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Role and Responsibilities

Faculty First-Year Advisors play an important role in the transition and success of first-year students. The relationship that first-year students develop with their faculty advisor is a key factor in the institution’s ability to help its students develop intellectually and personally and progress to their sophomore year.

Faculty First-Year Advisors:

  • Assist students in defining and developing realistic academic goals
  • Help students identify and select an appropriate major
  • Inform students about academic policies and procedures
  • Explain the rationale behind basic academic program requirements to students
  • 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 the special needs of students and refer them to the appropriate resources
  • Discuss the relationship between academic preparation and careers and refer students to resources in University Career Center
  • Follow students’ progress toward their academic goals for the first year of college
  • Engage students proactively throughout the year
  • Maintain notes resulting from contact with advisees

Time Commitment

Faculty typically commit to a one-year term for first-year advising. The bulk of the time commitment for first-year advisors is during the summer term, closely followed by the period leading up to enrollment for the spring semester.  

Faculty First-Year Advisors Must:

  • Attend First-Year Faculty Advisor training programs to prepare for summer and fall orientation advising sessions in order to set the stage for the student-advisor relationship throughout the year.
    • All first-year 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.
    • All advisors must attend an additional half-day training session the week prior to the start of classes in the fall semester. Information about General Education, university requirements, academic policies and procedures, pertinent campus resources, and student development issues are covered during this time.
    • First-year advisors are also expected to attend planning sessions and supplemental training programs prior to and throughout the year.
  • Advise first-year students during Summer Springboard
    • Prior to Summer Springboard, students will be going through online modules to learn about academic terms, policies, General Education, majors, and how to enroll in classes. Approximately mid-June, students will begin enrolling in classes from home using MyMadison and advisors will be available for the 48-hour enrollment window to respond to student emails. 
    • Advisors will advise on the dates their college is available (usually within the last week of June or the first two weeks of July), however this is subject to change. There are a total of 14 orientation dates. Whenever possible, advisees are assigned to faculty who teach in their chosen major or a closely related area from that college.
    • During each afternoon of Summer Springboard, advisors meet with a maximum of 15 students per day as a group to discuss their personal responsibility for learning, academic goals, understanding of General Education, and how to find information about majors and degrees.
    • Advisors will familiarize themselves with students’ test scores, dual enrollment, and other pertinent facts in MyMadison and make notes in the advisor section as necessary. The number of advisees usually ranges from 50-65, however the number assigned to an advisor will vary depending upon annual enrollment and students’ intended majors. Undeclared students are assigned to a professional advisor in University Career Center, except in the case of Honors Students and Student-Athletes.
  • Advise first-year students during the 1787 orientation program, which 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. (Thursday prior to the start of classes)
    • 1787 is typically the Thursday prior to the start of classes.
    • 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 go over a To Do list of items.
  • Advise students throughout their first 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.
    • Advisors interact with advisees through 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, and social networking. 
    • Advisors provide support to their advisees throughout the fall semester until Assessment Day in February by:
      • Assisting students in planning their academic program
      • Review mid-semester grades with students having academic difficulty
      • Making students aware of pertinent enrollment/program deadlines and relevant academic policy or procedure changes
      • Helping students with enrolling for spring semester classes
      • Documenting and maintaining appropriate advising information for students (e.g. copies of their course schedules, grade reports and notes about interactions with advisees).
      • Notifying students about procedures for declaring or changing their major.


Faculty who have been first year 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, enrollment, 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 first year students
  • Experience great satisfaction in helping first year students make the transition into college while teaching them to be more independent and better problem solvers
  • Earn additional income, as there is a stipend for serving as a first year advisor

Professional Associations

The following organizations offer articles, conferences, and other professional development opportunities related to academic advising or career development.

National Academic Advising Association (NACADA)

National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE)

National Resource Center for The First Year Experience and Students in Transition

Express Interest

For additional information about first year advising or to express your interest in becoming a first year advisor, please contact Marquis McGee at mcgee2mx@jmu.edu

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

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