Study Tip: Getting to Know Your Academic Advisor

By , September 21, 2010 8:20 am

 (This study tip has been brought to you by our special guest blogger, Dr. Andrea Drew Gounev. She is the coordinator for the Organic Chemistry Laboratories as well as the principal undergraduate faculty advisor for all Chemistry majors. Her experience with advising students gives helpful insight into advisor-student relationships across the University.)

The Role of an Academic Advisor

Another school year has begun.  Quick; who is your academic advisor?  Can you name him/her?  My name is Dr. Andrea Drew Gounev.  I am an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Chemistry.  I also advise all of our nearly 300 undergraduate majors.  As an advisor, I am invested in the success of my students, and I also know a great deal about UMKC and campus resources. 

Get to Know Your Academic Advisor

Because I am an academic advisor, I meet with my students each semester.  Take the initiative and make the first contact with your academic advisor; request an appointment early in your first semester at UMKC so you can sit down and speak with him/her.  An initial meeting early in the semester gives you the opportunity to get to know your academic adviser on a personal level.  Discuss your personal and professional goals with him/her.  Many students experience academic or personal problems and have no idea where to turn for help.  If you get to know your academic advisor, you know you have an advocate on campus and are more likely to go to him/her when you need assistance.  Don’t be intimidated; academic advisors choose these roles because they enjoy working with and getting to know students.

Academic Advisors Aren’t Just “Class Pickers”

Yes, I do help my students choose their courses for upcoming semesters, but I also work with them when they are applying to graduate or professional schools, help them stay on track towards graduation, assist them in exploring second majors and minors that might enhance their educational experience, answer questions about university policies and procedures, and refer them to resources around campus (like the Math and Science Resource Center and the Writing Center).  I even work with students who are having personal issues.

Be Prepared for Your Advising Appointment

To get the most out of your academic advising session, be prepared and take an active role!  Arrive on time and with a list of questions you have for your academic advisor and courses you plan to take.  Have all of your previous advising materials organized in a dedicated folder and bring it to your session as well.  Even though your advisor has copies of these materials, you need a copy as well.  If you have obligations that limit when you can take classes, like work or athletic practice, be prepared to tell your adviser at the beginning of your advising session.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Always keep in mind, this is your educational experience and you have the right and the responsibility to take an active role in shaping it!

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