Academic Advising

Each Oberlin student has an academic advisor to help in planning an educational program consonant with the student's interests and goals. The advisor can offer guidance in evaluating academic strengths and weaknesses and provide information on Oberlin's curriculum and regulations. Entering students are assigned faculty advisors, usually in areas of stated interest. A student may change advisors at any time by asking another faculty member to serve and by notifying the Office of the Dean of Studies. Students who have declared a major are advised by a member of the department in which they are majoring.

Academic advisors help students make decisions by sharing with them their educational experiences, their ideas, and their understanding of what students are doing. Advisors are most often members of the teaching faculty, but some members of the professional staff can also be advisors for first- and second-year students. While they may be most knowledgeable about the courses in their own departments, advisors can also help you find information from other sources. Because faculty members at Oberlin are quite available to students, it is usually easy to go to another department and find the answers to your questions there.

One of the first questions your advisor may ask is why you chose the particular courses you propose to take on your planned schedule. Advising styles differ from advisor to advisor in the way they pose such questions. Some challenge students to think about alternative possibilities; others encourage students to present the pros and cons of the selections they have made. Whatever the style, the object is for the student to make clear goals, consider the options, and make careful choices.

Academic advisors are just that—advisors. They are aware that the decisions you make are yours and not theirs. An advisor might try to persuade you to change your mind, but he/she may not force you to make a decision you do not want to. When your advisor gives you your registration alternate PIN (RAP), this means that the two of you have conferred, not that she/he approves of the decisions you have made. Since advisors do not control what you decide to do, you are responsible for your final choices. If, for example, you fail to meet a requirement in time for graduation, you will be responsible, not your advisor.

Advising in the College

Arts and Sciences students are assigned a general advisor until they formally declare a major. A student's expressed academic area of interest is taken into account, as much as possible, in the initial assignment of a general advisor. Typically, a student will have the same advisor for the first two years of college. However, it is easy to change advisors – to do so, download or pick up a change of advisor card from the Office of the Dean of Studies, Peters 205, have it signed by your new advisor, and then return it to the Office of the Dean of Studies. When your major is declared, a member of the major department will become your advisor. If a student declares an individual major, one or more faculty members will supervise the student's progress and serve as advisors. Please note: When you declare or change a major, the change of advisor will be done through the major declaration form. You do not need to complete the change of advisor card.

Advising for Double-Degree Students

Double-degree students must have two advisors. One is a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty, initially in or near the field of expressed interest, and ultimately in the major field. The other advisor is a conservatory faculty member in the appropriate conservatory major. Double-degree students are required to meet with both advisors before registering for courses.

Advising for International Students

Additional academic and personal advising for international students, US permanent residents, and US citizens living abroad is provided by the two international student advisors in the Office of the Dean of Studies, Peters 205. These advisors also handle immigration matters and provide direction and support when international students deal with other campus offices, such as Financial Aid, the Registrar, Student Accounts, Residential Life and Dining Services, and the Counseling Center.