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Academic Advising - Roles and Responsibilities

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A variety of resources for academic advising and support are available to undergraduate students in the College of Engineering. Students are assigned a faculty advisor when they begin their course of study in the College of Engineering. Students usually keep this advisor until they affiliate with a Major, even though the advisor may not be in the Major in which they intend to affiliate. Once students are accepted to a Major, they are assigned a faculty advisor from that Major. Throughout their undergraduate career students can access supplemental advising and support through Engineering Advising and Major Coordinators within each Major Department.

Student Responsibilities

  • Initiate Contact. Students are expected to initiate contact with their faculty advisors for scheduling, course changes, and other matters in a timely fashion. Because of teaching commitments, research, and travel obligations, advisors may not be available on short notice. Students are expected to plan ahead and initiate contact with their advisors well in advance of specific deadlines. Students should be prepared for each meeting;
  • Follow through with Referrals. Students are expected to follow through with referrals to other programs and support services.
  • Keep Advisors Informed. Advisors can provide better advice if they are kept informed of their advisees’ academic progress, challenges and career goals;
  • Work to Develop Rapport. The rapport necessary to good advising can occur only if both advisor and student make an active effort to develop it. Recognizing that individual advisors have their own styles and personalities, students should make efforts to get to know their faculty advisors and respond to the eforts of their advisors to get to know them and their academic interests.

Faculty Advisors

Faculty advisors help students translate their academic interests into an appropriate course of study, offering general guidance related to academic majors, internships, graduate study, and career planning.

Faculty advisor responsibilities include:

  • Meeting with individual students (office hours/appointments) to provide guidance related to college and major curriculum requirements;
  • Advising students on substitutions for required courses, and on the process for gaining approval for any deviation from curricular requirements;
  • Providing guidance on College and University resources supporting students’ goals and challenges, e.g., Engineering Advising, Engineering Learning Initiatives, Diversity Programs in Engineering, Counseling and Psychological Services.

What to expect from your faculty advisor:

  • Advice. Students should use their faculty advisor as a resource for planning their academic program, identifying academic and career goals, and general advice on graduate degrees and careers in engineering and science;
  • Assistance and Referrals. Faculty advisors may provide general information about and referrals to special programs including Engineering Co-Op and Career Services, Engineering Learning Initiatives, study abroad and concurrent degrees. They may also be helpful in obtaining tutorial assistance or evaluating transfer/ advanced placement credit, as appropriate. Students often ask their advisors to provide letters of recommendation for scholarships, study abroad, employment, or graduate school;
  • Availability. Students should expect to have ready access to their advisors. Most advisors set aside several hours each week for advising and will usually make appointments outside those hours if necessary.

What not to excpect from your faculty advisor:

  • Assessment of Effort or Study Time Required for Specific Courses. Faculty advisors may help you determine the appropriateness of a given course in your curriculum plan, but they cannot predict how difficult the course will be or how much effort or study time it will require for individual students;
  • Tutoring/Study Skills. Faculty advisors may help you identify the need for tutoring, remedial course work, or improved study skills but should not be expected to provide the necessary assistance. Students in need of such assistance are generally referred to other resources, such as Engineering Learning Initiatives, the Learning Strategies Center or Engineering Advising;
  • Help with Personal, Financial or Housing Issues. Students are encouraged to make their advisors aware of problems that may interfere with academic progress, but faculty advisors are not trained to provide counseling for personal problems, nor should they be expected to resolve housing or financial issues. However, they will refer students to the appropriate university office or program;
  • Internship/Job Search Assistance. While students are encouraged to discuss their career interests with their faculty advisors, it is not the advisor’s responsibility to provide assistance for employment searches. Students should contact Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services office in Carpenter Hall or Cornell Career Services in Barnes Hall for help in finding employment.

Engineering Advising Staff

Engineering Advising implements the academic policies of the College Curriculum Governing Board (CCGB). The Advising staff provides a variety of advising services and programs to assist students in achieving their undergraduate academic and personal goals. Engineering Advising and CCGB evaluates good academic standing for unaffiliated students at the end of each semester and supports students through the affiliation process during sophomore year.

Engineering Advising staff responsibilities include:

  • Supplementing advising provided by faculty advisors and departments;
  • Focusing on first- and second-year students, with continued access for upper-class students;
  • Focusing primarily on issues related to the Engineering Common Curriculum and successfully affiliating with a major;
  • Providing specialty advising for:
    • study abroad/international experiences;
    • pre-health careers and how to integrate requirements into curriculum;
    • transferring internally (between colleges) within Cornell;
    • student disability services;
    • major exploration including independent major and the affiliation process;
    • voluntary, required, and health leaves;
    • minors, concurrent degrees, double majors;
    • transfer credit, petitions, curricular substitutions.
  • Coordinating the Early Intervention program; supporting students having academic or personal difficulties and referring students to appropriate campus resources;
  • Providing case management for students who are in need of academic consideration and/or in distress.

