You are probably already an excellent advisor and don't even know it. The same skills that make you a good instructor (listening, asking questions, giving information, connecting with your students, challenging students to grow, supporting them when they are challenged) will also make you a great advisor!
Use the other advising pages to think about what to discuss with students during their first-year, sophomore year, junior year and senior year. Read the catalog and check out updates to catalog posted on Registrar's website. This section will give you broader thoughts about working with students at various points in their education and from different backgrounds. Read this to get yourself in the right frame of mind as you start the year.
You will receive specific training in the nuts and bolts of advising during fall orientation. The Coordinator of Academic Advising and Support will train you and can assist you throughout your advising if you run into unique situations. Experienced faculty in your department can help you think about departmental advice and give examples of how they have handled situations. Each advisor is different--find your own style. As long as we are helping students to reach their goals in a proactive and supportive manner, we are successful as advisors!
Before You Actually Offer Advice
1. You may acquire a student as an advisee at any time from admission to just before graduation. Depending upon the circumstances, you will have considerable documentary evidence (e.g., high school transcript, national test scores, admissions application and essay, possibly transcripts from other post-secondary schools, exemptions, advanced placement recommendations, and, if the student has come to you after taking courses at Cornell, the student's Cornell transcript). The documentary evidence will permit you to form some general impressions about the student; however, such impressions may not be accurate and should be balanced by what you learn from interviewing and observing the student. Maintain an open mind, continually evaluate and re-evaluate your advisee's potential, and pay close attention to each development in her or his career.
2. First impressions gained during the group advising session or from an initial interview often are not relevant to academic success. The shy or seemingly bored advisee may go through Cornell with no problems and achieve a high degree of success. The "personality kid" or highly articulate, impressive individual may be suspended at the end of the semester. Sometimes those who talk the best game are the ones who lack the motivation and self-discipline necessary to perform satisfactorily. You may encounter students who have gotten by for most of their lives on their ingratiating charm or ability to appear knowledgeable. You may see a student who appears disinterested but is really just lacking confidence because she is slightly underprepared or the first member of her family to go to college.
3. Occasionally you may encounter an advisee who has a very unrealistic understanding of life in general and college in particular. It is important, therefore, not to accept at face value a student's unqualified statements that he or she "knows" what a particular subject or career is or possesses the strengths or talents that he or she claims. Television and movies encourage romantic and unrealistic notions of professional life. You may hear remarks such as "I am planning to be pre-med but I don't like biology" or "I want to be an engineer but I don't like math." Every year a few new students fail courses that they should never have been permitted to take because their advisors assumed that these students knew enough about the subject to make an informed decision. There is a fine-line between discouraging a student and advising about a prudent course of action. Remain positive but be honest about what you are hearing and seeing. If you advise a student against a course of action and the students takes that route, document it in the file for future reference.
4. Sometimes, although the high school transcript may show good grades in particular subjects, the material actually studied, the methodology employed, or the criteria for grading may be radically different from what one would logically assume. Impressive grades in a particular subject taken in high school are not always reliable indicators of a student's potential for success in the same subject at Cornell. Although a student may have taken four years of English, he or she may never have written a critical essay or a research paper. Four years of foreign language may have consisted largely of readings in translation and discussions in English coupled with cultural and historical studies. Science courses may have been limited (e.g., organic gardening, kitchen chemistry) with little exposure to basic scientific vocabulary and concepts. Ask additional questions to help the student decide if they are a better fit AT THIS TIME for Che 111 or Che 121, for example, regardless of their end goals.
5. ACT and SAT verbal and mathematics test scores are not always trustworthy indicators of either the student's capacities in these areas or the student's ability to succeed at Cornell. Lucky guesses or fortuitous preparation can result in a high score. The score may be low because the student does not test well, has a learning disability, is a member of a minority group for whom the test is not totally appropriate, misread a question, or was ill or nervous. Such data, even when relevant, do not reveal a student's level of emotional maturity, which is always a key factor in academic success. If there is a significant disparity between test scores and high school grades in the related subjects, this may indicate that the student is an underachiever who, though bright, probably lacks good study skills, motivation, and self‑discipline. Your own personal observations and intuition are always crucial. Also, don't hesitate to ask your student their own perceptions of their high school education; many will reveal their own accurate doubts or confidence in their teachers or the material they covered.
6. Recommendations for advanced placement based upon the Math Placement form, national exams in various subjects, and Cornell placement tests (e.g., in foreign language) are only recommendations and should never be considered prescriptive. Compare the test results with the student's high school grades and take into consideration how long ago the student studied the subject, then discuss with the student how he or she feels about her or his abilities in the subject. Unless there are unusual circumstances, students are to be placed at the level the placement test indicates. The only caution involves students who receive credit by examination or transfer and then pass at Cornell the courses from which they were exempted; they will lose the credit by examination or transfer.
7. The essay submitted with the application or as part of the orientation first-year reading/writing assignment may give you an idea of the student's writing skills and ability to develop and express thoughts; however, there is no assurance that the student wrote it without assistance. This is a particular concern when advising international students.
8. You may also ask to see letters of recommendation from the student's high school counselor and teachers. Such letters, because of the writers' fear of being sued, tend to accent the positive and omit the negative.
1. Greet the student by name and suggest by your words and manner that you are pleased to see her or him and that the student is not intruding. An advisor may quite unwittingly give the impression that the student's appearance is an unwelcome intrusion.
2. Do not assume that the reason the student gives you at first for having come to see you is the real reason. What appears a trivial or routine question may be an attempt to engage your attention. If the student does not seem to understand or accept your answer or keeps repeating the question in different forms, suspect that there is another, more significant problem that the student is struggling to voice. Rather than speed the student on her or his way (e.g., "Give me the form and I'll sign it."), encourage the student to talk. Some students require time to say what is upsetting them. A question such as "How do I go about withdrawing from Cornell?" may actually be asking for reasons to stay.
3. As soon as you and the advisee have defined the immediate problem, concentrate on assisting the student in overcoming it and avoiding similar difficulties in the future. Until the problem is resolved, it is useless to focus on what the student should or should not have done in the past.
4. Do not be judgmental or suggest by your manner that you are outraged or disgusted by the student's problem. Regardless of your personal feelings, you are there to help find a constructive solution. If you cannot deal with a particular issue, at the very least be compassionate while referring the student to someone else. Advisors lose their effectiveness and destroy whatever rapport they may have established if students believe (rightly or wrongly) that the advisor no longer respects or cares about them.
5. Ask the student how he or she feels about the situation. Often the student can deal with the facts but not with her or his feelings. Sometimes, when the only solution is for the student to accept what has happened, just allowing the student to vent her or his anger, frustration, or fear is sufficient and even therapeutic.
6. Admit your ignorance if the student asks for factual information you do not know. Offer to find the answer and relay it or have the appropriate persons do so.
7. Inform the student of the various College and community services that might be useful. If it doubt, refer the student to the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising
8. End the session on a positive note if possible, by expressing optimism, by telling the student you were glad to have had this meeting and look forward to seeing her or him again, and by complimenting the student for maturity, courage, intelligence, or other appropriate qualities.
9. Follow up. Telephone, email, text or meet with the student. Ask how the matter was resolved or how the student now feels. Is additional assistance needed? Check with the person to whom you referred the student to make sure not only that the student made contact but also that the person has all the facts.
