptable documentation of effective advisement, as well as, the weight attributed to their advisement responsibilities relative to performance reviews.
BannerWeb (via the MyPlattsburgh portal)
Advisors have access to a variety of advisee information via Banner, such as: advisee’s class schedule, academic history, Degree Works audit, course schedules by semester, academic transcript, etc. If you have questions regarding Banner, please contact the Registrar’s Office (307 Kehoe, 518-564-2100/2101) or the Academic Advising Office (101–103 Feinberg, 518-564-2080).