When you arrive at Swarthmore you will be assigned an academic advisor based on your interests, your potential major, or an intersection between you and your advisor that was indicated in your advising survey. Academic advisors are usually faculty, deans, administrators, or staff members with a wealth of expertise. You will have an opportunity to meet with them on Thursday or Friday of Orientation.
The primary role of your academic advisor is to help you to select courses that will give you the best liberal arts education possible. Your advisor will engage you in conversations about your interests, talents and skills, needs, and goals in order to help you to choose the appropriate classes. He or she will encourage you to choose a balanced program, prepare for a major and/or study abroad, fulfill requirements, take a course out of your "comfort zone", and work towards graduate study or a career. Your advisor will approve your initial enrollment and all applications to change, such as adding or dropping courses during the first two weeks of classes. We want your first semester to be balanced, challenging, and enriching, but not overwhelming.
All academic advisors are expected to advise you on the academic program. It is not uncommon for some advisors to go well beyond formal academic advising, but it is natural that there will be variation among advisors. Your experience with an advisor might not be the same as another student's experience. If you have an advisor that does not show a level of care beyond academics this should not be misconstrued as a lack of care about you personally. Rather, we see that the normal Swarthmore experience consists of formal academic advising as well as students finding multiple sources of advising and mentoring. These might include: other faculty, especially those teaching First-Year Seminars; Resident Assistants; deans; and peers. We hope that the relationships you develop with your "unofficial" advisors will allow for easy discussions on issues such as setting goals, time management, academic and out-of-class activities, adjusting to the culture and academic rigor of Swarthmore, and balance.
If you find yourself in need of advising, at any time during your years at Swarthmore, do not hesitate to get in touch with anyone in the Dean's Office. Many of us have offices on the first floor of Parrish Hall, in the Black Cultural Center, or in the Intercultural Center. We look forward to meeting you!
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs