Many students understand that working with an academic advisor is one of the most impactful ways to make strides toward achieving their academic and professional goals. Academic advisors are a fantastic resource because they can work with students on a one-on-one basis to help them identify strategies that will set them up for success.
However, there’s a lot that students might feel uncertain about as they prepare for their first meeting with an academic advisor. Keep reading to learn more about how you can get ready for your academic advising appointment and the best practices you can harness to make the most of each meeting.
What Does an Advising Meeting Look Like?
Before booking your first appointment, it’s important to understand what academic advising is and the benefits it offers. To put it simply, academic advising provides college students with the support and guidance to make informed decisions about college majors and career goals during their academic path, which has a long-term impact even after students graduate with their degrees.
Academic advising is a service offered at colleges and universities where students meet regularly with academic advisors to discuss course selection, majors, career planning, professional goals, and other issues related to college life. During advising meetings, students will sit down with their academic advisor to discuss their goals, the progress they are making towards them, any challenges they’re facing, and potential tools and resources.
Why Should I Go to Academic Advising?
There isn’t just one reason why students should go to academic advising. Instead the benefits of academic advising are numerous and varied. Academic advisors can provide guidance as students decide what they wish to major in and they can help support students who ultimately decide to switch their area of study to ensure they’re on track to graduate.
Working with an academic advisor can also ultimately lead to financial savings, as these professionals will help ensure that students graduate on time. While undergraduate degrees should only theoretically take four years to complete, not all students graduate within that time frame, meaning the rest will need to spend additional tuition money to earn their degrees.
How Often Should I Meet With My Advisor?
The frequency with which a student meets with their academic advisor depends heavily on their schedule, the level of support they need, and the timeline for the goals they are working towards. Most students will only see their on-campus advisor once or a few times each semester.
In contrast, students struggling with their coursework may find it beneficial to meet with their academic advisor more often to check in on their goals and evaluate their progress. This can be a struggle to accomplish at a large institution where advisors carry heavy caseloads, so it is often worthwhile for students to find a reputable advisor outside of their college or university who can give them more individualized attention and support.
What Expectations Should I Have for My Academic Advisor?
Every student will develop a unique relationship with his or her academic advisor that will be shaped by their goals and working styles. However, all academic advisors should strive to create a safe, respectful, and confidential space to ask questions, discuss interests, and express concerns. An academic advisor will help students define their academic goals and select programs that support them, in addition to sharing updated knowledge about academic degree requirements, policies, and procedures.
5 Strategies on How to Prepare for Academic Advising Appointments
If your first appointment with your academic advisor is approaching, here are a few best practices that you should keep in mind in order to make the most of your meeting:
#1 Initiate Contact With Your Advisor Early On
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your academic advisor to introduce yourself. Keep in mind that you will be working closely with this person, so it’s best to put effort into building this relationship. Make sure you walk away with a clear understanding of how often you are meeting, the topics you will discuss, and the kinds of goals your academic advisor will work with you to help you achieve.
#2 Do Your Research and Be Prepared
While your academic advisor will be well-versed in academic policies and procedures, it’s important that students go in with a strong baseline of knowledge of these policies and procedures as well. If there is a specific goal you are hoping to achieve, do some research to gain a better understanding of the steps you’ll need to take to turn this ambition into a reality.
#3 Be Honest
Honesty is one of the most important pillars of the academic advisor-student relationship. Instead of shying away from talking about the courses you find challenging or the hurdles you’re facing, make sure your academic advisor understands exactly what you’re looking to overcome and the goals you hope to achieve. That way, they can provide you with the particular resources and advice to support your specific situation. Similarly, your academic advisor should be transparent with you about the work you will need to put in and the amount of time and effort required.
#4 Explore Your Career Options and How to Customize Your Degree
Every student’s academic journey is unique. By working with an academic advisor, you will be able to explore all of the different academic programs your university has to offer, so that you can carve your own academic track that aligns with your educational and professional goals. Your academic advisor can also point out tracks you may have not considered, such as minors, double majors, and dual-degree programs.
#5 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
There’s no such thing as a dumb question, especially when you’re working with your academic advisor. A key responsibility that academic advisors uphold is the ability to answer student’s questions, so don’t be afraid to flag any uncertainties you have. Your advisor is probably one of the most well-connected people you know on campus so if they don’t know the answer, they can usually refer you to someone who does.
Questions to Ask During Your Advising Appointment
Rather than shying away from asking questions, it’s important to come to your academic advising appointment with a list of questions that you have so that your academic advisor can ensure you’re getting the support you need. If you’re looking for some help brainstorming, here are a few questions that you should consider asking during your academic advising appointment:
I Am Interested in X, Can You Recommend Relevant Courses?
In addition to this question, it’s also worth exploring whether those courses apply to your major or minor. What double majors or minors are your classmates with similar goals pursuing? You will almost certainly see your academic advisor when selecting your courses for the next semester. This is the perfect time to ask thoughtful questions so you can take advantage of their knowledge of the curricula. You may find academic opportunities you had not previously thought of that align with your goals.
How Am I Progressing? Am I on Track to Graduate on Time?
Meeting with an academic advisor is an opportunity to check in on your progress. Many students find it beneficial to start their appointments with questions relating to the degree they’re pursuing and the progress they are making. Your academic advisor should be able to give you an answer that is comprehensive and easy to understand.
What Extracurricular Activities Can I Pursue to Prepare for My Career? Does My Major Have a Student Club That I Can Join?
College is about more than your coursework. Academic advisors can ensure students are tapping into all of the opportunities available to them, including internships, training programs, and clubs relating to your desired career. Your academic advisor should pinpoint suggestions that align with your professional goals.
What Recommendations Do You Have to Ensure I Take Advantage of the Summer Vacation?
Summer break shouldn’t be all about vacation; college students should ensure that they’re using their time strategically to prepare for graduate school or a professional career. Academic advisors can help students identify summer experiences that will stand out on their resume.
Explore Academic Advising With IvyWise
Academic advising should be an integral part of any student’s college experience. At IvyWise, our academic advisors have small caseloads, allowing for the type of one-on-one guidance that college students need in order to develop the skills and habits necessary to thrive during their college experience and plan ahead for graduate school or the workforce.
If you’re interested in turning your educational and professional goals into a reality, find out more about IvyWise’s academic advising services.