5 Things to Know about Academic Advisors

Academic Advisors are helpful personnel for students throughout their college enrollment. (Photo courtesy of learning_commons on flickr.com)

Academic Advisors are helpful personnel for students throughout their college enrollment. (Photo courtesy of learning_commons on flickr.com)

Academic Advisors are usually the main point-of-contact for students throughout their enrollment and discuss anything regarding classes, graduation requirements, grade point averages, etc.. Students, however, must remain focused on their academics and enrollment as keeping a keen eye on program requirements requires a close look into the Student Handbook and School Catalog.

1. Schedule an Appointment

 Whether you are attending classes online or on-campus, scheduling an appointment with an Academic Advisor assures that time will be set aside for you to discuss any questions that may be looming. Without an appointment you may not be able to meet with anyone because of unavailability, or you may not have time to discuss all of the questions you may have. In addition, scheduling appointments allows advisors to prepare to meet with you by reviewing your academic file and gathering all information needed to have an informative and effective meeting.

2. Bring Documents

If you’re meeting with an advisor, expect to discuss future class schedules. By coming prepared with classes you are interested in taking or ones you may have questions about, you are able to supply your advisor with a focus and direction for the meeting. Without knowing your interests and/or concerns, the meeting could become more of a lecture style discussion rather than an informative learning experience.

3. Ask Questions

Academic advisors are qualified individuals who have been through college themselves and succeeded, but they are not mind-readers. If you have questions be sure to remember to ask them; there are not any stupid questions. Oftentimes, I experienced students who became upset or frustrated by stating their advisor was “not helpful” but in fact the student never expressed what they needed help with. If you have a difficult time remembering all of your questions once the meeting gets going, write them down at home and bring your notebook with you. Common questions one could ask include:

  • How many credits do I need to graduate?
  • What is a prerequisite?
  • Are tutors available for this subject?
  • How do I change my major?

4. They Can Be Program Professionals

Students typically have questions about their degree programs and the requirements that need to be satisfied for graduation, obviously. But Academic Advisors can provide detailed information about each class that is required, what an elective pool is, and the contact information for the Program Chair or College Dean. While a college catalog provides all of the information a student needs to be informed, advisors can break the specifics down in Lehman’s terms and provide program specific outlines. For instance, in a college catalog one may need to search for information on elective requirements or writing requirements, whereas an advisor can verbally provide the information to you to avoid the Where’s Waldo? search party.

5. Extracurricular Activities

Academic Advisors are at the heart of the academic environment and can also discuss extracurricular activities available to students in your degree program or college of study. Are you studying history and interested in joining a book club on campus? Ask your advisor for meeting information and recommendations options from instructors! By communicating your interests to your advisor you will be able to obtain more information on both in-class requirements and on-campus social/networking activities.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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