The first step is to help undergraduate students identify academic goals, choose a major(s) and plan the sequence of courses to meet those goals. When a student first enters Rensselaer, they will be assigned a faculty and/or professional staff advisor to help them with this process. ALAC provides and supports academic advising in a number of ways.
- Training Faculty & Staff Advisors in departments throughout campus, and providing ongoing support and consultation. ALAC staff work closely with staff in each school’s “Advising Hub” and consult with faculty advisors as needed.
- Providing direct advising for students whose major is “undeclared general studies” or who are considering a change in their major.
- Coordinating Meet Your Advisor Days throughout the first year to help students connect with their advisors.
- Advising students concerning Academic Deadlines and Program Adjustments as listed in the course catalog, such as adding/dropping courses, choosing pass/no credit grading, or changing status to/from part-time study.
- Pre-medical and pre-health advising offers ongoing guidance and advice for students in any major who choose to pursue graduate study in medicine, dentistry, or allied health professions.
The Advising & Learning Assistance Center (ALAC) supports Rensselaer’s students throughout their undergraduate academic career, and helps them prepare successfully for their next adventure. Contact us at 518.276.6269. We are here to help.
ALAC collaborates with faculty and staff in departments throughout campus to provide personal advising to each student.
ALAC promotes advising to foster student growth and development. The goal is to help each undergraduate student develop a robust educational plan that incorporates both appropriate course selection and personal/professional growth opportunities.
For first-year, and possibly second-year, students, an important point of contact is their school’s Advising Hub. A Hub is a designated place in each of Rensselaer’s five schools for students to go for general advising questions. In later years the student will work with an assigned faculty member for course and career planning.
Effective advising requires active participation on the part of advisors, students, and the Institute as a whole.
Academic advisors are trained by ALAC professional staff to:
- Work with the student to develop an educational plan consistent with their goals and interests.
- Understand and explain Rensselaer’s core requirements, and related rules and regulations.
- Read and interpret each student’s report summarizing their academic courses, grades, and progress (called a CAPP report for Curriculum, Advising, Planning, & Program).
- Monitor and discuss issues of concern regarding the student’s academic progress.
- Recommend opportunities for personal growth and academic development.
- Refer students to specific campus or community resources as needed.
- Provide guidance for the junior-year Summer Arch program or study abroad.
- Connect students to appropriate faculty for questions about possible research and career paths.
For successful advising, student's need to:
- Participate in developing their educational plan.
- Review that plan to monitor their own progress towards their degree.
- Know their advisor’s office hours for individual consultations, and let the advisor know when they are experiencing academic difficulty.
- Attend advising sessions with a list of questions regarding curriculum, course selections, career options, and related matters.
- Consult with their advisor or ALAC about program adjustments such as adding/dropping a course, shifting to part-time status, or withdrawing from school.
- Understand that the advisor’s role is not to tell them what to do, but rather to provide information, options, and guidance to help the student decide his or her best path.
- Participate in first-year Meet Your Advisor Days and subsequent annual Student-Advisor Meetings (see below)
Rensselaer supports academic advising by:
- Providing adequate resources for advisors and students to meet their respective responsibilities.
- Providing opportunities for advancing best practices and support through professional training.
- Awarding and recognizing advisors who have done an excellent job.
ALAC provides direct advising for students whose major is “Undeclared General Studies” (UNGS) or who are considering a change in their major.
Usually undergraduates come to Rensselaer with a clear idea of their goals or fields of interest. Sometimes, however, a student may have so many interests that it is difficult to choose an area of concentration. Students may enter Rensselaer with UNGS status to have an opportunity to explore different fields, and have up to three semesters before they need to decide on a major. A delayed choice, however, may affect the rate of progress towards a degree, so all UNGS students are assigned to ALAC staff until they decide on a school or major. In the fall semester, ALAC runs a weekly First Year Seminar to help students explore their interests and goals, and then match those to an appropriate major. FYS sessions often have representatives from a department or campus office providing information and advice. Some sessions may have activities geared to related skills such as personal reflection and decision making.
Sometimes students have chosen a major but are considering a change. ALAC staff can act as a “sounding board” to help them identify their goals and interests, and select a major that best fits those interests.
ALAC coordinates Meet Your Advisor Day throughout the first year to help students connect with their advisors, and supports annual Student-Advisor Meetings (SAM) in subsequent years.
Meet Your Advisor Days (MYAD) are specific dates for first-year undergraduates and their advisors to get together to build a relationship, review students’ satisfaction with and progress in courses, and plan courses to take the following semester. The meetings also enable advisors to provide students with important information, such as registration deadlines, academic resources, tutoring times, career fairs, rules and regulations, and opportunities for undergraduate research or study abroad. MYAD sessions are held in the 2nd, 8th and 11th week of classes for the first semester and the 11th week in the spring.
After the first year, an annual Student-Advisor Meeting (SAM) is required, usually in the spring term. The advisor and student will review the student’s academic plan, personal and professional growth goals, and progress towards graduation. The advisor is the only person who can approve (“clear”) a student for registration on Rensselaer’s Student Information System (SIS), so the meeting is critical. If the student and advisor do not meet, the student will not be allowed to register for the coming term. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent a student or advisor from meeting, parties should contact their departmental office, Associate Dean of their school, or ALAC.
For successful progress towards your degree, pay close attention to institute deadlines on matters such as adding/dropping a course, filing for degree completion, and other matters. Rensselaer’s Academic Calendar outlines dates for these activities.
Dropping below 12 credit hours a semester may have serious repercussions. If you receive(d) financial aid or are an international student, contact the appropriate office before dropping below 12 credit hours. Other matters, such as athletic participation and on-campus housing may also be affected. If, after consulting with the appropriate offices, you choose to drop below 12 credit hours, you must complete a form with ALAC to receive official confirmation of part-time status.
A transfer student must meet specific residency requirements. The student must be registered full time for a minimum of four semesters. (Two semesters of part-time study will be considered equivalent to one semester of full-time study.) In addition, the student must complete 64 credit hours at Rensselaer, all of which will be applied to the baccalaureate degree. If a transfer student elects to study abroad or enroll in the co-op program, no more than 12 such credits may be applied to the 64 needed for the bachelor’s degree. The student’s educational plan at Rensselaer must include at least 16 credits above the 1000 level in the major field, or in an approved concentration.
The Institute requires a degree candidate to earn the last 30 credits in courses completed on this campus or through a program formally recognized by the Institute. Transfer credits are limited to two courses or eight credits towards the last 30 credits, and require approval of the Director of the Advising and Learning Assistance Center.
Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Advising offers ongoing guidance and advice for students in any major who choose to pursue graduate study in medicine, dentistry, or allied health professions.
Step 1: Plan your study at Rensselaer
Begin your studies at Rensselaer in any degree program and after four years you could pursue your health-related career in a professional program, possibly at one of the 74 schools where Rensselaer students have matriculated in recent years. Their success is based in part on individual attention from Rensselaer faculty at each step of the journey.
Step 2: Understand the application process
ALAC coordinates a Pre-Health Professions Committee, composed of faculty and staff members with specialized training and knowledge of premedical/prehealth curricula, who can assist students in developing the best application to medical, or other health professional schools.
Step 3: Develop your application
All students are interviewed by Committee members with the aim of assisting them shape the most effective application. The Pre-Health Professions Commitee provides the mechanism for submitting letters of recommendation to the health professional school. For your assistance we have developed a list of web addresses for almost all of the most common medical fields of study (see below).