Are You Truly Making the Most of Fordham Advising?

Published: April 9, 2009

The Observer recently offered its readers a powerful article by Juliet Ben-Ami, emphasizing the importance of sound academic advising and examining whether our college makes the grade.

Fordham has plenty of advising opportunities available. Are you smart enough to take advantage of them? (Kisha Claude/The Observer)

As advisors, we would like to inform students about the wider range of advising available at Fordham today. We offer a simple 12-point checklist that students can use to gauge whether they are making the most out of advising opportunities. The unusual student who takes advantage of 8 out of 12 of these advising opportunities is getting the most from their years invested at Fordham. Those scoring 4 or below, however, should ask themselves if they are missing out on Fordham’s rich offerings outside the classroom.

1 . Course advising—the core

Students should see the deans in room LL804 or LL301 (for Liberal Studies students) for their core and general requirements. Deans are up-to-speed on the rules regarding the core and registration, and only deans can override the computer when students have difficulties registering. The PIN system was introduced a decade ago to reduce advising horror stories. Before PINs, some busy students would skip seeing their advisors, or have no advisor at all, only to be shocked senior year when they could not graduate due to missing requirements.

2 . Course advising—the major

Professors are uniquely qualified to advise students on both their majors and the unwritten rules for later career success in their specialties. Also, the hallway bulletin board for each FCLC department normally has updated career news.

3 . Individual counseling services

Given the pressures of college, it is normal for students to experience personal problems—stress, relationships, substance abuse, adjustment issues. Students should feel welcome to use the free Counseling Center services that are offered by confidential and qualified counselors.

4 .Group counseling services

The Counseling Center also offers free events that address common problems such as trouble studying, eating disorders, procrastination and depression.

5 . Individual career advising

Like the Counseling Center, Career Services offers a wide range of free services. The office provides individual advising for students seeking assistance defining and planning their career goals and learning job search strategies. All students are encouraged to meet with a career counselor to begin an individualized career development program and take a test to help them identify the carries that suit them the most.

6 .Group career services

Career Services also offers workshops that cover diverse topics such as resume and cover letter writing, interviewing skills, networking, career research, graduate school preparation, career assessments and technology resources. Career Services also connects students with employers using the Fordham Job Central online job database—exclusive to Fordham students. This can provide students and alumni access to internships and full- and part-time job listings.

7 .Student Leadership Positions

FCLC is blessed with over 50 student groups supporting a wide range of activities. When noted industrial psychologist Ann T. Howard guest lectured at Fordham, she discussed her famous “AT&T Management Study.” The study found that (besides ability test scores), the single best predictor of a manager’s future corporate success was whether he or she was an officer of a student club in college. These co-curricular clubs enhance classroom learning, yet fewer than 10 percent of Fordham students take time to get involved as officers in these groups. Such club experience rivals coursework as an important ingredient in future success and can open doors that otherwise remain closed.

8 .Clubs

Even if not officers, students should attend some of the many free club events that are held each week on campus. Many events provide invaluable advice on academic and career success (for example the annual Psychology Association symposia on graduate admissions and careers in psychology each October). A Fordham student who misses these is at a disadvantage later on.

9.Writing, math and language tutoring

Co-curricular support services also abound at Fordham to help students seeking to improve their writing, math and language skills. For those who struggle with writing, the tutors in the Writing Center offer valuable individual feedback in room LL302E. A student can drop by, or sign up for an appointment online  at Anne Fernald, assistant professor of English and director of writing and composition at FCLC, stressed that “the best writers know that no writing is finished until it’s been revised. Our tutors will help you revise and rethink your work in a relaxed atmosphere, and this will help you grow as a writer and a thinker.” The same is true for the Math Help Room in LL302F, and the Language Lab in room LL412.

10.Honor societies

FCLC now has chapters for a variety of honor societies. Students with a strong academic record blunder if they fail to join at least one honor society, since these societies open future doors.  For example, students who become a member of Psi Chi, a national psychology honor society, are eligible for thousands of dollars in grants and awards and even an automatic two-point raise in their “GS-level” if they enter government service. Like all national honor societies, Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit college honor society and the multi-discipline Phi Kappa Phi provide acknowledgment of a student’s high academic achievement, plus access to a nationwide network of society members.

11 .Prestigious Fellowships

The Office of Prestigious Fellowships is one of the most active, if low-profile services on campus. On their own, even the highest-achieving students would have a hard time earning  elite opportunities like the Fulbright or the Jack Kent Cook Scholarships. However Jonathan Kezel and Mary Shelley at the Prestigious Fellowships Office have a superb record of advising and coaching students to succeed with elite awards.

12.Other student services

Finally, additional advice is offered by a variety offices and organizations: Community Service, Service Learning, Campus Ministry, Study Abroad, FUEL, Urban Plunge and Global Outreach.

We understand that students are busy with course work, but it is a mistake to focus on classes exclusively, since Fordham’s co-curricular resources can actually lighten your load and enriching your future careers.

The Jesuits call it “Cura Personalis,” concern for the whole person—mind, body and spirit. It is an old concept, but one that distinguishes Fordham from bare-bones schools offering only coursework. As the Jesuits’ favorite Book tells us, “Without guidance we fail, but in a multitude of advisors, there is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:14). Fordham is blessed with such a multitude, and it is the wise student who takes full advantage of these advisors.


Professor of psychology Harold Takooshian, PhD, has worked nationally to plan co-curricular activities with the American Psychological Association and Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology.

Marion Viray, MA, has designed co-curricular programs with many universities—NYU, LaGuardia, Pace, Touro—before his current position as associate director for Career Services at Fordham-LC.