Get the most out of those critical advising appointments

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If the thought of planning your first semester of classes seems daunting – just relax. Throughout your academic career at K-State, you will work closely with an academic adviser to help make sure you are taking the correct classes and are able to graduate when you plan to.

A student-adviser relationship is a partnership – both parties take a stake in your education. While your adviser is there to help you, there are things you can do to help ensure the entire process goes as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Ultimately, you are responsible for planning your class path, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible when meeting with your adviser.

1. Make your four-year plan
Many programs require students to create a four-year or graduation plan to discuss with their advisers. Even if your program doesn’t, making a plan as early as your first semester is highly advantageous. Even if you don’t stick to it entirely, it can prevent you from getting to your last semester and realizing you need 22 more credit hours to graduate. Keep it in a place where you can find it throughout your college career. It may take a while to make one, but it will be worthwhile.

2. Prepare each semester
You will meet with your academic adviser before you enroll for every semester, usually twice a year. They will look at your DARS report, your graduation plan (if you have one), and compare it to your program’s requirements. In the beginning, these relatively short advising sessions can be kind of overwhelming.

To make the process better, spend some time a few days before your advising appointment looking at what classes you should take. Check out what times they are, what requirements they fill and how they could play into your overall plan for the semester.

Go to your appointment with a print out of what classes you want to take, what requirement they fulfill and when they are held. Write everything out if necessary so you have a clear understanding of why you chose each class when you talk it over with your adviser during your appointment.

3. Keep communication open
Your academic adviser can help you outside your semi-annual appointment, too. They can aid in making other academic choices, give career or internship advice, connect you with on-campus resources and more.

Shoot them an email or set up an appointment if you’ve got questions at any point during your college career. Don’t feel like you have to flounder through something on your own if you’re having trouble.

4. Build a relationship
In college, it is important to build good relationships with many people. Having a good, professional relationship with your adviser can make your academic planning process easier. Put your face behind your name and share information, such as your career aspirations and areas of interest. If they know you personally, they may be more apt to forward opportunities and information that they know may interest you.

5. Ultimately, take responsibility
The bottom line is that your academic success is your responsibility. While your academic adviser is there to help you navigate the process, don’t put yourself in a situation where you rely exclusively on them. Take responsibility for your college education and planning, and use your resources to your advantage.

Over time, planning your classes becomes easy. You will eventually be able to finagle your schedule to avoid 8:30 a.m. or Friday classes, as well as possibly being able to cram everything in to Tuesdays and Thursdays like you want. Plan ahead, think things through and utilize your academic adviser throughout your time at K-State to set yourself up for your best academic career possible.

Jena Sauber graduated in May with a degree in journalism. She started with a graduation plan, and graduated in four years by sticking to it. And she usually had Fridays off from class because you can schedule it like that if you plan well.

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