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Updated: Oct 7, 2022

What are academic advisors?

Academic advisors are people who advise about education and school-related issues. For example, they can answer questions you have about choosing classes, choosing a major, or how to graduate. They also help process paperwork relating to your education.

What do they do?

Academic advisors give advice and information on all school-related issues. For example, they process your petitions, and graduation papers, help you choose major, select classes, and provide information on where you can get more information, such as job searching, going to graduate school, or finding an internship. They do a variety of things and help you save time and effort if you use them well.

How much do I need to see them?

Usually, once a semester/quarter is enough. However, if this is your first year or last year, then you might want to see an advisor two-three times because there are more things you need to do. In your first year, you should see them to make sure your paperwork is ok, and ask them how you should choose classes and what class is suitable for your first year. If there is a specific interest that you have, ask them for classes in that area. In your last year, you would want to check your progress toward your degree and graduation. If you are a transfer student, you can google for course descriptions of classes in your new degree plan. If you see a class that sounds like something you have studied, talk to your advisor, and they may be able to do a petition so you can get the most out of your old class credits. This ensures that you don't waste money re-taking a class, and you can take high-level classes with your old classes as a prerequisite.

Are all academic advisors in America the same?

The short answer is they don't. The way advisors work and how much they can do for you varies from state to state, school to school, and from department to department sometimes. This situation happens because there is no set format of what this position is supposed to be, so advisors vary depending on what they consider as part of their job and what they do to help you in your education.

How to use academic advisors?

Yes, we use them because they are a part of school resources that we students have access to. And don't be rude to them; they are people who hold an incredible amount of knowledge and are trying to help you. Advisors are also not mind-readers; they don't know what you want in your head. You need to work with them to make sure things go as planned. When you ask questions, try to be as clear and specific as possible so they understand what you need. You can also ask many questions about the same topic to make sure you know the whole situation. Think of them like google search engines. The better your search words are, and the more times you type in different search words, the better the advice or information.

Should we trust everything advisors say to us?

Advisors are human and thus can make mistakes. One year before I was supposed to graduate, my advisor said that I would need to study for one additional semester to graduate. I, however, calculated the numbers of credits and wrote out all of the required classes I needed and could not see how I would need one more semester. So at the start of the fall semester, I asked my advisors to re-evaluate my degree plan. This time, he told me that I was on track to graduate the following spring semester. A phrase that many America use is " take it with a grain of salt," which means you listen to the advice but don't have to believe all of it right away. Advisors give great information but it's better to not expect them to take care of everything for us and rely on them too much. A good habit is to double-check the information people tell you. That is the best way to protect yourself, your money, and your paperwork in this country. Advisors are usually helpful for students, but even the best ones can make some mistakes.

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