10. Always encourage students to talk. Open-ended questions or comments will provide you with clues to problems that may not otherwise be apparent. Closed questions (i.e., those that can be answered in a few words or with a "yes" or "no,") usually fail to uncover the real issues. Your purpose is to learn more about the student and her or his goals, values, and interests. Open-ended questions allow the student to expand on the information requested, clarify concerns, weigh alternatives, explore feelings, and sometimes discover solutions.
Here are examples of open-ended questions and comments: What can I do to help you today? How are things going? What courses are you most interested in taking this year and why? I would like to hear more about that. How did you make the decision to major in...? What do you like (dislike) about Cornell, your life, etc.?
11. Be an active listener. Active listening goes beyond not interrupting. It is a skill that enables you to learn what a student means and how a student feels about situations and problems. Active listening also communicates respect and acceptance, qualities that will increase trust between you and the advisee. Techniques that lead to effective listening include:
(a) Remove, turn off, or put aside anything that might be a distraction, such as a cell phone, a mobile desk ornament, or the work you were doing when the student entered.
(b) Face the student and maintain frequent eye contact.
(c) Watch for nonverbal clues that suggest emotions that may belie the thoughts being expressed, such as tears, tenseness, shortness of breath, and hand and eye movements.
(d) Maintain a relaxed posture (if you are tense or ill at ease, the student most likely will be too), and encourage the student to make herself or himself comfortable.
(e) Ask the student to clarify any vague or confusing statements.
(f) Repeat or paraphrase what the student has said to show that you understand the issue and to give her or him an opportunity to correct or expand upon the matter.
(g) Use silence to give the student time to think and to elaborate upon what he or she just said.
(h) Ask the student at the end of the session to review the course of action or summarize the important points.
12. The following are roadblocks to open communication:
(a) Cross-examining, especially rapid-fire questioning.
(b) Interrupting, especially stopping the student in mid-sentence or completing the sentence for her or him.
(c) Pretending to listen while thinking about or doing something else.
(d) Rehearsing what you are going to say next instead of concentrating on what the student is saying.
(e) Hearing what you wish or expect to hear and not what the student is saying, or refusing to hear because what is being said is contrary to your views.
(f) Responding defensively as if you were outraged or personally threatened by what the student is saying.
(g) Being quick to disagree with or attack the student's point of view, as if your sole purpose in counseling with the student were to argue with or disparage her or him.
First Year Students
1. Read the earlier article on the Rights of Advisors to learn how your new student advisees were assigned to you and what you can do if you believe that one or more of them might be better advised by someone else. Contact the Coordinator of Academic Advising and Support with questions or concerns.
2. Few advisory duties are more important than assisting new students to make the transition from high school to college, from a traditional calendar to OCAAT, and from a structured home environment to the freedom of collegiate life. First impressions are important, and the new student should feel that her or his advisor is accessible, willing to listen, caring, and helpful. You are the student's first and most important initial resource. You may feel you are only there to address the student's academic concerns but for a new college student EVERYTHING effects his or her academics. Addressing other issues, through discussion or warm (not dismissive) referral, may be the best way to help a student succeed academically.
3. Many new students, for the first few weeks at least, are overawed by "college." This awe combined with the natural timidity of someone in strange surroundings often inhibits a new student from asking a faculty member for help. You will often need to take the initiative, seek out such students, find opportunities for communication, and patiently develop rapport.
4. Some new students, often a bit home-sick and used to having an "older" person with whom to talk and work out problems, will come to you not so much for advice as to talk. Often at the end of such a conversation you may wonder whether your time was well spent. The answer is probably yes, because that student left feeling better for having visited with you. Much of advising is being a good listener.
5. When you encounter a new advisee who expresses an interest in one of Cornell's pre-professional programs (combined degrees in architecture, engineering, environmental management, forestry, nursing and allied health sciences, medical technology, or dentistry), make sure that he or she visits with the appropriate program advisor within the first term after matriculation. Many of these programs, which allow a student to transfer to the professional school at the end of the junior year, require that the student begin the program almost immediately upon entering Cornell because of the sequencing of courses, the number of prerequisites, and the fact that some of the required courses are offered only in alternate years. If you are not familiar with the program, the student should either transfer to the program advisor or work cooperatively with both of you.
6. You cannot assume either that a student has read the regulations in the Catalogue or understands and will remember them. One of the greatest services an advisor can do for new students is to explain carefully to them the rules for dropping and adding courses. Failing to follow these procedures is the chief bureaucratic cause of unhappiness that new students experience. Included in the paragraphs dealing with dropping and adding courses are the rules of class attendance during the first three days of a term. Students who are absent for all or part of this period may be dropped from the course by the instructor.
7. Stress the fact that professors and students work closely together at Cornell and instructors expect that students will come to see them as soon as they experience difficulty in the course (under OCAAT any delay may be fatal) and notify them when unable to come to class.
- December 1 of a student's sophomore year is the deadline by which he or she must declare a degree program and major. Students who declare the B.S.S. degree must submit the completed Prospectus by May 1 of their sophomore year. Individualized major contracts need to be submitted by the middle of one's junior year. For some students decisions of this magnitude are quite daunting. For those who have not yet decided on career goals or even settled on a choice of major, the sophomore year is a time of great anxiety and soul‑searching. Lack of definite goals may affect a student's motivation and result in the student's doing poorly in courses and contemplating withdrawing from college. If the student is still undecided about a major, consider a referral to Academic Support and Advising or Career Engagement.
2. Early in your advisee's sophomore year, initiate discussions that will lead to the student's making an informed decision before the deadline.
3. Even if your advisee appears to have decided upon a degree program and major, you should spend a few minutes making sure that the student is not only prepared in terms of performance in introductory or other courses but also understands what is required to achieve these goals and is realistic about her or his own abilities and chances of success. Better to change now than in senior year!
4. Occasionally you may encounter advisees whose only knowledge of the careers that they intend to pursue is the unreality of what they have seen on television or in the movies. In such cases, you might have them interview persons in the contemplated field and then discuss with you what they learned. The Alumni Office, part of the Office of Alumni and College Advancement, can often provide the names of persons willing to talk about their profession or job.
5. If by December 1 your advisee is still unable to make a decision, it is possible for the student to obtain a postponement by filing their Major Declaration card as "undecided".
6. Students who have special interests or are otherwise unwilling or unable to complete a standard major or the B.A. requirements may be encouraged to file for B.S.S. candidacy. It is also possible to tailor-make a major to meet the needs of a particular student; this is called the Individualized Major and is even easier to design than the B.S.S. as the student still uses the B.A. framework and general education courses.
7. As soon as your advisee has filed the Declaration of Major card (and Change of Advisor card, if applicable) with the Registrar's Office, the student will either have remained with you or have chosen another primary advisor. If the latter, please forward your advising information on the student to the new advisor in a confidential manner. You should therefore make certain that all of your sophomore advisees have made their declarations before December 1 in order that they may register for their junior year with their major or B.S.S. advisor.
1. The junior year can be a problem if the student did not declare a degree program or major as required during the sophomore year or if the junior now regrets those decisions. In some cases the student's summer employment may have provided new insights. In other cases the student may not have intended to return to Cornell and consequently may have given little thought to the sophomore declaration. Whatever the reason, you should be ready at the start of the student's junior year to review the student's schedule and redraft it if necessary.
2. A second and potentially very serious problem can arise in March the spring semester when the junior registers for the senior year. If the student is officially listed as a B.A. candidate (as indicated on the student's last grade report), the student must register for all the courses still needed to complete the B.A. requirements. An oversight might result in the student's not being eligible for graduation the next year. This is a good reason to look over graduation requirements with your advisee in the fall of the junior year, in case changes need to be made to the junior year schedule and to assist with planning the senior year courses. You can use self-service to see the progress towards graduation.
