ADVISING AT KOÇ UNIVERSITY

Two of the foremost activities of Koç University are teaching and scholarship. From the very start of our programs advising has been always considered an integral part of teaching. Faculty members are responsible for knowing academic rules and regulations, college and University requirements and procedures, which apply to their advisees. They should also be acquainted with the University’s service and support departments to be able to refer students to these services.

One of the contributing factors to the past success of the University has been the important role the faculty members have played as academic advisors and mentors. However with increasing student numbers, addition of new programs, changes in the curricula and academic policies advising has become a challenging activity. In order to improve the advising process, this Advisory Booklet is prepared to describe the role and responsibilities of faculty as advisors and to provide information on academic matters that concern the students and faculty.

1. INTRODUCTION

Starting with freshman year, every undergraduate student at Koç University is assigned a Faculty Advisor. This advisor is responsible for assisting the student in matters ranging from adapting to the university environment, giving guidance throughout their academic programs, to career planning. In order to be able to help students, faculty should be familiar with the undergraduate curriculum, as well as university rules and regulations. This booklet includes this information together with questions frequently asked by students. Information relating to frequent problem areas is emphasized.

New academic policies and procedures are developed to address new problems and to keep up with changing curriculum matters. Academic Council decisions regarding new policies and changes are posted on Academic Policies section on VPAA’s website regularly. If an advisor has questions that this webpage does not answer, he/she should contact the Registrar’s Office, VPAA Office or Dean’s Office.

2. THE JOB OF THE ADVISOR

As mentioned earlier, faculty advisors are assigned to assist students in course selection, curricula and other academic matters.

Some specific duties of advisors are as follows:

2.1 Communicating regularly with advisees

Communication between the advisor and advisee is the key to the success of advisorship.

a. Advisees need to feel that their Advisor knows who they are, what courses they are taking, their past record, what extracurricular activities they participate in etc. Faculty should know how to make use of advisee electronic records (See the section on KUSIS below). Faculty should check these records and monitor the performances of their advisees regularly. Advisors should contact advisees at least twice a semester (at the start and half way through) and seek progress information. Advisors should also encourage students to keep in touch throughout the semester.

b. In addition, advisors will be notified as soon as possible by instructors, by the Freshman Advisor or by the Registrar’s Office of all unusual events regarding their advisees (risk of failing a course, disciplinary action, leaves of absence, dismissals etc.). The instructors should report the failing students to their advisors. In order to facilitate this information exchange the instructors should enter the grades of students into KUSIS during the semester. The advisors are then automatically informed of the progress of their students during the semester. Advisors should contact their advisees as soon as possible when they are notified of any unusual events.

2.2 Responding to students’ queries and requests for help

a. Faculty members should be knowledgeable about rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the University so that they can respond to routine student queries. The ‘frequently-asked questions’ (FAQ) section of this booklet and the rules & regulations section have been designed to help the advisor in this task.

b. However, perhaps the most valuable help an advisor can give a student is on things that go beyond routine questions. For example, helping advisees with problems (disciplinary, probation, time management, study skills, etc.) and when they need advice on career and course selection. These issues are addressed in subsequent parts of this booklet.

2.3. Course Assignments and Approvals

Most of the time, required area and core courses are assigned by the Registrar’s Office. Especially during the Freshman and Sophomore years, all core curriculum courses are automatically assigned. During the Junior and Senior years, electives are chosen by the student after consultation with the advisor. Advisor approval is needed for electives selection during registration and Add/Drops. Registration is not complete without the advisor’s approval. Core courses assigned by the Registrar may be altered in special circumstances by the approval of the Dean. These are cases where the student’s course load may be exceedingly heavy or the student may consider a double majors program and defer some courses to a later semester.

