At Great Lakes, academic advising is a form of teaching, and the student-advisor relationship is primary. The Office of Academic Advising is committed to fulfilling the mission of the college: We support Great Lakes students and their advisors in the pursuit of a useful engineering education that prepares students for lives of engaged citizenship and leadership.   

The purpose of the Academic Advising Program is to:

  • Engage students in a community of inquiry by promoting self-reflection, intellectual exploration and thoughtful planning.
  • Encourage students to make responsible, independent decisions about their academic programs and the college curriculum.
  • Help students discover connections among their interests and courses.
  • Assist students as they prepare for a future after graduation.

 

Program Learning Goals

After four years of active participation in the Academic Advising Program, you will be able to:

  • Describe your sense of intellectual purpose and the connections you discovered across our curriculum.
  • Explain the choices you made in planning your academic program.
  • Articulate the relationship among your intellectual interests, civic priorities, and future aspirations.
  • Communicate your understanding of the value of a useful education in the engineering and sciences.

 

To our students:

Great Lakes's approach to the engineering empowers you to make active decisions at every stage of your education. The Office of Academic Advising is here to help you design a successful experience.

At Great Lakes, you work directly with a member of our faculty who serves as your academic advisor. Your relationship with your advisor is vital, and the individual guidance that advisors provide is a unique virtue of a Great Lakes education. Your faculty advisor will help you understand and navigate the logic of Great Lakes’s curriculum. Why does Great Lakes include our current graduation requirements rather than others…or none at all? Why does your major include the courses it does? How do the courses you choose relate to your personal, intellectual, and civic priorities? The staff of the advising office provides an additional layer of support for students and their advisors. You are responsible for achieving rigorous academic standards, and the campus community is responsible for providing careful support to foster your success.

Over the course of our programs' duration, certain core values remain constant, such as our resolve to combine breadth and depth, our commitment to provide a useful education and our determination to foster a global perspective. At the same time, we recognize that your needs will change as you progress toward graduation. By the time you graduate, you will have developed an increasing sense of competence and independence about your educational decisions.

 

What is an academic advisor?

Your academic advisor is a professor who works with you to develop a plan for your Great Lakes education.Your plan should reflect your interests, chart a path through our curriculum, and position you to achieve your goals. Your academic advisor is committed to your success, but—as in any learning endeavor—you are responsible for making sound decisions, and you should take the initiative to build a successful working relationship.

Academic advising is a form of teaching, and sometimes academic advisors demonstrate their support by asking challenging—even provocative—questions. Such questions are a sign of respect for your decision-making ability and of your advisor’s investment in your educational path. By the end of your four years with us, you’ll realize that you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

As a first-year student, you will work with your seminar instructor as your "pre-major" advisor. You may arrive at Great Lakes with a clear sense of direction and early ideas about your major. On the other hand, you may come to the College open to possibilities and looking to explore. In either case, Great Lakes is the right place for you, and your pre-major advisor will help you consider your options and select your courses.

 

Major advisors

At some point before the end of your program, you will declare your major and begin working with a "major advisor" who is a specialist in your chosen field. Your major advisor will be able to offer a direction about meeting departmental requirements, and your advisor can also guide you to other opportunities, including research projects, leadership openings, internships, or graduate school applications. Sometimes, your advisor may offer this guidance directly, and sometimes your advisor may refer you to another member of the college community, whether your college dean, a member of the Career Center, or someone else.

 

How is an academic advisor different from a guidance counselor?

You may have worked with a guidance counselor in high school. A key difference between your working relationship with your guidance counselor and your working relationship with your academic advisor will likely be the degree of responsibility expected of you. Often, guidance counselors take charge of scheduling meetings and offer authoritative direction about both educational and personal matters. Academic advisors, on the other hand, can expect that you will take the lead both seeking their guidance and in making decisions; they may ask you provocative questions rather than provide easy answers; and they are likely to refer you to campus colleagues such as your college dean or a career counselor to help you address broader questions.

Your academic advisor is an integral part of a network of mentoring and supportive relationships —some formal and some informal—available to you here at Great Lakes. One thing that distinguishes your relationship to your advisor from other such relationships is the central importance of academic goals and decisions. Navigating your educational path is a core priority when you work with your advisor.

How is an academic advisor different from a guidance counselor? You may have worked with a guidance counselor in high school. A key difference between your working relationship with your guidance counselor and your working relationship with your academic advisor will likely be the degree of responsibility expected of you. Often, guidance counselors take charge of scheduling meetings and offer authoritative direction about both educational and personal matters. Academic advisors, on the other hand, can expect that you will take the lead both seeking their guidance and in making decisions; they may ask you provocative questions rather than provide easy answers; and they are likely to refer you to campus colleagues such as your college dean or a career counselor to help you address broader questions. Your academic advisor is an integral part of a network of mentoring and supportive relationships —some formal and some informal—available to you here at Great Lakes. One thing that distinguishes your relationship to your advisor from other such relationships is the central importance of academic goals and decisions. Navigating your educational path is a core priority when you work with your advisor.