3. Juniors who are deficient in B.A. requirements have three options: (1) to revise their schedule and add the required courses either in their junior or senior year, (2) to take the required courses in summer school or by correspondence (approved in advance using the Petition for Transfer form), or (3) to petition the Academic Standing Committee for permission to enter the B.S.S. degree program. There is no guarantee that the Committee will approve the petition; however, the longer the student waits the less likely the petition will be approved or that the student can graduate on time.
4. If you have a student beginning the junior year who is planning to enter a combined degrees (three-two, etc.) program at the end of the year, the student should (1) have a conference with the Registrar in September, (2) petition the Academic Standing Committee for permission to enter the program, and (3) if permission is granted, apply to the university before the deadline.
5. Students must file an application for graduation, declaring their intent to be graduated the following academic year and register how they wish their name to appear on their diploma. Once the application has been submitted, an official audit of all credits earned and in progress will be conducted by the Registrar, with a copy of the audit to the academic advisor and the student. If the audit reveals any deficiencies, these will be highlighted in some manner to draw attention. Frequently the check sheet will show that the senior has not yet registered for a course that will satisfy a requirement. The registrar will ask that any deficiencies be addressed immediately so that the student can be on track for a timely graduation. A delay in adding the necessary course often results in the student's forgetting to do so; hence the need for the advisor to make sure that the senior follows through on what he or she has been told during the senior conference with the Registrar.
6. Juniors who are interested in "early graduation" should confer with the Registrar.
7. Foreign language should be well underway or completed by junior year. Do not save this for senior year; scheduling can be very difficult.
1. A student's senior year can be traumatic because of the pressures to secure employment or admission to graduate or professional school. Much time and nervous energy may be consumed in filling out applications, going for interviews, and checking mailboxes for letters of acceptance. For some students the thought of leaving close friends and the protected atmosphere of college and having to compete in the "real world" can cause serious psychological problems. On the other hand, the thought of moving on to an exciting job and a dreamed‑of lifestyle or the knowledge that they have been accepted into graduate school often leads seniors to slack off on their studies and to discount the importance of their last several courses. For some students the pressures may be considerable because, depending upon which end of the spectrum their average falls, they may be trying desperately to raise their GPA either to qualify for honors or to achieve the minimum 2.0 required for graduation.
2. Students are classified as seniors after they have completed their 23rd course credit. Because this can occur as early as January of their third year (earlier if they have credits by transfer or examination), the senior year is defined as the student's final eight terms at Cornell regardless of whether they fall within an academic year or between academic years. A junior who intends to earn enough credits in summer school to return as a senior will not be ranked as a senior until the summer school credits have been posted on the transcript in the fall. The preceding rule is invoked in the late spring when students draw for their rooms for the following year.
3. Watch your senior advisees' grades carefully. Often they will become oblivious to the fact that if they flunk a prerequisite for a later course, they need to change their schedule. Every course matters in this final year.
4. B.A. candidates are not permitted to take more than two courses numbered in the 100s during their senior year (last eight terms). Students who have compelling reasons to take more than two such courses may petition the Academic Standing Committee.
5. Seniors may be most interested in exploring options to use S/U grading for a course or two. This can be used for a total of two courses while at Cornell. Some courses are exempt from S/U and are marked as such in the catalog. The student registers for S/U during first three days of a course. At the end of the block, the student can switch to a grade if doing well. The student will receive an S if the final grade is C or higher.
6. Seniors who decide to finish early must notify the Registrar before the end of their final term on campus, revise their registrations to drop the courses they will not take, and provide a forwarding address. This final conference with the Registrar will also serve as a check to make certain the student has completed all of her or his graduation requirements while there is still time to add a course.
7. Seniors who, at the end of the year, will be short of the minimum 31 course credits required for graduation are not permitted to overload, i.e., to earn more than one term credit in any block, or to take classes, including night or Saturday classes, at another college.
8. Seniors who will have earned at least 31 course credits by the end of their final term at Cornell and will otherwise qualify for graduation may petition the Academic Standing Committee for permission to take two courses in one term or a course at another school during the same semester. The additional course may not be counted toward the minimum 31 required for graduation and must be relevant to the student's major or professional program. No more than two course credits may be earned in this way. This option is intended for students who find themselves with no free terms in which to schedule a course needed to complete an additional major, a requirement for licensure to teach, or a subject recommended for a job or admission to graduate school. The phrase "two courses in one term" is not strictly interpreted so a student might begin an independent study earlier or finish it sooner than the term in which it is registered.
9. Those seniors who at the end of the ninth term will be within two course credits of completing their degree, will have at least a 2.0 GPA, and will have no balance due on their account with the Cornell Business Office may elect to participate with their class in Commencement as non‑graduates (also called "walkers"). To do so, they must have a conference with the Registrar (as early in the year as possible) and sign a special form. This option is also open to students who have the misfortune to drop or fail a course late in the senior year.
10. Seniors whose GPA at the end of the year is below 2.0 are ineligible to be graduated even though they may have earned 31 course credits and completed all their degree and major requirements. Because grades are not transferable, the student cannot complete her or his degree by attending another school. The only way such students may be graduated from Cornell is if they return to Cornell and earn grades high enough to raise their GPA to 2.0. "Return" in this context refers to paying tuition to Cornell for the courses in question. These courses may be undertaken off campus as independent studies if the instructor and department are agreeable.
11. Call your senior advisees' attention to the several services available to them:
(a) The Career Engagement Office in Thomas Commons provides students with useful information about career opportunities, administers various interest tests, conducts workshops on writing resumes and interviewing techniques, arranges for employers to come to campus to interview students, counsels students about career matters and job searches, can set up a placement file, and provides information about graduate school tests (e.g., GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT).
(b) The Office of Alumni and College Advancement can often provide the names of former students in various professions who are willing to counsel or assist current students interested in entering their field.
(c) Departments are the best sources of information about graduate schools and careers within their disciplines. Additional or more specific information can be obtained directly from the universities and professional schools.
(d) Cole Library and often academic departments have reference books to help students locate graduate schools that offer the kinds of programs they are seeking. The librarians can also provide books about particular fields and professions and documents about certain companies, government agencies, etc.
(e) The Office of Academic Support and Advising and the OASIS (Opportunity,Academic Support, Information, Sustenance) might also have some additional information specifically geared for first-generation students.
1. There are two kinds of students who enter Cornell with transfer credits: students who earned such credits before they were graduated from high school or during the summer between graduation and matriculation at Cornell and students who matriculated at a college or university after being graduated from high school and were registered there for one or more semesters or quarters. Only the latter are officially classified as transfer students.
2. Cornell holds a special orientation session for new transfer students before the start of Terms One and Five; however, some transfer students fail to attend and others matriculate in other terms. Much of the responsibility, therefore, for orienting new transfer students falls upon the advisor.
3. Because they have been to college and are older than the average incoming student (even if only by a year or two), transfer students understandably prefer not to be treated as first-year college students. Be sensitive to their feelings and make an effort wherever possible, especially in group meetings with your first year students, to recognize the "seniority" of your transfer advisees.
4. You may encounter a few transfer students who believe that a change of geography alone will overcome all the problems that kept them from succeeding at their former school(s) or that OCAAT is the magic formula. Obviously, if the students lack motivation and self-discipline, are not willing to work hard, have poor study habits, are deficient in academic or social skills, or alienate potential friends by their peculiar personalities, they will not succeed here either. You may have to do some consciousness raising.
