Seven Questions to Ask a College Advisor

Your college advisor’s job is to ease your educational journey by guiding you through course selection and helping develop your degree program. The advisor you speak to upon admission might not be the one you work with throughout your education. Most advisors are specific to their departments, so you will often get a new advisor if you ever change your major.

Because there are multiple paths to any degree, an advisor can help you decide where to place your focus and how to best achieve your education and career goals. Advisors can only help you if you let them, however, and they won’t be able to answer all of your questions if you don’t ask them. Whether you’re considering college enrollment or are a current student, here are seven questions you should ask your advisor:

How do I choose a major?

Ultimately, the decision of what major to choose is a personal one, but a good advisor should be able to give you some guidance when it comes to selecting a path. Start this discussion by asking about your options; the advisor should be able to ask you some questions that will help you.

Even if you already have a major in mind, a good advisor will be able to help you hone that major into a more specific degree path that will ultimately help you get the kind of job you want. This might include finding classes to take on the side or selecting a minor to study.

Your advisor should also be able to tell you how to change your major and guide you through that process if you decide your current path isn’t what you want to pursue.

Where do I get the list of courses I need?

Your course requirements for graduation will be based on the requirements in the catalog for your freshman year. This is important because these requirements change from one year to the next. For example, when you start school, you might be required to take one math class in order to graduate. The next year, that requirement might be raised to two math classes, but this would only apply to people starting school that year; you would only need the classes listed in your own catalog. The advisor should go over your class requirements with you from year to year, but knowing where to get this information on your own is a good idea.

How do I get help?

Your advisor should be able to point you in the right direction for tutoring services or other types of educational assistance. If you’re struggling with classes, you need to be able to find help, and your advisor should assist you in finding that help. This also includes study classes that can be picked up midway through a semester to help boost your GPA or total credit hours if you’re in trouble with another class. Additionally, your advisor should be able to help you discuss any special needs or disabilities and work around them accordingly.

How do I find out about transfer credits?

If you’ve come in from another school, your credits may not have fully transferred, or they may be worth less than they were previously. This is also true of any graduate-level work you complete as an undergraduate or courses you might have taken at a community college. You want to be sure you’re getting as much credit as possible for classes that you take, so clarifying how credits transfer is the first step to assuring that you get what you’re owed.

What is the benefit of getting an advanced degree?

If you’re nearing graduation, you should have a discussion with your advisor about graduate school. Depending on your degree, additional schooling could make a massive difference in the type and quality of jobs available to you when you get out. On the other hand, graduate degrees aren’t for everyone, and you don’t want to waste time and money on a program that won’t suit your needs.

Your advisor should also help you figure out what’s needed in order to apply to a graduate school, and they might have access to catalogs or listings for various graduate programs. Try to have this discussion as early as possible so that you can get your applications in well before their deadlines.

What online courses are available?

Online classes have become more popular for students at traditional universities, and taking a few classes online will help clear up your schedule and make more room for other activities, such as a job. Depending on your degree program, your advisor may be able to suggest several different online course opportunities.

What can I do when I graduate?

For some people, college is simply about learning and broadening their horizons. Most people, though, go to college to get job skills that will help them gain meaningful employment after they graduate. Be sure to discuss career and salary options with your advisor. You might be able to take certain courses to make you more attractive to potential employers. Your advisor should be able to steer you in a new direction if your current degree program will not set you up for the type of career or salary expectations you have.

Additional questions might come to mind as you read this list or during your college interactions. Try to write down questions as they come to you so you can make sure they all get answered during your next meeting. Advisor meetings usually happen once or twice a year, but you can usually make an appointment to talk with one throughout the semester if you need additional guidance.

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