College of LAS « Illinois

For parents

Some advice on academic advising

I mentioned in a previous column (“Choosing the right course”) that academic advisers can help students in a variety of ways. Given that it’s both the start of a new calendar year, and the start of a new semester, I’d like to offer some New Year’s resolutions designed to help your student work most effectively with her or his adviser.

At Illinois, our academic advisers are generally located within a department, which gives them direct knowledge of a specific major or discipline. Some advisers work at the school or college level, where they may advise students across a number of majors or fields. Our LAS advisers are a group of smart, dedicated people with a passion for serving undergraduate students; most advise full-time, although some combine advising with teaching or research responsibilities. They provide guidance to students on a wide range of topics, including selecting courses, choosing minors or fields of concentration, identifying study abroad or internship opportunities, and preparing for graduate study or careers.

So how can students work most effectively with their advisers in the new year ahead? Here are a few recommendations. Students should:

  • Know their degree requirements. Most students keep track of their degree progress using the Degree Audit Record System (DARS), so they should be sure to know how to run and read a DARS report.
  • Check their University email regularly and pay attention to messages they receive from University offices.
  • Find out whether their adviser or department has a blog or listserv or Facebook page. This can be an excellent way to keep track of upcoming deadlines or learn about new opportunities.
  • Visit the College of LAS website regularly. It contains important policy information as well as links to forms and upcoming events.
  • Make contact or meet with their adviser at least once a semester. Many advisers will answer individual questions via email, but they should probably schedule an appointment if they’d like a longer discussion. And, if they’d like to discuss course selection, they should schedule their appointment several weeks before they actually need to register.
  • Take time to prepare before they meet with their adviser. Students should write down questions to bring along with them as well as take notes during their meeting.

Here’s to a good year ahead for you and your student.

Karen Carney
Associate Dean