5. Some transfer students may take it for granted that the rules and procedures in operation at their previous school are also in effect at Cornell. Such students frequently come to grief because they do not understand our drop/add system, our Incomplete grading option, and the deadlines for declaring degree programs and majors.
6. Transfer students who enter Cornell with junior standing must declare their degree and major by December 1 of their first year here. If they enter after Term One, they should consult the Registrar for the deadlines for their declarations.
7. Transfer students who are admitted with senior standing and who intend to be graduated in fewer than ten terms (i.e., by the end of their first year at Cornell) must have a senior conference with the Registrar in September, must complete a minimum of eight term credits of which six of the courses are numbered in the 300s or 400s, and must declare their degree program and major before December 1. Those who will return for all or part of a second year are not bound by these rules.
8. Transfer students who are graduated with fewer than 16 term credits earned at Cornell for
grade point credit (i.e., grades that are calculated into the GPA) are ineligible, regardless of their GPA, to receive all-college honors (summa, magna, or cum laude) or for election to Phi Beta Kappa. Advisors should inform such students of this regulation before registering them for courses that are graded only credit/no credit (e.g., independent studies, internships, and most off-campus programs) or for courses in which the student has the option of a regular grade or credit/no credit (e.g., Individual Projects).
9. When a new student arrives on campus, the student and the advisor receive an evaluation from the Registrar that gives all the credits awarded the student either by transfer or examination. If the student or the advisor believes that this is inaccurate or incomplete, consult the Registrar. In the meanwhile, the advisor should reassure the student that he or she will receive all the credits due. Students sometimes forget to arrange to have their transcript or score reports sent here. More often they forget to order a final transcript, which shows their work for the preceding semester. Occasionally the other institution may be late in issuing the document. Students who have attended more than one post-secondary school must submit an original transcript from every school they attended, whether or not they earned any credits there. If a student claims an exemption or placement but you cannot find an authorization for it, refer the student to the Registrar.
10. If you are registering a student whose evaluation is incomplete, take the student's word for having passed the missing courses with a grade of C or higher (courses graded with less than C will not transfer) or having scored the requisite examination grade (e.g., 3 or higher on the College Entrance Examination Board's Advanced Placement tests, except for English in which a score of 4 is required). Such students should not register for any course for which they expect to receive transfer or examination credit.
11. The Registrar's evaluation indicates which B.A. general education requirements have already been satisfied; however, any decision about which courses may be counted toward a major must be made by the chair of the department concerned. In other words, all work credited by transfer or examination is considered elective with respect to a major until accepted by the department.
12. Grades earned at another school do not transfer (i.e., are not recorded on the Cornell transcript and are not used in calculating the student's Cornell GPA).
13. Students who receive credit for a course taken at another school will lose that credit if they take either the same course, one with similar content, or a course in the same department that is a prerequisite for it. In general, any introductory course is considered the equivalent of a Cornell introductory course in the same department regardless of titles. Questions about course equivalencies and content should be referred to the appropriate department chair. In certain cases, with the permission of the department, the student may petition the Registrar to receive credit for both courses.
14. Transfer students who have completed their senior year at Cornell may not transfer credits to fulfill the requirement of 31 course credits unless they have already earned at least 16 term credits at Cornell College. Students who will not have earned 16 term credits at Cornell by the end of their senior year must return to Cornell to complete their degree or arrange for independent studies with Cornell professors that may be done off-campus but for which they will pay the College the regular tuition and fees. A "term credit" is earned for the successful completion of a Cornell course taken in a given term and excludes adjunct credits, music lessons and ensembles (if the student is not a music major), transfer credit, and credits by examination.
1. In the front of the Catalogue you will find suggestions for courses that your advisees may select if they are interested in careers in architecture, dentistry, engineering, environmental management, forestry, health sciences, law, medical technology, medicine, nursing, or theology.
2. If you have an advisee interested in one of these professions, have the advisee confer immediately with the Cornell advisor for that program. This person can answer questions about requirements and career opportunities and will put your advisee's name on the mailing list to receive pertinent information about the profession and to be invited to informational programs or campus visits by university recruiters.
3. Cornell offers a number of combined degrees programs where the student spends three years at Cornell and then transfers to a university to begin a professional program. The student receives a degree from Cornell upon transferring up to eight course credits from the professional program and a degree from the university upon completing its program. A cooperative program is much the same except that the student receives only one degree or else must be graduated from Cornell before entering the other program.
4. Students planning combined degrees programs or cooperative programs must complete specific Cornell and university requirements by the end of their junior year. Scheduling is frequently tight because of the great number of required courses, some of which may be offered only every other year. Such programs must be carefully planned almost from the day the student enters Cornell, and expert advising is obviously crucial. For this reason, the advisee should probably be reassigned to the program advisor.
5. To enter a combined degrees or cooperative program, a student must by the end of the junior year:
(a) obtain (1) the endorsement of the Cornell program advisor and, for some programs, the approval of the department chair; (2) the permission of the Academic Standing Committee; and (3) acceptance by the university. [The application must not be sent to the university until the student has received permission from all the Cornell authorities];
(b) have earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher [certain programs do not require more than a 2.5 although they prefer a 3.0 or higher];
(c) have completed at least 24 course credits at Cornell [transfer students, at least 16 term credits at Cornell]; and
(d) if a B.A. candidate, have completed all of the general education requirements.
6. All students contemplating a combined degrees or cooperative program that would involve their transferring to the university at the end of their junior year must have a conference with the Registrar in September of their junior year.
1. A complete statement of the eligibility rules appears in the Catalogue or may be obtained from the Athletic Director. If there is any question about a student's eligibility, it should be referred immediately to the Athletic Director and, if they involve registration or satisfactory progress, to the Registrar. Students have the right to appeal to the Academic Standing Committee for exceptions to any of the Cornell rules governing participation in intercollegiate athletics.
2. Student athletes have no special privileges and consequently no restrictions other than those imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). These bodies require the College to establish certain regulations that apply only to student athletes.
3. In order for an athlete to be eligible to play or compete in any intercollegiate sport, he or she must be a full-time student (i.e., registered for at least eight terms in the academic year, or, if the student was admitted after Term One, for all the remaining terms in the academic year).
4. A student must be enrolled for a minimum of three term course credits (12 semester hours) during the first semester (Terms one through four 1-4) in order to participate in intercollegiate athletics during any or all of these terms, or enrolled for a minimum of four term course credits (16 semester hours) during the second semester (Terms five through nine 5-8) in order to participate during any or all of those terms. A student who elects to enroll in only three terms during the first semester or only four terms during the second semester must be enrolled in a course for all other terms during that academic year.
5. Seniors who complete their final 31st course credit in the middle of a season may finish the season in progress without taking additional courses; however, if the senior wishes to begin participate in another sport, the NCA requires that he or she must enroll for at least three term course credits (12 semester hours) during that sport season.
6. Athletes who must miss class because of an athletic trip are required to inform their instructors in advance of their absence and to make up any work missed. Instructors may not penalize an athlete for such absences but have the right to confirm with the coach that the student is a member of the team and scheduled to make the trip.
7. The College does not restrict students from participating in athletics or an extracurricular activity while on Probation. In cases where a student's continuing participation in intercollegiate athletics appears to have a deleterious effect on her or his academic performance and is likely to result in suspension, an advisor may wish to counsel the student to resign from the team. Coaches are known to release athletes from pratice if they need to focus on their academics--so alert a coach if you know a student is struggling.
