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Teaching Excellence Center

Real Advising Scenarios


Some REAL SFA Student Advising Scenarios

(For advice on these or other unique advising situations, remember you can contact our staff at the Academic Advising Center)


Case #1:  Shawn and His Mom


You check voice mail after your last class, and you discover a message from the irate mother of Shawn, one of your advisees.  She says you misadvised her son by putting him into a government class that he doesn’t need, and she claims that Shawn took the course in summer school at a local community college.  Mom says she expects a full refund for the course tuition and a formal apology from you, but her greatest concern is that Shawn will have only 10 hours remaining after dropping the government class.  This may mean that he gets dropped from his family’s health insurance, and it may affect a scholarship he receives.


When you first met with Shawn, you asked about any transfer or advanced placement credits he might have already earned, but he didn’t report any.  When you check his record, you see no transfer credits awarded, and you notice that Shawn dropped his public speaking course a couple of weeks ago.


Case #2:  Amy


You are advising new freshmen during orientation.   Amy arrives at your office, accompanied by both parents.  She says she really wants her parents to attend her first advising session because their advice will be helpful to her.  You soon discover that her dad is outspoken and domineering about his desire for Amy to enter a lucrative career and attend a professional school, while her mother mostly stares at the books on your shelves.  As you describe core curriculum requirements, Amy speaks up about her involvement in community theatre in high school and her desire to take a theatre appreciation course this semester.  Her father angrily remarks, “Yet another complete waste of time and money!  How will that course help you get into law school or med school?”  Amy comments that she isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life, and her dad says she just needs to listen to people who know what’s best for her.  Her mom just looks away and sighs.  Amy says to forget about the theatre course for now and asks that you help her pick something else.


Case #3:  Carl


Carl has always loved history, but he feels that a major in management will give him some tangible “hands on” skills that he could use once he graduates.  He would prefer not to have to choose one major over another, and he’s open to the idea of doing them both.  He seems unconcerned about his weak math skills, though he is in a third semester of developmental math.  He is confused about why he has to take a lot of general education courses—he thinks most of them are courses he doesn’t want or need.  He certainly doesn’t intend to take any foreign language classes!  When you advised Carl for his first couple of semesters, he was quiet and complacent, but you noticed that he always changed his schedule before classes began.  He has dropped at least one course each semester, and his GPA is slowly declining


Case #4:  Jackie


Jackie is the first student in her family to attend college, a fact that she proudly reports when she is advised for the first time.  She is full of energy and excited about starting her college career, and she hopes to become a pediatrician.  Jackie graduated second in her class at a small rural high school, though her SAT score was only 1100.  Jackie plans to get a work study job and expresses concern about her finances for college.  She’s majoring in psychology because of an article she read about the need for med students to have good people skills, but she also wants to start right away on science and math courses she’ll need.


When you see Jackie just after midsemester, she slumps in her chair and won’t make much eye contact with you.  She has gained a lot of weight, and her clothes look rumpled.  She says she is earning C’s and D’s in algebra, psychology and biology.  She feels math and science are harder here than she expected, and she can’t get used to the reading load.    Jackie mentions that she lost her work study job because she had trouble working out a schedule that didn’t conflict with her biology lab.  She finds it hard to make friends, and she hasn’t really hit it off with her roommate.  Jackie says she wonders if she should just go home, but she knows her parents would be very disappointed.