Advising Programs Office of Harvard College
Smith Campus Center, Fourth Floor
As part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Curricular Review, the Report of the Standing Committee on Advising and Counseling (issued in May 2005) recommended the establishment of an Advising Programs Office (APO). That office began to take shape in February 2006. The APO is charged with coordinating, managing, and monitoring academic advising programs for all undergraduates. It works with students, department chairs and other faculty, Allston Burr Assistant Deans, the Freshman Dean's Office, and other Harvard College and FAS offices in support of all areas of pre-concentration and concentration advising.
Board of Freshman Advisers
Freshman Advisers are faculty members, administrators, graduate students, or Proctors (resident advisers) who assist first-year students in selecting courses and advise them on questions concerning Harvard’s curriculum and degree requirements, on short and long-term academic planning, on summer opportunities, and on how to balance their extra-curricular and academic interests. Approximately 350 non-resident advisers work with an average of 3-4 first-year students. All Proctors also serve as academic advisers to a sub-group of students in their entryways.
Peer Advising Fellows Program
Every incoming freshman is assigned a Peer Advising Fellow (PAF), based on academic and/or extra-curricular interests. PAFs bring a student’s perspective to their PAFees’ first-year advising networks. The role of the PAF is multi-faceted, touching on academic, social, and extra-curricular life at Harvard. For example, PAFs help answer first year students’ questions about life at Harvard and the transition to college, encourage them to engage in academic exploration, and refer them to other advising resources as appropriate (e.g., when seeking information about the different concentrations). PAFs play a key role in building entryway and dorm community by collaborating with the Proctors and with each other on study breaks, other entryway activities, and dorm-wide events.
In May 2006, the faculty voted to change the deadline for students to declare their concentration from the end of the second term to the end of the third term. To address the advising needs that were occasioned by this shift, the Advising and Counseling Committee, in collaboration with the House Faculty Deans, the Dean of the College, and the Advising Programs Office and its Student Advisory Board, designed a Sophomore Advising Program to support sophomores in their transition to House life and the concentrations. The goal of sophomore advising is to assist sophomores in engaging in more focused academic exploration. Sophomore advising at Harvard is a collaborative effort on the part of students, Houses, and concentrations. All sophomores are assigned an individual House Tutor, who serves as their primary academic adviser in the third term and who assists them in deciding on, and preparing to declare, their concentration. Faculty members in the concentrations are eager to reach out to sophomores; Sophomore Advisers help to facilitate such connections. Concentrations assume primary responsibility for advising sophomores in the fourth term, though House-based Sophomore Advisers continue to offer supplemental advising support. Every House appoints a Sophomore Advising Coordinator (SAC) to manage its own sophomore advising program, and to plan House-based advising events for sophomores.
Concentration advising guides students in three phases of their academic careers: into an appropriate set of introductory courses, into more advanced course work and, when applicable, through a final project or thesis in the senior year. Concentrations also provide pre-concentration advising in collaboration with the Freshman Dean’s Office, the Houses, and the Advising Programs Office. Concentrations reach out to first-year students on an ad hoc basis throughout the year and, systematically, through Advising Corner lunches in Annenberg and during Advising Fortnight – a two-week series of concentration advising programs designed specifically for freshmen – in the spring. In the third term, Sophomore Advisers assist students in learning more about the concentrations that interest them, and in connecting with expert advisers in the departments in the lead-in to the November declaration deadline.
Once sophomores choose their concentration, their primary academic advising is provided by their department/program in accordance with its specific advising policies and structure. In many departments, the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) or Head Tutor, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies (ADUS) or Assistant Head Tutor, and Undergraduate Coordinator do the lion’s share of advising. Some concentrations coordinate with the House Faculty Deans to appoint specific House Tutors as Concentration Advisers for students in the residences; some assign non-residential Concentration Advisers to students in particular Houses or groups of Houses. In addition, in a number of Arts & Humanities and Social Science concentrations that have a tutorial system (ranging from one to five semesters), students are advised by their tutorial leaders.
Advising resources website and my.harvard.edu
The Advising Programs Office (APO) maintains two major resources websites – one student-facing, one adviser-facing (for links to these sites, go to apo.college.harvard.edu) – with important advising information for students in all class years, as well as for advisers. Another key online resource for students and advisers is my.harvard.edu. My.harvard gives advisers access to information about their advisees via a Teaching/Advising portal, which includes their advisees’ general information, academic history, test scores, critical documents and more. Advisers also use my.harvard to enter journaling notes about the advising conversations they have with their advisees, to read the notes of previous advisers, and to view other information pertaining to their advisees’ academic plans and progress. When students log in, they are able to view the photos, names, and contact information of all of their official advisers, as well as a number of their institutional records.