Continuing Education Students
Persons who have completed a bachelor’s degree are eligible for admission as Continuing Education students. A student may enroll for a second bachelor’s degree, an additional major, preparation for graduate school, or for licensure to teach. A former Cornell student who has not completed a bachelor’s degree may return to Cornell as a readmitted student. Persons who do not have a degree and do not plan to pursue a degree or certification may take up to four courses under the Continuing Education program.
The Admissions Office coordinates the admission of Continuing Education students. The Continuing Education program offers reduced tuition in lieu of other Cornell financial aid.
Continuing Education students may use the facilities and support services of the College and are subject to the same academic regulations and procedures as apply to other Cornell students. The chief exceptions are that Continuing Education students may take as many terms off during the academic year as they wish, do not receive the ninth term free, and are not eligible to live in College housing.
1. "International student" is a legal classification, denoting persons who are not United States citizens or who have not been granted the status of a permanent resident by the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. At Cornell, international students receive support services from the Office of Intercultural Life, and all questions concerning international students should be referred to the International Student Coordinator.
2. Advisors should not assume that a student is an international student simply because the student "looks" foreign or has a foreign address or a foreign-sounding name. An opening conversational gambit such as "How long have you been in this country?" or "Where did you learn to speak such excellent English?" is insulting to a person born and educated in the United States. Students from Hawaii and Puerto Rico are American citizens. Many of Cornell's Asian students were born in the U.S. or were adopted and brought to the United States. Some are children of interracial marriages, whose parents are therefore not always readily identifiable in a group. Others may be the children of U.S. citizens who live abroad. If you have been assigned an international advisee, this fact will be made clear in the advising material you receive.
3. An international student is a citizen of another country who is in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, often referred to as a "student visa." This visa is issued to the student at an overseas American embassy or consulate after the student has provided evidence that he or she has been accepted by a U.S. educational institution, has the academic preparation and ability to complete the course of study, has the necessary financial resources, and has "unbreakable ties" to the home country. The expectation is that such students, after they complete their degrees, will return to their home country. (Short-term, non-degree exchange students may come on a B visa (visitor) and future exchange students may use the J visa, pending approval by the INS.)
4. In order to remain "in status" (i.e., not violate the conditions under which they were admitted on an F-1 visa), students must be enrolled full-time, which is defined for immigration purposes as a minimum of 12 semester hours (three course credits) per semester. The law allows for certain exceptions, e.g., for seniors who need fewer than 12 semester hours and for medical or valid academic reasons (such as difficulty with English). If you believe that your advisee needs to take a reduced program, you should discuss the situation with the Office of Intercultural Life before taking any action that might jeopardize the student's status under the law. Similarly, if you have an advisee who appears to be in violation of the law, perhaps because the student is not attending classes or has left campus, you should notify the Office of Intercultural Life immediately. Advisees who are contemplating transferring to another school should also be referred to that office for assistance in making a legal transfer.
5. If your international advisee is planning to leave the United States for any reason during an internship, off-campus course, block break, school recess, vacation term, etc., and plans to return, the student must should verify with the International Student Coordinator that the I-20 form and its required signatures are up-to-date and correct. Without the I-20 form, the student will be denied re-entry into the U.S. This document is needed regardless of the student's destination (e.g., whether the student goes home or visits friends in another country for a few days).
6. Unlike most U.S. students, many international students cannot afford to go home for college holidays or even summer vacations. A few will not see their families during the four years they attend college. Prolonged separation from loved ones or from a familiar environment causes normal feelings of homesickness. The student may also have to deal with anxiety for the health of a family member or the safety and well-being of relatives who might be in jeopardy because of unstable political or economic conditions in her or his country. Depression and worry can affect a student's performance and success in school.
7. Cultural shock is often experienced by persons who spend a prolonged period of time outside their native culture. Although the exact timetable varies among individuals, the typical pattern of adjustment to a new cultural environment is:
(a) initial euphoria and excitement.
(b) disillusionment, disappointment, or outright rejection of the new culture. This stage may be characterized by depression, fatigue, withdrawal, etc.
(c) a gradual adjustment to, acceptance of, and even enthusiasm for the new culture.
Students who experience severe symptoms of culture shock should be referred to the Office of Intercultural Life or the Director of Counseling Services.
8. Some international students may have difficulty adjusting to life in a small, rural Midwestern community where no one (or only a few other international students) speaks their native language, cooks their native foods, or observes their cultural traditions. Loneliness and isolation may become acute during the winter vacation when other students are making plans to go home to their families and the international student may have no place to go. Advisors need to be keenly sensitive to the feelings of their international advisees and to do whatever they can to make them feel less isolated.
9. International students cannot and should not be labeled and stereotyped. The advisor must treat each student as a unique individual, as the advisor would treat any of her or his other advisees, and not presume that every international student will have serious difficulties adjusting to Cornell and the American way of life. There are, nevertheless, some problems that advisors of international students may encounter occasionally and for which time, patience, and education are the only remedies. If you need advice about how to deal with one of the following matters, consult the International Student Coordinator. Generally your first steps to a solution might be to talk with the student, explain the rules, and help the student recognize that what might be appropriate behavior at home is not desirable or acceptable here.
(a) Some international students come from cultures where asking questions of, or disagreeing with, superiors is considered impolite. Such students, when asked by their advisor whether they wish to take a certain course or whether they have understood what the advisor just explained, may say yes even though they do not understand. Advisors, therefore, must not take anything for granted and must encourage the student to express her or his opinions.
(b) In some cultures punctuality is not as important as it is here in the U.S. New students are told during their orientation that being on time for appointments is important. Advisors should reiterate this but also remember that if a student arrives late for an appointment he or she may not be consciously rude or inconsiderate.
(c) Some students come from schools where learning is by rote. Writing a paper may have involved only collecting and arranging appropriate passages from an approved list of texts. Such students may never have been taught to document their sources, use quotation marks, or write footnotes. If an advisee is charged with plagiarism, do not assume that the student intended to cheat.
(d) Some international students (like many U.S. students) do not understand what a liberal arts college is. They have come here expecting to take only subjects relevant to their major, which is usually a practical subject that will lead to immediate employment after graduation. Such students may resist taking courses that, on the surface, have no relation to their career goals. On occasion an advisor may have to justify the College's requirements to a parent who sees no "value" in certain courses (e.g., "Why should my child who is majoring in chemistry have to take fine arts?").
(e) Some male international students may treat women as inferiors and have difficulty relating to women in positions of authority. Often the student is behaving according to the mores of his country and does not understand that his behavior is unacceptable here and may constitute sexual harassment.
10. In order to be admitted to Cornell, international students must present a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score high enough to demonstrate that they can undertake college-level work in English. Nevertheless, there are sometimes discrepancies between their scores and their actual ability. Even students whose native language is English or who are completely bilingual may not comprehend "Americanisms" or Midwestern pronunciations at first. Those for whom English is a second language may be only moderately proficient and in consequence experience difficulties in their courses. Often such students understand the English they read and hear better than they can speak and write it. In talking with students whose oral comprehension of English may be problematic:
(a) Speak slowly and distinctly, but do not insult the student by using an unnatural style.
(b) Speak in short sentences if possible, and do not bury important ideas in an abundance of rhetoric.
(c) Use vocabulary the student is likely to know, and explain technical words or phrases.
(d)Repeat important points by rephrasing them in different words, especially if you suspect the advisee might not have fully understood you.
