Advising Essentials for Undergraduates

Academic advising is key to a successful undergraduate experience and we warmly welcome the opportunity to guide all of our students throughout their entire program of study. Our supportive and experienced academic advisors will assist you in developing a plan to achieve your academic goals and help you strike a balance between your academic and extracurricular activities. Should you encounter obstacles that hinder your academic success, your advisor is readily available to guide and assist you accordingly. In addition, Virginia Tech has many quality and effective resources both on campus and online to help students be and do their very best throughout their undergraduate college years. Your advisors can help you to identify and access the resources that will best support your immediate needs.

It is important and in your best interest to seek academic advising early and often. We are eager to meet with you and want you to feel comfortable approaching us with even the most basic academic concern because through our discussions, new perspectives that you may not have previously considered could come to light. Take advantage of our availability. We are here for you. The relationship you form and maintain with your academic advisor is essential to your successful undergraduate experience.

The Advising Handbook for Virginia Tech Students published by University Studies contains a wealth of information about the resources, policies, and procedures that every undergraduate needs to know. The handbook for the current academic year will be posted once it becomes available.

Important Information About Academic Suspension Appeals

Academic suspensions may be appealed using the University Academic Appeals Committee Appeals Petition located in the Forms section under Academics on this website. The appeals schedule is also posted and is updated when a new schedule becomes available.

CAUS ADVISING MISSION, GOALS, AND PHILOSOPHY

MISSION

Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies recognizes
academic advising to be a critical component of the educational experience
of its undergraduate students. Through individual, collaborative
relationships with our team of knowledgeable and highly skilled Academic
Advisors, students are best able to define and implement sound educational
plans consistent with their personal values, academic goals, and career
plans. While academic advising chiefly occurs as part of the
advisor-advisee relationship, the wider network of CAUS faculty and staff
support the College’s overall advising mission. We recognize our obligation
to provide undergraduates with timely and accurate advising delivered
through our academic departments and CAUS Academic Affairs, and we welcome
the opportunity to discuss our degree programs with any current or
prospective Virginia Tech student who is considering a major in our College.

GOALS

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies has established the following specific academic advising goals that align with our desire to provide the highest quality assistance to our students. CAUS Academic Advisors are committed to our responsibility of:

  • Helping students clarify their life and career goals;
  • Working with students to develop their most suitable educational plan;
  • Guiding students in their selection of courses and educational experiences;
  • Accurately interpreting institutional policies and requirements;
  • Raising student awareness about educational resources such as internship and independent study opportunities, interdisciplinary study, and study abroad programs;
  • Regularly evaluating student progress toward established goals;
  • Encouraging students to complete degree requirements in a timely manner;
  • Supporting the development of decision-making skills;
  • Seeking out and using support services across campus.

 

PHILOSOPHY

Overall student success is the ultimate goal of every educational institution, and it is the role and responsibility of the Academic Advisor to promote student success and cultivate student development through individualized support, knowledge-sharing, empathy, and open-mindedness guided by appropriate and effective application of university policies, procedures, and curriculum. While students are ultimately responsible for designing their own future, the developmental diversity that exists among the population of traditional college-age students requires attentive monitoring by advising staff. Individualized attention encourages personal and academic success, informs students that they are important people to the university at large, and guides students as they move toward planning for their future, whether that includes starting a new job or pursuing an advanced degree.

In his publication titled The Seven Vectors, 20th century student development theorist Arthur W. Chickering establishes a framework from which university faculty and staff can shape their understanding about the developmental transitions that today’s college student experience. The journey through young adulthood is teeming with challenges that include self-identity, developing non-familial interpersonal relationships, time management, experimentation, and decision-making along with the intense learning inherent of post-secondary education that makes this passage all the more formidable. An attentive and effective Academic Advisor understands the many dynamics at play in a college student’s life and will determine the most appropriate manner by which to assist and support a diverse population of students who present a variety of issues and concerns.

Owing to the demographic complexities of today’s student, Academic Advisors must have extensive knowledge of various advising strategies that are as diverse as the students they serve. The proliferation of special student populations today includes veterans, non-traditional age students, students with physical and mental disabilities or limitations, gender and sexual identity, international status, first generation, and socioeconomic status. These evolving characteristics have added complexity to the knowledge base required of today’s Advisor, yet the underlying Advisor responsibilities remain intact. My personal academic advising philosophy revolves around the following five key components, all of which favorably promote student success.

