The key to college success is advising appointments

By Vivienne Henning, Assistant news editor

Freshman year can be a daunting experience. While you’re busy bustling around from classes to extracurriculars to going out and meeting new people, it’s comforting to know your academic advisors will always have your back.

Their job is to make sure you do well in your academics, get the most out of your college experience, and help prepare you for the world outside of the University.

Whether you make an appointment or just drop by your advisor’s office for some quick advice, here are a few good questions to ask:

How do I register for classes/adjust my schedule?

A couple of months before the start of each new semester, students are notified of their time slot for course registration. It’s important to meet with your advisor before your time slot to ask any questions you may have. They’ll walk you through the process of registering online and help you feel comfortable navigating it on your own. You’ll also talk about exactly what courses to take and what hours and workloads would be best suited for you in the upcoming semester.

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How do I change/add a major or minor?

Each of the vast arrays of majors and minors offered by the University has a set outline of classes that you need to take to get your degree. Many students change majors, so your advisors are accustomed to helping students get the proper requirements covered in their course schedules. It’s also important to discuss your academic and career interests with your advisor so that they can help you hone in on what subjects you’re skilled at and passionate about.

What are the best classes to take for credit hour requirements?

After the set courses required to major or minor in a subject are under your belt, you may have to take some courses to hit the needed amount of hours to graduate. Your academic advisor has heard what classes are interesting, challenging, easy and atypical from other students. Ask your advisor which classes they feel could add a unique touch to your academic semester.

How can I pursue my interests outside of the classroom?

Your advisor knows about everything that goes on within your major. They’ll often encourage you to be engaged with Registered Student Organizations, RSOs or talk with professors or teaching assistants to pursue possible research opportunities.

Where can I get resources for help?

It’s important to be upfront and honest with your academic advisor if you’re having trouble with a course. They can direct you to tutors for challenging subjects, the Writers Workshop for paper woes, as well as encourage you not to be afraid to talk to your professors and teaching assistants for help. Everyone here wants you to succeed, and there are plenty of resources to help you do just that. All you have to do is ask.

What about scholarship and internship opportunities?

It’s vital always to keep your eyes and ears open for any information on possible scholarships and internships. Your advisor can help you determine what scholarships within your major that you’d be eligible for and how to become eligible for other ones down the line. They can show you where to get advice on connecting with alumni, tackling career fairs or creating a good resume and cover letter.

What are they interested about?

Establish a personal dialogue with your academic advisor. Ask them what piques their interest, how they got involved at Illinois and what their college and career path ended up being like. They can offer you sincere life advice on top of making sure you’re registered for all of your classes. They can be a friend who can offer you guidance throughout your entire college experience. Don’t ever be afraid to go and talk with them; their door is always open.

Vivienne is a sophomore in LAS.
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