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Muir Academic Advising staff photo on zoom.

Academic Advising

Our team of Academic Advisors help you make decisions, plan classes, navigate campus deadlines and policies, and connect you to student support services. We're part of a network including specialized advisors in major and minor departments and programs, and the Career Center. 

From orientation through graduation, our relationship is based on working together as partners. We advise. You decide.

The role of a Muir College Advisor is to guide, clarify, refer when appropriate, and empower you to make informed decisions about your academic life. We support you and will also challenge you to own your choices and reflect about what it means to be an active participant in your education.

What is Academic Advising?

Academic advisors are your guides, to help you plan your education, navigate the college experience and overcome barriers to your success. You can choose to make use of advising or not, but the more you engage actively, the more advisors can help. 

Help with Planning and Decision-Making

Advisors can help you identify your strengths, goals, and values so you can make informed decisions about your time in college, plan out your classes and other experiences, and make decisions that make the most of your experience.

Help Navigating a Complicated System

UC San Diego is filled with rules, resources, and options that can be overwhelming. Understanding how to make the most of your education can make a huge difference in your eventual success after college. Advisors help you understand how rules, regulations, systems, and resources apply to you and how to adapt to and overcome any barriers you face.

Help Overcoming Barriers

College isn’t easy. It isn’t intended to be. Not only are college classes hard, but there can be struggles with money, roommates, housing, having enough to eat, physical or mental health concerns, trouble with family, or just feeling disconnected, unmotivated, or unable to make a place at UC San Diego. Those are real struggles, and advisors are here to help you either directly with advice and support or indirectly by connecting you with services on campus to help you be the best version of yourself you can be.

Multiple Advising Offices

The college provides general support. We help you with regulations, choosing major, understanding university requirements and your General Education requirements.

You will also have an advisor in your major to help you with knowing when your major requirements are offered, course prerequisites, which major electives can best fit your goals, which professors are potential mentors, and how to match your major to professional goals.

In addition, we have several other offices to support you, like the International Services and Engagement Office (for international student visa issues) and the Career Services office that focuses on helping you prepare for life after college, all of which offer different advising-like services to students. 

Confidentiality and Its Limits

Advisors are required to protect the confidentiality of your academic records. In general, we can’t release academic information, but there are some exceptions, such as sharing your records with other advisors in the college and in your major. However, we are required to report if a student appears to be a danger to themselves or to others, and to report any student who tells us about violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment and and many kinds of crimes. Your advisor should tell you when they cannot be confidential, what information they must report, and who they are reporting it to.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Mission

Muir College Academic Advising supports students’ academic, career, and personal goals from orientation to graduation by providing holistic, individualized academic advising services for students. Additionally, College Academic Advising partners with departments and programs across campus to pursue student-centered initiatives that shape the undergraduate academic experience at UC San Diego.

Vision

The three key focuses of advising at Muir College are:

  1. To provide students with accurate, timely information and help making decisions about their academic life at UC San Diego.

  2. To help create space for validation and humanization of the academic experience when students interact with advisors.

  3. To foster a sense of belonging for each student by using strengths-based advising for the best outcomes for students in their individual situations. 

Values

  • Student Focus: We hold that students’ wellbeing, validation, and success are essential to building a sense of belonging necessary to create a foundation for academic success for the diverse community of student learners at Muir College.

  • Social Justice: We believe that we must constantly challenge our practices, our structures, and our institutions to make sure that we provide an environment that supports all students, particularly marginalized, colonized, and underrepresented students to create an equitable educational experience.

  • Sustainable Service: We believe that in order to maintain quality services, we must have practices that are sustainable -- that workers are able to engage fully with students and that students feel like they are treated with humanity. This means that our work must balance the needs of both workers and students.

How to Meet With a Muir Academic Advisor

You have three options to reach a Muir Academic Advisor:


The Virtual Advising Center

You can leave a short text message at any time, and advisors will respond to you during work hours (Monday-Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm). We usually respond in 1-2 work days, depending on how busy the office is. Go to http://vac.ucsd.edu and choose the “Ask a Question” tab from the drop-down menu. Use the virtual advising center for:


  • Simple, direct questions.

  • Information, procedures, or policies. 

  • Or if you can’t make it to drop-in advising. 


