Faculty Advising Guide

Advisors offer students an essential academic and personal connection to the institution that is vital to student success.

Advising Topics in Depth

 Advising is integral to student development; it is one of the only activities on campus in which all students have the opportunity for individual interaction with a concerned representative of the institution. Advisors offer students an essential academic and personal connection to the institution that is vital to student success.

What Students Expect

Students expect advisors to:

  • Know the University.
  • Help them solve problems.
  • Communicate effectively.

The Advisor Role

Reinforce the idea that you are their partner in this journey

Help students realize that they don’t need to face the academic experience alone. You are a resource for them for issues ranging from registration problems to what to do about problems with a particular course.

Convey that you're willing to engage in conversation

Don’t let students feel like they are being rushed or hurried through the appointments. Listen carefully, show genuine concern, and take your time.

Know the institution's academic programs, policies, and procedures

Read the academic catalog to familiarize yourself with University policies and procedures so you can help students navigate various policy requirements.

Help students identify interests, talents, and goals

Ask guiding questions to determine students' strengths and interests. For example:

  • What do you plan to do with your degree, or what do you plan to do after graduation?
  • Which classes did you like (or dislike) last semester and why?
  • Were there any unexpected academic difficulties or achievements in recent classes?

Know the campus and student culture

Who are your students and what needs do they have? This includes understanding the variety of student subpopulations on campus (e.g., adult learners, international students, students with disabilities, etc.). This also includes being familiar with the campus culture.

Promote student involvement on campus

Students learn and develop when they become involved in their collegiate experience and advising is an important way that students are introduced to - and become involved in - their campus experience.

You can introduce them to co-curricular activities, including study abroad, internships, extracurricular activities (clubs, service/volunteer), or career/educational paths associated with the major.

Encourage student’s awareness of available support services

Offer a concrete referral during your session by picking up the phone and calling a campus contact. Show students how to access office information, campus directory, web pages, etc. Give them a name of a person at the office they need to visit to make the referral more personal.

Student Outcomes

Regular meetings with an academic advisor should allow students to:

  • Evaluate personal interests and abilities leading to the development of their academic and professional goals.
  • Develop effective decision-making skills and accept responsibility for their own decisions.
  • Develop an educational plan that leads to the timely completion of their educational goals.
  • Discover and integrate co- and extra-curricular activities and programs that enhance the collegiate experience.
  • Access and navigate Suffolk resources and processes as well as academic and support services.

When advising students, be aware of important dates and deadlines. The specific dates for the current semester can be found online by checking the official academic calendar. Listed below are some deadlines to become familiar with on the academic calendar:

Tuition Deadlines

For complete tuition information, contact Student Account Services.

  • 50% Tuition Liability
  • 75% Tuition Liability
  • 100% Tuition Liability Dates

Course Registration and Course Add/Drop Deadlines

For complete Registration information, contact the Office of the Registrar.

  • Last Day to Register for Classes
  • Last Day to Drop a Course without a grade of "W"
  • Last Day to Drop a Course without a grade of "F"
  • Advising for Registration begins
  • Senior Priority Registration
  • Junior Priority Registration
  • Sophomore Priority Registration
  • Freshman Priority Registration

Graduation Dates & Deadlines

  • Application for Degree
  • Undergraduate Commencement

By serving as academic advisors and mentors, faculty and staff build relationships with students that not only enhance the overall academic experience and connect students directly to their school, but also assist them to make decisions regarding education, career, and life goals. Mentor relationships help students become responsible citizens within their profession and the global community.

Student Responsibilities

Students are responsible for the following:

  • Knowing who their assigned advisor is and how to contact him or her.
  • Scheduling regular meetings with their advisor.
  • Being aware of important dates and deadlines.
  • Checking their @suffolk.edu email daily.
  • Preparing for advising meetings: create an academic plan, print or download the “Program Evaluation” from MySuffolk.
  • Understanding major and general degree requirements.
  • Communicating changes in academic program with their advisor.
  • Planning ahead.
  • Keeping notes on advising meetings.

