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Become a Freshman Advisor

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Become a Freshman Advisor

Role and Responsibilities | Time Commitment | Benefits to You | Contact the Coordinator

Role and Responsibilities

Faculty Freshman Advisors serve a critical role in the transition and success of freshmen. The advising relationship first year students have with faculty is a key factor in the institution’s ability to help those students develop intellectually and personally and persist to the sophomore year.

Responsibilities of faculty freshman advisors include:

  • Assist students in defining and developing realistic academic goals
  • Assist students in identifying and selecting an appropriate major
  • Inform students about academic policies and procedures
  • Describe to students the rationale behind basic academic program requirements
  • Teach students about course scheduling procedures
  • Provide information and advice regarding the selection of General Education courses, as well as courses in the student’s major of interest
  • Identify special needs of students and refer students to appropriate resources
  • Discuss the relationship between academic preparation and careers and refer students to resources in Career and Academic Planning
  • Follow students’ progress toward their academic goals for the first year of college
  • Engage students proactively in a variety of ways throughout the year
  • Maintain notes resulting from contact with advisees

Time Commitment

The bulk of the time commitment for freshman advisors is during the summer closely followed by the period leading up to registration for the spring semester.  Faculty typically commit to a three-year term for freshman advising although it is understood that due to professional activities or departmental needs, this timeframe cannot always be completed.   

  • Attend Freshman Faculty Advisor training programs during the year.
    • All freshman advisors are required to attend a full-day training session in May; new advisors are required to attend an additional preliminary training program prior to the training for all advisors. There is an additional training session for all advisors on the first Monday prior to the start of classes for the fall semester.  This is a half-day session.  Information about General Education, university requirements, academic policies and procedures, pertinent campus resources, and student development issues are covered during this time.  The purposes of these sessions are to prepare freshman advisors for summer and fall orientation advising sessions and to set the stage for the student-advisor relationship throughout the year.  Freshman advisors are also expected to attend planning sessions and supplemental training programs prior to and throughout the year.
  • Advise new freshmen during Summer Springboard (Total Orientation dates could be approximately 14 but you advise on the dates that your college is available usually within the last week or so of June and the first two weeks or so of July; however this is subject to change)
    • Prior to Summer Springboard, the students will be going through online modules to learn about academic terms, policies, General Education, information on their majors, and how to enroll in classes. Approximately mid-June, students will start enrolling in classes from home using MyMadison, and advisors are available for the 48-hour enrollment appointment window to respond to student emails as they enroll in classes.  During each afternoon of Summer Springboard, advisors meet with their students (maximum of 15 per day) as a group to discuss their personal responsibility for learning, their academic goals, their understanding of General Education, and their understanding of how to find information about majors and degrees. Advisors familiarize themselves with students’ test scores, dual enrollment, and other pertinent facts in MyMadison and make notes in the advisor section as necessary. Whenever possible, advisees are assigned to faculty who teach in a student’s chosen major or a closely related area from that college. The number of advisees assigned to individual freshman advisors varies depending upon annual enrollment and students’ intended majors (50-65). Undeclared students are assigned to a professional advisor in Career and Academic Planning (except in the case of Honors Students and Student-Athletes).
  • Advise freshmen during 1787 (Thursday prior to the start of classes)
    • The 1787 orientation program is an extension of the summer program and provides students with a more in-depth introduction to the university and the academic, personal and social aspects of the first year of college.  At 1787 advisors will meet with all of their advisees in one group to review advisor and advisee roles, discuss student goals and time management, review syllabi to demonstrate instructor expectations and differences between high school and college assignments, and to go over a To Do list of items.
  • Advise freshmen throughout the year on a variety of academic issues, including reflection on their courses and what they are learning, spring semester course selection, spring semester course adjustment for those on academic probation, change of major, and early career development strategies.
    • Freshman Advisors interact with advisees in a variety of ways, including one-on-one meetings (required by the advisor or requested by the student), group meetings with some or all advisees, email, online user groups, blogs, websites, written communications, social networking, and other means. 
    • The freshman advisor provides the following kinds of support to his/her advisees through the fall semester until Assessment Day in February:
      • Assist students in planning their academic program
      • Review mid-semester grades with students having academic difficulty
      • Make students aware of pertinent registration/program deadlines and relevant academic policy or procedure changes
      • Assist students with registration for spring semester classes
      • Document or maintain appropriate advising information for students’ (e.g. copies of their course schedules, grade reports and notes about interactions with advisees).
      • Notify students about procedures for declaring or changing their major.

Benefits to You

Faculty who have been freshman advisors report that they:

  • Learn an extensive amount of information about the university’s academic policies and procedures, major programs, academic resources to support student success, registration, placement tests, dual enrollment/transfer credit, and MyMadison
  • Meet the newest students in their major even if they do not teach General Education courses or entry-level courses in the major
  • Are able to see the progression of students in their majors from the time they enter the university until they graduate
  • Become better major advisors
  • Learn about developmental advising and are better able to understand the academic needs and developmental level of freshmen
  • Experience great satisfaction in helping freshmen make the transition into college while teaching them to be more independent and better problem solvers
  • Earn additional income; there is a stipend for serving as a freshman advisor

Contact the Coordinator

For additional information about freshman advising or to express your interest in becoming a freshman advisor, please contact:

Mary Morsch
Associate Director, Career & Academic Planning
morschmd@jmu.edu or 540-568-6555

The department head and/or dean typically approves the assignment of freshman advisors.