Drop in Advising: Virtual Office Hours

During the quarter, Virtual Office Hours are usually offered via Zoom on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9-11:00am and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:00pm - 3:00pm (except for campus holidays). We also offer in-person Office Hours Tuesdays from 1:00-3:00pm. During the summer we only offer Virtual Office Hours from 1-3:00pm. 


You can contact us during Office Hours by going to http://vac.ucsd.edu and choosing “Talk to an Advisor” from the menu on that page. Choose “John Muir College” from the drop down, and scroll down the page for information on logging in to drop-in advising. 


Virtual Office Hours tend to be fairly brief – we aim for our drop-in sessions to be no more than 15 minutes – but are a good place for a quick check-in about planning classes, dealing with a difficult situation, or resolving a question you have about requirements, regulations, decisions, or just navigating the campus bureaucracy. 


Scheduling an Appointment

Appointments work well for much more complicated situations. Setting up a graduation plan, trying to understand and get out of academic probation, or planning ahead for graduate or professional school, those kinds of things tend to be much more involved. Appointments are 30 minutes long and you have to plan them ahead of time – we don’t offer same-day appointments. Our system only allows you to schedule appointments up to 2 weeks in advance. We only offer appointments during the school year. 


Appointments are available in person or via zoom, and to schedule an appointment, you can go to http://vac.ucsd.edu and choosing “Talk to an Advisor” from the menu on that page. Choose “John Muir College” from the drop down, and scroll down the bottom of the page and click on “Schedule an Appointment.”

Muir Advising Calendar

Meeting Your Major or Minor Advisor

The most reliable way to access advisors in your major or minor is through the Virtual Advising Center, which will have both a means to leave a question for your major or minor advisor and information on other advising options available to you. 

In addition, you can view a list of Undergraduate Department and Program Advisors for links to the department and program websites and advisor contact information.

Making the Most of Advising

Because advising is a partnership, there are a few ways you can help shape the partnership so you and your advisor are bringing the best options for your success to the table:

  • Seek out advisors during crucial times and whenever you are experiencing challenges that affect your academics. 

  • Actively learn your major, General Education, and university requirements.. 

  • Regularly review your Academic History and Degree Audit to check your progress and make sure your records are accurate. 

  • Actively engage with your advisor by coming to sessions with planned questions, goals, and ideas of what you want to achieve. 

  • Use campus resources to support your wellness and academic success.

  • Take responsibility for your choices and actions that affect your academic progress. 

Academic Advising in Your First Year

During your first year of college, consider several key things to accomplish with your academic advisor. 

Fall Quarter

  • Early in the quarter: Attend professor or TA office hours for at least one class

  • Mid-quarter: Review the schedule of classes for Winter

  • Mid-quarter: Contact your college advisor about current classes and next quarter (via the VAC or schedule an appointment)

  • Highly Recommended: Visit OASIS or the Teaching and Learning Commons (quarterly). Form at least one study group

Winter Quarter

  • Early in the quarter: Follow up with a college academic advisor to review your experience in your first quarter.

  • Mid-quarter: Review the schedule of classes for Spring

  • End of Quarter: Connect with major advisor to learn about major requirements and opportunities and experiences available within the academic department/program 

  • Recommended: Start working on a career roadmap with Career Center.

Spring Quarter

  • Mid-quarter: Review the schedule of classes for Fall
  • Throughout the quarter: Develop and finalize summer plans (academic and career)

  • Recommended: Consider Summer Sessions

Becoming a Self-Advocate

One of the most important skills for a successful college student is developing the agency to advocate for yourself whenever you are facing barriers. This requires you to develop confidence to stand up and say what you need and why. If advisors are not meeting your needs, you can use this template to reach out to me as the Dean of Academic Advising for help:

Dear Dean Easterly, 

I hope you’re doing well. My name is <your name> and my PID is <your PID>. I recently attended <Drop-ins? Appointment? Event?> and met with one of the Academic Advisors, <the Academic Advisor’s name, if you remember it>. During our interaction, <describe what happened and how it made you feel>. Let me know if there’s anything that can be done about this situation <or if you have specific demands, make them>. 

Sincerely, 

<Your Name>

If you are facing major struggles, like illness or family issues, reach out to your faculty or the dean of advising for help.

Dear Professor <Insert Name>,

I hope you’re doing well. My name is <Your Name> and my PID is <Your PID>. I am a student in your <class> class. I have been dealing with some rather significant problems outside of class, and I was wondering if we could talk about how this is affecting my school, and what options I could have to address them. 

