Navigating the waters of course selection

July 9, 2013 11:00 AM

Alex Chasick

Among the many new experiences that incoming freshmen will encounter at Tulane University is an expansive course catalog core curriculum that allows students to study nearly anything that interests them. The Tulane Academic Advising Center works with students and parents to help them navigate the course offerings and develop an academic plan that allows students to explore their interests while staying on track to graduate.

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Shanice Webb, a senior academic adviser and career adviser for liberal arts, helps Claire Fitch of Boston and Jordan Fried of Warwick, N.Y., plan their fall course schedules. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Students and parents make contact with the advising staff early on. During New Student Orientation, advisers speak with parents and students about curriculum requirements and the role of the advising staff.

Brad Rhines, a senior academic adviser, says that the course catalog core curriculum allows students to explore new paths and reassess their goals.

“Sometimes the things that seemed so appealing to you when you had a limited menu of options don’t seem so appealing when you have a lot of options,” Rhines says.

Students coming from high schools that lacked courses in marine biology or Brazilian studies, for example, might discover an interest in these subjects and eventually pursue one of these fields as a minor.

“Our goal is to help students navigate the waters,” says Rhines.

The level of autonomy that students have in their course selections might surprise some parents who have been deeply involved in their students’ academic paths thus far. Rhines says that the goal is to keep parents involved in their students’ lives while allowing the students to make their own decisions and follow their own academic goals.

“We often remind students and parents when they’re making their first semester schedule that they’re going to be here for four years, and they’re going to have a lot of time to fulfill the requirements and explore many different topics.”

Alex Chasick, a freelance writer living in New Orleans, is a 2005 graduate of Tulane University.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu