By Ashton Turner and Blake Wojciechowski
With the fall semester about halfway over, it is time to think about academic advising!
Solid academic advising is key to your time on campus. Advisors provide you with class recommendations, help you discover new majors or minors and support your graduation goals.
Nothing is more frustrating than spending unnecessary time and money taking classes that don’t count help you graduate. Prevent these frustrations by regularly meeting with your advisor. However, it is always good to do your own research and be prepared because sometimes even the advisors can make mistakes!
Christian Barney is one of University Housing’s Adopt-A-Profs. He is a graduate student pursuing his doctorate in history at the University of Arkansas. He offers this advice when meeting with your academic advisor.
“The biggest thing is to come prepared – you should already have a pretty good idea of what you want to ask and why you’re there, so the advisor can help you with a more focused approach,” he said.
Barney’s advice provides a perfect transition into our top three tips for getting the most out of advising.
1. Come prepared.
If you go to the store without a list of needed items, you spend a lot of time aimlessly wandering the isles trying to remember everything you needed. Inevitably, when you get home, you realize you forgot something. The same thing can happen when it comes to graduating. The best and quickest way to graduate in a timely manner is proper planning.
Research classes and make a rough plan of what you will take on a semester-by-semester basis. Bring this information to your advising appointment. Not only will it impress your advisor, but it will free up time to ask questions and figure out the best plan of action for you to graduate.
2. Don’t drop before you ask.
Advisors are experts at cost-benefit analysis when it comes to graduation. When asked about this chemistry instructor Lorraine Brewer provided an example of dropping a class.
“Having been teaching for a number of years, I have seen students who do poorly on the first exam of the year, and – out of fear – drop the class. They really should talk to their advisor beforehand,” she said.
Students can get in the mindset that a B or C ruins their chances at getting into a higher-level program after undergrad. But they don’t think about the effect of that drop on their transcript, Brewer added.
Students aren’t able to foreshadow the effect that a drop may have their academic career.
Doing poorly on an exam is a frightful experience, but many times hard-work can overcome that grade. Earning a B or C provides an opportunity to explain how you overcame adversity, whereas a drop shows you just cut your losses and didn’t learn from the experience. Advisors are able to talk you though these tough decisions, and help you see the possible effects of whatever action you decide to take.3
3. Don’t forget about pre-professional advisors.
It’s easy to forget about those other advisors which may not directly help with planning courses needed for graduation, but these advisors are just as important.
When asked about her role as the pre-pharmacy advisor, Brewer said she helps groom students for the next step after their undergraduate careers. She said pre-professional advisors are great assets to utilize, as they can help fine tune class selections in a manner that best benefits you with your end goals in mind.
Pre-professional advisors can help you with a lot more than just class selection, they also know what professional schools like to see on a resume and can help you look your best when it comes to applying for programs.
So, grab a course catalog, pen and paper and start planning your future here at the university.