Take Advantage of Cornell’s Advising Offices

A student sits at a table discussing a topic with an adult.

By: Amanda Madenberg, HE ’20

If there is one thing I have learned with certainty throughout my time at Cornell, it’s that this university has a ton of advising resources for students to utilize. Faculty and staff at Cornell truly want undergraduate students to succeed, and there are several adults on campus who will be personally looking out for you and your concerns.

First and foremost, all students have an academic advisor in their own college/school. This person is a professor within your specific academic program at Cornell, and you will have a mandatory meeting with them as soon as you arrive on campus for Orientation Week. An academic advisor can help with matters such as course planning, career goals, aspirations, research opportunities, or time management strategies as you adjust to Cornell’s campus life and culture. While students meet with their academic advisors a minimum of once per semester, some students foster relationships with their advisors that go well beyond the advisor’s advice for their Cornell careers. Though my initial advisor was extremely resourceful in helping to plan my first few semesters on campus, it wasn’t until I switched formal advisors that I started to understand the mentor role an advisor can play. I had taken several classes with one particular professor and often sought her out during her office hours, and she suggested that I switch formally to her academic caseload. This advisor has been crucial in several decisions I have made in the past few years, and she wrote many letters of recommendation for me as I began to think about my post-college pursuits. She not only knows me as a student but as an involved community member.

In addition to your personal advisor, each department at Cornell has a Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). The DUS oversees all advising functions for the academic department, so this may be a person you seek out if your academic advisor is unsure of an answer to one of your questions. The DUS of the Human Development department is the person who signed my study abroad form to obtain major-related credit in another country, for example.

If you have a burning question and you’re not sure who to ask, students are more than welcome to schedule an appointment during walk-in advising hours for their particular college. While you will have one academic advisor as your go-to person, that does not mean you can’t seek help elsewhere. All advisors are willing to meet with any student, regardless of whether or not they formally advise that student.

Cornell also has several advising offices for particular purposes. For example, there is an Internal Transfer advising office, which is where students go if they are thinking or planning to switch majors or colleges/schools during their time as undergraduates. Additionally, there is a Cornell Abroad office, which may be able to help you understand the various study abroad opportunities, and there are also abroad offices within each specific undergraduate college/school. Once you decide to study abroad, you will get a formal abroad advisor within your college/school. Those offices are under the purview of the general Cornell Abroad office.

Finally, there are several career advising offices available to students. There is a general Career Services Office that is for all students at Cornell, as well as individual career services offices in each of the undergraduate colleges and schools. In addition to visiting the advisors within your college, you may meet with any advisor in the Cornell Career Services office. Personally, I have met with several advisors within the career-advising network, as I was initially unsure of what I wanted to pursue after college. I found that meeting with a bunch of Cornell employees was an extremely helpful way to determine my initial career path. Each advisor had a new opinion and perspective to offer, and I generally felt very supported throughout the process.

There are so many people I can visit if I need help on campus, and I know that these caring individuals are genuinely looking out for me.