Academic Advising: Questions and Answers

Who will my Academic Advisor be?

Your academic advisor is a member of the faculty or professional staff who will guide you in the selection of courses, in solving problems, and in understanding the nature of the curriculum and how it affects your personal and professional development.  You will meet periodically with your advisor to discuss course selection, academic progress, and college adjustment issues, as well as the role of the curriculum in your overall educational thinking and planning.  Your academic advisor is determined by your major or intended area of study.  If you have not yet chosen a major, you will be advised by one of the advisors in the Academic Support Center who advises “Undecided” students.  Once you declare a major, you will change to an advisor in your chosen area of study.

How often should we meet?

How often you meet will depend on you and your advisor.  Minimally, you should meet at the beginning, middle, and end of each semester.  However, your advisor is available to assist you during the semester when you have questions or concerns. 

What will be discussed at our meetings?

Possible topics for discussion include course selection, graduation requirements, your major, academic polices or deadlines, basic time management and study skills, academic organizations, internships, summer employment, volunteer options, and other aspects of college life that may enhance your college performance.

What should I do to prepare for our meetings?

Review polices, procedures, or issues you plan to discuss with your advisor prior to your visits.  Make a list of questions, and use resources such as the university catalog, schedule of classes, or your degree plan.

What should I ask about course selection?

The initial meeting with your advisor will focus on the courses in the degree plan for your chosen major.  You and your advisor will complete an Advisor Approved Schedule, listing your first choices, as well as, one or two “back-ups” for each class (in the event a class is already filled).

Consider the following factors when choosing your classes:

  • Consider the times the classes meet.  It may not be a good idea to schedule all of your classes together.  Try to spread them out.  The same is true for trying to have days of the week with “no classes,” which often become days when nothing gets done.
  • Balance the types of courses you are taking.  A good mix of math, science, liberal arts, language, and other class types make the first year easier to manage and more interesting.
  • Check the catalog to be sure you are taking courses which are fulfilling your major or requirements for graduation.
  • Check course prerequisites.  Some courses require completion of another course first.
  • Note the number of hours for which you are registering.  The recommended course load for beginning full-time students ranges from 12-16 credit hours the first semester.

Should I discuss my concerns of being successful in college coursework with my advisor?

Yes, MSU has a special course for entering students to help you become successful in college coursework called College Connections.  Tutoring is available on campus for writing, English classes, math courses, and in a variety of other courses.  Disability Support Services works with  students who have a documented mental or learning disability that may affect  classroom performance.  Talk with your advisor about any of the above options.

Should we discuss my major during my first meeting?

Most definitely!!  If you are fairly certain of your major, your advisor can help you choose basic courses from your degree plan and also recommend professors from whom you might get additional information.  Some introductory courses are not always acceptable in a specific major.  Be sure to discuss with your advisor recommended career fields related to your chosen major.

What if my advisor and I do not get along?

First, consider your expectations.  Are they realistic?  Don’t expect to meet every week with your advisor for long periods of time, and don’t expect them to do all the work; that’s your job.  However, if your advisor NEVER seems to be available to meet with you, it might be time to look for a new one.  Contact the department office or talk to the department chair.

 

While your advisor has much more experience with academic issues than you have, he or she is only an advisor.  In the end, you are responsible for the academic decisions that you make.

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Remember, even the best advisor might not think of everything.  Seek out information on your own, even when you have an excellent relationship with your academic advisor.