How To Handle A Bad Advisor

Your college advisors are one of the most important resources you will use to guide you through the critical decisions of your college career.

From choosing classes to getting help finding internships and jobs, your guidance counselor in college is someone you should see regularly and get to know. The better they know you, the more helpful their advice will be.

So what happens if you have a bad/incompetent advisor?

Believe me, they’re out there. I have one.

Here’s my story:

My guidance counselor is well, rather unhelpful.

It all started my freshman year. Most freshman are taking their general education requirement classes to get them out of the way, along with entry level classes for their majors, if they have declared.

But not me.

My counselor set me up with classes for my major, which is great, but he had me taking a ton of electives “just for fun” that I didn’t need at the time.

The result? Now I’m cramming to get my undergraduate degree finished in the four years it is supposed to be completed in.

My advisor also “forgot” to tell me about certain prerequisites I needed to be admitted into classes my sophomore and junior years, so I am slightly behind on that as well.

I know as a mature, smart, college student I am capable of figuring out my requirements and setting up my schedule myself, but your advisor is there to help you; that is their job. It has been a struggle doing everything on my own, especially as a freshman who was new to the system.

I should still be on track to graduate in 2014, but I’ve had my share of setbacks, thanks to my adviser.

If you have an adviser like this, what should you do?

The first plan of action I would take (which I tried in my situation) is to try to switch advisers.

Especially if you go to a big school, there is bound to be more than one counselor for students with your major. If you research the person in charge of the advisers, you can contact them directly and request to swtich.

Don’t feel bad.

Your adviser is the person in charge of making your college experience a smooth one, so if they are creating more stress than ease, something needs to be done.

If you counselor is bad enough (like mine) to set you back from graduating on time, or failing to mention certain necessary requirements, you need to find someone new, or file a formal complaint if it comes to that. It’s not fair to you that one person can misalign your entire college career because of laziness, or lack of attention to detail.

Unfortunately if all else fails, you will be forced to make important decisions about your college career on your own, but this may not necessarily be a bad thing.

During college it’s good to start familiarizing yourself with different problem solving techniques. Learning how to manage on your own, especially with something important in your life on the line is a skill worth acquiring during college.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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