Peer Advisors

As part of their participation in ENGRG 1050, all first-year students interact with Peer Advisors. Senior, junior, and sophomore engineering students volunteer to assist new students with the academic transition from high school to college.

Peer advisor responsibilities include:

  • Collaborating with Faculty Advisors by assisting with class activities;
  • Answering questions about the course enrollment process and student life;
  • Encouraging and role modelling study skills and co-curricular involvement;
  • Making referrals to appropriate university offices for academic and personal needs.

Directors of Undergraduate Studies/Associate Directors

In each major, a faculty member serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Associate Director (DUS/AD.) The DUS/AD works with students’ faculty advisors and with the Undergraduate Coordinator (a staff member), to assist current and prospective major students. Each major is different, but in many cases the faculty advisor or Undergraduate Coordinator handles most advising issues, referring students to the DUS/ AD for more unusual or difficult questions. In some majors, a designated faculty member performs some of the DUS/AD advising functions.

DUS/AD responsibilities vary from Major to Major, but generally include the following:

For unaffiliated students:

  • Being available for meetings in order to provide information about the major, preaffiliation course selection, and the affiliation and transfer processes;
  • Serving as the public face of the major at info sessions, ENGRG 1050 events, and major fairs.

For affiliated students:

  • Ensuring that up-to-date degree requirements and course offerings are publicized to faculty and students;
  • Serving as the point person for student concerns/issues with advising and curriculum;
  • Advising students on substitutions for required courses, and on the process for gaining approval for any deviation from curricular requirements;
  • Signing administrative paperwork when the faculty advisor is unavailable (in some Majors).

Contact information for the Directors of Undergraduate Studies/Associate Directors in each major can be found on pages 10-11.

Undergraduate Coordinators

Each major has an Undergraduate Coordinator who works with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) or Associate Director (AD) to help support students and faculty with any questions about the Major.

While responsibilities vary between departments, Undergraduate Coordinators are generally responsible for:

  • Answering general questions about the common curriculum, affiliation and major curriculum requirements;
  • Tracking students’ academic progress within the major;
  • Assisting with college forms such as transfer credit applications, petitions, add/ drop forms, etc.;
  • Serving as a point of contact when faculty advisor or the DUS/AD is not available;
  • Being a resource to help students navigate Cornell to achieve success.

Contact information for the Undergraduate Coordinators in each major can be found on pages 10-11.

Additional Engineering Student Services Resources

Preprofessional Advising

Students who intend to do graduate study in medicine, law, or business have access to resources and services designed specifically to support their professional aspirations. Students should make an appointment with Engineering Advising for general guidance and then, depending on their interests, consult the specific offices and web sites listed below.


Students interested in medicine or other health-related careers must plan their courses early to meet the requirements of the Common Curriculum, an Engineering Major, and the prerequisites of the intended professional course of study. Engineering Advising helps Academic Advising - Roles and Responsibilities 25 students understand how professional course requirements fit into the Engineering curriculum. The university health careers advisor (103 Barnes Hall) assists students in preparing for admission to professional schools. Successful candidates must complete required coursework while also demonstrating experience in the field, completing standardized examinations, and submitting standardized applications. The advisor is also available to provide insight into registrations iwth the Cornell Health Careers Evaluation Committee (HCEC), which prepares letters of evaluation for medical and dental school applicants. For additional information, please see:


Prelaw advising is provided by Cornell Career Services, 103 Barnes Hall. For complete information, please visit


Students interested in business may wish to consider the Dyson Business Minor for Engineers, offered by the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (AEM) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Information about this minor can be found at, or by visiting Engineering Advising.

Diversity Programs in Engineering

The Diversity Programs in Engineering (DPE) office operates programs at the precollege, undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels to facilitate the recruitment, development, retention, and success of all members of the engineering community, but especially those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in engineering. The DPE office fosters a vision of diversity appreciation reflective of the College of Engineering’s strategic plan, which enables community members from all backgrounds and cultures to thrive and succeed at Cornell. The DPE office provides an institutionalized approach for meeting the needs of undergraduate and graduate students by providing community, academic, professional and personal development opportunities that support student growth and achievement. The DPE office also works collaboratively with university and external partners to administer mentoring, tutoring, and academic success programs; graduate school preparation and undergraduate research opportunities; graduate student fellowship programs; and precollege outreach initiatives.

