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Academic Advising Services

  • Susan Douma, Director /Assistant Dean
  • Mark Shimota, Assistant Director
  • Lisa Scott Galler, Advisor (International Students)
  • Jason Kelly, Associate Director (Management)
  • Michelle Sauer, Associate Director
  • Theresa Anderson, Advisor (Multi Cultural Students)
  • Jackie Hampton, Advisor (Liberal Studies & CE)
  • Jo Eiynk, Office Coordinator (SJU)
  • Jeanne Terres, Office Coordinator (CSB)

What is Academic Advising and how does it serve the Saint John’s student?

Academic Advising is an essential service in the life of the Saint John’s student. Every student is required to have a faculty advisor. The Academic Advising Office, which coordinates the advising program, is open to all students with special advising concerns or for questions outside of the faculty advisor’s area of expertise. The advising program assists the student throughout his career at Saint John’s. In addition to regular consultations with faculty advisors, students may seek additional assistance from the Office of Academic Advising for the following needs:

  • Special learning assistance
  • Study skills
  • Selecting an advisor
  • Reviewing options for majors
    Changing/adding majors
  • Core Curriculum (general) requirements
  • Major requirements
  • Four Year Academic Planning 
  • Atlas 
  • Academic Probation Counseling

The requirements that each student must fulfill for graduation are detailed in the University catalog.

How are faculty advisors assigned?

First-year students are advised by their Symposium instructor. Toward the end of their first year, students are asked to select a new advisor--preferably from the department of their intended major. Students are free to select or change advisors as they wish (after their first year).

How does the faculty advisor assist students?

Faculty advisors typically get to know the students well. They are able to assist with questions relating to academic progress and performance. The advisor assists the student in selection of an appropriate major and in exploring career interests. Together, the student and advisor design a four-year academic plan and regularly monitor progress. In addition, a computer-generated report, “On-Track” is available to students and advisors to assist in monitoring individual progress.

How does a student get help with the selection of a major?

In addition to working with faculty advisors, students are strongly encouraged to consult with the staff of the Personal & Professional Development Center. The professional counseling staff can assist students through all stages of the career exploration process, from major and minor selection to researching careers, to networking and internships, to on-campus job interviews or graduate school applications. Students should acquaint themselves with the office during their earliest days on campus. First-year students will receive a copy of ATLAS (Achieving Through Learning And Searching). This is a four year planning guide created by Academic Advising and Career Services to help students achieve their educational and career goals. In addition, students are encouraged to initiate appointments in Academic Advising to discuss the curricular requirements when selecting a major. Students will have many resources available in making this important decision.

When does a student have to declare a major?

Students are required to seek acceptance into a major program during the second semester of their sophomore year. However, some departments require that students follow a strict academic plan beginning with their first semester (e.g. music, elementary education, nutrition, and nursing). Generally, students must complete two to three courses in the major before formally applying. Many students concentrate on fulfilling core course requirements in their first two or three semesters.

What is the Core Curriculum?

All Saint Benedict’s and Saint John’s students share a common set of graduation requirements--referred to as the Core Curriculum. The purpose of the Core Curriculum is to provide students with a foundation and the intellectual tools necessary to examine the fundamental, recurring questions about our world and ourselves. These questions challenge students to broaden their interests and to explore a variety of academic areas. Striving to ask these questions well and to make good moral and ethical judgment is at the heart of a Saint John’s education.

What are the Core Curriculum requirements?

The Core Curriculum has four components:

  • Proficiency-based requirements
  • Cross-disciplinary courses
  • Disciplinary courses
  • Flag requirements

Courses carrying a special “flag” are designed to incorporate emphasis on a special skill and/or issue within the context of teaching the particular subject matter. All students must fulfill specific “flag” requirements in quantitative reasoning, gender issues and global issues.

Students must complete a minimum of 124 credit hours (most courses offer 4 credit hours) to fulfill graduation requirements. At least 40 of these credits must be earned from any upper-division (300 level) course.

What is First-Year Symposium?

First-year symposium (and first-year honors symposium) is a required two-semester, eight-credit course designed to develop skills of critical thinking, writing and interpersonal communication. Symposium employs discussion and writing as primary learning methods, encouraging students to take an active role in their education. The primary goal is to help students develop essential skills for future success in our academic environment. A wide range of topics is offered from nearly all disciplines.

Each Symposium course is limited to 18 students (nine SJU and nine CSB students). The professor serves as the academic advisor for each student.

How can I assist my son in planning for study abroad?

Our international studies programs are carefully designed to allow all students to participate if they wish to do so. Most of the courses offered during these semesters fulfill Core Curriculum requirements; all apply toward graduation. It is important that your son plan ahead as he will want to stop by the International Studies Office early in his first year to check our study-abroad course offerings.

Students generally study abroad during their junior or senior year. The CSB/SJU International Studies Office, 320:363-3612, makes arrangements for travel, accommodations and study. Each program is directed by a CSB/SJU faculty member.

Where do students receive help with course work?

Primarily, students are encouraged to communicate directly with their professors. Additional support or advice is offered by the following sources:

  • Faculty advisors
  • Departmental study groups
  • Skill labs (writing, math, language, computer skills)
  • Peer tutors (available through departments)
  • Library staff
  • Academic Advising Office staff

What can parents do to help their student?

Most important, be patient and understanding. The first semester is a particularly difficult time for students. Stay in touch. Be supportive as your son works through the transition and adjustments. Encourage him to discuss progress with his faculty advisor, seek assistance from his teachers and take advantage of the special services outlined earlier in this section.

Please understand that the adjustment to college life offers many new opportunities and demands a close examination of values. Avoid the temptation to intervene at the first sign of difficulty. Give your student the opportunity to work through problems himself. Students benefit most when we show confidence in their abilities to negotiate these challenges and make the necessary adjustments, allowing them to accept personal responsibility for decisions.

If you have special concerns, please feel free to contact the appropriate administrator and/or Parent Relations, 320:363-2737.

How much time are students expected to spend studying each day?

Of course, each student is unique, but experience tells us that most students need to “step up” (from high school expectations) the quality time devoted to reading, study and review. We recommend that students engage in two to three hours of focused study for each class meeting. This translates to an average of six to eight hours of academic work each weekday (including time spent in class). This number will increase if students have labs in addition to class meetings. Since much more of the college student’s time is unstructured, time management is a critical issue for new students as they seek a successful balance between work and other activities.

Is there a class attendance policy at Saint John’s?

Students are expected to attend all scheduled classes. Generally, faculty members will specify policies at the beginning of each semester, setting limits on the number of allowable absences and determining how attendance may affect grading. If a student exceeds the limit (for any reason) he may be asked to withdraw from the course.

Students who anticipate absences for good reason should notify the professor well in advance to make necessary arrangements. If there is an emergency, the student or his parents should contact the faculty resident or the Academic Advising Office and follow up with the individual instructors as soon as possible.