Enrollment & Advising

Reviewed 5/2023 

All first-year students at UNC enroll in the General College in the College of Arts and Sciences. Student-athletes enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences are expected to meet with their assigned Thrive advisor each semester through numerous avenues, such as one-on-one meetings or small group settings. Student-athletes in the professional schools are encouraged to meet regularly with their academic advisors. 

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group identified and compiled recommendations from reports over the past several years and linked each report recommendation to 21 academic processes. Report Recommendations for Enrollment & Advising 

5.0 Enrollment & Advising

In Fall 2013, the University implemented a plan that General College and College of Arts and Sciences student-athletes are expected to meet with an academic advisor at least once per semester to review their program of study, discuss courses, plan for their academic majors and monitor progress toward degree completion and graduation. Approximately 90 percent of all student-athletes are enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences (all first- and second-year student-athletes, and those who have declared majors within Arts and Sciences). Currently, student-athletes are the only undergraduate student cohort at UNC expected to meet with a Thrive advisor each semester. 

In Fall 2019, an updated AAP Advisement model for student-athletes was implemented.  Student-athletes are still expected to have a meaningful interaction each semester with identified campus partners and now a list of options (semester specific) has been provided.  For most semesters, student-athletes will continue to meet with AAP advisors; however, for specific semesters, student-athletes will have options to select from providing them additional opportunities such as meeting with a University Career Services counselor, attending Advising workshops, departmental advising, and small group advising sessions.  By providing some options, student-athletes can select what type of interaction will be most beneficial to them at that time. 

In Fall 2022, The College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Program (AAP) transitioned to a Thrive Hub model with a caseload approach focusing on holistic student support.  Student-athletes are assigned to a Thrive advisor as their consistent academic advising contact throughout their career at UNC.  

5.1 College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Program (AAP)

Academic Advising is part of the new Thrive@Carolina Campus Hubs initiative, designed to be a collaborative and innovative approach to deliver holistic support to undergraduates from admission through graduation. The Thrive advisors who are part of Hubs have as their mission championing students’ individual stories through purposeful interactions so that they achieve their academic, personal and post-UNC goals. Anchored in the belief that we serve a diverse population in which every student does not need the same support or know the same information, Hubs seeks to partner with students as they unlock their potential, activate their plans, secure their opportunities, and cultivate their community. 

Academic Advising, above all, is a partnership between students and advisors. Beginning in their first semester, students are assigned to a Thrive advisor based on their general academic interests. Advisors are ready to support students in all areas of the College of Arts & Sciences (Fine Arts, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics) and can help them plan for applying to a professional school later. 

The AAP expects student-athletes to have a meaningful academic advising interaction with their assigned Thrive advisor in each semester of their undergraduate careers (e.g., individual advising appointment, small group advising sessions and/or a pre-registration workshop). 

During an academic advising session with a student-athlete, an advisor emphasizes key points depending on the student’s semester term as well as academic, career and life goals.   

Advising sessions focus on the delivery of holistic support that includes but is not limited to the following 

  1. Personal discovery, self-assessment and identity development
  2. Educational Goals
  3. Major and Minor Exploration
  4. Learning abilities and preferences–share ASPSA services and resources, Learning Center, Writing Center, Accessibility Resources, faculty/academic department connections 

Advisors may cover additional points of emphasis, including: 

  • Academic department and faculty referrals 
  • Pre-graduate school, pre-med, pre-health professions, pre-law 
  • University Career Services 
  • Internships and other high impact and experiential learning opportunities 
  • Service-learning courses 
  • Undergraduate Research 
  • Honors thesis 
  • Study Abroad 
  • Resources within the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes 
  • Personal Wellness 
  • Counseling and Psychological Services 
  • Diversity and Multicultural Affairs 
  • Leadership Development opportunities, clubs and organizations 
  • Policies/procedures/logistics related to degree progression 
  • Other resource referrals 

Academic Advising has a dedicated team within a Thrive Hub that consists of; one assistant director and 5 Thrive Advisors whose assigned caseload includes student-athletes with majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Student-athletes are assigned to a primary advisor from this team who they are expected to meet at least once each semester.  One-on-one appointments are offered both in-person (in Steele Building and the Loudermilk Center for Excellence) and virtually.  All students have access to an online scheduler to set-up a virtual or in-person appointment. Thrive Advisors and Academic Counselors in ASPSA also work together to identify times outside of the scheduler that may be more conducive to student-athlete time constraints as needed. 