(e) Encourage the advisee to ask questions and to speak in sentences rather than merely to answer "yes" or "no." You can learn a great deal by just listening, and the advisee will gain confidence and proficiency with practice.
(f) Correct the student's English only when absolutely necessary to prevent the student from being misunderstood or embarrassed later (e.g., your advisee says: "I want take physic." and you respond: "You mean you want to take physics."). It is better for the student to express herself or himself in imperfect English than to hesitate after every word or to withhold important information or feelings for fear of making a mistake.
(g) Ask the advisee in a tactful way as often as necessary to summarize what you have said or to describe how he or she will proceed.
11. When registering international students, advisors should be aware of the following:
(a) At the time they enter Cornell, all international students, other than native speakers of English, are given an English proficiency test. Those who are evaluated as needing to improve their English skills before enrolling in regular courses will be required to take a FYS English as a Second Language course (or whatever the current option is for ESL coursework). Advisors receive notification of the advisee's placement before registration.
(c) International students whose native language is other than English are automatically exempt from the B.A. Foreign Language requirement. In some cases international students may benefit by delaying the writing requirement course until later in their first year.
(d) If you have an international student who was admitted as a transfer student, please read Advising Transfer Students, especially ¶ 7, if the advisee was admitted with senior standing and is planning to be graduated at the end of the academic year.
12. International students who are not required to take ESL courses or who have completed the ESL courses are eligible to enroll in any of the regular course offerings provided they have satisfied the prerequisites. When helping new international students to select their first-year's courses, advisors should follow the suggestions given elsewhere for advising new students while keeping the following in mind:
(a) International students usually have the least academic difficulties, provided their high school preparation was adequate and they have an interest in the subject, in courses in science, mathematics, economics and business, accounting, and statistics largely because they are familiar with the concepts and the terminology.
(b) Those students whose English skills are weak might be well advised during their first semester to take courses which do not require a great deal of reading or writing (e.g., speech, studio art, physical education, and applied theatre). The important thing is that they have a positive experience and some degree of success as they adjust to Cornell and gradually improve their English.
(c) Courses in the humanities, especially those that deal exclusively with Western culture, may be particularly difficult for new international students from non-Western countries, especially if the professor expects the students to be familiar with the major persons, events, and ideas of Western culture.
(d) People tend to read more slowly in a second language no matter how proficient they are. If the student must stop frequently to look up words in the dictionary, homework assignments may take double or triple the normal time and turn into an exhausting and frustrating ordeal for the international student. Advisors should be especially careful not to recommend courses that may be beyond the student's present capabilities.
13. Some international students are studying at Cornell on a non-degree basis in semester- or year-long exchange arrangements. Because of the limited duration of their stay and the necessity, in some cases, of ESL classes, their course selections should be guided more by their individual interests and needs than long-range planning to satisfy Cornell requirements. Advisors may not have transfer evaluations for non-degree students but you may confer with the Registrar or the student if you have questions about the student's academic preparation for a specific course he or she is interested in.
14. If you have an international student who is having academic difficulty, do not assume the student is intellectually incapable of doing college-level work. Frequently the problem is inadequate English skills. If this is the case, consult the International Student Coordinator and/or the Office of Academic Support and Advising. Lecture courses may be difficult at first if the student is not used to the professor's pronunciation, if the professor speaks too quickly, or if she or he does not write key terms on the whiteboard or use PowerPoint. Often the advisor and instructor can work out a solution to the student's problem, such as allowing a student to tape-record lectures or allowing a student who has difficulty writing an essay test to take an oral exam.
1. For statistical purposes the United States government defines a multicultural student as (1) Black or African-American, (2) Hispanic or Latino, (3) Native American, (4) Asian or Pacific Islander, or (5) Other. All schools are required to report such data but are not permitted to require a student to provide this information. Cornell asks every entering student to declare voluntarily her or his ethnicity and accepts whatever designation the student chooses to give.
2. Obviously those students who are classified in any of these categories are not a uniform group. There are, for example, persons with Hispanic surnames who do not speak Spanish. Some multicultural students come from communities or schools where they experienced very little discrimination or are not familiar with the political agenda of their peers. For some multicultural students (especially those from urban areas), the transition to life in a small community like Mount Vernon is somewhat traumatic.
3. Advisors are cautioned to see the multicultural student as an individual and not a representative of a particular race, culture, or creed. Advisors play a key role in the process that aims to assist students in achieving academic excellence while attending Cornell. Multicultural students, like any others, resent being stereotyped, labeled, or patronized, and they know when an advisor is uncomfortable. Multicultural students require neither more nor less advising than any other students on campus.
4. Before you meet your new advisees, you will have formed an impression of them from the data provided to you. In the case of any advisee, these data, especially ACT and SAT scores, may be inadequate predictors of the student's ability to do college-level work. Other students may test extremely well. Multicultural students are no exception. Don't draw any conclusions until you have had the opportunity to meet and talk with your advisee.
5. The first step is to establish rapport and to determine what type of program would best enhance the student's personal and professional development.
6. Some of your advisees will not seek you out. You must take the initiative and make contact, as they may be wary about approaching professors. Encourage your advisees to talk with their professors and to seek help as soon as they recognize they may have a problem (a low grade on an exam, incomplete assignments, etc.). If they are hesitant about going to see an administrator, you might offer to accompany and introduce them.
7. Success in the first several terms is crucial to the student's self-esteem and to her or his desire to remain in college. Courses should be selected on the basis of the student's strengths, talents, and interests. If you perceive the student has limitations, you should strive to find courses in which these limitations will not become liabilities or undermine the process of building the student's self-confidence.
8. Encouragement and moral support are crucial to the student's academic success. The advisor may be the only academic friend the student has in the beginning. Express your confidence in the student's ability to succeed. If the student has a bad experience in a course, help the student to overcome the disappointment and to look upon the next course as another opportunity to achieve success.
9. Evaluate the student's progress frequently, and make referrals to the Writing Studio or Quantitative Reasoning Studio as needed. Tutoring is also available free of charge through the Office of Academic Support and Advising. At the end of each term, reassess the student's courses for the next several terms to determine whether the student might have a better chance of success with a different subject or would benefit from taking more work in a subject studied previously.
10. In discussing career goals, determine whether the student's abilities match her or his educational plans. If the student's expectations are unrealistic, encourage the student to explore alternatives. Refer questions to the Intercultural Life Director, to the Career Engagement Office, to the Academic Support and Advising office or to the chairs of departments for information about career opportunities and job placements.
11. Multicultural students may have questions or problems you may not feel qualified or comfortable in addressing. One of the most important resources in such cases is the Director of Intercultural Life, who can not only assist the student but answer your questions or suggest ways in which you may continue to help the student.
12. If the student is also a first-generation student, the student might get additional support from the Academic Support and Advising office.
Students with Disabilities
1. General Information
There are many kinds and degrees of disabilities, and it is beyond the scope of this handbook to attempt either a classification or description. "Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunctions. Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions, e.g., sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance, or environmental influences, e.g., cultural differences, insufficient/inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors, it is not the direct result of those conditions or influences." (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, quoted from Hammill, et al.  Learning Disability Quarterly, 4, 336-342.)
Faculty members who have a special interest or have had special training in working with students with disabilities should indicate that to the Office of Academic Support and Advising.
