First Look at the Advising Folder
First look: What the academic advising folder reveals about the student
You will usually receive new advisee folders a few weeks before the
term begins. Review them before the individual student
appointment, if not sooner. You can take notes as you go to
collect information useful for advising and to break the ice when you
first meet for advising one-on-one.
“Becoming a Scot Day” forms: (most recent info on student interests)
- What kinds of things are they interested in?
- What professions/careers, what potential majors/programs?
- they must choose 3-5 potential areas or they can't exit the form
- What can you tell about their understanding of college?
- They may indicate dreams or fears worth noting.
- How well do you match them? Why might this student have been assigned to you?
- How can you satisfy curiosity/overcome resistance if the match between you and their interests makes no overt sense?
What you can learn from the application:
- Educational level of the parents (helpful to know for phone calls).
- What might the parents know about college life pressures?
- Student’s academic interests- do they match what Alma provides?
- Have they listed a major, are the choices knowledgeable and reasonable?
- Activities from high school they hope to continue (number, for campus connections).
- Counselor's evaluation or class standing (if available).
- How their graduating class size (if available) compares to Alma College.
What you can learn from the high school transcripts:
- Overall number of units (block scheduling makes this look very odd).
- Specifics on rank, grades and trends (and ACT score consistency).
- If GPA was under 2.5, student file went to reading committee.
- May be assigned to the Transition program.
- See “Advising Under-prepared Students” for strategies/tactics.
- What types of classes were taken? Was the senior year weak in terms of content?
- Look for degree of challenge, for unevenness, connection to stated goals.
- Have they completed (passed) two years of the same language? If not, make a big note!
- Is it consistent with Registrar’s evaluation on language requirement?
- Discrepancies should be corrected ASAP.
- Do they have any particular bias: toward fine arts, toward science, or toward easy?
- When was the last MTH taken? If not recently, placement can underestimate ability.
- How do classes taken relate to MTH placement? Should the student retest?
What you can learn from the ACT test form(s):
- Number of times taken and if scores improved over time.
- “Special” for type of testing often indicates an un-timed test.
- A jump in scores here could indicate a reading/learning difficulty.
- Examine the overall composite and the area scores (24 is our composite average).
- If composite is below 18, file went to the ASC reading committee (poss. Transition class).
- See “Advising Under-prepared Students” for additional strategies and tactics.
- Watch math score for difficulty in science (and overall challenge).
- Social science/Science score are more about reading difficulty than direct knowledge.
- Multiple low scores may indicate slow reader (ask if they finished the test).
- For poor readers, the Baldridge Reading course may have been suggested already.
- Look for consistency In the interest survey (e.g. business, social service, science, health).
- Expected employment hours (if over 15 this is a danger sign for success at Alma).
- World of work numbers on back (consistency with goals?).
- Are they interested in people, data, things or ideas?
- This can be a great starting point for discussion of strengths!
Transfer evaluations (if present):
- Call the Registar’s office with any questions.
- Transferring credit can allow a reduced load during a difficult term.
- For Advanced Placement credit status (AP credits).
- Ask if the student has AP forms that are not in the folder (may be delayed or lost).
- Students can't take classes they already have AP credit for! (It's a repeat class).
- Exact class credit is assigned as per the catalog (see list for specifics).
- Number of credits and the equivalent class will be listed if we assign one.
- AP credit does not satisfy DRs for history, composition 100/101 or literature.
- Most AP credits are listed as 180s (and are often only as stated).
- AP BIO credit (BIO 121 or 122) is assigned after consultation.
- For transfer of work done at other colleges or as a dual-enrollment situation:
- Expect few credits, this is not a true transfer situation.
- No grade/class less than “C” will transfer for credit.
- All classes that transfer will be listed with “S” grades.
- If transfer credits above one year, read “Advising Transfer Students” webpage.
Information on any disabilities or any accommodations (physical, emotional): Usually this information is not present, and often can’t be discussed unless the student has waived rights. Urge all students to self-disclose disabilities at the Academic and Career Planning Office. They can’t get accommodation unless they do. Professors will get a list of potential accommodations to provide for more equitable learning. Sometimes students will resist disclosure (they fear consequences, they want to “go it on their own” and often don’t realize just how much help their HS teachers were providing). If you monitor their progress, they may eventually decide they need to go through the disclosure process. Sometimes (increasingly rare) a true disability only surfaces under the increased academic load of college.
Additional Placement information may be available.
Wow! That’s a lot to think about! You might want to take time to develop a simple form to track info after you look at a folder or two. It will get easier with practice!