First-years  |  Sophomores Juniors  |  Seniors

**Checklist for use by both advisors and advisees**

First Year: Getting Acquainted, Exploring the Liberal Arts

The Liberal Arts

  1. Introduce the concept of the liberal arts: the “liberating arts,” interconnectedness of knowledge, multiple perspectives, learning how to learn

  2. Explore curriculum – general education requirements, available majors & minors, degree options, individualized majors

  3. Explore major interest areas – take one/two courses during your first year – more if science or education interests

Differences between high school and college

  1. Expectations in class (not just going to summarize reading; need for being prepared, reading assignments more than once, contributing to class discussion, taking the initiative to ask questions)

  2. Types of assignments (amount of preparation time; individual vs. collaborative)

  3. Discuss different teaching methods to expect at college (lecture, discussion, projects, small group work, collaborative projects) and expectation to take good notes

  4. Discuss study habits, difference in high school and college expectations

  5. Resources are not just for struggling students; successful students use the Teaching and Learning Center, Academic Support office and other support services.

Taking Responsibility, Getting Involved

  1. Academic Honesty

  2. Timely communication with professor and advisor

  3. Discuss the importance of quality relationships with faculty and staff

  4. Discuss balancing academics and extracurricular activities

  5. Ask if advisee has any questions about information on Survival Skills Sheet – especially process for adding or dropping courses, taking classes S/U, withdrawals, WH [importance of documentation] and 15th day drop (main rules to quality for 15th day = 100% effort, grade in class doesn't matter)

Looking to the Future

  1. Discuss what is expected when taking courses at the different levels

  2. Discuss study abroad, internships, independent work, and student-faculty research possibilities

  3. Discuss the requirement to declare a major by December 1 of sophomore year

  4. Ask what advisee is looking forward to in the second year

  5. Review the first year: successes, challenges, what the student has learned about their possible direction

Sophomore Year: Major Decisions


  1. Make sure advisee is satisfied with sophomore year’s schedule

  2. Ask advisee if s/he is keeping track of BA requirements; review requirements if necessary, particularly foreign language if it hasn't been taken yet, it should ideally be underway in sophomore or junior year.

  3. Think about possible major: are there prerequisites for the major that need to be fulfilled, think about individualized major if no one major seems to meet the student's needs

  4. Have discussion about BSS degree if advisee is not sure about earning a BA degree 

  5. Discuss off-campus experiences (e.g. study abroad, internships, summer research), preparing applications, obtaining letters of recommendation by February 1

  6. Referrals to others on campus: potential major advisor, off-campus study advisor, internship coordinator


  1. Develop relationship with major advisee 

  2. Discuss major advisee's reasons for choosing the major, goals and ask questions to clarify the advisee is in the right major to meet those goals and match their strengths. If student is in the wrong major, refer to Academic Support office for major exploration.
  3. Discuss course schedule for rest of year with newly declared advisees

  4. Make sure that next year’s schedule completes any remaining BA requirements

  5. Does next year’s schedule develop an appreciation of the liberal arts: interconnectedness of knowledge, cross-cultural experiences, writing, quantitative literacy, and information literacy

  6. Finalize any summer research plans

  7. Finalize prospectus for Individualized major and/or BSS

  8. Encourage advisee to look to take on leadership roles in campus organizations, develop resume

  9. Ask what advisee is looking forward to in the third year

Junior Year: Developing Depth, Building a Resume

The Liberal Arts

  1. Make sure advisee is satisfied with junior year schedule; does it foster interconnectedness of knowledge, cross-cultural experiences, writing, quantitative literacy, and information literacy

  2. Make sure advisee is on track to complete BA requirements, if not already completed; review requirements if necessary.  Do not leave foreign language until senior year unless there is a very good reason.

  3. Discuss expectations of the major: developing depth, creating coherence within the major, understanding problem solving and communication skills within the discipline

  4. Discuss whether the student has shown progress in the major and whether it is still the best major to meet his/her goals
  5. Finalize prospectus for Individualized major and/or BSS

  6. Make sure the student has scheduled a senior audit or that it has been completed online by the registrar.

Looking to the Future

  1. Discuss opportunities for internships, research, off-campus study, etc.

  2. Discuss Student Symposium and other experiences with faculty

  3. Discuss possible senior capstone experiences

  4. Discuss possibility of applying for prestigious scholarships (e.g., Fulbright, McElroy), organizations (Mortar Board, honor societies), or graduating with departmental honors

  5. Discuss advisee’s plans after Cornell

    • If Grad or professional school, discuss the availability of scholarships, grants, and stipends at graduate/profession schools; discuss other requirements for admission; take GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc. 

    • If a career, then work with Career Engagement to decide on appropriate options, speak with alums, attend job fairs, job shadow, or intern somewhere

  6. Build a resume, take on leadership roles, tutor other students

  7. Finish strong!

Senior Year: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Reviewing the Last Four Years

  1. How have gen. ed. courses cultivated interconnectedness of knowledge, cross-cultural experiences, writing, oral communication skills, quantitative literacy, and information literacy

  2. How have courses in the major developed depth, been coherent, and helped develop problem solving skills and communicating effectively within the discipline

  3. How have off-campus and summer experiences contributed to cross-cultural understanding, research skills, ethical reasoning, leadership skills, career goals

Taking Care of Business

  1. Complete internship, off-campus study, or research project

  2. Look for courses that may help prepare for a particular career or graduate program

  3. Look for opportunities for leadership; mentor or tutor other students

  4. Discuss steps that seniors take: "apply for graduation", then scheduling the “senior check"* with registrar and pitfalls of dropping/adding classes without double checking with advisor or Registrar if necessary

  5. Discuss the pitfalls of senioritis and look for any signs of students who may be afraid to graduate and who may self-sabotage.
    * The registrar will send advisors the results of the senior check.  If the senior will not be able to graduate, the advisor would be wise to call advisee in to discuss a plan to change the situation or discuss a 5th year.

Looking to the Future

  1. Discuss realistic goals for the future

  2. Develop a list of places to apply to; visit as many as possible

  3. Compose a cover letter and resume

  4. Request/organize letters for career and or graduate professional school

  5. Finish strong!  The Cornell graduates become the alumni that support future students, so let's leave them with a positive impression and memories of Cornell!