2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that:
"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, as defined in section 706(7) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..." (29 United States Code §794)
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that a handicap shall be defined as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities." (42 United States Code §12102)
The Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education, states that post-secondary education programs that receive Federal financial assistance (34 Code of Federal Regulations §104.41) "shall make such modifications to its academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of handicap, against a qualified handicapped applicant or student." (34 Code of Federal Regulations §104.44[a]) In addition to academic adjustments, "a recipient...shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that no handicapped student is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination...because of the absence of educational auxiliary aids for students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills." (34 Code of Federal Regulations §104.44[d])
Compliance with this law requires that academic institutions that receive Federal financial aid, like Cornell College, provide opportunities for students with disabilities to achieve success in the classroom comparable to those that they provide to other students. The intent of the law is not to guarantee success but to provide the opportunity for success.
3. Your Role as an Academic Advisor
Any special attention that may be needed will depend upon the individual student and the nature of the disability. As an advisor, you may be called upon to act as an advocate for the student with his or her instructors. Some students may need extra time to complete written examinations, oral examinations, taped lectures and texts, or may require additional individual tutoring. Be certain that the student is aware of the services of the Writing Studio, Quantitiative Reasoning studio and has registered with the Academic Support and Advising office. These offices are available for your consultation as well.
At times you may need to work with students with disabilities to make certain that they understand their responsibilities for securing academic adjustments for themselves. These responsibilities include informing each of their course instructors of their specific needs and requesting the accommodations required.
Students will be classified as "learning disabled" only after they have been evaluated by a professional specializing in such testing (a M.D., Educational or School Psychologist, or other individual licensed by the state of origin to diagnose learning or physical disabilities) and after the results have been given to the Academic Support and Advising office for evaluation.
Many students with learning disabilities will have been tested, diagnosed, and given special training and counseling in secondary school. Others will need to arrange these things at their own expense after matriculation at Cornell. The Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising can offer students referrals to appropriate testing agencies. The Coordinator will determine whether the student has the documentation necessary to be classified as learning disabled and, if so, which services and accommodations are required or appropriate.
5. Services for Students with Disabilities
Some students with learning disabilities or a visual impairment need to use digital textbooks ,assistive technology and may need other course material taped. Remind your advisee to request these materials a block or more in advance from the Office for Academic Support and Advising.
If a student changes courses during the year, there may not be time to get digital texts for the new course. The student will bear the responsibility for changes he or she requests late but the College will bear the responsibility to make a good faith effort to inform students when changes are made in course offerings and materials a block prior to the course offerings.
6. Advice for working with students with physical disabilities
When an advisor needs to contact a visually impaired student, he or she should ask the best method for communication (phone, email,etc.).
If a student has a hearing impairment and reads lips, an advisor should remember to face the student when speaking and speak slowly and distinctly. He or she should sit near the student and make certain the room is well lit. If a student is wearing a hearing aid or FM tuning system and appears to hear general conversation, do not assume the student is catching everything that is said. Written assignments or notes can be helpful as "back-up" for important information shared.
Students with mobility impairment disabilities may not be able to negotiate stairs. If the student has problems getting to an advisor's office, make arrangements to meet with him or her in a more accessible place. As the student registers for courses please bring this to the attention of the Registrar so that the courses may be assigned to accessible classrooms and buildings.
High Risk Students
Every year the College admits a few students, both first year and transfer, who do not "on paper" meet all of the Recruitment and Admissions Subcommittee's criteria or expectations but who have other characteristics that suggest that they can succeed at Cornell. There is always the hope that students who have not done well academically elsewhere will succeed under OCAAT.
These students may need extra contacts from you. We call this "intrusive" advising. It might mean a little more legwork on your part--checking in with their professors about attendance or progress. Writing the student a note to ask how things are going. One doesn't want to imply an assumption of underperformance but does want to catch anything that goes amiss quickly and help the student to rectify it. These students might need extra nudges towards the Writing Studio or QRS or tutoring. Sometimes it can be helpful to walk the student to a professor's office or the studio and introduce the student to the appropriate person. This may seem like hand-holding, but some students need the additional support and guidance during their first semester or year at college and can then be independently successful. This is part of being an involved advisor. You aren't doing the work for the student, you are just facilitating communication and problem-solving.
ADVISING STUDENTS IN ACADEMIC DIFFICULTY
Indications of Academic Trouble
1. You will be made aware of the possibility of impending academic disaster in one or more ways: by your advisee and/or your advisee's instructor or parent, by the Office of Academic Support and Advising, by your advisee's grade reports or copies of the citations sent to the advisee by the Academic Standing Committee, or by letters or telephone calls from an administrator.
2. When intervention is called for, the first step is to confer with the advisee to ascertain the causes of the student's unsatisfactory academic performance and to determine ways to alleviate the problems. "Unsatisfactory" generally means that the student's GPA has fallen below 2.0 or that there is a deficiency of term credits. Nonetheless, any time that an advisee receives a final grade of C‑ (C minus) or lower or withdraws from a course to avoid a low grade is an occasion for concern. You should also intervene in cases where a student previously earning grades in the A and B range begins to earn C's.
3. Every student may have an occasional bad term or bit of bad luck (e.g., a conflict with a professor, misreading or omitting a key question on the final examination, not spending enough time studying, being ill or overwhelmed by personal problems). Most students will recognize the cause of their problem and will resolve it by themselves in a term or two. Your role is primarily that of being supportive and making certain that the student does not need further help. The important thing is to remedy the problem before it results in the student's withdrawing from college or being suspended.
4. Students who cannot account for their poor performance, who cannot resolve their problem after identifying it, or who continue to earn low grades need special attention and perhaps professional counseling. The advisee's problem might be:
(a) Not giving enough time to studying because of misplaced priorities (e.g., too much involvement in student organizations or other non-academic activity). Presumably, a better balance would be more productive.
(b) Not knowing how to study, to take notes, to outline, to take tests, etc. The Office of Academic Support and Advising can help such students. If you suspect a learning disability, refer the student to that office as well.
(c) Not being able to write coherently or grammatically. The Writing Studio can help. While students are learning, they should avoid taking heavy writing courses. If the student has not yet taken writing requirement course, you may wish to enroll her or him in one as soon as possible. INT 501 is an adjunct writing course designed to help students improve their writing skills and is offered starting in block 5; it is best taken concurrently with courses that require writing.
(d) Not asking the instructor for help as soon as they are confused or after they have received a low grade on a test, and similarly not showing the instructor an outline or first draft of a paper to determine whether it is what the instructor expects. Your alerting the instructor may result in the instructor's giving the student special attention and encouragement.
(e) Not obtaining a tutor or other assistance as soon as they find themselves unable to keep up with the class. Tutors are available free of charge through the Office of Academic Support and Advising.
(f) Not attending class regularly, not arriving or turning in work on time, or not doing assignments. The reasons are multifarious: lack of motivation or not wishing to be at Cornell or even in college; exhaustion or lack of time caused by too much involvement in extracurricular or social activities; medical or psychological problems; roommate problems; abuse of alcohol or drugs; worries about finances or family (e.g., parents' divorcing); romantic or sexual problems including (fear of or actual) sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, abortion, or rape; or harassment and physical or psychological abuse. Sometimes the problem can be ameliorated by referring the student to the appropriate staff (e.g., the Office of Student Financial Assistance might be able to increase a student's aid package; the Residence Life office might move the student into a different residence hall; the medical and counseling services might allay fears or initiate treatment).
5. Depending on the problem, you may not feel competent to do more than refer the student. Most of the time, no matter what the problem, the student needs to be able to talk it through and to discuss alternatives with an adult counselor. Your role may be just to listen and to reassure the student that he or she is a worthwhile person with potential for success.