Advisor Responsibilities

Advisors are responsible for the following:

  • Maintaining knowledge of degree requirements, school policies, and academic processes.
  • Maintaining office hours in accordance with the Faculty Handbook (increased availability during Advising and Registration periods is recommended).
  • Acting as a mentor in your discipline.
  • Being knowledgeable about opportunities and options within your major.
  • Connecting students within your major to potential future career paths.
  • Helping students select courses that meet these academic goals.
  • Discussing co-curricular activities (study abroad, internships), extracurricular activities (clubs, service), or career/educational paths associated with the major.
  • Being prepared to advise beyond courses/programs and guide students toward available resources or experts.
  • Utilizing the Navigate system to provide a seamless student support network.
  • Maintaining up to date auto-replies on Suffolk voicemail and email.
  • Responding to voicemail and email in a reasonable time frame.

Faculty Advisor Challenges

The UAAC knows that faculty sometimes find advising challenging. We are here to help with these challenges and ask you to consider the following:

Faculty typically experience challenges in advising such as:

Lack of knowledge on available resources for training

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising can play a primary role in providing such opportunities. Some of those opportunities include:

  • National and regional conferences where advisors exchange ideas and learn best practices in advising.
  • Monographs focused on specific issues / topics in advising, such as Scholarly Inquiry in Academic Advising.
  • Pocket guides, such as A Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, that present essential concepts and practical ideas.
  • Live webinars, in which participants interact with advising experts in real time, and digital recordings of those webinars that can be accessed later.

How do they add value?

Your experience in your discipline, as an educator, and as a student yourself is invaluable to this process. Administrators who serve as professional advisors play a needed role, but we can only take the student so far without faculty who are specialists in their arena.

Your teaching experiences will typically have many opportunities for discussion whether about a specific topic or how a topic interact and affects someone or someplace. These discussions, or conversations, are the foundation elements of advising, the only difference being the topic.

Limited feedback

The UAAC manages a student survey throughout the year to gain insight into student and faculty advisor experiences. We get both positive and negative feedback and look to update our materials, webpages or trainings accordingly. If you are interested in learning more about this survey or let us know.

We can also teach you ways of gaining feedback through other sources, mainly, your students.

Value in reappointment / promotion / tenure decisions

Did you know that it is possible to integrate advising with research responsibilities? Many areas of the activity of advising are open to both qualitative and quantitative research possibilities.

All undergraduate students at Suffolk University are assigned to an academic advisor. Among other things, academic advisors approve students to register for classes each semester.

In addition to their faculty advisor, any and all undergraduate students may see an advisor from the Undergraduate Academic Advising Center for supplemental advising.

Below you can access specific information about how and why advisors are assigned, as well as information about contacting your advisees.

Advisor Assignments - College of Arts & Sciences

Declared Majors: If a student in the College of Arts and Sciences has a major declared, he or she is assigned to a faculty advisor from their academic department. If a student is a double major, he or she will have one advisor assigned from each academic department.

Undeclared Majors: If a student in the College of Arts & Sciences is an "undeclared" or "open" major, the student is assigned an academic advisor from the UAAC. The student is also assigned a secondary advisor from UAAC.

Advisor Assignments - Sawyer Business School

Declared Majors: If a student in the Sawyer Business School and has a major declared, he or she is assigned to a faculty advisor from their academic department. If a student is a double major, he or she will have one advisor assigned from each academic department.

Undeclared Majors: If a student in the Sawyer Business School is an "undeclared" or "open" major, the student is assigned to an academic advisor from the UAAC. Once the student declares a major, he or she will be assigned to a faculty advisor in their academic department.

Secondary Advisors

Students may also be assigned a secondary advisor if they are participants in one of the Honors programs on campus, the SU Advantage program, a second major, or in some cases for a minor advisor.

Contacting Your Advisees

The UAAC recommends that faculty communicate to their advisees regularly to introduce themselves as well as outline any specifics the students should prepare for a meeting.

Additionally, each faculty member has their own unique ways of adding value to the advising experience through their own background, research or career path. Reaching out to your advisees via email is one way to begin sharing the unique value of getting to know you as an advisor.

Contact your department support staff member. They have access to a master excel spreadsheet that can be sorted for the most up-to-date list of your advisees.

