Advantages of Academic Advising

By: Alex Bussom

Part of why I chose Furman revolved around wanting to be a name and not a number within my classes. I had a great relationship with my teachers in high school, some I even still grab lunch with from time to time, and I was looking to continue building those relationships with my college professors. Not only does Furman’s small class size allow for that dream to be a reality, but because of the promises of The Furman Advantage (TFA), each student is given a team of academic advisors that students work with throughout their time at Furman and beyond. 

There are many advantages to the Academic Advising structure here at Furman. During a student’s summer orientation, they will receive a summer advisor. This advisor will be your first connection to Furman faculty and it’s even before you arrive on campus. I personally got to work with the Associate Dean of Academics, Dean Longest. Due to the pandemic, we met over zoom during virtual orientation to talk about my initial academic interests as well as some potential student organizations that I may want to join when arriving for my first Fall at Furman. I had an inkling of what I wanted to major in before coming to Furman so my meeting revolved around starting planning my Pre-Med classes. Also, during this meeting, students are free to ask any questions about academics, transitioning into college, or anything else!

Once you arrive on campus, you will be scheduled to meet with your first year academic advisor upon your first few days of arrival. At this meeting, your family is welcome to attend to meet one of your mentors that you will be working closely with for your initial time at Furman. This advisor will work with you until you declare your major here at Furman. There is also another advisor that will help you make the transition from high school to college as smooth as possible. This advisor may or may not be in your intended field of study, but they will still be an excellent mentor that will be a resource for you during your entire time at Furman. Together you and your advisor will create class schedules, discuss long term academic plans, and continuously make sure you are on the path to success both here at Furman and for your bright future. They will also help you ensure that you are filling your General Education Requirements (GERs). These are classes that are a necessity to graduate and are in a diverse range of departments. GERs are part of the advantage of a liberal arts education and allow you to experience a range of classes before you even declare your major because those initial interests may change.

By the end of sophomore year, you will declare your major. Your first year advisor will help you navigate this simple process and help you embark on your journey within your major(s). Once you declare your major, you will receive an advisor within that field of study for every field of study. I personally have three advisors that I work with to ensure that I am meeting all the requirements for both of my majors as well as for the Pre-Med track.   I am only a rising sophomore and academic advising has had such an impact on my time here at Furman already. It was convenient that my first year advisor, Dr. Rippon, is a professor in the Spanish department. As I am a declared Spanish major, it is great to have a connection and a mentor with someone in the department who is invested in me and wants to see me succeed. I got the opportunity to take both of my Spanish classes my first year with Dr. Rippon. Through her being my advisor and professor, I have created a good relationship with her and she is a resource where I can go if I have any academic academic questions. Her door is always open to chat if I am having a rough day or simply just need someone to talk to. I am ecstatic that she will be my advisor for the next four years and I am looking forward to working with her.

I also just met my other advisor in the Biology department, last semester. Already, she is someone that I clicked with right away. We have similar personalities, work efficiently together, and of course both like to have fun and joke around. The first time I met her, she bet me that I couldn’t finish my Culture Life Program (CLP) requirements in one year and get all 32 events attended. Spoiler alert– I did and now she owes me dinner! Interactions like this prove the advising process is about creating a bond with your advisor, hence building those important mentorships throughout your time at Furman. 

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