Advising: The Basics

What is academic advising?
Why should you see an academic advisor?
Who is your academic advisor?
Where is your academic advisor?
When should you see your academic advisor?
How can you make the most of your meetings with your academic advisor?
College of Arts & Letters Lead Advisors - Contact Information

Academic Advising

Academic advising is an important form of teaching that takes place outside the classroom. Through a variety of contacts and consultations, academic advisors can help you take full advantage of the opportunities at MSU.

At its most basic form, academic advising focuses regular attention on your progress toward meeting graduation requirements. But academic advising can also open doors for both personal and professional development.

Advisors are familiar with the full range of University resources designed to provide support for students outside the classroom--such as the Counseling Center, Learning Resource Center, Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, University Ombudsperson's Office, Office of Financial Aid, and Career Services Network. Advisors are also knowledgeable about University policies and procedures, so they can assist students with a wide range of special problems, such as how to arrange participation in a Study Abroad program or how to withdraw from the University due to a personal emergency.
 

Why Should You See an Academic Advisor?

Students in the College of Arts & Letters have an extraordinary amount of flexibility to shape their own programs of study, and academic advising provides "active learning" sessions with knowledgeable professionals who can help you design a course of study to fit your unique needs, interests, and goals. Each meeting with your academic advisor is an opportunity to brainstorm with an expert about ways to enhance your personal and professional development.

Academic advisors can also alert you to opportunities that you might not know exist--both inside and outside the classroom. Academic advisors can help you examine your academic goals and identify classes and opportunities to help you achieve them. Academic advisors can also serve as an "early warning system" to help you stay on track in meeting degree requirements. 
 

Who is Your Academic Advisor?

All students in the College of Arts & Letters are assigned to academic advisors associated with their major programs of study. 

Your advisor is knowledgeable about MSU courses and curricula, and eager to serve as a mentor to undergraduate students. Most advisors in the College of Arts & Letters have advanced degrees and interesting life experiences that contribute to their ability to guide you as you make academic choices.

Some students have more than one advisor, but the advisor associated with the major should be considered the "primary" advisor, since that's the one who will be responsible for verifying completion of degree requirements. Additional advisors may be assigned to students in special programs, such as the Honors College, the Academic Scholars Program, or Spartan Athlete Support Services (SASS). Students enrolled for more than one major have advisors associated with each major. To find your advisor within the college, visit
http://www.cal.msu.edu/currentstudents/advising/lead-advisor

Where is Your Academic Advisor?

To identify and find your academic advisor, check the College of Arts & Letters web site or call the Department office that represents your major. The Department office can tell you how to reach the advisor by phone or e-mail and can explain how to schedule an appointment with the advisor. The College Student Affairs Office also maintains a list of advisors for all majors, so you can call 517-355-0366 for assistance in locating your advisor if you prefer. Advisors have offices within their academic units.
 

When Should You See Your Academic Advisor?

Be sure to see your academic advisor at least once a year, several weeks before the annual enrollment period in March that allows you to sign up for classes for the coming year. Students should meet with their advisors more often--perhaps once a semester--to stay in touch and confirm plans for the subsequent semester.

Keep in mind that your advisor can be a key contact for discussions about any changes in your academic plans. If you decide to drop a class, add a class, or add a major or specialization, it's a good idea to discuss it with your advisor so you can prepared. In addition, consider talking with your advisor about long-range planning as you contemplate Study Abroad and Study Away opportunities, internships, or graduate school options.

 

How Can You Make the Most of Your Meetings with Your Academic Advisor?

Schedule an appointment with your advisor. 

Prepare in advance.  Know what questions you have and what information you need.  

If you are unable to keep a scheduled appointment, be sure to cancel--so that the appointment can be offered to another student.

Know your requirements.  Check Academic Programs, Degree Navigator, or major checklists. 

As you and your advisor finish your discussion, make sure you summarize the key action points you've agreed on--such as selecting specific courses for a cognate, beginning foreign language study, visiting Career Services, or applying for the teacher certification option.

Ask your advisor when you should plan to meet again--and don't hesitate to get back in touch sooner if needed!