The AAP office is currently located in the Steele Building and Hardin Hall, and also maintains a satellite office in the Loudermilk Center for Excellence to provide further times (including evening hours) and locations for student-athlete academic advising. 

The AAP works closely with the ASPSA. For instance, the assistant director in the AAP Thrive Hub attends ASPSA staff meetings monthly to provide necessary academic updates to Academic Counselors. 

The AAP also:  

  • Partners with the ASPSA during Carolina’s New Student Orientation to offer advising support to student-athletes and information to Academic Counselors; 
  • Meets with all incoming first-year student-athletes enrolled in Summer Session II; 
  • Conducts training sessions with ASPSA staff to improve communication between the two offices and with students; 
  • Helps train new Academic Counselors (e.g., overview of top-12 majors, university forms, policies and procedures, undergraduate student population, etc.); 
  • Works with the ASPSA Academic Counselors to encourage academic advising appointments with students each term; and 
  • Holds drop-in hours during the first week of classes and provides additional advising support during peak registration times 
  • Offer additional support surrounding deadlines such as pass/fail, drop/add, etc. 

While there is much collaboration between the AAP and the ASPSA, each office has a unique focus in supporting the academic success of student-athletes. 

BOTH offices provide the following academic support to student-athletes: 

  • Student guidance and schedule planning; 
  • Course planning; 
  • Major selection; 
  • Degree progress tracking; 
  • Academic planning and discussion of strategies to address challenges; and 
  • Connection with campus resources (Learning Center, Writing Center, Peer Tutors). 

AAP offers: 

  • In-depth knowledge of the UNC curriculum; 
  • Transactional authority for University Policies (e.g., declaration of major and clearance for graduation); 
  • Advisors addressing any personal challenges that may impede a student-athlete’s academic performance (e.g., students may choose to share information with advisors about issues such as medical, psychological, financial, family, etc.); and 
  • Advisors working strategically with students to plan their academic futures based on skills and interests. 

ASPSA offers: 

  • Tutorial assistance 
  • My Academic Plan (MAP) 
  • Guidance regarding UNC and NCAA academic eligibility; 
  • Administration of recognition and awards 
  • Information regarding academic resources to current student-athletes and recruits 

For more information on the services provided by the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, see Process 7.0 Academic Support for Student-Athletes. 

5.2 Course and Major Selection

The AAP and the ASPSA provide academic support to student-athletes in planning their schedules, choosing courses and selecting their majors. 


5.2.1 New Student Orientation

The AAP expects first-year students to prepare for course selection prior to arriving for New Student & Family Orientation.   Students receive a checklist of tasks that they need to complete in order to register for courses. The checklist includes: 

  • Complete the Academic Advising Pre-Orientation Planning Module online, offered via the UNC web site (Canvas). The Module explains the general education/liberal arts curriculum at UNC; 
  • Complete the Academic Interest Survey to assist in the enrollment of up to two First-Year Foundation courses prior to arriving on campus. 

Day one of New Student Orientation: 

  • Advisors meet with large groups of students in academic interest sessions titled, “More Than Just A Major.” These interest sessions are led by faculty, advisors, and orientation leaders that share insight into specific expectations for areas of interest, co-curricular activities, academic resources and more. The concurrent sessions focus on the following areas of interest: Business; Fine Arts/Humanities; Pre-Health; Science, Social Sciences and Undecided. 


Day two of New Student Orientation: 

  • All students attend an Academic Advising Workshop.  In this hands-on workshop, academic advisors take students through the process of planning a fall schedule. Step-by-step instruction is given to determine English, math and foreign language placements. Students identify courses to satisfy general education requirements and that are related to their field of interest. Advisors provide important tips to make the registration process go smoothly. Students leave this session with a list of potential courses for fall schedule. 
  • Student athletes also attend a mandatory interest session during Day Two of New Student Orientation where they will hear a presentation by ASPSA staff and have an opportunity to meet individually or in a small group with their team’s Academic Counselor. The focus of the presentation is to discuss balancing academics and athletics, scheduling around athletic obligations and ensuring that students are well prepared for fall registration. 
  • Students register online via ConnectCarolina after they finish New Student Orientation; registration for the fall semester takes place during the month of July and August. Student schedules are then “frozen” until registration re-opens in August for drop/add 

5.2.2 Choosing Majors

Students are encouraged to explore major/minor options through University resources provided during New Student Orientation, including the Registration Guide and, the Undergraduate Catalog..  .  Advisors also meet with student-athletes to discuss major options while encouraging the use of services provided by University Career Services such as self-assessment tools (Focus2), career coaching, career exploration course (EDUC 111) and learning how majors/minors potentially connect to career and post-graduate pursuits. 

