Out of 50 students asked in passing at Minnesota State University, Mankato, 38 said they’re unaware who their academic advisor is. Out of the same 50 students, nine said they knew their academic advisor but had a poor or non-existent relationship with them. That leaves three students out of the 50 randomly surveyed who know their academic advisor and share a relatively good relationship with them.
Going off of these numbers, that means that, for a University that has a population of 15,000 students, only about 900 of them know their academic advisor and share a good relationship with them.
We believe that should change, and that more — if not all — students should have better access to good academic advising.
An academic advisor sets up a student for success throughout their time in college. Without proper guidance on what classes to take and when, what clubs and organizations to join in order to maximize their experience, and to overall assist in curating a four-year plan, students are wandering around clueless and unaware of their full potential.
Academic advisors should also be trained on properly advising all types of students rather than just grouping them all under one category. Like everything else, students are intersectional. Whether it be their age, sex, gender, economic status and other variables that set them apart, the academic advising they need will also be different.
Take, for example, a first-generation college student compared to a student who comes from a long line of alumni at this University. The first generation college student may need more guidance on things regarding what classes to take, what kind of things the University has to offer, how to apply for FAFSA and other financial aid packets, etc. while the student who comes from a long line of alumni at this University may already have some background knowledge on those things because their parents helped them out. In that case, that student would not need a step-by-step guide but the other student would.
Regardless, every student’s situation will differ from their counterparts no matter how similar they all may seem in the eyes of academic advisors. That means that academic advisors should be adequately trained to handle any and all situations that a student may bring to the table.
Not only that, but academic advisors should also make themselves known to the students to which they are assigned. They can’t help their students if their students are unaware of their existence.
Sending out a welcome email to their assigned students during the first week of classes letting them know of their role as an academic advisor would not only make the students aware that they have one, but could also start a good relationship between them.
A good relationship creates trust, and trust is needed in order for a student to accept guidance about reaching their goals in college. But none of that can happen without everything else listed beforehand.
And let’s not forget the students’ responsibility. Every student must take initiative and seek the advising help they need. Our hope is that, when they do, they’ll come face to face with an advisor who is ready to do whatever they can to help that student find success.