School for New Learning > Faculty & Staff > Professional Advisors > Professional Advisor Resources > Undergraduate PAs

Undergraduate Professional Advisors

Thank you for serving as a professional advisor (PA). Most PAs serve in either the Bachelor of Arts in Computing, the Bachelor of Arts in General Business, and the Bachelor of Arts with an Individualized Focus Area. The latter program is defined by a framework of 50 degree requirements or statements of competency. The competencies are arranged into three areas: the lifelong learning area, the liberal learning area and the individual focus area. Students satisfy these requirements in three ways: through completion of SNL courses, transfer courses from other universities and by demonstrating college-level learning from experience.

Role and Responsibilities

As a PA, you have three main responsibilities:
  • Participate in academic committee meetings;
  • Help the student develop the focus area (the student's stated focus of study);
  • Evaluate and assess student work in the focus area, including advanced project, to ensure the standards of your profession are met at a college-level.


The PA:
  • is a professional practitioner in a field related to a student's focus area;
  • knows skills and knowledge of professionals in that field;
  • knows developments and trends in that field;
  • has an advanced degree in the area or extensive and commensurate experience.

Orientation and Renumeration

If you are serving as a PA for the first time or would like to ask questions about your role and function, please contact your student's faculty m​entor.

Full payment for a PA’s professional services is not possible. However, the program hopes that the opportunity to work with a committed undergraduate student and, through such, to contribute to and invest in the future of one’s field offer some deep and generative “return” to the PA.​​

The Academic Committee

The student works with a faculty mentor and you in an academic committee to determine competencies already mastered and to plan a program for mastering the remaining competencies. The committee is required to meet twice, once at the beginning of the student's program and again prior to graduation, although additional meetings can be held at the discretion of all participants. In addition, the faculty mentor and you will work collaboratively through the committee to assess the student's advanced project. 

The student is responsible for contacting and introducing him- or herself to you prior to the first committee meeting. Upon this contact, you can clarify your mutual expectations and the appropriateness of your working together. In order to help your decision to advise a particular student, request a copy of his/her career and educational goals and learning plan. 

The faculty mentor is an SNL faculty member who assumes responsibility for the appropriate application of DePaul academic standards, criteria and processes. Discussion and collaboration between the faculty mentor and you is essential to ensure that the guidance given to the student is consistent, clear, focused and supportive. The faculty mentor also serves as an advisor to you; please contact the faculty mentor any time you have a question, suggestion or comment about your role or responsibilities.

First Academic Committee Meeting

The average time frame for this meeting is one hour. Specifically, this agenda includes:
  • Introductions;
  • Reviewing educational goals;
  • Reviewing the student's learning plan;
    • Specifically reviewing and discussing the individual focus area;
    • Any ideas, plans or proposals for the advanced project;
  • Setting an overall schedule or time frame for task completion;
  • Any other items any committee member believes is necessary.
The anticipated outcome of the first committee meeting is approval of the student's learning plan by both you and the faculty mentor or clear direction and steps for the student to take toward developing a final learning plan.

Final Academic Committee Meeting

This meeting is held usually around two months prior to graduation. The major focus is to formally complete the degree process, have the student reflect on his/her development experiences and celebrate the student’s educational achievement. Key agenda items are:
  • Reviewing that all work is completed, approved, documented and the student's file is complete;
  • Reflection by the student on learning experiences and total experiences in SNL;
  • Reflection by you and the faculty mentor on the student's developmental experiences.

Individual Focus Area

The individual focus area is equivalent to the student’s concentration of study and is often but not always associated with his/her work environment/career goal. Competencies within the individual focus area are written by the student as a result of interactions with the academic committee. Your specific role is to ensure these competencies are appropriate to current and future directions of the field. Specifically, these competencies should represent current standards, expectations, theories, models, practice and specialized skills needed to function effectively in the area of concentration, as well as prerequisites for graduate study if appropriate. 

After the competencies are agreed upon, you must consider ways in which the student may demonstrate them. Competencies are often satisfied through work experience, participation in training programs, internships, courses, readings or reflection. The student will forward evidence of learning to satisfy competencies to both you and the faculty mentor for assessment. As specialist in the focus area, you will read and approve (by signing an assessment form sent to you by the student) the evidence before it is sent to the faculty mentor. Questions about assessment forms and documents will be discussed at the first committee meeting.

Evaluation and Assessment

Some general criteria for evaluating student competence:
  • Conceptual understanding: An ability to explain particular events in relation to general concepts.
  • Reasoning skills: The appropriate presentation and logical development of ideas and conclusions without unfounded assumptions, unsubstantiated claims and logical inconsistencies or omissions.
  • College-level standards: The use of standard English, depth of analysis and breadth of research with appropriate documentation and use of source materials.
  • Relevance to the competence statement: Each piece of evidence submitted for assessment should fit an individual competence statement.
Between the first and final committee meetings which you will attend, the student will proceed with the learning plan, take SNL courses, accomplish approved independent studies, participate in a midpoint meeting with SNL faculty, and work on Externship and Advanced Project. During this time, the student will often submit completed work to either you or the faculty mentor. When you receive such work, please discuss it with the faculty mentor, identify what action needs to be taken and by whom for this work to be acceptable. In the feedback to the student, provide direction and encouragement.