Recommended By
Academic Senate
Ruben Armiñana, President
Issue Date
Tuesday, August 15, 1995
Current Issue Date
Friday, June 22, 2007
Effective Date
Tuesday, August 15, 1995
Contact Office
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Policy number

I. Introduction

Advising is primarily the responsibility of the faculty as a body (teaching or student affairs faculty). However, in addition to a committed faculty, advising requires a responsible student body and strong institutional support to be effective and efficient.

Sonoma State University recognizes academic advising to be a critical component of the educational experience. Academic advising is designed to provide necessary tools and information for all students, allowing them to take responsibility for: developing educational and career plans compatible with their goals; meeting institutional and degree requirements; and preparing for a life of change, challenge and individual fulfillment as active citizens.

Thus, it is the policy of SSU:

  1. that all students shall be informed of the advising policy and the advising process during initial introduction to the university and be directed to an appropriate advisor;
  2. that all enrolled students shall have an assigned advisor;
  3. that all seeking to change majors or programs shall be advised;
  4. that undeclared students who have completed 30 or more units must be advised each semester;
  5. that all students are expected to declare a major, and must meet with an advisor and develop an individual study plan no later than when 60 units have been completed;
  6. that students on probation must be advised each semester;
  7. that all students applying for graduation must be advised ;
  8. that professional and on-going advising and career counseling shall be made available to all matriculated students;
  9. that opportunities for major and program advising by faculty for all incoming and continuing students shall be made available at least once each semester;
  10. that an assessment of department or program advising shall be a part of the regular program review process;
  11. that all other advising programs shall be assessed and reviewed every fourth year;
  12. that funding and resources shall be adequately maintained by all administrative units to ensure effective and efficient advising at all levels;
  13. that training shall be provided for all advisors;
  14. that accurate information shall be posted and maintained on the university’s advising website;
  15. and finally, that because the advising needs of students and faculty in particular departments, schools, and university programs are often unique, the autonomy of each unit shall be respected and supported as the maximum degree of cooperation and coordination is sought.

II. Philosophy and Goals of the Advising Policy

A. Philosophy

This policy applies to all currently admitted and matriculated students. Academic advising is the responsibility of the faculty as a body. For purposes of this policy, it is defined as:

An advising process that has as its major objective assisting students in learning the skills necessary to be able to make their own intelligent choices in the realm of academic goals, curriculum and experiences. The necessary skills include information gathering and processing, critical thinking, clarification of personal values, and decision making.

Academic advising has two major components. The first is technical knowledge concerning University requirements and procedures. The second is career and life planning of an on-going, individual nature. These two components may be, but need not be, accomplished by the same advisor.

Successful advising is an on-going, ever-present activity where students develop a personal relationship with an advisor and develop into individuals who take responsibility for their own life-long learning. Its goal is long-term, and is not confined to the selection of course sections for the next semester.

The academic advisor is in a key position to: (1) structure the conditions in which instruction takes place; (2) facilitate student learning; (3) weave together the strands of personal and intellectual learning that are the marks of a true higher education; and (4) help students move toward identification and fulfillment of career and life goals.

B. The Goals of Academic Advising

  1. To assist students in making their own decisions in choosing educational and career objectives commensurate with their interests and abilities;
  2. To answer questions raised by students and to make them aware of the possible short- and long-range consequences of their choices;
  3. To be an information resource regarding the wide range of programs, services and educational opportunities at the University that may be pertinent to the student's educational objectives;
  4. To be an information source regarding policies, procedures, and programs of the University;
  5. To encourage students to be creative in their academic choices;
  6. To be an on-going source of dialogue and advice about life and academic goals for students.

III. Recommended Implementation of the Advising Policy

A. Responsibilities of Students

The advising process depends on the thoughtful participation of the students. Students must assume the following responsibilities:

  1. Familiarize themselves with requirements for the major or program, as well as graduation and other requirements, contained in the appropriate University Catalog and other University publications;
  2. Maintain their own personal academic advising folders and take them to every advising appointment. For undergraduate students, it is recommended that this folder include:
  • Unofficial copies of prior college or university transcripts;
  • Evaluations of transfer credit;
  • G.E. check lists;
  • Semester grade reports; and,
  • A student-generated degree audit report produced no later than when 60 units have been completed;
  • An individual study plan developed:

i. for all students who are on probation;

ii. no later than when 30 units have been completed for students without a declared major; and

iii. no later than when 60 units have been completed for declared students in good standing; and

  • Notes from formal advising sessions.

