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The staff of Academic Advising. Credit: Gabriel Wolfenstein

Why I Love Undergraduate Advising

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The staff of Academic Advising. Credit: Gabriel Wolfenstein

What path will you take through Stanford?  How will you make the most of the amazing opportunities and resources available here?  Who are you hoping to become by the time you graduate that you haven’t yet become?  

These are among the many questions I regularly ask Stanford students.  It’s part of what I think advisors should do:  hold up a mirror and invite students to reflect on who they are, where they want to go, and why.  That’s why advisors don’t just dispense advice; they are not (primarily) purveyors of academic information (most of which you can readily find online, if you look).  Rather, they ask probing questions and listen carefully to the way you respond so that they can ask another probing question.  And, of course, they are here to provide encouragement when your self-confidence falters, to connect you to opportunities you might have missed, and to celebrate your successes along the way.  

That’s why I love advising—it offers me opportunities to connect with students and to witness their intellectual and personal growth over four years.  Before coming to Stanford, I was a professor of religious studies at Carleton College for 33 years, and there, too, my favorite part of teaching was helping students grow into the people they wanted to become.  

Now I direct the office of Academic Advising here at Stanford.  In this role I have the great privilege of working to ensure that all our advisors can have really transformational interactions with our students.  I also oversee the truly amazing research grant programs that we offer, and then watch students soar intellectually as they delve into their projects.  Finally, I share with others in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) the responsibility of thinking broadly about new directions for undergraduate education here. 

I can’t imagine more exciting or fulfilling work!  And I can’t imagine a better place to do it than here at Stanford. 

Louis Newman

Former Director of Academic Advising, 2016 - 2022

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