• CEMS Faculty Advising Handbook

    This handbook is a resource for faculty responsible for advising undergraduate students in CEMS. It contains basic information about the CEMS advising program, expectations for advisors, sample communications, links to University-wide resources and more. Note that this guide is organized using a series of "accordians", allowing the user to selectively view sections of the handbook. Please direct any questions about the content in this handbook to CEMS Student Services. 


Advising Philosophy

Shared responsibility is the key to an effective and successful advisee/advisor relationship. While students are ultimately responsible for the decisions they make throughout their educational journey, faculty and professional staff advising and mentorship are key to informing and empowering those decisions.

In their 2014 report Strengthening Advising at UVM, the Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate used the following definition of academic advising: “Academic advising is a developmental process which assists students in the clarification of their life/career goals and in the development of educational plans for the realization of these goals. It is a decision-making process by which students realize their maximum educational potential through communication and information exchanges with an advisor; it is ongoing, multifaceted, and the responsibility of both student and advisor. The advisor serves as a facilitator of communication, a coordinator of learning experiences through course and career planning and academic progress review, and an agent of referral to other campus agencies as necessary”. (David S. Crockett, Ed., (1987), Advising Skills, Techniques and Resources: A Compilation of Materials Related to the Organization and Delivery of Advising Services (Iowa City, Iowa: ACT Corporation).

Clearly delineated advising responsibilities are key to the success of a system of shared accountability. As such, CEMS Student Services developed (and continually updates) Making the Most of Advising in CEMS in conjunction with the CEMS leadership team and the CEMS faculty at large. These guidelines outline the responsibilities of CEMS students, faculty, and the professional advisors in CEMS Student Services.

Advising Organizational Structure in CEMS

The current academic advising model in CEMS features a collaboration between faculty and professional staff. CEMS Student Services leads oversight of the effort with ongoing input from the CEMS Leadership Team.

CEMS Student Services advising staff serve as primary academic advisors for all First Time First Year (FTFY) students in CEMS. Typically, CEMS Student Services staff also are the primary academic advisors for all CEMS transfer students in their first academic year at UVM.

CEMS faculty serve as primary academic advisors for all CEMS students after their first year at UVM has been completed.

CEMS Student Services staff also provide ancillary advising and related services to all CEMS undergraduates. This includes (but is not limited to) academic advising at Orientation; career advising; international student advising; study abroad advising; student athlete advising and degree completion advising.

Advisor assignments are made at the departmental level. Typically, departments chairs work with their administrative assistants to assign students advisors. CEMS Student Services facilitates the process by providing lists and/or individual requests for students who need to be assigned or reassigned. In some cases, CEMS Student Services may make recommendations to the department based on knowledge of the student’s needs and/or goals. Students may make requests to the department or CEMS Student Services for reassignment to a specific advisor with whom they have made a connection, or to be reassigned from an advisor who is not a good fit. CEMS departments and CEMS Student Services make every effort to honor such requests.

As of Fall 2022, all CEMS first year students have advising holds place on their records and are required to meet with their academic advisor prior to registering for courses. Students’ advisors must release these holds in order to enable registration. Departments may request that advising holds are placed on other student populations. 

General Expectations & Tips for Excellent Advising

Making the Most of Advising in CEMS sets forth basic expectations for faculty advisors, including being available, responsive, respectful, and knowledgeable about degree requirements, available resources, and career and graduate school opportunities. The CEMS and UVM communities are fortunate to have many faculty who highly value advising and far exceed these basic expectations. Excellent academic advisors meet students where they are, thoughtfully engaging with their advisees as individuals and empowering them to chart their own course through their education.

General Tips for Excellent Advising

  • Use your colleagues as resources. Find out who the experienced, highly-respected advisors in your department/college are. Get their general advice, ask to sit in on their advising appointments, ask them questions when you aren’t sure about something.
  • Be friendly, positive and welcoming.
  • Ask your advisees open-ended questions, for example:
    • How is your semester going?
    • What class(es) are you enjoying the most and why?
    • What clubs/organizations/activities are you involved in on campus?
    • What are your goals for your time here at UVM and/or after you graduate?
    • What are some of the skills you got from your (research experience, semester abroad, internship, summer job, etc.)?

