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Academic Advising Syllabus

At the School of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego academic advising is an important part of our commitment to the process of educating students. Advising involves both an interactive process designed to facilitate student development and the communication of accurate information regarding degree programs, courses, resources, departmental policies/procedures, and other opportunities, all with the objective of helping students attain their educational goals. The academic advising process is one that leads students to:

  • become well informed about policies and procedures, curricular options, and academic program requirements
  • clearly define their educational objectives
  • plan programs that incorporate their interests, abilities and goals
  • make full use of the facilities and resources available at UC San Diego

The School of Biological Sciences is committed to providing high quality academic advising to students in all biology majors. Attaining this goal requires that both advisors and students understand and embrace their respective roles in the advising process.

The School of Biological Sciences recognizes academic advising as an integral part of students' educational experience. Based on each student's individual circumstances, personal development and academic interests, academic advising provides an opportunity to work with a professional expert who will provide educational guidance.

Students should get to know their advisor since this relationship will be one of the most beneficial campus connections of their college experience.

Vision for Undergraduate Education

  • Students graduating from the division will have a deep conceptual understanding of modern biology, strong practical and analytical skills, and the intellectual agility essential for lifelong learning.
  • Students will have the mindset crucial for becoming effective members of the 21 st century global workforce, including skills to apply the process of science, collaborate and communicate with other disciplines and understand the relationship between science and society.
  • Students will be exceptionally well prepared for entering a broad spectrum of career paths, ranging from graduate and professional school to teaching and private sector employment.

Communication Protocol

Email communication via a students’ UCSD email account and the Virtual Advising Center (VAC) are the official methods of communication used at UC San Diego by the School of Biological Sciences and your college.

Due to privacy regulations, the advisors will communicate solely through the VAC or your UC San Diego email account. While some inquiries may be resolved through email correspondence, most situations benefit from face-to-face interaction, so please select the most appropriate form of communication to address your inquires.

Advisor and Advisee Responsibilities

The School of Biological Sciences advisors and advisees both play important roles in the advising process.

Advisors will...

  • Understand and effectively communicate the curriculum, major requirements, and divisional policies and procedures
    • Accurately document students’ progress toward meeting their goals
    • Refer students to other campus offices as appropriate
    • Assist students in working closely with their professors, suggesting that students meet with their professors at least once per term to ask questions about challenging material or to pursue ideas in more depth
  • Encourage and support students with information about strategies for utilizing the resources and services available
    • Be accessible for meeting with advisees via office hours for advising, telephone, or email
    • Respond to student inquiries ASAP (generally one-to-two business days)
  • Assist students in improving their decision-making skills and help them to develop autonomy and responsibility for their educational plans and achievements
  • Provide a safe, respectful, and confidential space to ask questions, discuss interests and express concerns

What your advisor will expect from you…

  • Schedule and attend an advising appointment at least once a year
    • Be prepared for advising sessions with questions (course options, academic concerns, decisions about upcoming quarter, major/minor options)
    • Bring any relevant materials with you (quarter-by-quarter plan, degree audit, draft schedule, list of potential courses)
    • Be courteous and plan ahead (schedule appointments early; cancel or reschedule if necessary)
    • Arrive on time and check in at the front desk
    • Silence your phone prior to meeting with an advisor
    • Schedule and attend an advising appointment at least once a year
  • Stay informed
    • Read your UC San Diego email, review the Virtual Advising Center (VAC), check the School of Biological Sciences website, and TritonLink regularly (at least 2-3 times per week)
    • Review your class schedule each term to verify your registration and grading options for all of your courses
    • Research divisional and university programs, policies, procedures and opportunities as appropriate
  • Keep a personal record of your progress toward meeting your goals
    • Organize official documents (degree audits, schedule plans, notes from advising meetings, transcripts, etc.) in an accessible way
    • Complete all assignments or recommendations from your advisor
    • Review your degree audit and academic history each quarter and track your progress
  • Accept responsibility for your decisions and actions (or inactions) that affect your educational progress and goals
    • Ask questions if you do not understand an issue or have a specific concern
    • Be open and willing to consider advice from faculty, advisors and other mentors

How do I contact an advisor?

Please visit  Advising Services for full information.

Topics and Milestones

As you advance through your degree program, there will be decisions you will have to make about your goals and objectives. Keep in mind that you may need to make some adjustments to your initial plans as you progress through your degree. For some students, those decisions and adjustments come early in the college career, but most students need time to gain perspective and to figure things out. Similarly, it is important to recognize that different students may reach these milestones at different points in their academic career. When you want to talk through your evolving academic plans, your advisor is here to help.

Advising Outcomes for Students

Personal growth: Develop communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills

  • Define your short-term and long-term goals after reflecting on your values, interests, strengths and challenges
  • Articulate your goals during advising sessions
  • Describe the connection between your goals and your values, interests, strengths and challenges
  • Discuss problems you face by assessing what caused them, what can be done to resolve them, and how to avoid them in the future
  • Understand how to achieve balance in academics, family, work, recreation and social activities
  • Use advising and other sources of information to make meaningful changes in your life

Resource identification: Develop skills in locating and effectively using information and resources that help you achieve your goals

  • Identify websites, campus offices, and faculty or staff you can consult with
  • Use information from university resources to assess progress toward achieving goals (e.g., degree check sheets, degree audit reports, information from faculty and staff)
  • Knowledge of departmental and university processes and policies

Curriculum integration:  Understand the relationship between your classroom experiences and your academic, career and personal goals

  • Understand how your classes can help you explore and select alternate majors
  • Explain how your major curriculum helps you achieve your goals
  • Describe how educational requirements help you achieve your goals
  • Schedule courses so you graduate in a timely manner based on your educational plan
  • Connect your educational plan to your long-term goals
  • Know what you can do with a chosen major
  • Articulate personal strengths and weaknesses and be prepared for life after college

Experiential learning : Understand the importance of including experiences outside of the classroom in your educational plan

  • Have a conversation with at least one faculty member each quarter
  • Participate in undergraduate research, off-campus volunteering, study abroad and/or community service
  • Discuss how participating in these activities helps you achieve your goals

Relational Development : Understand the importance of how personal, collegial, and professional relationships are important to your development

  • Clarification of the advising relationship – expectations of advisors and advisees
  • Awareness of yourself within your educational experiences
  • Practice reflective and introspective thought to enhance your college experience
  • Seek and value regular and continued advising
  • Understand your expectations of college

Recommended Readings and Resources