We’ve compiled Information for Advisors and an Advising Checklist that features general guidelines and topics for advisors to discuss with advisees. We’ve provided a checklist for each year of study, along with recommendations for students that advisors may choose to integrate into their advising sessions. The recommendations for students are drawn largely from A Road Map for an Education in the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College

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General Expectations of Advisors

  • Meet with new first-year advisees during Orientation
  • Meet individually with all advisees during the two weeks prior to course registration and be available for other meetings during the semester.
  • Sign forms for changing a grading option or withdrawing from a course. Contact the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar (AARC) should you need to sign other forms
  • If you have concerns about the well-being of an advisee, complete a short report at go.oberlin.edu/SHARE, and the staff of the Student Help and Resource Exchange (SHARE) will assess the report and determine the best response.
  • Communicate with AARC if you are going on leave or cannot be present during an advising period.

To Encourage Good Advisor-Advisee Relations:

  • Discuss your own and your advisee’s expectations of the advisor/advisee relationship
  • Review the year-by-year advising guidelines
Specifically, you may encourage:
  • a fall semester lunch with first-year advisees
  • meals with advisees in selected dining halls through the F.A.S.T. program
  • staying in touch and checking in
  • scheduling regular appointments during the semester

Advisors who meet for lunch or other social events with their advisee and their classmates, you may request reimbursement.

Questions? Contact aarc@oberlin.edu


A Year-by-Year Advising Checklist:

First Year

Topics to Discuss

Current educational goals for advisee’s Oberlin career
A course schedule that is balanced between divisions, with different kinds of assignments
Advisee’s understanding of general course requirements (look at Degree Works)
Students are expected to take four courses per semester (4 x 8 = 32 courses, for the BA)
• Full-time enrollment is three and one-half to five full courses (14 to 20 credits) for BA students, and 16 to 26 credits for double-degree students
Requirements for winter term and ideas for projects
Importance of the academic calendar and upcoming deadlines
Student accountability for academic progress; review Degree Works on PRESTO regularly
Give advisee their RAP

As Time Permits, You Might:

Encourage participation in student organizations, club sports or other physical fitness activities; make initial visits to the Bonner Center for Service and Learning and the Career Development Center
Encourage advisees to get to know their professors and to identify one to get to know well
Ask about advisees’ time management skills and offer suggestions
Refer your advisees to campus offices, as needed: Student Academic Success Programs for tutoring, study skills, and time management; CLEAR and the Writing Center; SHARE advisors for personal issues; Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar for general advising, incompletes, and academic standing

Recommendations for Advisors
  • Review the list of courses that fulfill the quantitative and formal reasoning (QFR) requirement via the “Quantitative and Formal Reasoning Courses” page at catalog.oberlin.edu
  • Periodically read descriptions of introductory courses outside of your department or program
Recommendations for Students, As Applicable
  • Outline your educational goals. Consider ways to integrate your values and your Oberlin education.
  • Enroll in courses that will allow you to sharpen your reading, writing, and analytical skills.
  • Take courses beyond your comfort zone. The general requirements can steer you in a variety of directions. Select which courses will work for you.
  • Begin a new world language or advance your fluency in a language you’ve already studied.
  • Inquire about international winter-term opportunities for this year, next year, or both. Learn more about study-away opportunities at the Office of Study Away.
  • Select a community service project through the Bonner Center for Service and Learning.
  • Attend events sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center, YB Center for Dialogue, and Program Houses.
  • Attend a conservatory concert or view an exhibit at the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
  • Audition for a student theater production or an a cappella singing group.
  • Learn about academic and student life policies, including the Oberlin College Code of Conduct.
  • Refine your time management and organizational skills. Sleep, eat, and exercise.
  • Talk to PALS about winter term, summer internships, and course selection.

Second Year

Topics to Discuss

Course selection for a balanced schedule, with a focus on an area of advisee’s interest
Progress toward completion of general course requirements
Selection of a major, which must be declared by the time a student has completed 16 courses. If a student arrives with a large number of credits (AP, IB, or otherwise), a student may not be prepared to declare a major at 16 courses (64 credits). Please send the student to the Academic Advising Resource Center/Registrar, who can grant a deadline extension.
Study away and academic preparation for study abroad (annual study-away deadline is March 15 for either fall or spring semester of the following year)
Winter term, considering a possible internship or summer internship (see the Career Development Center)
Importance of academic calendar and upcoming deadlines
Visit the Career Development Center to learn more about writing résumés, cover letters, and more
Student accountability for academic progress; review Degree Works on PRESTO regularly
Give advisee their RAP

At Time Permits, You Might:

