The Daily Illini

Be proactive; don’t blindly trust your academic adviser

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

About midway through each semester, students across campus start looking through their DARS reports and course listings to begin the ever-joyous process of planning out their schedules for next semester.

It’s during this time that students are reminded to see their advisers again. You might be super close with your adviser, and that’s great, because it means they are doing their job and providing you with valuable insight. However, for a lot of students, advising season, as we are fondly naming this time of year, causes unnecessary stress and increased confusion.

Academic advisers are supposed to be the most knowledgeable faculty members as to which classes fulfill multiple requirements and which classes best benefit students in their majors. However, academic advisers often fall short of their responsibilities and leave students in the dark.

Of course, there are some students who are able to plan out their schedule with little help and register with ease. These are often students whose majors and minors are straightforward and for whom everything is going exactly as planned.

But for many others, especially those who are working toward something more complicated, such as a dual degree, the DARS report is difficult to decipher and the fulfillment of specific requirements is a continued hassle.

In some colleges, like the College of Media, students are not permitted to register without completing their academic advising. Holds are placed on each student’s account as they begin the battle of beating out other students for the perfect time slot. Some appointments for academic advising need to be scheduled weeks in advance for a single 30-minute time slot, just so students are able to register and ensure they are on track to graduate on time.  

Because of the vast number of students who need to schedule appointments, some are not able to secure an advising appointment before their registration time slot.

These students are left with two options: either they must keep a watchful eye out for an open time slot in the academic advising calendar, or accept defeat, miss the registration time slot and register at a later date (which is a risky move given how quickly popular courses fill up).

This can be particularly frustrating when you have been placed with several different advisers throughout your collegiate career, and they fail to provide adequate direction and advice.

Even if you are in a college that does not enforce advising appointments, there is such a limited window between when the time tickets are released and the registration process begins that you and many other students are left with little-to-no advising for the next semester.

Oftentimes, academic advisers can lead students astray with unnecessary electives. In addition, many academic advisers become busy and unavailable to students during the registration period. In this case, students are left with unanswered emails and questions about their future at the University. No matter how urgent, advisers should respond to emails within one business day so that students can get their questions answered.

It’s part of an academic adviser’s job to cater to each student’s individual needs and make sure that they are planning out their schedule efficiently.

In the case of unanswered emails and faulty advice, it’s important for University students to make sure they understand what needs to be done. Take the time to study your DARS report and know the requirements you need to fulfill before registration: it’s your academic career at stake. If you feel as though your adviser has read your DARS report wrong or has given you faulty advice, make sure to do the research yourself without blindly trusting them.

Students aren’t just planning out their course schedules, they’re planning out their futures. Academic advisers need to be on top of their game, because it’s their job to make sure students can succeed at the University. They aren’t here to make unhelpful suggestions and confuse students further.

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