Every new student at Wake Forest is issued an academic adviser to help them learn how to navigate course requirements and understand how to proceed with course selection for the first two years before they declare a major. Normally academic advisers are faculty members, but sometimes they are Wake Forest staff members; often the staff academic advisers are also Wake Forest alumni. New students also have a Student Orientation Adviser (SOO), an upperclass peer. Advising groups of 10 first year students, the academic adviser, and the Student Orientation Adviser do a lot of activities together the first few days on campus.
This morning was the first advising group meeting. This is a time for the academic adviser and SOO to get to know their students and explain the fundamentals of basic and divisional requirements. It is also a time for students to review the fall course offerings and determine classes they might wish to take.
One of the things I always tell my advisees is that they are at the very beginning of their academic career, and there are lots of basic and divisional requirements they need to fulfill. With a few exceptions for specific majors, there is not an absolute path or progression they must take. Rather, as long as they are selecting courses that fulfill basic or divisional requirements, they will be moving steadily toward their degree. I also tell them to try to ease in to their coursework, taking at least 1-2 classes in areas where they are academically strong. This helps build their confidence as they adjust to college level work.
Advising works best when students avail themselves of many resources – their assigned adviser and SOO is a good place to start, but they should also feel free to talk to faculty in departments that interest them, and get advice from the Office of Academic Advising, which has professional counselors, attend departmental open houses during Orientation, and more.
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