Tips for Excellent Advising - First Years

  • Understand that you might be the only faculty member the student has had the opportunity to have an extended conversation with. Ask your advisees about academics, of course, but also about their transition to college and their lives outside of the classroom.
  • Your advisees may be struggling academically for the first time in their lives. Failing their first calculus exam may make them doubt their ability to succeed in CEMS. Let them know they’re not alone – the first exam is often a wakeup call that helps students understand what it takes to succeed at the college level.
  • Encourage your advisees to think about high-impact practices that they may be interested in pursuing – research, study abroad, the accelerated master’s program? Perhaps they aren’t prepared to move forward with any of these yet, but now is a good time to have initial conversations.
  • Some first years are excited about everything – they want to pursue a dual degree, add a minor, live in the Wellness Environment, join every club, study abroad, and complete an honors thesis alongside their varsity sport and ROTC. As an advisor, you should encourage their varied interests and enthusiasm, but also help them understand the consequences of their choices and identify what is and is not realistic. What are some ways for them to continue to nurture their interests without the level of commitment involved in some of these options?
  • For your high achieving students who aren’t currently in the Honors College, have they considered applying for sophomore admission?

Tips for Excellent Advising - Sophomores

  • Take stock of the student’s first year. What classes did they enjoy and/or perform well in? What classes were less engaging? Does their academic record indicate that they can be successful in their degree program? Does their performance and your conversations with them suggest that their program is a good fit for their skills, interests and goals?
  • If your advisee is interested in studying abroad and has not yet connected with the Office of International Education and Matt Manz in CEMS Student Services, it is imperative that they do so ASAP.
  • Encourage ongoing co-curricular participation. Discuss the possibility of engaging in club officer and other leadership opportunities as a way to develop skills and build resumes.
  • Have your advisees thought about adding on a minor and/or certificate? As you review their transcript, do you see potential for them to add such a credential with just a few additional courses? For example, a student who took two Economics courses as gen ed electives during their first year might consider what it would take to add an Economics or Business minor.
  • Refer your advisees to resources that will help prepare them for research and/or internship opportunities, such as the CEMS Career Readiness Program, the Career Center, and the Office of Fellowships, Opportunities & Undergraduate Research.

Tips for Excellent Advising - Juniors & Seniors

  • Review degree audits in your advising meetings. Ensure that you and your advisees are on the same page in terms of their track toward degree completion. Discuss any potential exceptions/substitutions and ensure that the appropriate paperwork is filled out and submitted.
  • Your advisees may be tapping you for recommendations for graduate school and/or employment. Meet with them ahead of time to discuss their goals and motivations. Review their resumes with them and discuss how to best highlight their accomplishments. Craft a recommendation that emphasizes their unique skills, attributes, and ability to contribute to the community they are hoping to join.
  • Remind seniors to fill out the Intent to Graduate Form. Encourage them to participate in Commencement and stay in touch with CEMS and the University as they transition into their next phase.


Sample Advising Communications

Introductory Email

Introduce yourself as their advisor. Inform them of your office location, office hours, and preferred method of contact.

Sample Email

Dear Advisee,

I have been assigned as your new faculty advisor. As your advisor, I am interested in your academic and overall success. I am available to answer your questions and offer guidance to support your learning and career goals. As an advisee, I hope you will reach out with questions, stop by during office hours, or schedule an appointment whenever you'd like to meet

My office is located in BUILDING, ROOM and my phone number is 656-XXXX. I have office hours from THIS TIME to THIS TIME on THESE DAYS.  The best way to schedule an appointment with me is to send me an email with times you are available to meet. Allow XX hours for a response.

I look forward to working with you.



Welcome Back

Send your returning advisees a welcome back message and inform them of your office hours and preferred method of contact for the coming semester.

Sample Email

Dear Advisee,

Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful SUMMER/WINTER BREAK and that you’re looking forward to the upcoming semester. I have office hours on THESE DAYS at THESE TIMES in LOCATION. As always, if you have a question or concern, please be in touch.