Student organizations affiliated with DPE include the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Women in Computing at Cornell (WICC).

For more information, call (607) 255-6403, email, stop by 146 Olin Hall, or visit

Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services

The Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services office assists students who are contemplating their career development, whether through employment (full-time entry-level, co-op, or summer) or further graduate study.

The office coordinates an on-campus recruiting program that annually brings 150+ employers to campus to conduct more than 5,000 interviews with engineering students for full-time entry-level, co-op, and summer positions. Also, in conjunction with Cornell Career Services, an extensive list of electronic job postings is maintained on Cornell’s CCNet System. The office coordinates seminars on job search and résumé/interview preparation, and counselors are available to discuss career-related issues individually and in group settings.

Engineering Cooperative Education Program

The Engineering Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) provides an opportunity for juniors to gain 28 weeks of paid career-related work experience over a semester and a summer with employers nationwide and beyond. Co-op is an excellent way to explore career interests while acquiring an understanding of relevant career paths. Students must be enrolled in the College of Engineering (Computer Science and Biological Engineering Majors outside the college are also eligible). In most cases, a GPA >2.7 is required. For more information, please see the Special Programs section of this handbook (pages 116– 119) or visit

For additional information on Engineering Co-op and Career Services, see the Career and Professional Development section, pages 146-148.

Engineering Learning Initiatives

Engineering Learning Initiatives, 167 Olin Hall, facilitates academic opportunities for engineering students that enhance the learning environment, support teaching excellence, and cultivate professional development. The programs are outlined below. For more information call 255.9622, send email to, or visit

Academic Excellence Workshops (AEW)

Academic Excellence Workshops are optional, 1-credit, supplemental courses taken in conjunction with core engineering courses in math, computer science, chemistry, and statistics. AEWs meet weekly for two-hour collaborative problem-solving sessions. Designed to enhance student understanding, the workshops are facilitated by undergraduate peer educators, and feature group work on problems at or above the level of course instruction. AEWs are based on research showing that cooperative methods (as opposed to an individual, competitive approach to learning) promote higher grades, greater persistence, deeper comprehension, more enjoyment in learning, and more positive attitudes toward academic work. For more information on AEWs, visit


Peer tutors are available free of charge for many first- and second-year core engineering courses, including MATH, CHEM, PHYS, CS, and some distribution courses. Peer tutors, who must have a 3.0 GPA and have earned at least B in the course they tutor, earn an hourly wage and are trained to help their peers master course content and improve learning skills. The one-on-one tutoring is tailored to the individual needs of the student. To request a tutor, go to to complete the online Tutor Request Form, or visit the Engineering Learning Initiatives office in 167 Olin Hall to submit a paper copy.

Engineering Registrar

The Engineering Registrar’s Office, located in 158 Olin Hall, is the main repository of all engineering undergraduate and Master of Engineering student records. The Registrar’s Office oversees all course enrollment, grading, course scheduling, room assignments, and examination scheduling for the College of Engineering. It is responsible for maintaining current student information on the university’s student data systems, including all grade, enrollment, affiliation, and transfer credit changes. Additionally, the office manages diploma ordering and official degree posting for all graduating engineering students, ensuring that all requirements are satisfied for the Bachelor of Science degree. The Registrar’s Office also provides student verification letters, petition processing, and assistance with other student registration issues. Official documents relating to academic matters are filed as part of each student’s permanent record and held there.

Students who need an official transcript or certification of enrollment should visit the Office of the University Registrar,, located in B07 Day Hall.

University Student Records Policy

The university regards a student’s enrollment status (e.g. registered, on leave, withdrawn) as directory information that may be released unless a student submits a “no-release” request to the University Registrar. Additionally, where the university believes that it is in a dependent student’s best interest, information from the student’s educational records may, at the university’s discretion, be released to the parents or legal guardians of a dependent student. Such disclosure will generally be limited to information about a student’s official status at the university, but parents or legal guardians of a dependent student may also be notified when a student has voluntarily withdrawn from the university or has been required to withdraw; when a student has been placed on academic warning; when the student’s academic good standing or promotion is at issue; when a student has been placed on disciplinary probation or restriction; or when a student otherwise engages in behavior calling into question the appropriateness of the student’s continued enrollment in the university. Unless otherwise indicated in writing by the student at the time of registration, or thereafter, the university will presume that a full-time undergraduate student is a dependent as that term is defined in the Internal Revenue Code.