Group Communications

Many departments also choose to send out emails to all advisees for their faculty using a department mailbox that helps to streamline communications and messages sent out to majors. If this method is used the UAAC suggests that rather than using the email of a single support staff or faculty member that a departmental email be created by working with ITS. An email such as “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” with a carefully chosen subject line will get your student/majors attention.

Advising vs. Course Selection

The UAAC ascribes to a developmental advising model, wherein conversations with students are in depth as a means to help students discover and fine tune their academic interests and goals.

We define advising as a process that occurs throughout the academic year, not just during designated course selection and registration periods.

Course selection is more prescriptive and the conversation is focused on the short-term goal of getting the student cleared to register for his or her courses.

The pre-registration schedule building period occurs once per semester and the official dates are listed on the academic calendar. During this designated period, students prepare for registration by creating a "wishlist" of courses they plan to take in the upcoming semester.

Pre-Registration Schedule Building

During pre-registration schedule building, students will likely want to meet with you to confirm that their course choices are the upcoming semester are accurate. Here are some ways you can determine their course needs:

Review Curriculum Materials:

  • Your student's program evaluation. Students should bring a copy with them.
  • curriculum checklist for student’s program and catalog year.
  • Your major's suggested course sequence (if your department offers one).

Determine Appropriate Courses:

  • Students should bring a preliminary schedule. Your goal is to double check their selections according to their program evaluation and make suggestions that will help them progress in their academic program.
  • Pay attention to prerequisites required for future courses.
  • Be sure that your student has declared all intended majors and minors so the program evaluation is accurate.

Multi-Year Academic Planning

When students meet with an advisor for registration and course selection, they often want to plan for more than just the next semester schedule.

If your advisee has questions about their graduation timeline or future semesters, suggest that they draft a multi-year plan. You can work with them to outline future course plans or refer them to the UAAC for multi-year academic planning.

All multi-year plans are a work in progress, but they help students think ahead, plan for study abroad semesters, internships, or other co-curricular opportunities, while still remaining on track for graduation.

Making the Most of Online Tools

Searching for Courses in MySuffolk

The Registrar’s Office provides detailed instructions and videos on how to search for courses in MySuffolk. Use the "Faculty" tab in your MySuffolk account to access your advisee lists.

Reading the Program Evaluation

This video provides step-by-step instructions for reading a students program evaluation.


Suffolk University has partnered with the Education Advisory Board (EAB) to implement Navigate, a powerful set of data-driven tools to guide Suffolk University advisors, faculty, and student support staff in academic and career advising. The goal of this implementation is to improve retention and graduation rates.

Choosing or changing a major is a common advising conversation. If a student is unsure that they are have chosen the correct major, help them evaluate their interests, talents, and goals, as well as explore their options.

While students are not required to take a minor, many choose to declare one and may ask your input on the value of adding a minor and how to go about choosing the best minor to suit their interests and complement their major.


College of Arts & Sciences Majors

Sawyer Business School Majors


Minors round out a student's academic program and add depth to a particular area of study. They can be excellent resume builders and students often find it useful to discuss the merits of one minor or another with their faculty advisor.

A minor does not take the place of gaining leadership experiences through clubs and activities, extracurriculars, or internships. If adding a minor means students cannot spend time getting involved on campus or if the work load limits time for internships, then a minor is not the right choice.

Instead, discuss adding special courses of interest to fulfill open credits that will add to a student's interest areas and round out their experience without becoming overwhelmed.

Reasons to Declare a Minor

  • Explore a discipline other than the chosen major.
  • Prepare for better-rounded career opportunities by creating varied skills and knowledge.
  • Bolster a resume through a minor that compliments the chosen major.
  • A student is interested in the discipline and would like to complete a concentration of coursework.

Reasons Not to Declare a Minor

  • It sounds like a good idea.
  • A friend is declaring one.
  • It is more important than clubs & activities.

Students generally enroll in a winter or summer class for two reasons: because they want to get ahead or because they fell behind and need to get caught up.

Why Suggest a Winter or Summer Class

Prompt students to plan ahead:
Most students will seek out advice only about the most pressing issues; for example, the next semester. It is an advisors job to pose questions that get students to start thinking ahead.