Academic Alert Response

Contact your advisee regarding any academic alerts you receive. An easy way to do this is to forward the academic alert email to the student with a new message from you.

Sample Email

Dear Advisee,

I just wanted to check in with you about this. Have you followed up with your instructor yet? I'd be happy to dicuss strategies for success and your options moving forward. I am free on THESE DAYS at THESE TIMES.




Once the Schedule of Courses is released and students are preparing to register for the subsequent semester, send your advisees a message encouraging them to set up an advising appointment.

Sample Email

Dear Advisee,

It is time to plan your coursework schedule for next semester. I hope to meet with you prior to registration to discuss your academic and career goals, along with your required courses, elective choices, etc. Please come prepared for this meeting with your proposed course schedule. My office hourse are from THIS TIME to THIS TIME on THESE DAYS. I'm also available by appointment. (Include any additional instructions here, such as using a sign-up sheet on your door or using a scheduling app). I look forward to seeing you.



Course Substitutions

Course substitutions for CEMS degree requirements must be documented and approved by the student's primary academic advisor and the Department Chair or Program Director for the student's major. Direct your advisees who are seeking substiutions to originate their request with CEMS Student Services. Advisors in Student Services can review the situtation and direct the student appropriately. For instance, sometimes a review of transfer credit for a UVM course equivalency is better course of action than pursuing a substitution. If a substitution request is appropriate, the student will fill out a CEMS Substitution Request Form with a staff member in CEMS Student Services. The student is then responsible for meeting with their advisor and Department Chair or Program Director to discuss the request. Finally, the student should be directed to return the completed form to CEMS Student Services. Requests that are approved by both the advisor and Chair or Program Director will be coded in the student's Degree Audit.

CEMS Student Services has worked with the CEMS Department Chairs to document substitutions that students need not individually request. For example, engineering students can always substitute a first year engineering design course from one engineering department to meet another engineering department's first year design requirement, i.e. ME 001 can always sub for EE 001 for a student who has changed their major from ME to EE. Department Chairs and CEMS Student Services have records of all substitutions, but some of the most common ones are also listed below.

Common Substitutions

NOTE: While the following substitutions are allowable, students are required to follow the curriculum outlined in their catalogue. These substitutions are for unique circumstances.


  • All first-year engineering design courses (BME 001, CE 003, EE 001, ENGR 001 & ME 001) fulfill the First Year Design Requirement.
  • PHYS 051 may substitute for PHYS 031.
  • PHYS 152 may substitute for PHYS 125.

All Majors

  • Crosslisted courses: Students may apply either departmental prefix of a cross-listed course toward their degree requirements (this is not true for requirements towards a student’s minor).
    • Example: ME 218 is cross-listed with CE 218. A Mechanical Engineering student with credit for CE 218 may use the credit to satisfy requirements that ME 218 would satisfy
  • MATH 019 & 023 (Foundations of Calculus & Transitional Calculus) may substitute for MATH 021 & 022 (Calculus I & Calculus II)

Concerns About Advisees

Faculty with concerns about the well-being of advisees and/or students in their classes have various resources for addressing those concerns. Faculty are welcome to consult the CEMS Student Services team, or in the case of students who are not in CEMS, the Student Services office of the student's home college. Members of the UVM community can also submit CARE report, which are routed to the University's CARE (Concerning and Risky Events) team and the Dean of Students Office.

Assessing Advising in CEMS

On a yearly (or sometimes semesterly) basis, CEMS students are asked for feedback on their advising experience shortly after the advising and registration period. The CEMS Advising Survey asks students to rate their advisor and/or advising experience(s) as follows:

I use my academic advisor as my primary source for advising guidance.
  • Answer choices: Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Frequently or Always.
My primary source for advising guidance is the following: (Note: This question presented only if previous question answered with Seldom, Frequently or Sometimes).
  • Answer choices: Myself, My advisor, Other faculty member, Student Services personnel or Other.
My advisor is knowledgeable about my academic progress.
  • Answer choices: Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Frequently or Always.
My advisor is knowledgeable about degree requirements.
  • Answer choices: Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Frequently or Always.

