The unsung heroes, the underused resource, the watchful eye. These terms don’t describe a superhero, it’s your friendly neighborhood advisor. Advisors give students the scoop to unlocking their untapped potential because they want to watch their students rock the real adult world. Advisors entire job revolves around helping you succeed, so why not take advantage of their presence? Go sit down to chat about your future with the one person that has your back, like Batman’s butler Alfred, but way cooler.
Get ready to fire your questions: Take full advantage of your academic advisor meeting.
When you head down to your advisor’s office, prepare to ask your advisor a Death Star-sized amount of questions. From “What can I do with my major in the future?” to “Why does my roommate spend four hours in the bathroom?”, advisors can answer any and all (appropriate) questions. Engage in the conversation and prove you’re not just there because you got an email threatening to hold your account if you didn’t visit your advisor.
You’ll leave satisfied knowing far more than when you entered. Sometimes you’ll run out of questions or won’t know what to ask next. “Students who come in with a list of questions make my job really easy, and gives me a focus for our meeting,” Florida State University English Department Advisor Emily Manning said. “However, as advisors, we understand that some students aren’t really sure what they should be asking, and therefore, we’re trained to guide the session if needed.” Fret not, your advisor is there to guide the conversation in case your head starts spinning.
Although this seems like a given, please just give advisors the time of day they deserve. Today’s Twitter beef can wait 30 minutes; in fact, those keyboard warriors will be at it all day. Go snag an espresso on your way to your advisor’s office and suck it up. You’re only hurting yourself if you don’t give your advisor your undivided attention.
Take notes to avoid stuffing your advisor’s inbox with questions she already answered. Make sure to actually do what they tell you to do once you leave that building. Oh, and please, please, please don’t ask them if you can leave to go use the bathroom. I mean, I wouldn’t know because I’ve totally never asked to go to the bathroom during an advising meeting (Chipotle got the best of me, what can I say?).
After you leave the office and head back to your apartment to binge on your latest Netflix obsession, send a quick thank you email to your advisor along with any last-minute questions. There may have been something you forgot to mention and this is a good way to learn additional information without even being in the office.
“Students should reach out to their advisor whenever they need to. Not addressing concerns early can sometimes lead to bigger problems,” said Susan Cole, Assistant Director of the Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at Drexel University. Continuously update your advisor on your semester and how it’s going. They were once college kids and understood the college drama before we were born, so they have plenty of advice to help you out with your school problems.
Meet More Than Once
So you met with your advisor once at the begging of the semester to get rid of a hold. If you thought that you don’t have to see them again, you’re wrong. Trust me, meeting with your advisor in person accomplishes much more than an email or two. Make an appointment to meet with them toward the end of the semester so you can talk about your year in review, possible routes for the future or career paths.
“Students should always be pro-active in follow thru after an advising session,” said Mark Costello, the Assistant Dean of Advising in the Anthropology, Communications and Sociology Departments at Drexel University. “Advisors generally have large caseloads and cannot always reach out as much as we’d like. But if a student does make us aware of an issue–we’re there to help.” By meeting with your advisor more than once a semester, you begin to build a relationship with them and gain am ally in this crazy world full of people dressed up as goblins throwing pumpkin bombs at us—I mean college, the crazy, crazy world of college.
Show Some Appreciation
After your four years end and you’re forced to start adult life, you’ll look back at all the people that pulled you through, your advisor among them. While you can, make sure to thank your advisor whenever you meet. Their job is to help you, but it’s up to you to let them.
“A thank you note from a student or a student stopping by my office simply to say thank you will put the biggest smile on my face,” said Anna Canlon, senior advisor for the Upper Class Undeclared and Pre-Law Department at the University of Miami. “This really gives advisors such a new motivation and confidence in their job. Our job is to help students, and knowing we had a positive effect on a student really validates why we love our jobs.”
The Chewbacca to your Han Solo, the Watson to your Sherlock, the Doc Brown to your Marty Mcfly, your advisor will always have your back. The real world of fancy adult careers doesn’t dedicate someone to help you succeed, so take advantage before you hit the ground running and let your advisor help you.
Not sure if you should stop by your advisor’s office?
Top 5 Reasons To Talk To Your Advisor
Written by Alexandria Sese, sophomore, English, University of Illinois
1. Your education isn’t going to take care of itself
Gone are the days when your teachers and parents go out of their way to help you make the most of your education.
You’re all grown up now and speaking with an academic advisor is the first step to take responsibility for your education. But they won’t know you need assistance if you don’t step into their office, pick up the phone, or send them an e-mail.
2. Advisors are there for your families, too
Your family is an essential part of your education. Dr. Elizabeth Teagan, Ph.D. said that in order to fully help a student, she and other advisors must gain the trust of their students and their families. Only then can advisors really get to issues students need resolved and help craft a personalized solution for them. As the director of Texas Tech University Advising, she continually works with students on an individual level to help them with their unique concerns.
3. They hook you up
“The reason for success is the use of resources,” Teagan said. The job of academic advisors is not to tell you what to do with your education but, rather, point you to the direction of people, programs, and other resources that can help you in your goals. Teagan once had a student who didn’t do well in his first semester in college but greatly improved after going to an advisor and discovering all the resources that could have helped him in the first place, such as writing centers. “Don’t be afraid to seek out those resources,” said Teagan. To make the search easier and more efficient, talk to academic advisors who know which resources are best for you needs.
4. Advising good for your school
“Academic advising is the centerpiece of retention,” said Teagan. She explains that through advising, more students are finding it easier to succeed in college which in turn helps their institution. “It’s less expensive to retain students than to recruit new ones,” explained Teagan. The money the institution saves isn’t only beneficial to the school but can also be good for you. The less money they spend on recruiting, the more money they can spend on your education.
5. You can’t do everything online
Although scheduling your classes online is much more convenient than going into your academic advisor’s office, there are many things that a website just can’t do. Your academic advisor, who will know you more personally than a website, can tell you if you are taking on much more than you can handle or if you can challenge yourself further. Teagan said an advisor’s job is preparing students for a world they haven’t experienced. The task of the academic advisor is three-fold, according to Teagan. They are there to help you discover who you are, how you fit in your academic environment, and how you will fit in the job market. The job market is constantly changing and it is best to seek advice from a professional who has your best interests at heart.
*Updated January 29, 2016 by Alexandria Sese to include “Top 5 Reasons To Talk To Your Advisor.”