By Tyler Mercer–

The majority of the people I met my freshmen year, the ones who were older than me anyway, would always ask me if I had been misled by an advisor yet. They used a different selection of words, but it all means the same thing. At that point I hadn’t really had time to even remember my advisor’s name, let alone have them misguide me.

It was a little shocking that everyone thought the same way about their advisors. It seemed as though everyone was getting advisors that they either didn’t like or who didn’t really know what they were doing. Granted, not all advisors fall into these categories.

My own advisor is awesome. She’s very encouraging and helpful whenever I go into her office. She knows what she’s talking about and usually has reviewed what we’ve talked about before and is prepared to help me as soon as I get there. She always asks how everything is going and seems to genuinely care about me as a person.

The problem is that not every advisor is going to be that kind and compassionate. Not all of the advisors are going to genuinely care about how you’re doing or about helping you at all. As always, you have to be your own best advocate.

There are some things you need to do before you can expect an advisor to be able to help you. Let’s start with your major. If you are pretty sure you know what you want to do with the rest of your life, go ahead and lay out a four-year plan. It’s going to take you a while to get it all set up, but it will be very beneficial when it comes to scheduling each semester and making sure you’re on track to graduate.

Having a four-year plan already prepared when you visit your advisor will take a lot of stress off of their minds as well. If they can tell you are serious about your education, they will most likely be more serious about helping you complete your goals.

Prepare a folder that is strictly for your advising appointments. The first thing you should include in that folder is your four-year plan. Along with your four-year plan you should print out an unofficial transcript from Ulink. Your advisor has access to your transcript, but having it in your folder will be very helpful in keeping the meeting on track and focused.

Before each meeting, make sure you have written down everything you want to cover with your advisor. A series of questions for your advisor will be very helpful to both of you. Advisors aren’t superhuman and you can’t expect them to know exactly what you’re thinking or planning for your future. You have to be prepared to ask the questions you are wondering about. If you think you might want to change your major, say so. If you think you can’t handle 15 hours this semester but are scared it might put you behind, ask your advisor. Prepare thoroughly for your advising appointment. If you are prepared for it, it will be much more helpful in the long run.

You should know all of your own information. If you don’t know your ACT scores, AP test scores, or scores from any other test, you should get a copy of those scores and keep it in your advising folder. I qualified for a class that was above an introductory course because of my ACT scores, but my older advisor let me enroll in a class that I scored out of. I was halfway through the semester before anyone told me and I was pretty ticked. I was essentially wasting money and time in a class I had scored out of. It was pretty frustrating, but if I had known that my ACT was high enough to pass up that class, or if I had known to ask, I could have skipped that whole problem.

Now you know that preparation is the key to success. Not only in your advising appointments, but in your life. Get it together and be prepared.

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