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How to Meet With Your Academic Advisor

Last updated January 25, 2024

Forming a close working relationship with your academic advisor is a great way to set yourself up for success in college. They can help you choose the right classes, succeed during challenging moments, and connect you to great academic and professional resources on campus– so it’s important to meet with them as often as you can. Here’s how to make the most of your time with your academic advisor!

How to meet with your advisor

Every school is different, but typically at new student orientation you will be given instructions on when, where, and how to meet with an academic advisor. Some schools will automatically assign students to an advisor, while others will require them to select their own. If you don’t receive information at orientation about when you’re supposed to meet with your advisor, you can visit your college’s website and type ‘Advising’ in the search bar. There is usually a ‘Schedule an Appointment’ or ‘Contact Us’ tab on your school’s advising homepage– follow the instructions on there to learn more. If you’re living on campus, your RA can also be a great person to ask about how meeting with advisors works at your school. Once you locate contact information for your advisor, be sure to set up an appointment with them.

Before you meet

Make an appointment ASAP

At some colleges, meeting with your academic advisor is required to register for and enroll in classes for the following term. Be sure to meet with them as soon as possible to avoid the chance of being waitlisted to any important classes. Even if meeting with your academic advisor is not a requirement, it's still helpful to meet with them before you register for each term to make sure you're taking the right classes and are on track to graduate in time. If you’re in your first year of college and haven’t declared a major yet, meeting with your advisor is so important! They can guide you on what classes to explore and ask you questions to help you narrow down your choices. Think of them as a mentor there to help you reach success during your time in college!

Show up prepared

Like any meeting, showing up prepared for your appointment with your academic advisor is the best way to go. Before you meet, take some time to explore your school's course schedule and pick classes that align with your interests, goals, and most importantly, your major (if you’ve already declared one). Choose a few backup classes too, in case any of your top classes fill up quickly. This is also a good time to ask more questions about majors and programs you’re interested in, and the specific requirements to join them. Not only will being prepared for your meeting help it go much smoother (and maybe even faster), it will also help you build a trusting relationship with your advisor– arguably one of the most important ones you'll have in college!

Questions to ask your academic advisor

“Can you tell me about this major I’m interested in?”

Your advisor should be familiar with many different academic programs offered at your school– take advantage of their knowledge and ask questions about the majors you're interested in. They can also refer you to another advisor or professor who can answer more specific questions you may have about a major or program.

“What classes do you think I should take? Are there any electives that past students have loved that I shouldn’t miss out on?”

Your advisor works with lots of students at your school, so they’ll most likely have an understanding of what classes they’ve loved and valued in the past, and can give you tips on choosing electives and professors.

“What kinds of careers have graduates of this major pursued in the past?”

As you think about which major to pursue, it’s good to have a general idea of the kinds of careers and job opportunities available once you graduate. Your academic advisor should be able to provide some information about what past alumni have gone on to do professionally and can potentially put you in touch with someone who's working in a career that interests you!

"Are there any internships available for students pursuing this major?"

Having an internship in college is a valuable way to prepare you to pursue your career after graduating. Internships provide hands-on work experience AND an opportunity to network and find a mentor. Your advisor can refer you to internships they know of both on and off campus and can connect you to your school’s career center to learn about even more opportunities near you.

“Can we conduct a degree audit?”

Once you've completed your first year of college, conducting a degree audit with your advisor will help you know if you're on track to complete your required credits and receive your degree on time. If something is off, they can help you make a game plan to help you get back on track.

“What should I do if I'm having a hard time in a class?”

Your academic advisor is also your college coach. They are there to support you through the highs and lows that come with school. If you find yourself struggling academically, be sure to ask them for support. They understand that you have a life and responsibilities outside of the classroom! They can work with you to address specific pain points in classes and support you in communicating with your professors if needed.

Three people sit at a library table and look at the books that sit in front of them - How to Meet With Your Academic Advisor

Other types of advisors on campus

Academic advisors are not the only types of advisors on college campuses. Other advisors include:

  • Study abroad: Study abroad advisors work closely with students interested in studying in another country and support them in the process of finding a program and ensuring they remain on track to graduate.
  • Career center: Advisors in your school’s career center support students with exploring career paths, finding jobs and internships, and preparing to start their career once they graduate.
  • Clubs: Advisors for clubs are typically college staff or faculty who support student organizations by approving budgets and events and providing guidance and feedback.

Requesting a new advisor

Your academic advisor should be your cheerleader and mentor! If you're not feeling supported by them, or if you have built a relationship with another advisor on campus, you may be able to switch! Different schools will have different processes for switching advisors. Some may require you to switch through your online student portal, while others will have a different process to follow. Start by speaking with your current advisor to learn how to start the process. In college there will be times where students must advocate for themselves, so don’t feel guilty if switching advisors will be beneficial to your overall student experience. You want to work with someone who actively supports your academic, professional, and personal success!

Have any questions about how to work with your academic advisor? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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