Get to Know Your Undergraduate Advisor

Follow these five steps to start building a fruitful relationship with your academic advisor.

By Sydney Nikols | February 17, 2017

While your friends and parents can be good resources when you’re having a tough time in school, no one is better equipped to help you than your academic advisor.
Photo: Nau.edu

Your undergraduate advisor will help you overcome obstacles and make important decisions like picking classes and choosing a major. If you build a good rapport, your advisor can play a key role in making sure you find academic success. Take these five steps in order to foster a good relationship with your undergraduate advisor from the get-go.

Just like any other relationship, the best way to build a rapport with your advisor is to interact often.

1. Seek guidance early and often.

Just like any other relationship, the best way to build a rapport with your advisor is to interact often. Be proactive about scheduling appointments, then come prepared with substantive questions and topics that you want to discuss. Taking this approach will help you gain valuable guidance and prove to your advisor that you’re interested in developing a relationship. While you should make an effort to stay in touch with your advisor, you should also make an effort to…

2. Be patient.

Remember, you aren’t the only student to which your advisor is assigned, so he or she won’t be able to tend to your problems at the drop of a hat. Be respectful of busy schedules and don’t write off an advisor who can’t meet with you on short notice. Also, be comfortable with the fact that advisors can’t magically fix everything. They can offer advice but can’t change the rules, so don’t expect an advisor to pull strings for you (like getting you into that popular pottery class that’s already full). If you understand your advisor’s role and maintain the correct expectations, you’ll have a great shot at building a good rapport.

3. Share your interests, goals and passions.

Let your advisor get to know you. Don’t be shy about sharing your interests, goals and passions. If your advisor gets to know you well, he or she will be able to give you tailored, individualized advice as opposed to generic guidance. The more information you offer, the more helpful advice you’ll receive in return.

The more information you offer your counselor, the more helpful advice he or she can give you.

4. Be open about your concerns and struggles.

While your friends and parents can be good resources when you’re having a tough time in school, no one is better equipped to help you than your academic advisor. Advisors have seen plenty of students struggle, which means they’ve also seen plenty of students overcome their obstacles. Your advisor can offer you tried-and-true advice about how to handle difficult situations in your academic career, so don’t be afraid to tell the whole truth and ask for honest guidance.

5. Schedule appointments before making big decisions.

Once you get into the swing of things at school, you probably won’t need to see your advisor on a constant basis. However, you should schedule an appointment before making big decisions that will affect your academic career. Plan on consulting your advisor before you register for classes, choose a major, change your major, pursue an internship, join a time-consuming extracurricular activity and/or work towards writing a thesis. Even if you feel confident making these decisions on your own, it can’t hurt to consult your advisor – he or she may bring up some considerations, viewpoints or problems that never occurred to you.

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