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Talk to Your Academic Adviser, About Everything

By Jenna Moede

So you have received your acceptance email. Now what?

You should also have received your login and password to access your online classes. So, first things first, login and make sure everything works.

You should now have access to your school email account, your financial aid information, class registration, course path and tons of other resources. 

You should also have the contact information for your adviser. Most of the time you will be assigned to an adviser that has a specialty in your field, and this will really help you.

So you’ve logged in. Do you feel stuck? Overwhelmed? Don’t panic.

Receiving that acceptance letter feels great, but it will take a lot more work to earn your degree. 

Start by talking to your adviser, especially if you feel lost or overwhelmed. Trust me, they really know their stuff. 

I ask some of the most off-the-wall questions that tend to make no sense, and they still get me the exact information I need. 

Never worry about asking too many questions either. Use your adviser to your advantage!

At this point, you might not know what to ask your adviser about so here are some topics to help you get started. 

First, talk about your goals. If you’re unsure if you have chosen the right major, tell your adviser because they can steer you in the right direction.

I talked to mine about graduate school and found out that if I continued the college path I chose on my own, I would have a degree that wouldn’t help me. At all. 

Finding that out really surprised me since I had read and reread the descriptions of the majors. That wake-up call saved me a lot of money and tons of wasted effort.

Save yourself the headache, money and time and just have a quick chat with your adviser about your goal and find out what will get you there.

You might also want to ask your adviser about a certificate or a minor. If you don’t know whether or not a certificate could help you or what minor best fits your dream job, ask your adviser for the skinny.   

Avoid making these types of decisions by yourself because you could end up like I did and feel like you’re just spinning your wheels and not really getting anywhere. 

If I had done this when I started, I might have found my passion for education earlier and not wasted so much time and energy on something I only thought I wanted. 

After you get accepted, you might also have questions about your degree type. 

You may plan on starting with a certificate or associates degree but finding out about how those degree paths work together may help you down the road.

Asking your adviser about the best path and the differences between the degrees will really benefit you.  Plus, you could find out just how they all fit together so you can continue your education further than you thought.

Along those same lines, ask for a course path. Even if you haven’t committed to a degree yet, take a look at the paths for all of the programs that you have considered.

Course paths can help you not only take a look at your general education classes, but also the total number of credits, prerequisites and degree requirements. 

I found myself printing it out, marking it up, and following it to a T. My course path became my complete guide to college and helped me see graduation get closer and closer. Talk about motivation!

Lastly, and really, most importantly, ask about all licensing requirements. I seriously cannot stress this enough for military spouses. 

We all know that we move at the drop of a hat and we probably won’t stay in one area for a long time, so, knowing if your career will require state licenses or tests is crucial. It could also be a game changer for you.

If your job will have license requirements, it seems better to know that from the start rather than learn that after graduation. You may also want to research how you transfer that professional license from state to state.  

Your adviser may not be able to answer state specific questions, but they will help guide you in the right direction and help you contact the organizations that can really help you.

Like I mentioned, I had taken grad school courses towards something I really thought I knew I wanted to do, just to find out that with my undergrad degree in business, I wouldn’t have the right requirements and degrees to even test for a license in my state. 

Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t pursue it because I was still on school autopilot, but I felt like I had wasted my money just because I didn’t ask up front.

I guess what I’m saying is tell your adviser everything you think has relevance. I now think it is better to ask too many questions than to reach the end of your education and realize you’re not where you need to be.

 

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