Five Questions to Ask Your Academic Adviser

In high school, you have guidance counselors to help with the college research and application process. Hopefully, you have a positive relationship with them. Now that you’re heading off to college, you will be assigned an academic adviser. Similar to the high school guidance counselor, advisers can be a useful resource for college students, especially freshmen. Because it is primarily your job to reach out to an adviser, many students make the mistake of keeping their distance, only going to their adviser for “mandatory advising” once or twice a year. However, if you work to form a positive relationship with your adviser and know what questions to ask, they can help guide you through the academic process all the way until graduation day.

Here are five important questions to ask your academic adviser:

1.    What Classes Should I Take?

One of the most important and prominent roles of the college adviser is to aid you with class selection and registration. This includes making sure you understand what “gen-eds” (general education classes, or requirements that are not directly related to your major) are and knowing all the classes required for your major. Additionally, your adviser should be able to suggest specific classes to you, and know details about these classes (the difficulty level, enrollment size, comments about the professor, etc.).

2.    How can I Switch my Major?

While you may be 100% sure that you want to be an engineer today, there’s a possibility that you will wake up tomorrow wanting to be a teacher. Thousands of students decide to change their majors each year, and advisers are there to make the process a little easier. It may seem stressful to think about re-routing your entire academic path, but it is usually not as difficult as it may seem. Advisers will help you through the process by listing new requirements, suggesting classes, and planning the remainder of your schedule so you are still able to graduate on time.

3.    Which (if any) Major-Wide Scholarships am I Eligible For?

Many colleges offer major-based scholarships based on both merit and financial need. If you are interested in applying for any of these scholarships, your adviser is a good person to speak with. Additionally, if you are applying for other scholarships through the financial aid office and have a good relationship with your academic adviser, he or she may provide a quality letter of recommendation.

4.    What Extracurricular Activities Should I Pursue?

During your first year of college, it is essential that you become an involved member of the student body. Advisers can suggest extracurricular activities, both recreational and major-specific, for you to check out during your freshman year. And most likely, advisers will know other students in these activities with whom you can connect. Since a large part of an adviser’s job is to help you graduate and find a career in your chosen field, they can also discuss the ways you can use these extracurricular activities to enhance your resume.

5.    How do I Ensure that I Graduate in “X” Amount of Years?

Students who don’t form a positive relationship with their advisers early on in their college career may soon find themselves in a bind. A year-by-year plan made with an adviser can ensure graduation by a specific date (usually, a Bachelor’s degree is earned in four years, but some programs can be completed in three or five years). Depending on when you would like to graduate, advisers can help you plan out your course schedule to make sure you fulfill all requirements by graduation day. On the other hand, students who do not take time to plan their schedules with their advisers may find themselves short a few requirements come senior year.

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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