What Does an Academic Advisor Do?
At colleges and universities all over the United States, academic advisors are being called upon for much more than the guidance they give to students regarding degree completion. Academic advisors act as counselors and liaisons, taking a holistic look at students' abilities and expectations and matching them with opportunities offered by the institution. Your academic advisor will be your contact for services including:
- Monitoring your academic development according to the degree path, time line, and courses you have selected
- Suggesting options and alternatives to your academic plan where appropriate
- Facilitating your social growth and sense of involvement by highlighting clubs, activities, and other opportunities that reflect your abilities and interests
- Ensuring a strong relationship between you and your host university by issuing timely, accurate institutional information and referring you to campus resources when specific needs arise
- Maintaining and protecting organized student records, and adhering to a pre-established advising schedule
Your time in the United States will occasionally be hectic, especially during the first period of adjustment, but your academic advisor can help by understanding your individual needs and furnishing you with the information you need to make informed decisions.
Conversely, you have certain responsibilities when it comes to the relationship between you and your advisor. As an international student seeking academic guidance, you are expected to:
- Notify your advisor in a timely manner when making big decisions regarding your education
- Schedule appointments well in advance and refrain from "stopping by" at times other than his or her designated advising hours
- Establish a time line for your degree completion and decide early on approximately how frequently you would like to meet with your advisor
- Recognize that your academic success ultimately depends on you and complete academic requirements set forth by your advisor accordingly
When to Make a Switch
While most academic advisors are able to balance their advising responsibilities with teaching schedules and other obligations, they are occasionally unable to provide individualized attention to every student. If you feel that your academic advisor has failed to meet your needs, remember that you can contact your department head or the office of the registrar for information on switching to a different advisor.