What Does An Academic Advisor Do?
Academic advisors work in a school setting to help students make knowledgeable decisions about their educational path. They are responsible for helping students take the appropriate classes to meet their educational goals.
Academic advisors work in a variety of school settings, including:
- High schools
- Technical schools
- Community colleges
Most often academic advisors are assigned to a certain group of students. In high schools, they can be assigned to a grade level. In a post-secondary position, they are assigned to students in a specific program. At a large school, they may be assigned to just a portion of a group. At a smaller school, they may be responsible for more than one grade level, or more than one program.
Academic advisors are available to meet with students to help them explore their academic options and solve problems that may crop up. They must develop a relationship with each student and learn about their strengths, weaknesses, and individual educational needs. Using this information, they help students identify an educational plan.
Academic advisors must learn all about the academic programs that are offered at the school where they work. If they work in a high school, they must be able to research academic programs offered at a wide variety of post-secondary schools.
High school academic advisors meet with students to make sure they have taken all the necessary classes to graduate on time. They also help students prepare for college. This includes helping them prepare for, and take, college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT.
Academic advisors at the high school level help students explore different options for school after graduation. They assist them with the process of researching different programs, identifying possible schools, and completing their application materials.
Academic advisors help students look through course catalogs and pick the appropriate classes to meet their needs. At the college level, they can help students declare a major, and then map out a plan to take the necessary classes to meet the requirement for graduation with that specific degree.
If a student is not ready to pick a major, an academic advisor can help them choose the appropriate classes to take to fulfill basic requirements and give them the most options later in their school career.
Academic advisors also work with other academic advisors, department heads, and professors. They must stay informed about any changes to an academic program’s requirements, especially those that may affect a student’s schedule or plan for graduation.
Academic advisors develop long term relationships with the students they work with. They meet with students as needed throughout their time at the school. If a student is having problems that are affecting their school performance, they can meet with their academic advisor to get help.
If a student is struggling in school, their academic advisor can help them identify the cause of the problem and then make a plan to help. Academic advisors help students develop better study habits, time management skills, and budgeting methods. If a student is having more serious difficulties, such as substance abuse issues, an academic advisor can help connect them with an appropriate counselor.
Sometimes an academic advisor is required to encourage a student to work hard and keep going when they are having a difficult time in school. Other times, an academic advisor might help a student make a different plan because their original one is not working.
Academic advisors at all levels often speak to students’ parents. They help answer questions, and address concerns that parents may have, all while following confidentiality guidelines. Students must be able to trust their academic advisor, and share important personal information with them, without feeling like they will share that information with their parents.
Academic advisors sometimes work with students and parents who are upset. Due to their role as problem solver, academic advisors often meet with parents and students when things are not going well. An academic advisor must be able to remain calm and rational when working with people who are frustrated and upset.
Academic advisors use computer programs to communicate with students, access records, look at course catalogs, monitor student progress, and research educational program availability, requirements and policies.
Academic advisors use creative thinking and problem solving skills to help students handle the many challenges that can arise during their time in school. They must be highly organized in order to manage all of the information they need to do their job well, especially since they maintain long term relationships with many students at a time.
Successful academic advisors must be compassionate and enjoy helping people. They must be trustworthy, reliable, and available. They must have excellent communication skills and be able to build and maintain relationships with all kinds of students, their parents, and colleagues.