Listen to Advisors

Chris, a  community college student, had problems with his Spanish class. Loads of new words and fast-paced studying environment did not seem to work well with him. Even though Chris was about to graduate, he had to stay at school for another semester in order to complete Spanish II as well. To make things worse, he failed Spanish I, so he would have to take it over. It was then when Chris found out that he could take Philosophy as exempt from foreign language, as he studied Spanish in high school. As a result, he has to stay at school for another semester just to take Philosophy. Could he avoid such a situation and can you?

Luckily enough, every school has academic advisement. Don’t wait that they will go around looking for you to tell you what classes you have to take or how many credits you need to graduate. On the contrary, you should find and consult them. If you do so, you will be able to plan your graduation semesters before.

Academic advisors know more about classes, schedules and requirements more than you do. They can tell you what course may be easier to take, what class may match your interests and which one is not necessary for you. They also help you make a convenient schedule, organize your time properly and make the best academic choices. If you decide to change your major at one point, your academic advisor will inform you what courses match your new major and which ones will be counted as electives.

If academic advisement is so helpful, why don’t students use it to their advantage? Well, in most cases, they don’t think about it until they face problems. Then they get upset and complain that “no one told” them. Another issue is the lack of time. Why waste time one can use to study in the library or go out with a group of friends? The truth is, however, that an appointment that takes no more than 30 minutes may save you the whole semester and some cash, as it could have been in Chris’ situation.

Thus, if you decide to be provident and get some advisement, the first thing you need to do is to find out who your advisors are and how to meet them. Remember that your advisor may not be available in the times you are, so plan it beforehand. Find out if you are required to make an appointment or may just stop by the office.

As your time matters as well as theirs, prepare some questions for the meeting. Make sure you find out what courses are necessary for your degree and which are electives. It is a good idea to take college and department requirements first because sometimes they will not fit into your schedule some time later. Even though it may be sad that an elective course you like does not fit, you can always replace it with something else, maybe even more interesting. You cannot do the same with a required class.

Find out what classes have pre-requisites and make sure you take them before. Classes that consist of two parts need at least two semesters. And face it: you may fail one of them and may have to take it over. Do not postpone your graduation because of one course, give these “long,” two-semester courses priority.

If you are planning to transfer to another school, ask your advisor what classes will be taken by the institution you are transfering to. If you pay for the course and do the work, why not get credit for it? Every credited course is a huge step towards your successful graduation, so don’t  wander around and choose a straight path.

And finally, make sure you know at all times how many credits and what classes you have left to graduate. If you need to meet your advisor again, don’t be shy: that’s what they are there for.  As a famous saying claims, “Only educated are free,” so be educated about your school load and do not neglect advisors’ help.

Ekaterina Lalo

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