There are a lot of decisions to make in college and university. Academic
advisors help students make the right choices.
"An academic advisor guides students through that process of self-development
and academic process by teaching about processes, rules and course selections,"
says Roberta Flaherty. She is the executive director of the National Academic
With their advisor's guidance, students "learn to seek information, make
decisions and take responsibility for their own development," says Flaherty.
Academic life can be a bumpy ride, explains college coordinator Patrick
Ouellette, and may require dealing with unforeseen potholes and some tricky
"It's my duty to try and keep track of student progress in the program,
as well as to help identify and counsel students who are at risk of failing
courses," says Ouellete. "This counseling covers everything from helping them
find solutions to improve their academic performance to suggesting exploring
other avenues or programs.
"I also assist in directing and guiding students through to the appropriate
resource for everything from financial aid to course appeals."
Ursula Murray is director of academic advising at a university. She says
that responsibilities may also include advocating (or going to bat for) students
when they run into problems with the registrar, a dean or another school official.
When working with students, Murray will also "clarify their academic goals,
assist them identify roadblocks to achieving their goals and refer them to
Those roadblocks may include class scheduling, transfer credits and personal
issues involving adjustment to college life. Sometimes those personal issues
can be the most challenging -- and rewarding -- to work through, according
to Julie Steinke. She is the director of student athlete support services
at a university.
"I coordinate programs that focus on their personal development (substance
abuse, financial responsibility, improving athletic performance, etc.)," says
Steinke, "and sometimes just act as a personal counselor or someone for them
to talk to about the stresses in their lives."
The academic advisor's role isn't limited to his or her school's own offerings,
nor does it end when the student graduates.
"The academic advisor also may provide some counseling to students regarding
options to consider after program completion (post-diploma programs, university
articulation agreement opportunities, effective steps to transition to the
workforce, etc.)," says William Garbarino. He's a professor at a college.
At some universities and colleges, academic advisors are also involved
in the student recruitment process. Debbie Graczyk is an advisor and coordinator
at a college.
She explains that the recruitment "is done mainly through corporate visits,
education fairs and working with transfer advisors at the community colleges."
Students aren't the only ones benefiting from the academic advisor's guidance
and experience. Academic advisors may also help keep fellow advisors, teachers
and staff members informed of school policies, procedures, courses, schedules
and campus activities.