Welcome to your first semester at Westmont! My name is Michelle Hardley and I am the director of the Academic Advising and Disability Services department. We are very excited to have you join us. Our office is here to help you maximize your educational potential and the opportunities available to you as you work through each semester.
One of the ways we do this is by linking you to an academic adviser. Academic advisers can be helpful to you in many ways. Their main goal is to help you explore your options regarding a major and career choice as they listen and learn about you and your strengths and weaknesses. They are great resources when it comes to knowing college academic policies, graduation requirements, and scheduling classes. They are also great people to talk with - and you must meet with them each semester before you can register for the next semester. All full time faculty members act as academic advisers.
One important thing to remember is that academic advising at Westmont is not like your high school advising experience. Our advisers want to develop a relationship with you, one that is based on getting to know you, so they can tailor their advice to you based on your wants and desires for your life. Instead of telling you which classes to take, your advisers want to help you make those decisions. Advisers are here to keep you on track with the various policies and procedures, but they will not tell you which specific path to choose. Like many relationships, these take time and multiple encounters to develop. So be sure to seek out your adviser during their office hours throughout the semester, not just when you need a form signed. The Westmont College Student Association has a program where you can get free meal tickets to take a professor to lunch in the Dining Commons. This offers one additional way to get to know them better. Advisers are here to help, but you need to come to them and let them know about your questions and concerns.
Unlike high school you do have some responsibilities in the advising relationship. You are responsible for:
- Contacting your adviser and keeping in touch with them (this is best to do in advance of registration)
- Coming to appointments with all necessary materials
- Asking specific questions and becoming familiar with the college catalog
- Discussing concerns regarding your major life choices, vocations, etc.
- Building a tentative schedule of classes to review with you adviser, composed of the classes you need and want
- Asking about college resources
Your faculty members also have responsibilities in the advising relationship. You can expect him or her to:
- Post office hours and let you know what times are available for advising
- Provide accurate and specific information based on their familiarity with the college catalog and department offerings
- Be a good listener and guide you in the decision-making process
- Review your registration materials to ensure the proper selection of courses
- Suggest other available resources
You were assigned an advisor based on your academic interests as you noted on your application for admission. This is not the same as officially declaring your major, but it does allow Westmont to assign you to an area where you at least have an interest. If you are undecided as to what you want to study, you will most likely work with me.
Since the effectiveness of advising is based on building a relationship, you might not make a connection with the adviser that is first assigned to you, or your first adviser might be in a department that you do not want to major in. If your adviser is a professor in the department you want to major in, you may be able to switch, but it might be difficult based on the number of advisees per adviser. If your adviser that you are assigned to is not in the department you intend to major in, switching advisers is relatively easy and should be done sooner rather then later. You can contact the registrar’s office or the director of Academic Advising for procedural information and a Change of Advisor form.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. We hope and pray that your transition at Westmont is a smooth one!
Director of Academic Advising