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The Faculty's Role

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Undergraduate students are assigned a first-year faculty adviser with whom they work until they declare a major (or “affiliate”). Once they decide on and are accepted into a specific major, students are assigned a faculty adviser with expertise in that particular major.

The faculty adviser is the person students will see when they have questions about the academic requirements of the university, the college, or the schools and departments. Faculty advisers evaluate each semester’s program, approve course changes, and provide guidance in the interpretation of college and department rules.

All first-year advisers are versed in the Common Curriculum, so they can assist first- and second-year students to pursue any engineering major. Faculty advisers help students translate their interests into an appropriate course of study, evaluate their curriculum and work load, monitor their progress toward a degree, and recommend they take advantage of the diverse opportunities at Cornell.

It is each student's responsibility to keep honest and open communication with their advisers and share information about their goals and interests to better enable the advisers to guide them. The advisers' role is to be available to listen to student needs and questions and to help students navigate the curriculum and academic opportunities in general.

However, it is not the faculty advisers' role to provide specific student services. For example, while the adviser can recommend a tutor, he or she does not personally provide tutoring. The adviser also may be aware of a number of excellent career opportunities, but his or her main role with respect to careers is to direct students to the appropriate resources available to them.

First-Year Engineering Seminar

The First-Year Engineering Seminar, a required one-credit course, introduces students to the structure and resources of the Cornell Engineering curriculum, ensuring that students are aware of the academic requirements and what the program expects of them. The course provides an introduction and orientation to the college’s many activities (curricular as well as extracurricular) and helps in creating a common identity among engineering students by making them conscious of the college’s uniting values and ethical principles. Perhaps most importantly, the course ensures frequent, informal meetings between students and their faculty advisers, in addition to providing peer advisers (sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have taken the class) with a variety of backgrounds and interests. The seminar creates an environment within which a supportive network and effective communication can develop and flourish.