Unless you’re lucky enough to have a personal relationship with your academic advisor, chances are you’ve had some unproductive meetings. At many large schools, students often don’t meet with the same advisor every time they visit, or if they do, their advisor is so overwhelmed with advisees that they are not familiar with each student’s goals, transcript and major. This can lead to problems communicating. Luckily, by doing some simple prep work you can minimize the chance of leaving your meeting with unanswered questions or misinformation.
- Be prepared.
Before you go to your meeting, gather your ID card, your schedule, and your class numbers. If your student ID number isn’t on your ID card, make sure you either have it memorized or write it down. While your advisor would probably be able to look this up for you, it would waste the precious little time you have with them. Plus, one day you may need your advisor to get you into an overbooked class or process a form after the deadline. If you make a point to be prepared every time you walk through your advisor’s door, you will show them that your are professional and respect their time. They will be more likely to go to bat for someone who takes their appointments seriously.
2. Write your questions down.
It can be easy to get off track in an advisor meeting. You ask one question, which leads to another and before you know it you’ve forgotten the other three questions you wanted to ask. Making a list of your questions beforehand will help ensure you hit every point. At some schools, you have to schedule advisor appointments a week in advance. You don’t want to wait another week because you forgot what you were going to ask. Before you leave your appointment glance over your list and make sure that you didn’t forget anything.
3. Make sure your advisor is aware of your goals.
Are you pre-med? What about pre-law? Do you dream of joining the peace corps? Whatever it is that you dream of doing, make sure your advisor knows! Most advisors will be well acquainted with the pre requisites for medical, law, and graduate school. They may have some idea what admissions counselors and employers are looking for. They can help guide your choice of classes, major, minor and even extracurricular activities. Even if they don’t know how to help you achieve your goal, chances are your school has some support available. Your advisor will be able to refer you to the proper person.
4. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal.
It may be hard to open up to someone you just met, but it pays to talk to your advisor about your academic anxieties. Maybe you’re afraid of failing organic chemistry, or maybe you need fulfill a general education requirement but don’t like the sound of any of the classes. Your advisor may have some advice. There will be times you have to take a class you don’t like, but maybe there is another (more interesting) class that fulfills the same requirement. Even if your advisor can’t help you this time, they may be able to help next time.
Don’t give up, even if you’ve had an unproductive appointment with your advisor. When if comes right down to it, they’re there for your benefit, and it’s in your best interest to utilize their knowledge and experience. When the going gets tough, remember that they’ve probably helped hundreds of students before you graduate, and with some simple preparation, they can help you too.