My advisor suggests academic options that support my career goals.
  • Answer choices: Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Frequently or Always.
I prepare for our discussion before our meeting.
  • Answer choices: Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Frequently or Always.
Overall, I would rate the quality of my academic advising as:
  • Answer choices: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good or Excellent.

Students are also encouraged to share any suggestions on how to improve advising or give general comments on their academic advising experiences. The results of the advising survey are broadly used to assess the advising system and structure in CEMS or within individual departments or programs. Department Chairs may also use the data gathered in the survey to inform their evaluations of individual faculty members’ academic advising performance.

Interactive Advising Tools

myUVM (portal)

myUVM is an individualized webpage that gathers together information and links to information for students, faculty, and staff at UVM. Much of the functionality in the myUVM "Advising" tab has been replaced by more sophisticated functionality in Navigate. Advisors may still find some aspects of the myUVM Advising tab helpful. Click here for additional information about myUVM. Click here for a short video on navigating the Advising tab in myUVM.

Degree Audit

Click here for Degree Audit FAQ's. These questions and answers are intended for a student audience, but they can also be helpful to advisors in navigating UVM's Degree Audit system.

Navigate (EAB)

Click here for Navigate training documentation and video tutorials.
PDF icon Advising Summary Report Guidelines.pdf


Academic Resources

Academic Calendars

Course Registration Schedule

University of Vermont Catalogue

  • The catalogue is a student’s contract with the University, and is the authoritative source of information on degree requirements. Students are responsible for knowing and complying with all requirements for their respective degrees as stated in the catalogue.
  • Note that the catalogue link defaults to the current catalogue year. You can navigate to either the Undergraduate or Graduate catalogues, or to the Catalogue Archives (where you can access PDF or HTML version of previous catalogue editions).

Curriculum Checksheets for CEMS Degrees

  • Curriculum checksheets are intended to reflect the University Catalogue. They serve as helpful tools for students and advisors. The ultimate source for information about degree requirements is the Catalogue.
  • Note that CEMS curriculum checksheets are organized by catalogue year. Degree requirements may differ from year to year. Always ensure that you and your students are using the appropriate checksheet that reflects the student’s catalogue year.

Schedule of Courses by Semester

  • Relevant semesters (at any given time) are available from the Registrar’s Office homepage. Course schedules are also available through students’ myUVM portal.

Academic Support Services

Tutoring Center

What do they do?

The Tutoring Center offers free tutoring services to all undergraduate students. They offer:

  • Subject Area Tutoring – Students meet one-on-one with a tutor once per week for each subject.
  • Supplemental Instruction – A voluntary, group-based, peer-run study system available for select courses.
  • Study Skills Program – Designed to help students become effective and efficient learners through workshops in time management, notetaking, and active study systems.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: Your high achieving advisee is looking for a way to enhance their resume, earn money, and serve the UVM student community.

Example 2: Your advisee has always done well in school, but is finding that things are different at the college level. After failing their first Chemistry exam, they come to you for advice on how to improve their performance in the course.

CEMS Math & Stat Help Sessions

What do they do?

The Department of Mathematics & Statistics holds drop-in help sessions for math courses (MATH 001-MATH 023) and STAT 111 & 141. The help sessions – staffed by graduate students in the department – are held four evenings per week for two hour blocks throughout the semester.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: You receive an academic alert for an advisee who is struggling in one of the courses that the help sessions cover.

Example 2: During an advising meeting, your advisee acknowledges that they often get stuck on calculus homework problems and don’t know how to proceed. You might consider suggesting that they start doing their homework in help sessions so they can access assistance when they are struggling with a problem.

Student Accessibility Services (SAS)

What do they do?

SAS provides accommodations to students with documented disabilities.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: An advisee or student in your class is struggling to complete exams on time. Perhaps the student has a documented disability and received accommodations at the high school level, but didn’t want to use them in college and is now struggling. Or perhaps high school was easy enough that the student was able to get by without accommodations, but is now showing possible signs of a learning disability.

