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Advising First-Year Students

Incoming first-year students are assigned a Messina advisor prior to the start of the fall semester. The Messina advisor works with students for at least their first two semesters of study, guides the student in the adjustment to college life, helps the student develop an understanding of Loyola’s liberal arts core and how it fits into a liberal arts education, and assists in course and major selection. An important representative of the Loyola community, the Messina advisor helps familiarize new students with every aspect of Loyola. One of the chief roles of the Messina advisor is to help students identify their academic interests and learning styles.  

Messina advisors who enhance first-year students’ success are knowledgeable about:

Services first-year advisors provide for students, especially help with choosing a major or discerning an academic path
Challenges facing incoming students as they adjust to university  life
Resources available to help students manage the transition from high school to Loyola comfortably

First-Year Programs

All first-year students participate in special programs designed to help them with their transition to life at Loyola. It is important for Messina advisors to be familiar with the goals and objectives of the Messina program and the Common Text program.


Messina offers students the opportunity to enroll in two linked, first-year seminar courses – one in the fall and one in the spring – connected by one of four themes.  One of these courses is taught by the student’s Messina advisor.  An additional hour (the “enrichment hour”) is included each week for students to participate in excursions to extend classroom learning, establish deeper relationships with faculty, administrators, and fellow students, and build stronger communities around learning.  Residential Messina students will live in a traditional-style double room.  Commuting students will have access to the residence halls so that they can spend more time with their Messina classmates. Messina pairings are offered in almost all disciplines.  Students are invited to preference their Messina classes upon their acceptance to Loyola. They will be pre-registered in Messina sections prior to summer orientation.

For more information, please contact Barbara Kurz, Director of Messina.

Common Text

The Common Text Program introduces students to the liberal arts mission of Loyola University Maryland before they even begin their coursework.  Students receive their copy of the Common Text at summer orientation and are expected to read it before they return in the fall to prepare for a small group discussion with their Messina advisor during summer orientation.

First-Year Student Challenges

Entering students sometimes face challenges such as limited or unrealistic expectations of college, academic under-preparedness, transition or adjustment issues, and lack of direction in choosing a major and/or a career. Successful Messina advisors do not simply serve as academic advisors, but also act as mentors to their advisees. They proactively reach out to their advisees to see how they are doing in all areas of the college experience, and refer students facing significant challenges to appropriate offices or individuals (e.g. Counseling Center, Career Center, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, AASC) as necessary. 

Advisors are encouraged to become acquainted with on-campus resources and to be available to refer the student to these offices if necessary.

Declaration of Major

Messina advisors also guide students through the declaration of major process.

Intended Majors

Sometimes students enter Loyola unsure of what discipline they wish to study, but many students arrive with an intended major in mind. Many majors require that students begin taking certain foundation courses early in their program and some of these courses are restricted to students with a specific intended major.

Official Declaration

Students are invited to declare their major formally towards the end of their first year. Students must meet with their Messina advisors to discuss their choice of degree program and to obtain a Messina advisor signature on the Declaration of Major form. This form is submitted to the AASC in Maryland Hall 138. Upon declaration, students are assigned a major advisor from their area of study. Students may remain officially “undeclared” until the end of their third semester at Loyola.