It’s time to register for the fall semester – what do you do. You might not know which courses to take and professors you’ve reached out to are not answering your emails. Who you gonna call (cue Ghostbusters theme music)? Your advisor!
Your college advisor is most likely a professor within your department of study, and they are here to help alleviate the pressure of creating your class schedules and staying on track for graduation.
Disclaimer – if you are a student who has more than one major, you will more than likely have more than one advisor as well.
Why is it important to know who your advisor is? There a several reasons, some of which can be strictly academic or career related, or even personal depending on the bond you build with them. Here are some reasons why knowing and keeping in contact with your advisor is a major key to a successful college career:
1. They will help keep you on track for graduation. You probably already know which classes you are required to take in order to obtain your degree, but if you don’t, you should definitely reach out to your advisor in order to find out. You don’t want to waste your time taking electives and other classes that have nothing to do with your major, although they can be fun, they’re not always conducive toward your degree.
2. They can be a great job reference. Make it your business to maintain a good relationship with your academic advisor. You want to “use” them to your fullest advantage in order to gain as much knowledge as possible about your academic standing, getting into classes that may be full, and most importantly, recommend you for internships and jobs! If you have a professor in your major department that can speak highly of you to employers, you’ll be an even more eligible candidate for the job.
3. They can be an ally throughout your college experience. Aside from keeping you on track and writing highly esteemed letters of recommendation, an academic advisor can also be a friend. You will change greatly through these four years, and it’s always nice to have someone on your side who can give you advice from a different perspective. This type of relationship will take time to develop, so don’t be upset if your advisor isn’t your best friend after your first semester in school. Let them welcome you with open arms and make sure you are comfortable enough with them to divulge information about your personal life.
You should meet with your professor at least three times a semester; the first meeting at the beginning of the semester to go over your schedule and make sure you are taking the appropriate classes, the second time around mid-semester, and the last meeting you should have with them is before finals week of the spring semester. These three check-ins can save you a load of frustration when it comes to applying for classes, trying to figure out how to save your grades and what you can do to make sure you will graduate on time.
However, while an advisor is great, you should always keep in mind that your advisor is dealing with dozens of students who may have the same issues as you. While at your meetings, try to take notes that can be solutions to your problems in case your advisor isn’t available to meet one day. Try not to panic, they are there to support you, but you should also know how to help yourself.
Since the school year is almost over, try to find out who your academic advisor is sooner rather than later, and occasionally keep in contact with them over the summer so they become accustom to seeing your name. Then, set up a meeting for the beginning of next semester and allow them to put a face to the name.
Remember – they are here to help, so you might as well take it!