Academic Advisor

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


Tell us about your work -- what do you do? I'm an Academic Advisor , working in an office specifically geared to assist students who have either no idea, or too many ideas about what they want to major in. Our office also assists students who, for one reason or another, need to change their major. Academic Advisors who work with undecided and exploring students typically do quite a bit of career exploration with students as well, since it is really hard to talk about majors , without talking about careers. What skills are needed? Patience, good listening skills , good communication skills, attention to detail , high energy , compassion and a commitment to helping students. What was your major? B.S. in Psychology , M.S. in Guidance and Counseling (with an emphasis in Higher Education ) How did you get started in your career? I began by volunteering as an undergrad, first with high school students, and then I realized that I would prefer to work with college-aged students. In my master's program, I volunteered to work in the college Career Center, helping students navigate and use the career exploration tools that were available to them. My first job was in academic advising, and I realized that I really loved to incorporate career advising with academic advising. My second job totally allowed for and required this combination of experiences. What experience do you need in this job? Definitely some experience in helping others in a way that you facilitate some change and decision making in their lives, preferably with college student. Describe your "typical" workday: A typical day includes about 7 -10 half-hour appointments, 2-3 meetings, and approximately 6-10 e-mail messages from students. Advisors typically contribute a lot of time to campus programs and services in order to connect with as many students as possible. These programs include orientation programs to meet with incoming students, as well as: programs designed to connect with continuing students on campus (residence halls, Multicultural centers, LGBT office, student organizations. etc.) During the "peak" registration season, we can see as many as 14 appointments in a day, and receive over 20 e-mail messages in a day. We typically will work '"extra" hours during the peak season. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Maintaining the energy to do the job well. Beyond that, it is important, but sometimes challenging, to stay up to date with all the rules, regulations, and procedures for completing degree programs. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Seeing students find a major that motivates and excites them. Playing a role in assisting students to follow their dreams. Seeing them graduate is quite fulfilling too! What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Job shadow an academic advisor. Try to get a job where you work with college students in some way, shape or form. Consider a Master's degree in Guidance and Counseling, Counseling Psych, College Student Personnel or some other related area. Spend some time assessing how you've made your own decisions, and how they have impacted your life choices.
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