What Is an Academic Advisor and How Can They Help Me? (2024)

Academic advisors are an essential – but often underutilized – asset in your college experience. They bring holistic support to students to navigate their higher education experience for both undergraduate and graduate students.

But like anything else, they can only help if you use them. Students often wait until they have a problem with a course or they’re running behind on registration to reach out and leverage their advising resources.

Find out why meeting with your academic advisor regularly is crucial to your journey in higher education and how you can get the most out of your experience.

What Is an Academic Advisor?

An academic advisor is a counselor who works with students in undergraduate and graduate programs. They help students choose a major and minor, register for courses, and stay on track with the requirements to graduate with their chosen degree on their chosen timeline.

What Do Academic Advisors Do?

Academic advisors fill a lot of roles in the college experience. They have to stay apprised of the requirements of the university or college’s programs, maintain records of the students in their counsel, and keep up with course registration.

Advisors may also work with students for graduate school planning or career planning and to find opportunities for scholarships or programs that will help with their career goals. Some academic advisors have connections in the industry as well, which can support your professional growth after graduation.

How Can an Academic Advisor Help Me?

Your academic advisor is your partner in learning and your greatest asset. Here are some ways an academic advisor can help you in your college career.

Help You Stay on Track with Your Academic Timeline

Advisors help students select, add, change, or withdraw from classes on their schedule, but they also ensure that students understand the university’s policies and procedures.

For example, advisors track the prerequisite courses to ensure you’re taking the appropriate courses each term or semester, so you can stay on track to graduate. If you encounter problems finishing on your intended timeline, your advisor can help you navigate possible solutions.

Provide Guidance and Resources to Achieve Your Goals

Universities and colleges often have resources that students may not know about. Your advisor can help you navigate the resources available to you to ensure you achieve your goals, such as a student writing center, university library, study hours, campus clubs, or technologies.

For example, you may be able to enroll in online learning courses that you can take between semesters, giving you a chance to get ahead on your academic progress. Your advisor understands the “opportunity cost” of your education – or the cost of schooling, on-campus living, and losing time in the workforce – and how you can maximize your investment with strategic scheduling.

Provide an Experienced Sounding Board for Decisions About Your Academic Experience

Academic advisors have experience with many students from different backgrounds, with different academic goals, and facing different challenges. They can act as an insightful sounding board for decisions about your major and minor or different classes you should take to deepen your knowledge.

If you’re not sure what to pursue in college, your academic advisor can help with that, too. They’ll help you not only understand the career path you have with different programs, but they can help you proactively prepare for opportunities following graduation.

Highlight Opportunities You May Be Missing

Both the job market and desirable graduate programs can be competitive. Whichever your goal, your academic advisor can highlight opportunities that can position you as a strong candidate, such as apprenticeships, work-study programs, scholarships, and specific courses.

Remember, academic advisors are assigned to different programs because they understand the specific fields of study. They can guide you and help you build skills and knowledge that will complement your degree.

Offer Career Advice

One of the most notable ways an academic advisor can help – and one of the least utilized – is with career advice. Academic advisors can be invaluable for your future career and taking positive steps now that will put you in a strong position when you hit the job market.

For example, if you develop a connection with your advisor, they can write a letter of recommendation for your graduate program or a job opportunity and provide job references. Your advisor may let you know about different career opportunities for your major that you were unaware of.

Support Your Success

Your academic advisor wants to see you succeed and prosper. Whether you’re a new student or entering a graduate program, your advisor wants to ensure you have all you need to have a positive experience and guidance for your future academic and professional career.

And the more you contribute, the more of a connection you can build. It can be difficult and overwhelming to keep up with classes, personal responsibilities, and scheduling time with an advisor, but it’s vital to your success. Building deep connections helps the advisor understand your goals and challenges to be an asset during your experience.

How Can You Find Your Academic Advisor?

Each school has their own advising office with academic advisors for students. Typically, students are connected with an advisor upon admission, though it may change depending on the major or program.

If you’re not sure who your advisor is or how to reach them, contact your institution’s advising office by phone or email. They keep detailed records of each student and can connect you with your assigned advisor.

Leverage Your Resources

So, how do academic advisors help students? It’s so much more than scheduling classes and checking in near graduation. There is so much more value than meets the eye with an academic advisor. They are an untapped resource, but you only get out what you put in.

Want to get the most out of your educational experience? Connect with your advisor and schedule a meeting. Our Sophia learning coaches also offer a lot of insights for students. We partner with a bunch of universities – and you might even be attending one without knowing it! Find your school to get started!

What Is an Academic Advisor and How Can They Help Me? (2024)
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