April16, 2012 | posted by Melissa Warner
One person you will get to know very well over your college career is your academic adviser. This resource will be essential any time you have a problem with your schedule or credits. Before you build your schedule each semester, you should email your adviser to set up a meeting. This will assure that you are always on the right path at all times.
During orientation you will be assigned an adviser for your college of choice (I.e. the college of letters and science). This is the first person who will help you choose classes that fit your requirements for your bachelors degree. He will help you choose general education classes for your first semester of school or the initial classes you need to get into your major. If you don’t know which major is best for you, he can also help you discuss different options that fit your strengths.
At any time you can contact this adviser for questions about your schedule, what classes you should look to take next semester, how to add and drop classes or overall questions about the educational part of college. Keep in mind that this adviser works with hundreds, if not thousands, of students. Therefore, if you want to develop a close relationship with your adviser it is important to communicate often. If you don’t do this, go into your meeting knowing that everything will not be conducted on a personal level.
After you enter the core classes of your major you will choose an adviser within the department of your major. Generally each department will have specific advisers that you can choose from. Be sure to choose an adviser that specializes in your emphasis. For example, if you are going to school for journalism with an emphasis is news/edit, do not choose an adviser who specializes in public relations. Your major adviser will become a key player in planning out your future. It is important to take advantage of this resource beyond choosing classes. He will be able to guide you towards internships and job opportunities in the future as well. Working with your major adviser is the first step in learning how to network yourself.
When you meet with your major adviser you will discuss the exact requirements for your degree. At this point the will give you a map of exactly what classes you can choose from and which ones you need to graduate. Keep in mind that though you have to complete requirements for your degree, the university or college has different requirements as well. You must complete both to graduate. As you progress in your major, you can only sign up for higher level classes with a stamp of approval from your adviser. This is to limit class size or assure that those who need the class get in first. Set up a meeting monthly or every other month with this adviser to discuss your progress and any concerns you have about graduating.
Aside from your college academic and major adviser, some schools will require that you have an adviser for your minor as well. This adviser is similar to your major adviser, but is someone you will spend less time with. You must visit the adviser to declare your minor and discuss what classes and credits you need to earn the minor. If you plan to use your minor in your career, you should use this adviser much like the major one for contacts and network. However, it is less important that you meet as often with this adviser other than each semester to make sure that you have the credits you need.
Most college students are unsure just how they should choose their advisers. The first step is to speak with the department chair or a professor you have within the department. Tell them what you want to do with your career and ask who they would suggest as an adviser. Next, speak with other students to see who they use for an adviser and if they think they offer helpful advice.
Beware that you need to find an adviser who works for you. Though some may have great experiences with their advisers, you may not. It’s important to find someone who understands what you want out of your college experience and will help you achieve this. Don’t be afraid to change advisers if your current situation is not working out. You should always go into your meeting prepared with questions. This includes:
1. Which classes will best fit my schedule next semester?
2. How are my general education classes looking? Which options do I have for next semester?
3. Which general education classes will best enhance my degree and help me gain experience for my future career?
4. How many credits should I take aside from my required core classes for my major?
5. Are any classes I have schedule unnecessary for my degree or overall credits required (applicable only if you generate your schedule and then visit your adviser)?
6. Have all my college and AP credits transfer from high school?
When it’s time to meet with your advisers, meet with your college one first. This will help you make a general map of your educational needs for the semester. Take the suggestions or completed schedule to your major adviser after the meeting to assure that it also fits with the department requirements. You don’t want to show up your last semester to find out that you don’t have enough electives within your major. Finally, also cross check your minor adviser for the same reason. Some students end up spending an extra semester or year in college because they miss a required credit or two. Use your adviser efficiently so this is not you.
An Essential College Resource- Your Academic Adviser posted by Melissa Warner at USCollegeRanking.org