Professional Advisors and Faculty Mentors
Professional advisors and faculty mentors both play critical roles in student success,
and students are advised to consult with both. Here's how they differ.
- Professional advisors are particularly helpful during your freshman year when you
are still exploring your major and learning about campus resources and the way the
- Professional advisors are a great resource if you are looking to change your major but
you're not sure which direction you want to go in. They can help you explore all the
majors the university has to offer and help you find the one (or two! or three!) that's
a perfect fit for you.
- Professional advisors have received training in all the resources Southern Miss offers to
help students—from academic coaching to career services to financial aid to research
librarians to counseling services. They can answer general questions, and will be
able to direct you to the exact person you need to talk to if you have a problem that
needs to be resolved.
- Professional advisors are experts on reading degree plans and checking your degree
progress report to make sure you are on track for a timely graduation. They are also
well informed about required paperwork and university deadlines.
- By the end of your sophomore year, you should have a fairly firm grasp of what you
want to major in, and you will want to make sure that you are talking with a faculty
mentor in your major at least once a semester during advisement period.
- Faculty mentors are experts in their field, so having a mentor in your major is critical.
Your mentor can talk with you about the current state of the field, job prospects,
and new research that might be of interest to you.
- Faculty mentors are knowledgeable about the classes in their field, and can help you
choose upper-level classes that will challenge you and meet your personal learning
objectives. They can also help with undergraduate research projects and make you aware
of any discipline-specific activities your school offers, such as honor societies,
student organizations, or guest speaker speakers.
- Faculty mentors can give you advice about applying to graduate school. (And the better
your mentor knows you, the better prepared s/he will be to write you a letter of recommendation
when the time comes.)
- Faculty mentors understand the value of networking, and can support you both in your
own professional networking and also in identifying professional organizations you
should consider joining. They can also connect you to other mentors and agencies outside
of campus if necessary.
- If you're not sure who your faculty mentor is, check your SOAR Student Center. If
you don't have a mentor listed, call the main office of your school and they should
be able to assign a mentor to you.
In short, both professional advisors and the Southern Miss faculty care about students
and want them to be successful. You should definitely take advantage of the help and
advice they're offering.