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Making the Most of Your Academic Advisor

There is a lot that goes into making your college career a great success. Luckily, there are people who can help you navigate the process.

Kizzy Preston

January 15, 2013

Making the Most of Your Academic Advisor
Beginning college can be confusing. Whether you are going for the first time, or returning to finish your degree, the process can be scary. There is a lot that goes into making your college career a success. Luckily, there are people who can help you navigate the process. In college, each student is given an academic advisor. Academic advisors can tell you what classes need to be taken in order to complete your degree on time. If you have questions about credits, a certain course, how changing your major will affect your graduation date, or registration, then your advisor can assist you. The advisor is usually a very busy person, helping hundreds of students each day. Can you imagine 100 people all calling and emailing you multiple times in one day? That would be pretty hectic.
Here are some tips for making the most of your time with your academic advisor: Patience is a virtue. First and foremost, try to have patience when dealing with an academic advisor since you are not their only student. Schedule an appointment so that you have a set time to discuss your academic issues.
Know their role. Often advisors are called upon to fix a myriad of problems that their department does not handle. Advisors can not fix a problem with your financial aid; you must call the financial aid office for that. They cannot tell you if the class you are registered for will be easy or hard. They cannot know if your professor will be nice or mean. They do not purchase your books for you, etc. Read your school’s website. Just about every school has a website. There, you can usually find information about pretty much anything from financial aid to graduation requirements. It is important to familiarize yourself with the website, as a lot of questions you may have for your advisor are easily answered by looking online.
Check your email. When an academic advisor sends you attachments via email read them thoroughly. Often academic advisors have developed systems to help them manage all of their assigned students. They usually receive the same questions numerous times per day. For this reason, they create documents to answer those questions. Follow your degree report. It’s that simple. When you first begin your course of study in college, your academic advisor will send you a document which shows what courses you must take to complete your degree. All you have to do is register for the classes which you still need to complete. It’s good to put a little check mark next to each course once you complete it to help you keep track. Know the rules. Academic advisors do not create their own rules. Each college or university has its own set of policies and requirements for a degree to be granted. When a student is advised that a certain course won’t transfer, or that a class is still needed for degree completion they sometimes get upset. Be realistic. The advisor cannot change the requirements of a degree because of individual circumstances. If you still need another math course to meet graduation requirements, no amount of getting upset or begging will change that. Be prepared. Bring a list of questions to the scheduled appointment with your advisor. Have a notebook and pen ready to take notes, if necessary. This way you get the most out of your meeting. Help yourself, too. Please remember that an academic advisor is there to help you, but you have to do your part as well. If you follow the above tips you should be well on your way to academic success.

Do you have any additional tips?

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