Six Reasons to Encourage Students to Meet with Their Academic Advisor
It takes a village to graduate students and student affairs professionals play an important role in that village. Student affairs professionals are critical in terms of helping students make the most of their out-of-classroom experiences and often develop close relationships with students. Academic advisors are another important source of help and inspiration to students; they are equipped to help students make meaning of both their in-class and out-of-class experiences. Today’s academic advisors do more than just help students schedule classes, yet many students misperceive their role as limited to helping them to register for classes. As trusted institutional representatives, student affairs professionals are uniquely situated to encourage students to meet with their academic advisor on a regular basis and to help students understand the role of the academic advisor. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to inform student affairs professionals about the many services that an academic advisor can provide and highlight the advantages of doing so.
Defining Academic Advising
Although there is no official definition of academic advising, for purposes of this article this definition captures the essence of academic advising:
Academic advising is a developmental process, which assists students in the clarification of their life/career goals and in the development of educational plans for the realization of these goals. It is a decision-making process by which students realize their maximum educational potential through communication and information exchanges with an advisor; it is ongoing, multifaceted, and the responsibility of both student and advisor. The advisor serves as a facilitator of communication, a coordinator of learning experiences through course and career planning and academic progress review, and an agent of referral to other campus agencies as necessary. (Winston, Enders, & Miller, 1982, p. 17)
Student affairs professionals can help students understand the broad nature of services that academic advisors can provide. When the academic advising process is practiced in a positive way, students’ learning experience is enhanced.
Six Advantages for Students that Connect with an Academic Advisor
Here are the top six advantages for students who meet with their academic advisors:
- Academic advisors can assist students in identifying their strengths, such as public speaking, writing, management, and/or caring for others.
- Academic advisors can help students explore career choices. Selecting a major and career can be overwhelming for students, but academic advisors can educate students about both major and career options. They can also connect students to resources available in the career center, as appropriate.
- Academic advisors can connect students facing financial hardship, homelessness, and/or abuse with the appropriate campus and community resources.
- Academic advisors can advise students about how to interact effectively with faculty members. This is especially important for students that may be feeling overwhelmed with their scholastic responsibilities. Often academic advisors know the professors and can give students tips about how to approach their instructors.
- Academic advisors can serve as students’ advocate when students are facing difficulties. Bad things happen to good people and academic advisors are ideally situated to help students notify professors when there is a death in the family or financial hardships are impacting their academic performance.
- Academic advisors are experts on the academic curriculum. If a student wants to study abroad, please be sure to refer them to their academic advisor so that they can strategize a plan for completing their coursework in a timely manner while also studying abroad.
How to Refer Students to Academic Advisors
Student affairs professionals should be prepared to show students how to determine who their assigned academic advisor is. If students are apprehensive about going to meet with the academic advisor, please consider helping them to brainstorm questions to ask the advisor. If, a student affairs professional knows the advisor well, please encourage the student to mention the referral.
Student affairs professionals can help students optimize their educational experiences by encouraging them to meet with their academic advisor. Academic advisors can help students with identifying their strengths, exploring career choices, connecting students to the appropriate campus and community resources, interacting effectively with faculty members, advocating for students when they are facing difficulties, and strategizing a plan for completing their coursework while studying aboard. It takes a village to graduate students, so let’s all work together to ensure that students take full advantage of the resources available to them on campus.
Ender, S. C., Winston, R. B., & Miller, T. K. (1982). Academic advising as student development. New Directions for Student Services, 17, 3-18. doi:10.1002/ss.37119821703