Advisors: your job is to build us up, not tear us down

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, November 28th, 2018 at 6:27 PM

When you arrive to campus as a bushy, bright-eyed freshman, one of the first orders of business is meeting with your assigned academic advisor. This faculty member is a professor in your major of choice and acts as your guide, aiding you in successfully completing your chosen college path. This stranger is soon to be your very best friend, as you lean on their wisdom, knowledge and help to prepare you for your future career. 

Charlie Nutt, executive director of the National Academic Advising Association, or NACADA said: “The research clearly shows that when a student is more engaged on a campus, they are more likely to remain enrolled and persist to graduation,” in an article published in the Hechinger Report. He continued: “Academic advising is the key mechanism, and on many campuses the only mechanism, through which students have a person they’re connected with.” 

In conjunction, claims there are several “dos” and “don’ts” when meeting with your advisor in the beginning of your higher education journey. For example, College Raptor asserts you should, “get to know your advisor and vise versa, keep an open mind, and take notes.” Similarly, they continue to add things you should never do, such as, “assume it’s a one and done deal, think you know better before doing your own research, and forget to follow up.”

Due to the advisor’s large role in a student’s academic life, what happens if your advisor is your enemy? A foe that does not believe in your choices either academically, socially or personally and they let you know it? Although advisors should be held to a certain standard of negating bias, advisors are only human. Unfortunately, this may be the case for many students across campuses worldwide and it is a drastic problem that needs to be addressed. But what can a student do when faced with an advisor that doubts them?

1. Advocate for yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can others believe in you? 

2. Communicate professionally and appropriately with your advisor.

3. Evaluate your personal self to see if there is validity to your advisor’s concern or doubt.

4. If an issue continues to persist, speak to your department head about switching advisors.

As a student, you have the right to a fair education worth your time, money, efforts, and sacrifices. Advisors are merely the middle man, connecting you, the student, to resources which enable you to perform productively in college courses and in a career approaching in the near future. However, you can outsource other credible sources, such as alumni and seasoned professors to help you navigate the university’s system. It is important to acknowledge you are not tied down to a specific advisor for your whole academic career. 

Maya Angelou summed up believing in yourself best when she said: “I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.”

Joallie Paluchak can be reached at

Tags: opinions, voices

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