3. Obtain academic advice whenever it is needed from appropriate sources. Appropriate sources for undergraduate advising are as follows:

a. Declared majors will receive their primary academic advising from their major department.
b. Undeclared students will receive their primary academic advising from Student Academic Services (for identified students).
c. Students with declared majors who are also eligible for special service programs should maintain regular contact with both the advisor in the appropriate support program and the advisor in their major.
d. All students shall develop an individual study plan after 60 units have been completed. Students on probation or without a declared major after completing 30 units shall develop an individual study plan. The individual study plan must be approved by the student’s appropriate advisor or advisors. Advisors will be made available through Student Academic Services when appropriate, and in their major department if they are declared majors.
4. Accept ultimate responsibility for their selection of classes which incorporates their decisions as well as the academic advice that has been given.

5. Evaluate (if they so choose) academic advising programs and individual academic advisors by speaking or writing to the chairs of departments, Chair of the Advising Sub-committee and other supervisors of the respective academic advising units.

B. Responsibility of Departments and Schools

Academic advising is a primary responsibility of the faculty of the University, especially those in departments, schools, and other programs that supervise the distinct courses of study leading to specific degrees, credentials, and certificates. Academic advising should be integrally related to the rest of the educational process.

1. It is the responsibility of departments, schools, and Student Academic Services to:

a. Ensure that advising is available for students when they need or wish it rather than merely when the University requires it. This means that advising opportunities shall be available to students throughout the academic year at regular, reasonable intervals.
b. Make all relevant (using any format deemed appropriate) information available to students. The following list is indicative of the types of information that might be made available:

i. University rules, regulations, and procedures;
ii. Support resources available on campus;
iii. A copy of students’ advising responsibilities from A above;
iv. Necessary forms and dates;
v. Graduate programs (not limited to SSU);
vi. Field experience opportunities;
vii. Exchange programs;
viii. Major and program requirements;
ix. Projected course offerings by the major department;
x. A standardized template for students’ individual academic plans; and
xi. University catalogs.

2. Provide trained advisors. Trained advisors are those who have appropriate degrees and experiences and are responsible for advising. They shall receive training in the following areas:

a. Learning principles applicable to advising including:

i. University rules, regulations, and procedures;
ii. Support resources available on campus;
iii. A copy of students’ advising responsibilities from A above;
iv. Necessary forms and dates;
v. Graduate programs (not limited to SSU);
vi. Field experience opportunities;
vii. Exchange programs;
viii. Major and program requirements;
ix. Projected course offerings by the major department;
x. A standardized template for students’ individual academic plans; and
xi. University catalogs.

b. Appropriate personal and occupational choices for their advisees

i. Advisors must know the current state of the world outside SSU if they are to give meaningful advice to students;
ii. Advisors must be trained to relate students' abilities to requirements of choices.

c. Technical requirements for GE and major.
d. Trends in academic advising (providing membership in the appropriate state and national advising associations may be considered).
e. Teaching advisees to:

i. Take responsibility for their academic success over their career at SSU;
ii.Make realistic self appraisals of their progress in such areas as:

  • intellectual development;
  • working with others;
  • working alone;
  • learning to produce;
  • learning to consume (life, not products);
  • appreciating the differences among human beings while still making value judgments;
  • overcoming (rather than masking) personal, physical and educational problems and deficiencies.

iii. To know and understand their responsibilities for obtaining advising and applicable advising requirements and procedures.

f. Resources available on campus.
g. Take into account the entire context of their advisee's learning experience.

3. Maintain the primary advising files of students in their programs. At a minimum, these files shall contain:

a. The letter admitting the student to the University;
b. A written record of advising and referral documenting each formal advising session;
c. A copy of the appropriate G.E. check sheet (undergraduate students);
d. Copies of each semester grade report;
e. Documentation of clearance of all admission and program requirements (exams, thesis, defense, etc.);
f. A graduation progress check sheet for the program (to be developed by the faculty of the program).

C. Responsibility of the University

Overall responsibility for coordination and training for advising rests with the university administration. The Provost shall:

1. Make resources available for initial and on-going training of advisors in:

a. General Education and University technical issues;
b. General training as mentioned in B2 above.

2. Gather and disseminate appropriate academic advising materials to assist schools,
3. Act as a reference service and respond to questions from schools and departments, as well as from faculty and students;
4. Be familiar with campus-wide advising problems and formulate and make suggestions for the improvement of the advising program;
5. Provide academic advising orientation for newly appointed faculty;
6. Make every reasonable effort to provide students, faculty, and appropriate staff with accurate information in the catalogs, class schedules, and other publications.

D. Assessment of Academic Advising

Such reviews may include:

  1. Administrative audits of written procedures;
  2. Formal or informal interviews with staff, faculty, or students;
  3. Statistically designed studies based on questionnaires or systematic interviews.
  4. The Office of the Provost shall report the results of the advising portion of such reviews to the Academic Senate.

Updated June 22, 2007 by