Example 2: A student broke their arm skiing and may need temporary accommodations to write exams, etc.


Student Support Resources

Counseling & Psychiatry Services (CAPS)

What do they do?

CAPS – an arm of the Center for Health & Wellbeing – supports UVM students’ mental health through individual counseling, group counseling, and psychiatric services.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: An advisee discloses that they struggle with mental health issues, and they aren’t currently being treated through CAPS or an off-campus provider.

Example 2: A student exhibits signs of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or another mental health concern. You might consider suggesting that CAPS has great counselors available to help students navigate stressful academic and/or student life situations.

Career Center

What do they do?

The Career Center has counselors available here to speak with students and alumni about goals related to major, career, work, grad school, and more. Along with running networking events and career fairs, the Career Center offers services related to interview skills, resume and cover letter writing, and Pre-Health and Pre-Law advising.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: Your advisee needs quick feedback about their resume before then next day’s career fair, and neither you nor the CEMS Career Readiness Program staff are available to review it. (The Career Center offers frequent drop-in hours for such services).

Example 2: Your advisee hopes to go to medical school after finishing their undergrad degree and wants to discuss pre-med requirements and how the med school application process works.

Office of Fellowships, Opportunities & Undergraduate Research (FOUR)

What do they do?

FOUR offers an array of valuable resources to help students with their intellectual development through research and scholarly engagement, and by exploring and pursuing competitive fellowships.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example: Your high-achieving advisee comes to you to express interest in pursuing scholarship – perhaps in academia – but they aren’t really sure about next steps. You think the student could be a competitive candidate for a fellowship such as a Goldwater or Rhodes Scholarship.

Mosaic Center for Students of Color (MCSC)

What do they do?

MCSC fully supports the holistic development of African, Latino(a), Asian, Native American, Multiracial and New American students so that as confident students of color they attain their goals for academic achievement, personal growth, identity formation, and cultural development.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example: An advisee is struggling with being the only student of color in many of their classes, and is feeling like they don’t belong in CEMS or in the STEM disciplines.

Prism Center (LGBTQA Community)

What do they do?

The Prism Center serves the diverse queer and trans communities at the University of Vermont.  We support and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, as well as students whose identities fall in between or expand beyond those categories, and work to create a campus community where people of all sexual and gender identities can thrive.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example: Your advisee identifies as trans and has been asking students, faculty and staff to use “they/them” pronouns when referring to them. Many in the community continue to refer to them as “him”, and they are asking for assistance in how to approach this issue – especially with faculty and staff.

Office of International Education (OIE)

What do they do?

OIE is responsible for two overarching functions: assisting students and faculty engaged in study abroad programs and assisting international students, scholars, faculty and staff studying and working on our campus.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: Your advisee is an international student who is struggling in their classes and is considering one or more course withdrawals, but isn’t sure if/how it might impact their immigration status. (Note: You may also wish to refer such a student to Matt Manz in CEMS Student Services). 

Example 2: Your advisee is interested in studying abroad, but hasn’t begun the process of looking into their options in terms of destination, program type, etc. (Note: You may also wish to refer such a student to Matt Manz in CEMS Student Services). 

Student Financial Services (SFS)

What do they do?

SFS provides a wide range of services related to financial aid, scholarships and billing.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: Your advisee discloses to you that they may not be able to continue at UVM for financial reasons. SFS may be able to revisit the student’s financial aid award and/or point them toward payment plans, private scholarships, and/or other financial resources.

Example 2: Your advisee’s GPA was below the threshold required for them to retain their scholarship. Your advisee is asking whether there is any way for them to get their scholarship back if they can raise their GPA.

Student Veteran Services

What do they do?

Student Veteran Services supports Veterans and VA students with education and other benefits and help them to make the smoothest possible transition to higher education after serving in the armed forces.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example: Your advisee is interested in dropping or withdrawing from a class, but isn’t sure whether their GI Bill benefits will still cover their tuition if they do so.

Office of Transfer Affairs

What do they do?

