What’s the Point of College Advising?

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Advisers have a reputation of being useless. They can either be a great resource for your college career or about as useful as an unused textbook.

No, advisers aren’t purposely out to ruin your college career. In fact a lot of them want nothing but the best for you.

“Helping students mature and develop confidence in themselves is why I am here,” said Nerissa Young, an Ohio University adviser for freshman journalists. “It’s exciting to see people reach their potentials.”

Christie Hennen, an electrical engineering and computer science & engineering adviser at the University of Toledo, sets aside as much time for students as she can. “I offer an open door policy,” she said. “Students can stop by any time during office hours, which are essentially all day.”

Lydia Rall even has a meal plan and eats in the cafeteria with her students. “I try to make myself very visible on campus,” she said. This advertising and graphic design and interior design adviser at the Columbus College of Art and Design even advises on campus organizations—yup, that means your dysfunctional fraternity may want to reach out.

College can get stressful. We get it—you don’t have time to schedule an appointment with an adult stranger. But these guys are stress ninjas. Year after year advisers witness students’ worst predicaments: Not enough credits to graduate? Academic dishonesty? You name it. They help us get back on our feet when we’ve lost our balance.

“The common issues are getting involved in so many extracurricular activities that their grades suffer,” Young said, “too much partying and not enough studying and homesickness.” It helps to get an adviser’s take on why we’re struggling.

If you have nightmares about your American literature course from last semester, tell your adviser so he or she can understand your preferred teaching style. After you’ve trolled ratemyprofessor.com, talk to your adviser for inside knowledge on the course.

Your adviser may even be able to save you money that can be put to better use, like buying Chipotle. “Most students don’t know that we offer courses in the summer at a discounted rate,” Rall said, “and usually offered in less time than a traditional semester.” What can be better than paying less for school?

They won’t leave you high and dry, but to get the best advice, you’ll have to put forth a little effort as well. Come prepared. Rall suggests researching a handful of courses that interest you beforehand.

Don’t wait until the last minute either. Your adviser can tell when she’s the last resort. “I often get interrupted while trying to answer their questions by another question,” Hennen said. Write down your main concerns so that your advising session doesn’t get jumbled.

It may come as a surprise, but your adviser wants you to enjoy a successful college career. Take initiative and grab hold of that help.

Matt Howard is a junior at Ohio University studying Advertising while specializing in English and Creative Writing. He strives to become the Doctor's next companion while writing about the topics that deserve recognition.

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