6. On the semester system, a student might fail all four courses before anyone could intervene. Under OCAAT, help is available during and after every term. Students get a second chance every month. Help the student put the "disaster" in the past and develop confidence in the future.
7. When a student is in academic trouble, reassess the student's registrations for the remainder of the current year and, if necessary, for the following year in order to postpone or eliminate any courses that might put the student at risk. In general, if a student has completed a course with a low grade (or has otherwise had to struggle), the student should not immediately take another course in that department even if it is the next course in a sequence.
8. Students with poor skills (verbal, quantitative, artistic) should not immediately take more courses in these areas. If their verbal skills are poor, they should begin early in their Cornell careers to work with the Writing Resource Center and should take writing requirement course before taking upper-level courses with heavy writing components.
9. Burn-out is another factor. It results usually from taking too many "heavy" courses in a row. Re-registering a student so as to intersperse lighter courses between more demanding ones often is effective. In some cases, the student should be urged to take a vacation term.
10. If the advisee's problems cannot be alleviated quickly and where continuing to take courses may result in the advisee's being suspended, do not hesitate to recommend that the student consult the Dean of Students about taking a non-academic leave of absence or withdrawing from the College. The transcripts of students who have been suspended carry the words "SUSPENDED FOR UNSATISFACTORY SCHOLARSHIP" “ACADEMIC SUSPENSION” until the end of time. One feels particularly bad when students are suspended who were trying hard to succeed but were prevented by circumstances beyond their control. The flexibility of OCAAT permits students to take a Leave of Absence at any time during the academic year (see Catalogue, page 41). Often time away from campus will help the student reach desired insights. If the student decides not to return, then that student leaves Cornell without having the stigma of "suspension" forever on the transcript.
11. If you have advisees who have been placed or continued on Probation, make certain that they understand that they may be suspended unless they improve immediately and that they are familiar with the rules and restrictions that apply to their probation. They are often required to make a Learning Contract with the Office of Academic Support and Advising. This may involve meeting weekly. Encourage compliance with this requirement. At the same time, re-register them according to their interests and strengths in order to forestall academic disaster.
Warning, Probation, and Probationary Suspension
1. The guidelines under which the Academic Standing Committee operates are explained in the Catalogue. If you have questions, please confer with the Registrar, who acts as secretary to the Committee.
2. An Academic Warning is issued by the Committee at the end of every term to students whose GPA is below 2.0 or who are not earning enough term credits to ensure their remaining full‑time students or being graduated within a four‑year period. No action will be taken until the end of the semester. A student may, however, be suspended at the end of any semester if the semester GPA is below 1.25. A student may be placed on Probation after any term for at least the next three terms (1) if the student has a GPA below 2.0 and received a grade of F or NC, or (2) if the student loses two term credits in any one semester.
3. Probation is a serious warning, one step before Suspension. A copy of the Probation citation is sent to the student, the advisor, and the parents (unless the student has signed a form in the Registrar's Office withholding grades, in which case the "cc:" line at the bottom of the citation will have the word "parents" lined out). Intervention by the advisor is crucial at this stage. Along with the Probation citation, the student receives a sheet describing Probation. The student is thereby alerted to the possibility of being suspended.
4. Probationary Suspension is a reprieve given by the Committee to students who are subject to suspension. When the Committee's guidelines suggest that the student be suspended, but the members of the Committee believe that there are mitigating circumstances, the Committee will give the student a second chance by placing her or him on Probationary Suspension and thus allowing the student to continue at Cornell. Students on Probationary Suspension are treated the same as students on Probation.
5. The Academic Standing Committee may require students given a warning or placed on Probation, within the first week of the next term, to establish a learning contract with the Office of Academic Support and Advising.
6. Students who are placed or continued on Probation are not permitted to withdraw from a course without the Committee's permission. Withdrawal here means dropping the course on the 15th day. There is no restriction on a student's changing registrations before the start of a term or during the first three days in order to switch from a problematic course into one in which the student has a good chance of succeeding.
7. Students are removed from Probation only at the end of a semester.
8. Students who were suspended for unsatisfactory scholarship and readmitted months or years later remain on Probationary Suspension for the first three terms after their return.
1. Academic suspension is imposed after any term if a student already on academic Probation receives a grade of F or NC, or if the student withdraws from a course without permission of the Academic Standing Committee. A student may be suspended after a semester on Probation if the semester GPA is below 2.0.
2. Suspended students are notified through campus mail or by certified mail sent to their home. The advisor and the parents (unless the student has signed a form in the Registrar's Office withholding grades, in which case the "cc:" line at the bottom of the letter will not include the word "parents") receive copies of the suspension letter.
3. Students whose academic record is such that they may be subject to suspension at the end of a term or semester ought to present any pertinent information concerning mitigating circumstances to the Academic Standing Committee prior to the time the Committee meets to review student records for that term. The actions of the Committee are not subject to appeal.
4. An advisee who may be subject to suspension should be referred to the Registrar for information about the procedures, what the Committee expects in a letter of explanation, and her or his rights and options. You are likewise welcome to the same information.
5. The academic advisor is not directly involved in the suspension but is encouraged on humanitarian grounds to assist the Committee in its decision whether to suspend (see the article on Petitioning). You may submit to the Committee a letter in support of or against the suspension; however, a letter supporting the student must address the issues of that failure rather than merely attest to the student's good character.
6. If your advisee chooses to consult with you, ascertain why the student received the low grades that are leading to suspension. The Office of Academic Support and Advising can provide you with comments that the instructor wrote on the grade sheet, but it is better to confer directly with the instructor. Then ask the student to explain why he or she did not earn higher grades. Compare the student's explanation with what the instructor told you. If there is a discrepancy, pursue the issue with the student. Students sometimes neglect to mention that they were frequently absent from the class or did not turn in all the assignments. By discussing such issues with the student, you perform a double service: you may help the student to realize at last the consequences of her or his attitudes and behaviors and you make it possible for the student to answer the specific charges when writing the letter of mitigation. The Committee will have the instructor's comments. If the student fails to address these, the appeal will almost certainly be denied.
7. You may also discover in your conversation that there were mitigating circumstances (e.g., medical problems, family troubles, or other personal matters that the student may be too embarrassed or naive to mention but whose existence, if verified, may keep the student from being suspended). If the student does not wish to reveal such information in the letter of mitigation, the student may confide in the Dean of Students, the Director of Counseling Services, the College Chaplain, the Affirmative Action Officer, or another administrative counselor or health professional. The Committee will accept that person's word that the circumstances justify clemency, and the confidential information will not be made known to the committee members.
8. A student who is suspended is not permitted to continue to attend classes, to remain in college housing, to participate in college activities other than as a member of the general public, or to represent the College in any way.
9. Suspended students must leave campus within three days unless given special permission by the Dean of Students. A student who does not leave in a timely and orderly manner may jeopardize her or his chances of being readmitted should he or she later apply for readmission.
10. If your advisee is suspended, your technical responsibilities as advisor are ended; however, if you have had good rapport with the student and feel sympathetic, you may wish to offer whatever assistance you can. Often suspension is the beginning of maturation as the person finally accepts responsibility for her or his actions. Suspension is also a time when the individual may feel particularly worthless and may need to be reassured that there is "life after Cornell" and that he or she has potential and is a worthwhile human being. In some cases, the student's parents may call to inquire about readmission or some course of treatment. If you do not feel able to deal with these issues, refer the student or the parents to the Registrar or, if it is a matter of medical or psychological treatment, to the Dean of Students.