Staying on Track With Academic Advising

Whether you are a first time freshman or an experienced college student, getting academic advising is one of the smartest moves you can make. Here’s a short list of what an academic advisor can do to save you time, money, and headaches.

Providing practical advice on creating a balanced class schedule that will give you the best shot at excelling. I once knew a student who put off taking four very work-intensive required classes until his last quarter before he planned to graduate. All of them were likely to require several major papers each. He registered for all of them at once, even though he was working two part-time jobs as well. I honestly don’t know what the outcome was, but it was certainly not one of the better choices I’ve known a student to make. Academic advisors can help steer you away from self-defeating scheduling decisions.

Making sure you take classes in the right sequence. Not all classes in a discipline will have formal prerequisites in place to limit registration in non-introductory classes to those who have already taken the introductory class. For instance, my discipline is psychology. Students who register for the second-year personality psychology course without the benefit of taking introductory psychology tend to have a much harder time of it. This is something that a savvy academic advisor will point out to you.

Helping you select classes that keep you moving efficiently toward your goal. This is important whether you are working on general education classes or proceeding through classes in your major. Satisfying general ed requirements can be surprisingly complicated. Take a look at this document from California State University, Fullerton as an example. It’s simple enough at first, but then all heck breaks loose the further you go down the webpage. When you move on to classes in your major, your academic advisor will know valuable stuff like whether a particular required class is only offered once every academic year. This is more common than you might think, so having that information can prevent you from wasting time and money waiting a whole year for the class to come around again.

Sharing information about other valuable campus resources and opportunities. Curious about study abroad? Need an on-campus job? Looking for an internship? Want to do some research with a professor in your major? Your academic advisor might have the inside scoop on these and other gems of campus information. At the very least, he or she should be able to accurately direct you where to go and who to ask.

Giving support, encouragement, and guidance when the going gets tough… or even if things are going great. Academic advisors are there to make your educational journey as smooth a trip as possible. They are great first points of contact when you hit bumps in the road, and they also enjoy hearing about when you passed that tough class, you were selected for the internship they suggested, and the award you earned.

It’s an excellent idea to meet with your academic advisor at least once per semester just to make sure everything is on track. However, if things are not going as well as you like, don’t hesitate to meet with your academic advisor more often.