Student Life

What Your Academic Advisor Wants You to Know

You don’t have to have an answer to all of life’s questions at eighteen, nineteen, or twenty.

Student Contributor, Rachel Lechwar

November 23, 2021

What Your Academic Advisor Wants You to Know
Being lost as a student is okay. Your academic advisor can help.
When meeting with an academic advisor, it can be difficult to know how to prepare. I talked with my academic advisor about the importance of scheduling appointments and the often overlooked resources they provide. When I came into my first semester of college, it was drilled into me: meet with your academic advisor at least once a semester. I heard it from tour guides, school emails, and other students who had a few more years under their belt. I was used to being assigned appointments with a green slip and a walk over to the guidance office; but now, everything from scheduling the appointment to registering for classes to constructing my entire college experience fell into my hands.
I had so many questions: Do I need to come to my advising appointment with my schedule already planned? Where do I start with choosing classes if I don’t even know my major yet? How do I make the most of my college experience when everything from classes to clubs to appointments will be conducted virtually via Zoom? After a year of student advising and meeting with advisors from various majors from Undecided to English to Communications to Film… the process has become a lot more natural. It turns out that academic advisors want all these questions to be thrown at them. My English Academic Advisor, Jarmal Desire, explained that ideal appointments involve an active conversation between student and advisor. “I urgently encourage students to prepare because it makes the half hour we have together more productive and less routine,” he said. He recommends that students have an awareness of their academic requirements before showing up to the appointment. Florida State University calls these “milestones”, and they can be found on the student portal or through a simple Google search. I tend to plan out a couple different options for my schedule, equipped with specific class-related questions. This gives me talking points for the appointment and prevents me from getting to the point where I’m signing up for classes that might not satisfy requirements.
Further preparation can include any questions regarding engagement, scholarships, or concerns about personal hardships. Beyond just academics, these advisors are here to connect students with resources. Florida State has a scholarship site called FS4U as well as a department known as Case Management Services that aims to provide “emotional support, counseling, advocacy, and to identify immediate needs.” Whether a student is coping with a death in the family or struggling to pay for classes, these services ensure that students do not have to manage difficulties on their own. Even if you have a stable personal and academic life, advisors are still present to encourage you to discover your place on campus. They can make the college process significantly less daunting, whether you are a freshman looking for organizations to find community or a senior trying to figure out graduate school options.
“Over the years, we work with hundreds of students and we can access what students are doing, so we have suggestions when it comes to how you can get involved,” Desire said. Students will often ask: how many times should you meet with an academic advisor? For Desire, the answer is subjective. “We’re here to meet your needs, and that can range from meeting with us once to meeting with us five times a semester,” Desire said. He echoes the sentiment that once a semester- at the very least- provides that necessary academic foundation for students. Sometimes, however, there are not clear answers. I have found myself leaving advising appointments with even more questions, ones that my advisors cannot answer for me. Decisions I have to make for myself. And despite the looming uncertainty of it all, there is a comfort in knowing that I still have time ahead of me to work it out. “Being lost as a student is okay,” Desire said. “You don’t have to have an answer to all of life’s questions at eighteen, nineteen, or twenty.” But advisors are there to ease the pressure of it, to provide advice, guidance, and - if nothing else - a sense that you are on an academic journey that is not one you have to undertake alone.

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