Academic Advising: A Neccessary Not-So-Evil

Posted on November 2, 2011 by

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Registering and enrolling for each new semester can be painful for college students for many reasons. Advisors may change, classes fill quickly, a required class may not be offered or may be offered at the same time as another needed class. All in all, it can be stressful for any student. However, schools in the IU system such as IUSB do offer students multiple tools as a way to help make the process easier.

The first tool for students are their advisors. To check your advisor, go to OneStart to access your account. After opening the student center in a pop-up (by default), the right hand side will contain a series of boxes: Search for Classes, To Do List, Enrollment Dates, Advisor.

From the top, the “Search for Classes” box gives you the immediate option to begin searching for classes that will be offered. “Holds” will tell of some possible restrictions on your account that must be taken care of in some way before registering for another semester. This does not include any due or overdue payments, but normally consists of paper work or required meetings with your advisor that they must lift. The “To Do List” is similar but not restricting; this box usually has information on more paperwork that needs to be turned in as well. Again, this box does not show restriction unlike the “Holds” box.

The next two boxes are very important for registration: “Enrollment Dates” will tell you when you’re free to actually register for classes, the “Advisor” box will tell you your advisor as well as (in my experiences) their office phone number which is blacked out in this shot. Clicking on “Details” will open a new window, with a complete list of your advisors and options to notify either selected or all advisors using e-mail. This can be very useful for setting up meetings, or letting all your advisors (such as for your major and your minor) know your final plan of action.

Advisors are there to help you plan your academic career and register for classes. Meeting with your advisor at least once a semester is recommended, but meeting more often than that can be beneficial to your overall career. Advisors have certain responsibilitites they should fulfill; they can also help you find internship and career options, interpret your transcript and overall progress to graduation.

However, it’s difficult to establish an effective, successful relationship with your advisor when they change yearly, or even every semester. Some students at community colleges have this problem quite often. There are a few ways to counteract this, but the best scenario is to consistently have the same advisor. When you get a new advisor, it doesn’t hurt to talk to them about their goals as well as yours—if your new advisor is only at the college as a temporary lecturer, it wouldn’t hurt to start planning ahead with them several semesters in advance, even if the listings for offered classes haven’t been released. This way, if they do leave, you have a pseudo-plan to show your next advisor to work with instead of starting over completely each semester.

Another option to help work through this problem is to try finding your own advisor by establishing relationships with professors in your field and asking their advice on what to take. Each professor will probably plug at least one class they’re teaching, but it can be good advice. A lot of professors won’t mind helping and enjoy the time spent with students during office hours even if the subject matter doesn’t directly pertain to the class. If the problem of different advisors continues, asking a professor you have a good relationship with to be your advisor isn’t a bad thing—in fact, it’ll help you out in the long run, especially if you’ve already established a good relationship with him or her.

Although advisors are very important to successfully completing a degree and have many responsibilities, advisees have responsibilities, too. Advisees have to make their own decisions about what to major in, their interests for general education classes, scheduling, and of course setting up meetings with their advisor. The first meeting is especially important with an advisor, for both people involved, so the advisee should have some sort of plan in mind of what to share with their advisors. It’s important to remember though that the advisor is there to help and answer questions, not do all the work. It’s important to know basic requirements of the degree you’re going for, from specific classes to the general education courses.

To make things easier on your advisor (and even relieve yourself of some stress), you may prefer to plan your academic career on your own and that’s fine. But it’s still important to consult with an advisor about specific classes, career goals, or how to improve academic weaknesses. Overall, advisors can be very helpful in creating a successful experience at any college, so long as you establish a strong, personable relationship with them and remain open with them.

Next Time: Going Stag: Academic Planning by Yourself

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Posted in: Student Life