An effective Academic Advisor will:

  1. Provide students with current curriculum and university policy and procedure information as well as direction to campus resources that support academic success and facilitate academic and career planning.
  2. Ensure that students follow a path that will lead them toward successful completion of their degree program while exploring opportunities for personal and academic enrichment along the way, including internship, study-abroad, and extra-curricular activities that foster personal, professional, and academic development and promotes holistic well-being.
  3. Provide effective guidance and support to at-risk students including those who are undecided, first generation, international, and students in academic recovery from a low grade point average, probation, or suspension status, and guide at-risk students toward identifying their challenges while working closely with them toward resolution.
  4. Work cooperatively with all university entities to ensure consistent and sound support for the entire student population.
  5. Promote student retention and completion, the probability for which increases as students develop close connections within their academic community, and through the development of an sustainable plan for achieving academic and career goals.

Far more importantly, all students must be treated justly, always without prejudice. Each student arrives on campus bearing highly diverse life experiences. No two students are alike. Advisors will encounter students who have conquered monumental challenges as well as those who have enjoyed a comfortable, protected youth. Regardless of personal history, all students are comprised of unique characteristics and have reached different developmental stages of their lives, yet all require the support of an Academic Advisor throughout their college career. It is both a responsibility and a privilege of today’s Advisor to embrace students for their individuality and provide support in every manner possible while these young adults are crafting their own futures.

Finally, it is extremely important to recognize that the most successful students are actively involved in their academic program, have developed close relationships with their faculty and peers, and have a solid academic plan developed in meetings with their Advisor. These key elements provide students with a sense of belonging and they are key to retention and program completion and, ultimately, student success.

ADVISING FOR FRESHMEN

Each of the four schools in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies provides academic advising support for students as they develop a plan for their Virginia Tech education. Through guiding students to engage with faculty and supporting their personal and intellectual development, academic advisors encourage students to explore the full breadth and depth of scholarly opportunities and to discover their own sense of belonging on our campus.

Your choice of major already exposes you to the full intellectual richness of undergraduate study at Virginia Tech, supports you in your academic and intellectual pursuits, and instills within you a deep sense of identity and belonging among our community of scholars. This is your year of transition and exploration. To help you along the way, we have paired you with a professional academic advisor in your major department with whom we expect that you will maintain a strong connection all throughout your undergraduate years.

Always keep in mind that networking with university faculty, staff, and your peers may lead to opportunities that build skills, experience, and character. Engage yourself in conversations as you advance through each day and week of the semester. It is never too early to begin networking because it is never too soon to begin planning for your future career.

ADVISING FOR TRANSFER STUDENTS

Many transfer students arrive at Virginia Tech well prepared for what lies ahead. Because you have already experienced college life, you already understand the importance of meeting with your advisor, study strategies, communicating with professors, time management, and effective planning. Of course, you are not expected to know everything when you first arrive, but the one thing you must know and always remember is that your academic advisor is readily available to guide and assist you in your transition. The skills that you developed at your previous institution combined with your commitment to accessing the excellent services and resources available on the Virginia Tech campus are certain to make your transition smooth and enjoyable. Get to know your academic advisor and meet with him or her frequently…at least once per semester. Our academic advisors are trained professionals who will guide you as you make decisions about your academic and career plan. Equally as important, they can assist you with understanding university policies, interpreting your degree audit, and transferring credits.

The University Registrar’s Transfer Guide contains valuable information for transfer students.

Always keep in mind that networking with university faculty, staff, and your peers may lead to opportunities that build skills, experience, and character. Engage yourself in conversations as you advance through each day and week of the semester. It is never too early to begin networking because it is never too soon to begin planning for your future career.

ADVISING FOR SOPHOMORES

Throughout the sophomore year, students must continue to meet regularly with their academic advisor. Some students may discover that their academic interests have changed and they may no longer be interested in the same major or minor as when they were first year students. If you are faced with this type of uncertainty, it is imperative that you meet with your advisor to discuss your thoughts and feelings and work through how a change would affect your academic plan. We are here to guide and assist you as you consider making these important decisions.

As you begin your sophomore year, we encourage you to closely evaluate your academic plan and ask yourself the following questions: Which courses have I enjoyed the most? What career am I starting to really think about and what areas of study will help pave the way toward my career goals? How many credit hours per semester is a reasonable course load for me? What degree requirements do I have left to complete? You should not expect to know the answers to these questions right away, but take time now to speak with your academic advisors and your professors and then carefully consider their responses.

