Charting Your Course Through College with an Academic Advisor

by John Montesi

Charting your course through college might sound like a straightforward endeavor—or it might sound kind of intimidating. Both reactions are common, and addressing them can be made much easier with the help of an academic advisor.

Picking the right classes is important for a number of reasons. Not only do you want to stay interested and engaged, but you also need to register for important prerequisites so you can finish your degree on time. Academic advisors work hard to help you enjoy college and spend as little time (and money) as possible earning the degree you’re seeking.

Smart Scheduling

For some first-year students, one of the most overwhelming aspects of the college experience is figuring out which classes to take in order to stay on track, especially if they haven’t yet decided on a major. But it doesn’t have to be stressful!

As you prepare to choose classes, it’s easy to focus on what sounds fun or offers the most convenient schedule. And while there’s nothing wrong with this approach, working with an academic advisor will help ensure that every choice you make earns you credit for graduation. That way, whether you know exactly what you want to study or you change your major 10 times, you don’t waste hard work on classes that won’t count toward your degree.

Saving Money

No matter how you’re paying for college, you can’t argue with the benefits of spending less time and money to complete your degree. Working with an academic advisor makes it easier to satisfy all the requirements for graduation on an efficient timeline. This means you’ll have the best chance of graduating in the standard amount of time (or faster!), all while making room for taking classes that play into your strengths and pique your curiosity. And, the sooner you graduate, the less money you spend on tuition and other college expenses. Even one less semester can make a significant difference.

Finding Your Strengths and Having Fun

While the practical implications of collaborating with an academic advisor are compelling, one of the most meaningful benefits of developing a relationship with a mentor figure is that he or she is personally invested in your success and enjoyment of the college experience.

“One of the biggest misconceptions others might have about academic advisors and coaches is that we only help students with course selection,” says Jessica Posey, assistant director of academic advising in Azusa Pacific University’s Academic Success Center. “We are committed to offering comprehensive academic services, programming, and resources that support students in thinking critically, planning accordingly, and thriving academically.”

Your advisor will work to make sure your course schedule is a rewarding combination of degree requirements and personal passions that challenge you to learn and grow without feeling bored or overwhelmed. Azusa Pacific is committed to helping students find their strengths in a holistic manner, which leads to positive outcomes in academic and personal pursuits.

Start Early to Reap the Benefits

Even upperclassmen can benefit from contacting an academic advisor—it’s never too late to sit down and strategize a degree plan that works for you. The sooner you start planning, the more room you’ll have for changing your major or taking that elective class you really want to take!

Working with someone who is familiar with the system and committed to positive outcomes in your college career is a priceless gift—and in this case, the help is totally free. It’s a good idea to take full advantage.