When starting on the path toward academic fulfilment, it's always important to have someone to help you maintain a clear path. When you need information, have an academic problem, or have an idea for a new academic challenge you'd like to pursue, the first course of action is make an appointment with an academic advisor.
Typically academic advising is done by members of the faculty at your institution of higher education. To get the most out of advising appointments, it is a good idea to meet on a frequent basis, rather than just once per term. In this way, the advisor is able to assist the student with a small problem before it escalates into a large issue. These small problems may include stress management, study skills, time-management, and overall successful academic performance. As a result, there is far stronger connection between students and their advisers than when the student meets with an adviser once each semester to get approval for next semester's courses. In this way, the advisor can be of more use to the student by becoming more familiarised with the academic and career goals of the student.
Advisors, as faculty, are appropriately trained to identify the most appropriately challenging program for each advisee, and to help a student with any academic difficulties s/he may encounter along the way. One can see the importance of academic advising by reflecting upon successful achievement of academic goals by those students who utilise the academic advisement programme. Conversely, students who choose to not take advantage of the advising programmes at their university can easily lose sight of their goals. This, quite simply, is because university education can be an overwhelming experience, and experience that can be soothed by guidance from a seasoned professional.
Academic advisement is particularly helpful when deciding on a major course of study. Academic advisors can aid in determining a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as determining what a student hopes to achieve from their education. The advisor’s role is to encourage each student to explore the academic options available to him/her. Most universities require the completion of general education classes, which are designed to help in the selecting a major course of study. Each student will work at strengthening their skills in writing, oral communication, and quantitative reasoning, and will be exposed to a number of different areas of knowledge that are critical to a liberal arts education.
When registering for classes, it is important to consider the classes that are available which fulfil the general requirements. When working with an academic advisor, the student is encouraged to not just simply meet the requirements, but rather to shape these requirements to his/her interests. These interests will typically develop over the following years, and many students end up with a major quite different from the one they had originally planned. In addition to guiding the student through the general requirements specific to your university, the academic advisor will help each student identify his/her interests and formulate an academic programme that will result in the declaration of a major.
Once a student has chosen the academic major to pursue, regular meetings with an academic advisor will help the student define a clear path toward completing the programme. In shaping the student’s academic plan, the advisor may encourage the student to consider the education and/or career options that will be of interest to them upon graduation. Upon declaration of their chosen discipline, the student will meet with a faculty member from the student’s major department. This advisor can often become a mentor figure due to their broad knowledge of the student’s chosen academic discipline. With this breadth of knowledge, the advisor is able to guide the student along completing the necessary coursework to complete their degree programme. Another important aspect to note is that the advisor can help to determine the best sequence of courses for each particular student.
Advisors are a wonderful resource available to discuss students' academic interests, ambitions, and frustrations, as well as offer advice and counsel. Their function is to help guide students in completing their elected course of study in a personalised manner specific to each individual student. Taking advantage of this resource can help to augment your education in a positive way by providing each student with the opportunity for a mentor and confidante, who consequently is an expert in your field of study.
Colorado State University, “Advising Manual,” http://www.casa.colostate.edu/advising/Faculty_Advising_Manual/Chapter1/statement%20of%20core%20values.cfm
Sweet Briar College, Office of the Dean, http://www.dean.sbc.edu/advising.html