Ask your advisee:

  • "Have you thought about registering for a winter or summer course at Suffolk?"
  • "Have you made a graduation plan?" If not, drafting a semester-by-semester plan or simply counting the number of remaining courses will alert students of the need for a winter or summer course.
  • "Are you planning any semester where you may want to reduce the number of courses you take?" For example: a demanding internship, a unique study abroad experience, etc.

Time Commitment

When deciding whether or not to enroll in a winter or summer course, students will likely ask how long they take to complete and how they compare to fall and spring courses.

Semester Length:

  • Winter Intercession:4 weeks. Classes start at the end of December.
  • Summer Session: Most classes are 7 weeks. Taking a summer class does not take the entire summer. Students can still have a full range of personal summer activities.

Winter & Summer courses COMPARED to Fall & Spring courses:

  • Fall and spring classes are 14 weeks long. During a summer class the same content is covered over just 7 weeks. This means the course is accelerated, which is why there is a limit to the number of summer courses students are allowed to take at any one time.
  • Tutoring is available through the Center for Learning & Academic Success (CLAS). However, a full range of tutors are not on campus all summer.
  • Winter & Summer classes are a good option for students to concentrate on one subject area they find challenging.


Searching for Winter & Summer Courses in MySuffolk:

Winter: If registering for Winter 2019, select the "Term 19/WS – Winter Session." All winter classes are offered online only.

Summer: The summer terms are separated into "Modules." When searching for summer classes, you can search by “Module” OR search “All Summer Offerings."



19/SM1: Summer Module 1 - 2019

First half of Summer 2019

19/SM2: Summer Module 2 - 2019

Second half of Summer 2019

19/SMA: Summer Module A - 2019

Entire Summer

Credit Limits:

Winter: Maximum 2 credits

Summer: Maximum 8 credits during any one module. Maximum of 16 throughout the summer.

For more information, see the Full Semester Course Load policy


Students will likely have payment and billing questions about summer and winter courses, and the cost ad financial aid options vary.

If students have questions about the cost of a winter or summer session course, please refer them to Student Account Services.

Students may also contact the Office of Student Financial Services about options for financing summer courses.

Curriculum checklists are available on the UAAC website. These forms and checklists should be used in conjunction with a student's Program Evaluation when determining next semester course selection or providing advice about remaining requirements.

For a comprehensive guide to University major and degree requirements, refer to the most recent Undergraduate Academic Catalog

Students often arrive at advising appointments with a variety of questions and concerns. It is important for advisors to be knowledgeable about campus resources and able to provide accurate and detailed referrals to students.

If you refer a student to one of these resources, please:

  • Help the student understand why the referral is being made;
  • Explain what kind of service is offered and what to expect;
  • Provide contact information

You can find more information about how to make an effective referral on the NACADA website.

Guidelines for Making a Referral


How to Refer:

Immigration or visa questions

Center for International Programs & Services

Interest in travel opportunities

Study Abroad Office

Help with resume or internship search

Career Development Center

Stress, anxiety, adjustment difficulties

The Counseling Center

Needs extra time on tests, peer note-taker, or other accommodation

Disability Services

Needs help with time management or study skills

Center for Learning & Academic Success

Needs individual or group tutoring

Center for Learning & Academic Success

Withdrawing from school or taking a semester off

Student Affairs Office

Has an academic complaint or grievance

Student Affairs Office

Has a personal issue/illness and will miss more than a week of classes

Student Affairs Office

Academic Resources

The Center for Learning & Academic Success (CLAS) a multifaceted support service providing diverse programs that offer strategies and techniques for improving academic success. Academic Coaches and Peer and Professional Tutors connect students with a wide variety of Suffolk resources, provide academic coaching, and advise students on time management, study skills, and communication with instructors.

The Office of Disability Services strives to assist students with disabilities in advocating for themselves, receiving appropriate accommodations, and utilizing the campus-wide resources in order to fulfill their postsecondary education goals.

Counseling, Health & Wellness (CHW)

CHW provides timely and comprehensive short-term counseling services to Suffolk University undergraduate and graduate students. CHW is committed to using its full resources in helping to expand the positive and productive learning environment at Suffolk University for students, faculty, and administrators alike. CHW also provides high-quality, holistic, easily accessible and cost-effective care to Suffolk students.

