Five questions to ask your academic adviser this semester


Sabrina Yan

A student meets with James Castree, graduate assistant for career planning and campus outreach for the Career Center. The Career Center has several advisers that can offer guidance to picking a major or applying to graduate school.

By Meral Aycicek, Assistant Special Sections Editor

Like many other students, you might be feeling stressed or confused about what the next years may hold. Many students try to tackle this issue on their own instead of seeking out their academic advisor to help alleviate the stress.

Every college has a different way of scheduling advising appointments. Explore your college’s website and find out how you can schedule an appointment.

Once you have set up a time (and put it on your calendar so you don’t forget), use this list of questions to brainstorm ideas of what to ask. Walk into your meeting clear-headed and confident, and make the most out of your time with your counselor.

1. “Can we please review my academic history?”

It can be hard to keep track of your academic progress. You might think you’re on track and then find out you’re missing two gen-eds or a required class for your major. Your adviser has a fresh set of eyes and can analyze your development better than you can. Ask your adviser to run your DARS report, which will tell you what classes you still need to graduate, then create a rough outline of what each semester will look like.

2. “Can I add another major or minor/switch my major?”

If you have been thinking about taking on another major or minor, or changing your major altogether, you should talk to your adviser as soon as possible. You might find that it is easily doable, or that you might need an extra semester or two to finish everything on time. Don’t sign up for classes for another degree without advising; if it’s not possible for you to complete the requirements on time, you’re just wasting time and money.

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3. “How should I start preparing for graduate school?”

Regardless of your year, this is an important question if you are considering graduate school. Your adviser can tell you about your options and the requirements for different kinds of graduate programs. Medical school, for example, has very specific prerequisites. Your adviser can help you plan your schedule to fit your needs. If you need to take a test (the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc.), your adviser can help you create a timeline and point you to test prep resources.

4. “Should I take summer classes?”

Summer classes can be a way to knock a few gen-eds out of the way or to catch up on your major requirements. Be sure to consult your adviser about whether or not the class you are seeking is available over the summer because some higher-level classes might not be. If you want to take a class outside of the University, ask where to take classes, how to transfer the credits and the cost of classes. Summer classes can get expensive, so ask about potential scholarships or financial aid.

5. “School is really stressing me out. What should I do?”

Your mental health and well-being are more important than any grade or class, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Your adviser is an excellent person to talk to if you are feeling overwhelmed with school or personal issues. Your adviser can help you balance your academic workload and provide you with resources, like the Counseling Center, for additional support.

Use your academic adviser; they are here to make sure you have everything you need to succeed. All you have to do is make an appointment and go talk to them. Good luck!

Meral is a sophomore in LAS.

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