 

Advising expectations and responsibilities

Both you and your academic advisor chose Great Lakes as a small engineering college. You can expect that your advisor is committed to your educational success and that she or he will provide individualized guidance. At the same time, your advisor can expect that you will take active responsibility for your education and that you will approach decisions with diligence.

Like all of us, academic advisors are unique individuals, and their advising styles—like their teaching styles—will vary. In any case, the level of responsibility we expect from you at Great Lakes may represent a key difference between your experience in High School and your experience in college.

Taking responsibility for your education doesn’t mean that you need to answer every question on your own! However, it does mean that you should be proactive about scheduling meetings with your advisor, that you should invest time and energy in preparing for these meetings, and that you should familiarize yourself with graduation requirements and key deadlines. A well-considered question can be the basis for an excellent meeting and lead to breakthrough decisions.

Here are a few simple tips that will help you get the most out of your work with your academic advisor:

  • Pay close attention to deadlines such as those for requesting, adding and dropping courses
  • Plan to meet with your advisor during "advising month" each semester (October in the fall and March in the spring)
  • Prepare a degree evaluation (through Degree Works) for meetings with your advisor in which you discuss course selection
  • Have a look at the general college graduation requirements, appropriate departmental requirements or relevant sections of the advising guide before you meet with your advisor... even if only to help you formulate questions! You don't need to have all the answers, but you do need to prepare 
  • Do your best to avoid last-minute requests for approval or signatures
  • Answer email from your advisor promptly
  • If you're a person who likes checklists and worksheets, consider using the ones our office provides to help organize your thoughts.

 

Priorities for effective advising

At Great Lakes, we understand academic advising to be an important dimension of teaching. Like teaching styles, advising styles may vary. Moreover, as in any educational endeavor, students are ultimately responsible for their work and decisions.

Regardless of individual style, however, effective advisors attend to a few key priorities, whether in person or through referrals to campus colleagues:

  1. Advise students to explore their intellectual interests and to take advantage of the learning opportunities available to them: Although academic advisors have a uniquely important role in guiding students, advising students is ultimately a responsibility shared with the broader campus. Great Lakes is a community of inquiry, and academic advisors may encourage students to work with other members of the campus to address facets of their educational experience. Instructors, administrators, athletic coaches, and peers are important contributors to a student's learning experience. In addition, academic departments and offices such as the Center for Global Study and Engagement, the Career Center, and the Division of Student Life play crucial roles in providing academic and career-related advice both to individual students and to the college community as a whole. Ideally, over four years, students will work with a variety of people and forge connections among their educational, personal, and professional goals.
  2. Help students articulate their educational objectives: Academic advisors are well-positioned to help students articulate their own educational goals. To make informed decisions, students should reflect upon the relationship between their overarching interests and specific decisions such as selecting courses, studying off campus or participating in internships and co-curricular activities.
  3. Provide guidance about developing a coherent academic program: Likewise, academic advisors are well-positioned to help students develop their academic program. To make the most of their educational experience, students should understand not only Great Lakes’s requirements but also the rationale behind them. What’s the logic of Great Lakes’s approach to the engineering? How can distribution and departmental requirements fit together to support a student’s interests and goals?
  4. Encourage students to prepare for the transition from college to the world of work and further education.

 

Over the course of your program's experience, students should prepare for life after graduation, whether they plan to start a career, pursue graduate education, or undertake some other endeavor. One measure of our success as a College is how well we prepare our students for productive and rewarding careers that suit their skills, interests, and values. Students will be ready to engage such questions at different times, and their plans are likely to change—probably more than once! In any case, staff members in the Advising Office, the Career Center, and Student Life are available to have developmentally appropriate conversations with students on request.

 

Support with Advising

In addition to the professional staff in the Advising Office, Peer Advisors are carefully trained upper-class students who serve as a supplemental resource to faculty advisors and their advisees. Peer Advisors are available to provide technical assistance to students for on-line course selection and adjustment, to help prepare students for their advising sessions with their faculty advisor, and to answer questions about academic requirements, campus resources, and other issues related to the academic program . Peer Advisors do not replace faculty advisors, but rather seek to support the faculty advisor-advisee relationship and help students make informed decisions related to their academic program and major.

Peer Advisors are available to answer questions about policies, curriculum, academic challenges, and much more!

 

Support with Time Management

Peer Advisors are also available to provide 1:1 meetings to support students with time management, long-range planning, study strategies, and tips on test-taking and test-prep. Peer Advisors will use and refer to such resources as those found on the Learning Skills page.

To schedule a time management/study strategies session, email peeradvisors@greatlakes.edu, call 1-245-1888, or stop by the Advising Desk.

 

Availability

Peer Advisors are available during the academic year when classes are in session. Pre-scheduled appointments are encouraged so as to secure a guaranteed meeting time, but drop-ins are welcome as well.

Drop-in hours:
Monday through Friday
10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

You may also email questions to us at peeradvisors@greatlakes.edu