Campus Involvement

The Student Leadership & Involvement Office supports activities and advises over 80 student clubs and organizations

Center for Community Engagement creates lasting connections among Suffolk University, non-profits, and community-based organizations.

The Performing Arts Office provides opportunities for all members of the Suffolk community to participate in the performing arts, regardless of background or area of study.


The Office of Student Financial Services handles student's financial aid package including loans, grants, scholarships. Students who receive a financial aid package are assigned to a financial aid counselor at the office.

Student Account Services is responsible for the maintenance of a student's account, which includes billing, processing payments, and refunds. They can provide all information about tuition and tuition payments.

Student Life

The Student Affairs Office is responsible for creating and maintaining programs and services that enhance student life at the University. The office functions as a resource and referral source for a variety of student concerns and welcomes the opportunity to hear from students about their experiences at the University. The Student Affairs Office works cooperatively with other parts of the University in ensuring that the institution is responsive to students’ needs in all areas. If a student has a question, problem, or an idea and is unsure where to take it, the Student Affairs Office is a good place to begin.

The Office of Residence Life & Housing provides information about student residence halls and other residence options available to any Boston full-time student. All residence halls are located within walking distance of the campus and are close to Boston Public Garden, Copley Square and subway.

The Off-Campus Housing Office (OCHO) provides students with current apartment and roommate listings, neighborhood information, listings of local real estate agents, maps of Boston and surrounding areas, and local newspaper and websites resources to aid students with their apartment search. Students can advertise for roommates for their secured apartments.

All faculty and staff with access to student records are responsible for upholding student privacy rights in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

In accordance with the provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (Section 438 of the General Education Provisions Act, 20. USC 1232g, commonly referred to as the “Buckley Amendment” or “FERPA”) Suffolk University has adopted the following procedures to protect the privacy rights of its students.

Forms or paperwork may be required if your advisee is looking to change his or her major and/or minor, register for course without the necessary prerequisite(s), request to register for excess credits, etc.

For easy reference, you can access frequently used administrative forms from the UAAC website.

If you are unsure what form or paperwork should be used to complete a certain process, contact the UAAC for advice.

Advisors work with a variety of different student populations and each population has a unique set of needs and may benefit from the variety of services offered on campus. Additionally, different students often have unique requirements that need to be met, based on their program or cohort requirements.

Student Athletes

Student athletes may have special course scheduling concerns, due to practices or games. If a student athlete is unsure of their schedule restrictions, refer him or her to Athletics Department.

Transfer Students

Transfer students often have unique academic needs. When meeting with a transfer student, it is important to suggest multi-year academic planning and to make sure they are familiar with their transfer equivalency report, which they receive from the Undergraduate Admissions Office, as well as their program evaluation.

The transfer credit equivalency report is a document which lists all of their transfer credits from the institutions they attended prior to matriculating at Suffolk.

If transfer students have questions regarding the distribution of their transfer credits, refer them to the UAAC.

SU Advantage Students

The SU Advantage program is facilitated by the Center for Learning & Academic Success. Students in the SU Advantage program are required to take certain courses during their first year at Suffolk.

Veterans & Military Families

Suffolk offers a variety of resources for veteran students. Additionally, certain representatives on campus can assist with questions about finances and tuition assistance programs.

Honors Students

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences Honors Program and the Sawyer Business School Honors Programhave program specific requirements they must complete, in addition to their major and degree requirements.

Students with Disabilities

If you are working with a student who requests disability accommodations refer him or her to The Office of Disability Services. If a student has a temporary disability, such as a broken arm or leg, they may be unaware of the services available.

International Students

International students are required to adhere to certain guidelines as a condition of visa regulations. In general all international students are required to maintain a full-time course load, in order to maintain their immigration status.

Refer questions or concerns about visas, I-20's, or immigration status to the Office of International Student Services.

Advising Literature

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) promotes the exchanges of ideas pertaining to academic advising through articles and publications.

Sample Advising Conversations

Advising conversations can be meeting starters, points-of-focus, and set themes that may follow your advisees throughout their Suffolk careers.