In a few months you’ll be headed off to college and one of the most important people you’ll meet there is your academic advisor. While a number of avenues are available for students seeking general assistance, academic advisors are the number one resource for help with the selection of courses. To get where you need to be in your degree program and to stay on track, you should meet with your academic advisor periodically.

Most colleges and universities assign students an academic advisor in their field of interest and encourage them to meet with their advisor prior to enrollment each semester. Some colleges and universities in fact require students to obtain their advisor’s signature on enrollment forms, so it’s important that you take the time to meet with your advisor long before enrollment starts.

Once you have been assigned an advisor, arrange to meet with them as soon as possible. Keep in mind that advisors have other duties and students to attend to, so find out when their office hours are and stop by then. Do not drop by unannounced or uninvited at some other time. Chances are your advisor won’t be around, and if they are, they won’t appreciate you barging in on them. If you cannot meet with your advisor during their office hours, call to set up an appointment with them.

Use the first meeting with your advisor to introduce yourself and find out about your advisor’s interests. Discuss your career goals with them and make sure the two of you are on the same wavelength. Should you experience a personality clash or get the feeling that your advisor is too busy to help you, don’t be afraid to request a new advisor. Not all teachers are cut out to be advisors and it is not uncommon for a student to make such a request.

To get the most from subsequent meetings with your advisor, always come prepared and be open to their suggestions. If enrolling, bring all paperwork with you, including a class schedule and a course catalog, and have some idea of the classes you’d like to take. Don’t show up with nothing and expect your advisor to do the work for you. Be realistic about your abilities-can you really handle 18 hours-and pay attention to what your advisor has to say. Remember, they have already been to college, they have years of experience in the field and they know the classes offered at their college or university well. If they feel like you would benefit more from taking 15 hours rather than 18 and switching one of your classes to a different teacher, then they are probably right.

Advisors may shift throughout your college life, as your major changes or faculty members come and go. You should receive notice of any change in advisors from your college or university. Don’t be surprised if the advisor you are assigned in the beginning is not the one you end up with by the end of your senior year.

Remember, advisors are there to help you, so use them. Don’t try to tackle everything on your own if you don’t have to. Meet with them occasionally to ensure you are on the right track, listen to what they have to say and don’t hesitate to bring any other career concerns to their attention. Chances are if they don’t have the answer, they will know where you can find it.

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