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The Importance of Academic Advising in Higher Education

Author: Kaitlin Thach, Intern, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Communications and Outreach

“The primary role of academic advisors is to provide comprehensive support to students as they pursue higher education and progress to graduate school.”

Universities and higher education institutions across the country offer academic advice to both undergraduate and graduate students. This major academic resource may be underutilized. Students often only consider advice as a resource when they are worried and desperate when they find they have little time to sign up for a class.

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I realized that degree advisors existed at the institution for the sole purpose of assisting students, but I had to look for them myself. It is the student’s responsibility to seek out appropriate resources and ask questions that need answers. However, seeking an academic advisor at a competitive institution can feel like a failure or a sign of lack of independence for many students if they are not.

Throughout my college years, I was plunged into and had to navigate a pandemic, returning from online schooling to face-to-face classes. The changes I had to overcome and adapt to were made easier with the help of my degree advisor.

Teresa Dinh, a student experience specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, advises freshman and sophomore students on academics, admissions, and program interest. She told us about her experience as her advisor and why she believes her advice is important.

  • Advisors help monitor academic progressAdvisors assist students in selecting, adding, changing, or canceling classes on schedule, but this process helps students understand how to better navigate college/major policies and procedures. If a course requires prerequisites or must be taken during a particular semester, advisors are knowledgeable enough to guide students through that decision-making process.

“Advisors can help with general education requirements, graduation requirements, adding/removing courses, and They are major advisors and major policy makers. “

  • Advisors help you find opportunities. Advisors are aware of ongoing programs on campus and have the authority to recommend potential students for specific opportunities that enhance their student experience in higher education.

“Students can book advising appointments that can cover academics and programs.morning-Interests, program admission, or career advice services.Also broadcast as a program a Bi-weekly newsletter with updates, resources, opportunities and events. Basically, whenever I get the chance, I try to let students know that they can always contact me if they have any questions or book an appointment with me if they need to. “

  • Advisors want to see you succeed. Being educated about the resources available on campus will help you feel part of a community that wants you to succeed. Advisors are trained to help students plan their careers and guide them through the process of achieving their goals/aspirations, as students entering higher education typically do not plan their lives. increase.

“I try to let my students know that it is a resource they can reach out to, and through that, students in our program say they always feel supported.” From the staff navigating your higher education journey.

Interview with Teresa Ding:

  • What are the main features of Academic Advisor?

The primary function of an academic advisor is to provide comprehensive support to students as they pursue their higher education and post-graduation careers. Advisors must have up-to-date knowledge of college/university policies, including general education/broad requirements, graduation requirements, course additions/drops, and major specific policies if they are primary advisors I have. Academic advisors should also be aware of on-campus resources/departments they can refer students to in case they need additional help, such as counseling or financial aid, which I am not familiar with.

  • How are you working to support your students? What are the benefits for students?

From my first communication with my students, I do my best to let them know that they can reach out to me if they have any questions.As a first-generation college student, I understand how the transition to college can be overwhelming. doing. Even if you are given information, you may not remember it later because all sorts of new information is thrown at you. you. As students enter the summer, the program will send communications to them. It includes information about program staff, contact information, and staff-hosted webinars to help students enroll in fall courses. We also provide the ability to contact students on the day of enrollment in case they are unsure which class to enroll in or there are not many course options available. Once the academic year begins, we offer Advisory Hours, typically weekdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Students can book Advice Appointments which can cover academics, program interests, program admissions, or career advice services. The program also includes a bi-weekly newsletter with updates, resources, opportunities and events. Basically, whenever I get the chance, I try to let my students know that they can always contact me if they have questions or make an appointment with me if they need to. He said many times that he felt he could come to a place and that it helped him feel less like a “little fish in a big pond.” That is what I am trying to do as a campus advisor.

  • What do you expect from your students?

I expect students to do at least a little research and come to the advising session with questions prepared. You don’t need to know too much about our program, but at least have some context to help guide the conversation and understand what you’re looking for. I want you to practice! This means coming to your advising appointment on time, speaking with respect, and sticking to your advising appointment within the time limit you have booked (unless there are no appointments after your time slot). You can continue the conversation beyond).

  • What resources do you share with your students?

Our website, professional/personal development workshops, internship/study opportunities we encounter, campus resources, program-specific curricula, and opportunities to speak/network with industry experts.

  • What would you tell students who didn’t want an academic advisor?

You may be missing something! Just in case, it’s okay to have an academic advisor check your academic progress.

  • What kind of connections have you made with your students? How would you describe these connections?

Like the relationships you build in your personal life, building relationships depends on how much you want to contribute. Some students check in on me to make sure they’re on the right track and then go on with their day. This is perfectly fine. But there are also other students who meet with me regularly to ask questions, update me on their lives and opportunities, and try to have more casual conversations with me. A deep connection is born. Having these deeper connections helps us understand our students, their goals and passions, making it much easier to guide them when applying for opportunities and to write better recommendations for them. will be As I mentioned before, I try to let students know that it is a resource they can reach out to on their higher education journey.