Advising Gen Ed

Advising students in General Education courses presents particular challenges.  Courses are offered in dozens of disciplines and all of the undergraduate schools and colleges.  Student interests also range widely, and it can be challenging to figure out how to help support students in choosing courses that give them an opportunity to explore while also being intentional about developing the skills necessary for long-term success and lifelong learning. 

The GEOC posts regular updates to policy and procedure:

If you are a Wayne Experience Instructor, please check the Instructor pages on this website for additional resources.

The following resources, created and curated by NACADA and other higher ed organizations may also help support your work.

On the Importance of Gen Ed Advising for Student Success

  • Eric White, "The Foundational Role of Academic Advising in General Education"
  • Kevin Egan, "Academic Advising in Individualized Major Programs:  Promoting the Three I's of General Education"
    • "Academic advisers play an important role in making general education relevant and meaningful to student learning by helping to facilitate the three I's of general education: interdisciplinarity, integration, and intentionality. This essay argues that the "advising as learning" model of academic advising embodies the kinds of advising practices that can contribute to the promotion of the three I's. It specifically examines the integral role that quality academic advising plays in individualized major programs. In doing so, it explores how such advising assists students with embarking on an intentional path of study that draws meaningful connections across multiple disciplines in accordance with both their learning goals and those established via general education imperatives. Finally, the essay concludes with some suggestions as to how such advising practices can be extended into other academic programs."
  • Ruth Darling, "The Academic Adviser"
    • "In this essay, I explore the idea that "academic" advisers are "academics" who play a major role in connecting the general education curriculum to the students' experience as well as connecting the faculty to the students' holistic experience of the curriculum. The National Academic Advising Association Concept of Academic Advising is used as a framework to consider advisers as academics and to imagine how this idea can be operationalized on college and university campuses within the context of the current challenges facing higher education."
  • Michael Kirk-Kuwaye and Dominic Sano-Franchini, "'Why Do I Have to Take This Course?  How Academic Advisers Can Help Students Find Personal Meaning and Purpose in General Education"
    • "For a variety of reasons, student engagement in general education continues to be a challenge. Perhaps one way to increase engagement is to connect general education with a deep student need: finding meaning and purpose in their lives or exploring what some have called "big questions." Recent scholarship has defined these clusters of meaning and purpose needs as "spirituality." General education can address these larger questions not only through "culture and belief" types of courses but also by having students study the world through multiple disciplines and perspectives. Academic advisers, who regularly talk with students about their values and goals and advise them on the entire curriculum, are in a prime position to help students make personal connections between their search for meaning and purpose and general education."
  • Rachel Most and Chad Wellmon, "Engaging Students in Advising and General Education Requirements"
    • "The focus of this essay is to examine how general education requirements and advising are connected in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. To do this, we begin with a brief description and history of general education requirements. We move next to a description of the advising system and general education requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the current requirements and advising system and conclude with an overview of where the College is headed within the next three to five years."
  • Mark Lowenstein, "General Education, Advising, and Integrative Learning"
    • "Students' level of engagement with general education and their grasp of its goals are a problem at many institutions. Academic advising, which is often viewed as having the "signpost" function of directing students to the completion of their course requirements, has the potential instead to be a place where students learn to approach general education with intentionality and especially to see how they can fit its pieces together to form an integrated whole greater than the sum of its parts. Since this will be very difficult (albeit rewarding) work for students, inducing them to engage with it is as challenging as inducing them to engage with any other aspect of general education. A partial solution could lie in treating advising as coursework in its own right, an integral part of general education rather than external to it. This proposal creates challenges for advisers and costs for institutionswhich are worth meeting if the institutions highly value integrative learning."
  • Elizabeth Guertin, "Helping Students Design an Education"
    • Most students embrace the incorporation of diverse disciplines into their educational plan when advisers and faculty members help them understand the added value of these courses in achieving their unique goals and how adding breadth can enhance their education and preparation. Individual advising is key to students gaining this perspective on their education. While most, if not all, institutions define and publish the rationale and learning outcomes for each of their general education requirements, these generic statements are not sufficient. They offer useful perspective on how the institution defines general education, but such statements do not provide individual students with the perspective to make informed selections of general education courses that enable a student to tailor her or his overall program of study to provide the best preparation to achieve her or his individual, long-term goals. A personal, individual rationale for the courses they take and the cocurricular opportunities they pursue resonates with students and parents. Both academic advisers and faculty members need to be prepared to explain how specific courses, particularly general education courses, contribute to each student's individual goals, not just to institutional goals.

Making Gen Ed Work for Students

On the Importance of Gen Ed Courses

  • Jennifer Werts, "Gen Eds:  Not a Waste of Time"
    • Scenario #1:  You haven't decided on a major.

    • Scenario #2: You have wide-ranging interests that you wish to explore further.

    • Scenario #3: You want to become a well-rounded person.

  • Catherine Seraphin, "General Education Requirements:  What's the Point?"
    • You are building foundational skills and knowledge to succeed in college.
    • It's more than just memorizing information to pass a test.  You need to practice your acquired skills and apply them in a real-world context.
    • You learn to think for yourself - dealing with unforeseen issues, thinking critically, solving problems.  That is essential for long-term job success

Hear from instructors about why they think General Education is important and how it differs from other courses

The GEOC is here to support you in advising for the General Education Program.  We are in the process of creating additional Wayne State-specific support materials.  If you wish to participate in that process or if you have ideas for useful resources that we could share that would support you or your advisees, please reach out to us at