Constance C. Relihan, one of Student Success’s lead advisors has these useful tips for your students to get the most out of their academic experience. Part 2 will follow next week.
- When you have questions, ask for help.
University is a big place, with lots of colleges offering numerous undergraduate majors. These programs often must comply not only with your institutions’ rules about course requirements, but with professional accreditation requirements as well. Navigating your academic plan of study can get complicated. To make sure that you stay on track, use a planner at least once a semester and meet with your academic advisor before you register for the next semester’s classes even if you feel confident that you know what courses to take.
- Ask the right people for help.
Too often students take the wrong courses because they relied on their roommates’ or parents’ recommendations. Roommates and parents can provide great advice on many subjects, but please let your academic advisor —an individual who is knowledgeable about and trained in the intricacies and specific requirements of your major — guide your course registration decisions. If you ever feel that you are not getting good advice from your academic advisor, go see your College’s Director of Student Services (if your College has one) or the Associate Dean for Academics and explain your concerns. We want to make sure you receive the best advice possible.
- If your questions are about a class you are taking, ask your instructor for help. If you need more assistance, use the academic resources on campus.
Your professors keep office hours for a reason—they want to answer your questions. Go see them as soon as you have a question. Don’t wait until the day before an exam. If a course offers Supplemental Instruction sessions, take advantage of them. The Academic Support Office website will often provide information on many of the tutoring and academic coaching resources provided on campus.
- If you don’t know whom to ask, ask your academic advisor.
Professional academic advisors don’t know everything, but they know everybody. They can direct you to the right office to address most problems that might arise, whether those problems are academic, roommate-related, financial, medical, or personal. They will be able to tell you whom to go see. They may be able to help you make an appointment with the person who can address your concern. Sometimes they will even walk you to that person’s office.
- Read your email, especially email from your advisor, your dean, and your professors.
These folks try to limit the emails they send to only essential information. Please don’t treat them like spam. If you miss deadlines because you didn’t read your email, you will only have yourself to blame.
- Read and keep all your course syllabi.
They may be given to you on paper or they may be shared through Canvas or another means. Regardless, you are responsible for knowing the policies that govern each of your classes and following the policies and deadlines the syllabi contain. Record major project and test deadlines in a planner so you aren’t caught off guard later in the semester. If you don’t understand something on a syllabus, talk with you professor after class or during office hours.
Part 2, with tips on issues from government policy, to course administration and funding, will follow next week.