Remember to expand your campus network of faculty, staff, and peers as you develop plans for your future career. Networking has shown to be an effective job search strategy.

ADVISING FOR JUNIORS

As a junior it is imperative that you meet with your academic advisor to ensure that you are fulfilling your degree program requirements. You have a personal responsibility to check your degree audit periodically on your own and to present any questions you may have about degree program requirements to your advisor. Do this early on in the Fall semester and then again in Winter or early Spring. By the end of your junior year, you want to make sure that most or all of your university requirements have been completed and that you are on track for graduation. This is also an excellent time to visit Virginia Tech’s Career Services office to explore information on internships, graduate school, career opportunities, and to meet the staff who will guide you as you consider employment or continuing your education. Visit the Career Services website for more information.

Remember to continue networking with university faculty, staff, and your peers as you develop plans for your future career. In your discussions, mention your plans for the next few years and listen closely to the comments being made. Valuable guidance is often revealed in casual conversations.

ADVISING FOR SENIORS/5TH YEAR STUDENTS

The senior year and 5th year are often the busiest but also the most exciting time as students complete their undergraduate education, write final papers, assemble culminating projects, and get a taste of the working world through internship programs. Many students are considering applying to graduate school or deciding where they will live as they enter the job market. Some important things for you to think about as a senior or 5th year student:

  • Check your degree audit to see which graduation requirements remain to be completed then the next time registration rolls around, choose your courses carefully. Remember to balance the course load for each of your remaining semesters to allow time to complete all your assignments.
  • Think about what you want to do after graduation. Do you want to look for a job or apply directly to graduate or professional school? Maybe you would like to take some time off and travel or do volunteer work. Whatever you decide, a significant part of your time this year will be spent preparing for life after college. Take this into consideration as you select the final courses of your degree program.
  • This is an excellent time to visit Virginia Tech’s Career Services office to explore information on internships, graduate school, career opportunities, and to meet the staff who will guide you as you consider employment or continuing your education. Visit the Career Services website for more information.
ADVISING FOR STUDENT-ATHLETES

Academic advisors for student-athletes are housed in 329 Lane Stadium. Student Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) supports student-athletes in balancing their academic and athletic demands. SAASS provides comprehensive academic support services such as tutoring, studying assistance, computing technology, and academic and individual skill development programs. A SAASS professional is assigned to each athletic team and takes the lead in coordinating the academic support efforts for each team member.

SAASS integrates its services with those of the University community. Each Academic Coordinator assists student athletes in making appointments with appropriate offices such as their major academic advisors, the Registrar, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, Dean’s Offices, Career Services, Cook Counseling Center, Cranwell International Center, and the Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence. The Virginia Tech community expects each student-athlete to achieve his or her academic and athletic potential, and the mission of SAASS is to help each student-athlete meet this expectation. (Retrieved from http://www.saass.vt.edu/, August 2015.)

Kathryn Albright, School of Architecture and Design

If you have additional questions or need assistance, contact Kathryn Albright, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at kclarke@vt.edu.

ADVISOR DIRECTORY

(You can also find your advisor’s name on HokieSpa.)

ARCHITECTURE AND INDUSTRIAL DESIGN

Tamela Gallimore (Years 1 & 2)
Cowgill Hall, Room 201
tamccoy@vt.edu

Vernon Ferguson (Years 3, 4, & 5)
Cowgill Hall, Room 201
vernf@vt.edu

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN STUDIES

Teresa Phipps
Burruss Hall, Room 121
tphipps@vt.edu

BUILDING CONSTRUCTION

Renee Ryan
Bishop-Favrao, Room 430-H
renee.ryan@vt.edu

Gary Kinder
Bishop-Favrao, Room 330-B
gkinder@vt.edu

Environmental Policy & Planning, Public & Urban Affairs

Chris LaPlante
Architecture Annex, Room 205
chrisl@vt.edu

Art History, Creative Technologies, Studio Art, Visual Communication Design

Tracey Drowne
Armory, 201 Draper Road, Room 110
tproco@vt.edu

Explore the College of Architecture & Urban Studies (EXPLORE CAUS)

Rob Jacks
Cowgill Hall, Room 202
rjacks@vt.edu