Transfer Affairs – an arm of the Registrar’s Office – is responsible for implementation of the University’s Undergraduate Transfer Credit Policy. The office is responsible for processing and evaluates transfer and other external credit (such as Advanced Placement) and overseeing the degree audit system. They work closely with incoming transfer students and current students who study abroad and/or take courses at other institutions while matriculated at UVM.

Why might you refer a student there?

Example 1: Your advisee is interested in taking a course at a community college or university near their home over the summer and wants to know how to go about getting approval.

Example 2: Your advisee has generic credit on their record (for example, ME XXX) for an external course. The course isn’t currently meeting any degree requirements, but your advisee (and/or you) believe should be. (Note: You may also wish to consult CEMS Student Services about such situations). 

Women’s Center

What do they do?

The Women’s Center provides advocacy services, empower women and their allies to use their voices, raise awareness about the critical issues facing women, and highlight their many accomplishments. 

Why might you refer a student there?

Example: During an advising meeting, your advisee intimates that they have been a victim of sexual violence. The Campus Victim's Advocate – based in the Women’s Center provides advocacy, referrals and support for students, faculty, and staff (regardless of identity) who have experienced some form of sexual violence, intimate partner violence and/or stalking.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Q: My advisee wants to take courses over the summer at another institution. What is the process for getting courses approved for transfer?

A: UVM's Office of Transfer Affairs - an arm of the Registrar's Office - maintains a Transfer Credit Guide that shows coursework that has transferred to UVM from other institutions over the last five years. This is an excellent resource, as it lists the sending institution's course prefixes, numbers and titles, along with the comparable courses at UVM. Also, please refer your students directly to Transfer Affairs. They will guide your advisee through the process, issue approval forms for any approved external coursework, and share important policy information (e.g. the student must receive a grade of "C" or higher in order for the course to transfer, but grades in transferred coursework do not count toward the UVM GPA).

Q: My advisee wants to switch out of CEMS to a major in another college. What are the steps for doing this?

A: First, try to understand the reason that your advisee wants to change majors/colleges. Sometimes students make these decisions hastily because of struggles in one class, or even after performing poorly on a single exam. Help your advisee think through the decision to change majors/colleges, encourage them to do their research, discuss their plans with their networks, etc. Refer them to this checklist designed for students interested in changing majors/colleges and encourage them to reach to the Student Services Office for the major/college they are interested in pursuing.

Q: My advisee is asking me how they should go about transferring to another college or university. What guidance should I provide?

A: Try to have a conversation with your advisee on why they are looking to leave UVM. Sometimes there are concerns about community, roommates, or other issues that may be able to be solved internally. Having a conversation with them about what changes they could make at UVM to enhance their experience, and helping them make those changes, is equally important as accepting their decision and assisting them with their transfer. Please connect the student with CEMS Student Services to discuss how to change their student status and any forms they may need to be processed.

Q: One of my advisees has received multiple academic alerts indicating that the student has not been attending class regularly. How should I follow up?

A: It is always appropriate – and encouraged – for an advisor to follow up with his or her advisee after the student has received an academic alert. Some academic alerts are more concerning than others, however, and warrant a higher level of follow-up. If a student has been absent from a number of classes, it is a good idea to invite the student in for a meeting, and to reach out to CEMS Student Services so that they are aware of the situation and can conduct additional follow-up.

Q: My advisee’s Degree Audit is not displaying correctly. Who should I contact?

A: Encourage your advisee to meet with an advisor in CEMS Student Services. All Student Services advisors have access to make changes to a student’s audit. Degree Audits are built to follow the catalogue precisely; in situations where curriculum has changed since the catalogue was published, CEMS Student Services may need to make exceptions to a student’s Degree Audit in order for it to display correctly.


Learn More About Advising


NACADA is the global community for academic advising and the premier professional organization for academic advisors. The NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University is dedicated to scholarly research on academic advising and student success in higher education. Much of the literature is readily available on NACADA's website.

NACADA also hosts regional, national and international conferences, symposia and learning institutes. Subgroups within NACADA include a Faculty Advising Community and a STEM Advising Community.