By Anna Sommer
Team Manager, Academic Advising at American Public University
It would be nice if, when faced with a choice, we could see into the future and know which decision would be the right one. Which academic program is better aligned with my career goals? Which courses should I take first? How should I prepare for my senior seminar? Does it matter which math class I take?
Decision making is a process of understanding the effects of each choice and then deciding which choice best aligns with your goals. This process can be challenging and sometimes difficult to undertake, especially when trying to wade through academic policies, various resources, or multiple course options. In other words, it’s hard to know what you just don’t know. This is why working with an academic advisor can be beneficial and help ease the struggle of trying to understand everything on your own.
The following are two tips that will help you understand how advisors are able to help and why it’s important to include them in the decision-making process:
Advisors are a living, breathing resource center.
Sometimes you know you need help, but you just don’t know where to look or who to ask. Ask your advisor! Advisors are a living, breathing resource center. We have access to numerous academic resources and tools, and we know how to sift through the information so you can easily apply it to your situation. Here are some examples of resources and services we offer:
- Help with tutoring options, video tutorials, academic writing tips
- Help with time management
- Understanding how certificates and minors effect your program
- Understanding how to register while maintaining specific funding requirements
- Understanding your program requirements and course progression
- Learning how to be a successful student
- Balancing school, work, family, and other obligations
- Referrals to other departments
Think of your advisor like a GPS system. You tell us where you want to go and we will outline different options to get you there. We will offer resources and information that will be helpful on your journey. We will advocate for you along the way, informing you where potential road blocks might be or what streets to avoid. Your advisor can alter the route when something unexpected comes up or you need to find a rest stop. And we will stay with you until you reach your destination, supporting you and cheering you on.
Advisors are here to LISTEN, not just advise.
It’s true that advisors have access to lots of information and resources, but we are also here to listen. Listening is important because in order to help you, we first need to hear you. Tell us more about your situation. What struggles are you facing outside the classroom? What’s really behind the motivation to change your program? The more we understand what’s really going on, the better able we are to align you with information, services, and resources that will get you moving in the right direction.
Making decisions is a process, and we all want to make decisions that will lead to success. The next time you are faced with an academic decision, please think about including your advisor in the process. Having an advocate to listen, point out resources, and talk through options will allow you to focus on the road ahead of you instead of wondering if you are on the right road to begin with.