Review your advisee’s extracurricular activities, including civic engagement that relates to a student’s academic interests
Counsel advisees to get to know more faculty members (who may be willing to write letters of reference)
Help your advisee plan for life after Oberlin, with an eye on how best to keep options open

Recommendations for Students as Applicable
  • Take courses in the departments and programs that you find most compelling. Talk about your interests with students and faculty, including department chairs. Find out, for example, how compatible a particular major is with different study-abroad programs.
  • Look back on your initial set of educational goals. Assess the ways in which they have changed, and update accordingly. Recognize the flexibility necessary to this endeavor, and imagine how different your values and identity may appear again in the next couple of years.
  • Plan a summer internship and consider a winter-term internship related to your social values and fields of interest. Use summer and January to explore real-life experiences, which can deeply affect your education at Oberlin and opportunities after Oberlin.
  • Consider studying abroad during your junior or senior year, in a location where you can speak the native language, and learn more about the nation and the world.
  • Develop a résumé with advice from Career Development Center staff and begin to compile a portfolio of your achievements, assessments, and plans. Each of these tools can serve as a personal archive, to allow you to reflect upon what you have done, so that you can choose wisely what to do next.
  • Take advantage of mentoring opportunities through the Career Development Center and the Alumni Association.
  • Begin thinking about life after Oberlin. Learn about fellowships for recent graduates, and explore graduate and professional school programs. Explore careers you may pursue once you graduate.

Third Year

Topics to Discuss

Current educational goals for advisee’s Oberlin career
Major requirements (including capstone, honors, research, senior seminar, etc. as appropriate) and overall plan for remaining semesters
Selection of elective courses considering issues of educational goals and breadth
Plan for the study-away experience and after. Before departure, talk about building connections between the study-away experience and the remaining semesters at Oberlin. Students returning from study away may find the need for additional support in adjusting back to campus life and culture.
Winter-term or summer internships relevant to career interests
Importance of academic calendar and upcoming deadlines
Importance of thinking ahead about academic and non-academic opportunities: research requirements for fellowships, graduate schools, postcollege internships, or jobs
Visit the Career Develeopment Center to update résumé and find out about tests required for graduate or professional school and opportunities to network with alumni
Student accountability for academic progress; review Degree Works on PRESTO regularly
Give advisee their RAP

At Time Permits, You Might:

Refer your advisee to professional societies relevant to field of major
Affirm the importance of leadership opportunities
Offer counsel on how best to begin planning for life after Oberlin

Recommendations for Students as Applicable

Choose electives that support your academic and personal goals. Use the idea of breadth to guide you as you continue to make the most of the liberal arts education.

  • Organize and participate in campus events that are relevant to your educational goals.
  • Find out about professional societies associated with your major. Get involved with your department. Serve as a student major representative, Peer advising Leader (PAL), or arrange visits by outside speakers. Volunteer for leadership positions in student and community organizations.
  • Consider again the ways in which student organizations or community involvement could deepen your understanding of the world around you.
  • Arrange meetings with your advisors, mentors, and a Career Development Center advisor about how your work at Oberlin can support your long-term career and personal goals. Junior year is key for planning ahead.

Fourth and Fifth Year

Topics to Discuss

Completion of all requirements
Honors or capstone project as applicable
Make the most of leadership opportunities
Application for commencement
Applications for fellowships, graduate schools, post-college internships, or jobs
Importance of academic calendar
Student accountability for academic progress; review Degree Works on PRESTO regularly
Give advisee their RAP

Recommendations for Students, As Applicable
  • Aspire to create knowledge through your senior honors project or capstone. Use this opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of your field of study, and to draw connections between your major and your other interests 
  • Pursue opportunities to present your work on campus and in the community. Share your knowledge in public forums, and practice the skills of effective speaking, writing, and presentation. Talk to your mentors and Career Development Center staff about how to give a talk, rather than read a paper.
  • Choose courses you have always wanted to take, particularly those that will enrich your life after Oberlin.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities through the Career Development Center and the Alumni Association.
  • Accept leadership positions in student or community organizations. These opportunities will teach you important skills of organization, and allow you to bolster the qualities of Oberlin you care about the most. Contribute to the vibrancy of the college and the community.
  • Mentor Oberlin students. Tutoring and advising can allow you to master what you already know and reciprocate the generosity shown to you when you arrived at the college.
  • Revisit the Career Development Center: Attend senior orientation session; practice interviewing skills, finalize your résumé, learn about writing graduate school essays. Seek out advisors to read drafts of your application essays.
  • Take advantage of the networking opportunities available to you through the Career Development Center and the Oberlin Alumni Association with Oberlin alumni.
  •  Complete applications for fellowships, graduate school, postcollege internships, or jobs.