3. MONITORING STUDENT PERFORMANCE

KUSIS (Koç University Student Information System) electronic facility provides detailed information on the academic history of students: Main Menu > KU Menu > Student Academic History

Continuous monitoring is particularly important in the case of academically deficient and probation students. In these cases the advisor should keep in close contact not only with the student, but also with his/her professors. In many cases, monitoring of these students includes checking their attendance. A good time to check the advisee’s performance would be around week 7, approximately the time when first midterms are announced and a general trend in attendance can be observed. In addition, before the semester starts, an advisor may make specific recommendations to an instructor on how to help a student who is struggling with courses.

FRESHMAN ADVISOR

The Freshman Advisor is a faculty member who will facilitate the monitoring of freshmen by interacting with the student advisors, the relevant Dean of the student, the Dean of Students and the Student Counselor. The goal of this effort is to assist the students who experience special difficulties, academic as well as personal on their first year at the university. We hope to detect our students who experience special difficulties early and assist them in a timely fashion.

3.1 KUSIS ELECTRONIC FACILITY

You may access certain standard types of information about your advisees through KUSIS.

To access this information, follow the steps below:

From KUSIS Homepage follow Main Menu > Self Service > Advisor Center > My Advisees.
A list of your advisees will be displayed. Select your advisee. You can display the academic history, the SPAs, GPAs, course load, registration and schedule of the selected student or students along with other useful information.

4. MENTORING STUDENTS

Advising regular freshman and sophomore students mostly involves answering any questions they may have about their core curriculum and helping them solve their academic difficulties. Special attention should be given to freshman students as the more serious academic problems start to set in during freshman year. The advisor should help the students understand that University education requires a different way of life than that of high school education and try to motivate them. In addition, some students may encounter different problems which are related to orienting themselves to the University. Such problems typically arise due to accommodation, environmental changes, and lack of study and time management skills. It should be also considered that freshman students cope with recovering from the psychological pressure of the university entrance examination. Some students may believe that the hard part is over and may not take school seriously enough. Dealing with these types of problems requires a collective effort. Therefore the Dean of Students also helps students. In particular, the Office of the Dean of Students organizes student mentorship, seminars on study and time management skills and assists students with adjustment problems. The special role of the Freshman Advisor is explained above. The Freshman Advisor is a facilitator rather than a substitute to the Student Advisor.

Organizational and interpersonal skills are essential for tomorrow’s leaders, and extracurricular activities that offer first hand experience in teamwork help shape students into more responsible, motivated, well-rounded individuals. Koç University both encourages and supports participation in student activities and cultural and social organizations. The Dean of Students Office offers students opportunities for personal, cultural, social, and professional development that complement the richly complex and challenging academic life of the University. Students also should be encouraged to participate in the extracurricular activities supported by the Dean of Students Office such as cultural, sporting, arts festivals, social events on campus.

5. ADVISING ON ELECTIVES

To individualize each student’s education, a wide choice of electives both within and outside their area of specialization is offered. Students (mostly juniors and seniors) need the advisor’s help with their choice of electives. The area and free elective courses are announced by the Registrar’s office towards the end of the current semester. The advisees choose their electives after consulting with their advisors. The advisor may guide the students, assessing their strengths/weaknesses, motivation and career goals. An advisor may also suggest the student to contact the instructor of the course to obtain more information. Students should not feel any pressure on the selection. The advising is at its best when it remains at the guidance level.

Before approving an elective, the advisor should check the number of area and free electives the student has already taken and discuss with the student which electives he/she is planning to take in the future. It always helps to make a four-year plan ahead of time even if it is tentative. The advisor should also check if the prerequisites for selected electives have been satisfied. Necessary information is available in the current catalog (Description of courses and prerequisites).

If students are unable to choose between courses, they could attend lectures of those on their list during the first week and may apply to change courses within the deadline (Add/Drop period). Registration is not complete without the advisor’s approval. It is important that the advisors make themselves available during pre-registration and Add/Drop period to see their advisees. If an advisor will be unavailable, he/she should arrange for another colleague to perform the advising and let the students and the Dean’s Office of the college and the Registrar know about the change.