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Advice For Advisers

Students aren’t the only people who appreciate pointers and advice. Veteran professors at the University of Portland have their own pointers for new faculty.

Dr. Christopher Halstrom, Associate Professor of Mathematics with expertise in Applied Mathematics, assists both majors and outside majors with transition and application.

His advice: keep your doors open as much as possible. Students appreciate the opportunity to visit and establish a personal relationship in addition to homework help.

Halstrom also appreciates the collaborative nature of the UP community.  He has meet professors of various backgrounds with different university and work experience as well as department association and expertise.

“It’s great to go down to the coffee room and hear about what other [professors] are doing; different teaching styles; [and] different teaching methods… Take advantage of that,” said Halstrom.

He also advises new teachers to pay particularly close attention to the freshman, sophomore, and transfer students who have yet to decide their educational path.

Dr. Elayne Shapiro, a communication department associate professor, said she gives her advisees a “heads up” when registration is nearing. This allows students time to research and decide their potential classes.

She advises to keep “special needs” students in mind while working their schedules. These students include, but are not limited to: study abroad, ROTC, athletes, double majors and minors, disabled, transfers, graduate students, and student workers.

She said to pay close attention to study abroad and capstone students who need to notify their advisers early of their plans. Study abroad students should inform their advisers their first year in order to work their schedule around the event.

Halstrom said there was a special case when a senior returned from study abroad and found out one of the required classes wasn’t offered that year.

In those cases, Halstrom said they offer alternative classes, specially made classes, or offer summer courses, but those are few, rare, and avoided as much as possible.

Teaching and advising styles are sometimes up to the professor and their own personal perspectives. Some professors have different advice for the same issue.

Halstrom said to try to take care of core and required classes early. He said this gives students the flexibility in their last few years to take the courses they want to specialize in.

On the other hand, Shapiro said she advises students to scatter their core and upper division workloads. This creates a mix and balance between easier 101 classes with harder 300 to 400 level classes per semester.

“There are some things you really do want to get out of the way,” said Shapiro. “But, in our department, I know there’s a lot of writing so I know it’s nice to have something [saved up] that is not quite so heavy duty.”

Despite the various choices, they both advocate knowing prerequisite courses; especially for double majors and minors.

As a communication major, students may need Math 161 in order to take a Research Methods class in the future.

Aside from academic advice, professors sometimes find themselves offering personal advice.

Shapiro also likes to be updated on “what students are doing holistically to prepare for the rest of their lives.” She further establishes a relationship with her students by asking them about their personal lives and how they are doing outside of academia.

In the end, it just may be up to trial and error.


4 Responses to “Advice For Advisers”


    Excellent entry. It makes perfect sense about leaving your doors open to students and establishing connections. I can’t imagine a professor, or really any kind of teacher, who can enjoy their job without making friends with their students.

    It’s amazing to think that even the smallest gesture by a teacher can spark a long-time friendship.

    • dominiquepascua

      It is unfortunate that the larger universities with an emphasis on research rather than students tend to shirk their one-on-one time.

      This just gives us yet another testimony that smaller schools tend to be the preferred choice if you like that teacher-student one-on-one time. ^^

  2. bridgetcangany

    This is one of the things i love most about the University of Portland! That despite how busy our professors and advisers are with their research, they never seem to be fussy over having to meet with us and they truly get to know us in order to help us succeed in the future! Really great job portraying the faculty at this school!


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