Sincerely, 

<Your Name>

Professors are usually willing to work with you if the situation is severe (health, family issues, trauma) and you address the issue early. Some may want documentation to verify your situation. But “working with you” may look differently than you hope. They might offer you the chance to change the weight of a different  midterm or the final rather than allowing you to make up for a missed exam. Or they may talk to you about supporting a late drop rather than giving you an incomplete. 

The key here is to build honest and communicative relationships with your support staff and professors so that you can make the most of your educational experience.

The Muir Advising Staff

Professional Staff

 

Photo of Douglas EasterlyDoug Easterly
Dean of Academic Advising

  • Pronouns: He/Him/His
  • From: San Diego, CA
  • BA, UC Santa Cruz, English Literature
  • MA, UC San Diego, Teaching and Learning
  • EdD, UC San Diego, Teaching and Learning
  • At Muir College since: 2003

Photo of Cathy BaezCathy Baez
Assistant Dean of Academic Advising

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: Calexico, CA
  • BA, UC San Diego, Sociology, Minors: Spanish Lit. & Communication
  • MA, University of San Diego, Counseling in Higher Education
  • At Muir College since: 2012

 


Photo of Mya HinesMya Hines
Senior Academic Advisor

  • From: Southeast San Diego, CA
  • BA, University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Political Science
  • MA, Argosy University, Higher and Post-secondary Education
  • EdD: Azusa Pacific University, Higher Education 
  • At Muir College since: 2018

 


Photo of Karla KastnerKarla Kastner
Senior Academic Advisor

  • Pronouns: Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Poway, CA
  • From: San Diego, CA
  • BA, San Diego State University, Liberal Studies, Minor: Biology
  • At Muir College since: 2010

 


Photo of Alyssa PatricioAlyssa Patricio
Senior Academic Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: Temecula, CA
  • BA, UC San Diego, Psychology, Minor: Health Care Social Issues
  • MA, San Diego State University, Educational Leadership w/ Specialization in Student Affairs
  • At Muir College since: 2012

 


Photo of Joje Reyes

Joje Reyes
Senior Academic Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: Illinois and Cerritos, CA
  • BA, UC San Diego, Ethnic Studies and Human Development 
  • MA, San Diego State University, Multicultural Counseling
  • At Muir College since: 2022

 


agnew-janel.pngJanel Agnew
Academic Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: San Antonio, TX
  • BS, Texas A&M University, Sociology
  • MS, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, Counseling
  • At Muir College since: 2023

 


Photo of Alex ReyesAlex Reyes
Academic Advisor

  • Pronouns: He/Him/His
  • From: North Hollywood, California
  • BA, UC Irvine, Psychology, Minor: Education 
  • MA, San Diego State University, Postsecondary Education Leadership
  • At Muir College since: 2024

 


blumenfeld-natalie.jpgNatalie Blumenfeld
Assistant Academic Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: San Diego, California
  • BA, UC Berkeley, Legal Studies 
  • At Muir College since: 2023

 

 Student Staff

 

Photo of Helen Duong

Helen Duong
Senior Peer Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: Anaheim, CA
  • Major: Public Health w/ Concentration in Community Health
  • Minor: Psychology
  • Year at UCSD: 4th

 


Photo of Mostafa ElfakiMostafa Elfaki
Senior Peer Advisor

  • Pronouns: He/Him/His
  • From: San Diego, CA
  • Major: Economics
  • Minor: Data Science
  • Year at UCSD: 4th

  


Photo of Meghan La Rue AlbernathyMeghan La Rue Abernathy
Senior Peer Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: San Diego, CA
  • Major: Linguistics - Cognition & Language
  • Minor: Human Developmental Science
  • Year at UCSD: 3rd

 


Photo of Marshall OlmosMarshall Olmos
Senior Peer Advisor

  • Pronouns: He/Him/His
  • From: Upland, CA
  • Majors: Applied Math and Urban Studies and Planning
  • Year at UCSD: 4th

 


Photos of McKenna CarlsonMcKenna Carlson
Peer Advisor

  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • From: Anthem, AZ
  • Majors: Marine Biology and Political Science (Public Policy)
  • Year at UCSD: 2nd

 


Photo of Samantha ultrerasSamantha Ultreras
Peer Advisor

  • Pronouns: He | Him | His
  • From: Panoprama City, CA
  • Major: Human Biology
  • Year at UCSD: 2nd

 

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