By the beginning of the fifth academic term all College of Arts & Sciences students are required to declare a primary major. Students often select majors based on interest and strengths along with career aspirations.  Student success in general education and/or gateway courses often motivate them to select a specific major. Other influences may impact a student’s major selection, including parent/guardian, community and peer groups, as well as early engagement with faculty and their research. 

To declare a major and/or minor, a student will meet with their Thrive advisor to review the requirements for the proposed major or minor and to determine if the completion of the major/minor is feasible within the University’s eight-semester graduation policy (see 5.3 below). Student-athletes also require the approval of their academic counselor in ASPSA who assesses the NCAA eligibility implications before the major is officially declared or changed. Students can declare a major and/or minor at any point in their undergraduate career if the degree can be completed within the time determined by the eight-semester policy.  There can be implications for student-athletes who change their major later on in their academic career since they must also meet the NCAA’s progress toward degree and percentage of degree completion requirements.  

5.2.3 Choosing Courses

Discussions between students and advisors regarding course selection begin during New Student Orientation. Students choose courses based on their initial interests as they work to complete general education requirements. The AAP conducts workshops during New Student Orientation to educate students on UNC’s “IDEA’s in Action” undergraduate curriculum. Students also are advised on how to select courses based on placement scores, AP scores, IB scores, and transfer credit Additional considerations for selecting courses include major and/or minor exploration and interests, general education requirements, course availability and athletic participation commitments (e.g., practice and competitions). Students also consider academic eligibility guidelines set forth by the University and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As with all students, student-athletes also rely on course recommendations from their peers. ASPSA, along with AAP and Student-Athlete Development, also coordinates a Major/Minor/Program Fair during the fall semester where students can meet with departmental representatives and older student-athletes in potential majors and learn more about minors and other programs. 

In addition, the process of selecting courses to complete degree requirements is a topic of conversation during required academic advising appointments each semester. During these meetings, Thrive advisors incorporate curriculum planning tools (TarHeel Tracker) and review milestones for each academic year.  Additional information can be found on the AAP website.   

5.3 Additional Semester Appeal Guidelines

Students are required to graduate in eight semesters, but there are times when an additional semester may be approved. Students apply online for an extension through the AAP website and present a statement of why they cannot graduate in eight semesters.  The Academic Advising Program confirms the student’s outstanding degree requirements and notifies the student of the appeal decision. 

Reasons additional semester(s) may be granted: 

  • Transfer transition and awarding of credits 
  • Veteran transition issues 
  • Medical/psychological issues (including a documented learning disability) 
  • Academic progress 
  • Redshirt student-athletes 
  • Student teaching (UNC BEST Program) 
  • Financial issues (Summer School too expensive) 
  • Change of major 
  • Student required/asked to stay at UNC for authorized reason (ROTC, unique campus leadership opportunity, etc.) 
  • Honors Thesis 

Reasons additional semester(s) may NOT be granted: 

  • Student can finish in Summer School 
  • Student can transfer in a final course(s) 
  • Student can finish online 
  • Student has failed to progress multiple times 
  • Student is academically ineligible 
  • To complete a second major or minor 

5.4 Procedures for Advising Returning or Inquiring Student-Athletes

The AAP has specific procedures in place for advising former students who wish to return to campus and complete their Carolina degreesReturning students meet with AAP Thrive advisors to determine and verify what courses they need to pursue their majors upon returning to UNC. T The ASPSA, the Office of Admissions and the Department of Athletics also work closely with these students, as they are required to apply for readmission to the University through the Return to Carolina Survey within Undergraduate Admissions and may be eligible for grant in aid through the Complete Carolina program within the Department of Athletics (for more information see Process 19.0 Complete Carolina).