Academic Planning Services
Tips for Communicating With Your Faculty Advisor
Establishing a good relationship with your faculty advisor is one of the most important things you can do. Your faculty advisor can help you make decisions about your course schedule each term and give you critical guidance about your overall academic program. Advisors also suggest ways to enrich your program with courses you have not considered, individual projects, research, or internships. You will want your faculty advisor to get to know you quite well because you may wish to ask your advisor to write a letter of reference as you apply for jobs, internships or to transfer/graduate programs.
- Make an appointment by phone, email, or the sign-up sheets outside his/her office.
An appointment is the best way to see your faculty advisor. If you try to see him/her by just “stopping by”, you may be disappointed. Faculty members are involved in many different types of teaching, research, and outreach activities. They may be in class, at a meeting, in the lab, out-of-town, or busy with another student.
- Be courteous, responsible and use your advisor’s time well.
Set an appointment for enough time to cover the topics that concern you. Be on time, and remember to cancel or change the appointment if you have to change your schedule.
- Be prepared and organized for course planning meetings.
Review course requirements, your progress toward them, and course offerings before your appointment. Bring your course and career-planning folder with you.
- Develop a course and career-planning folder and keep it up to date.
Get a sturdy folder to hold your course and career planning materials and your credentials, such as grades, progress toward degree requirements and recent resume. This folder will hold your ideas and draft plans for your four-year course program as well as important reference materials for programs that interest you.
- Be sure you understand all rules and requirements.
It is the student’s responsibility to understand the course requirements for your major, the graduation requirements for your college, and academic rules and policies for your college. Read the college handbooks and catalog information for the rules that apply to your program. If you do not understand them, ask your faculty advisor, the Counseling Center Office, or your college’s academic office for clarification. Rules and requirements vary across the colleges and by year of matriculation. Do not assume that your friend knows the rules that apply to you!
- Check your student email for updates and announcements from the college.
Students will often receive emails regarding upcoming workshops, deadlines, and requirements. Develop a habit of checking these important sources of information for critical news about any changes in course offerings, college policies and special opportunities that may interest you.
- Keep your advisor informed about your academic experiences.
Your faculty advisor needs to know about your extracurricular activities, interests, and responsibilities. Through these experiences you will develop and demonstrate other important qualities such as leadership, initiative, creativity, commitment, judgment, and interpersonal skills. With some understanding of your extracurricular life, your faculty advisor will be better able to help you develop your academic and career plans.
- Take emergency action and contact your faculty advisor within a few days when you are having trouble in a course.
Ask your faculty advisor how you can get extra help? Ask if it is possible to drop the course and the consequences for this? Lastly, be sure to ask how your course plans for other terms be affected?
- If Illness, family issues, or personal problems prevent you from attending or concentrating on your classes, you should you adjust your class schedule if possible? Ask the professor if you can arrange to get an incomplete? What are the resources on campus to assist you? Can you arrange to take leave of absence?
Shy About Taking to Your Faculty Advisor?
It doesn't take much to get them talking: Ask your advisor about his/her interests, research program, or the courses he/she teaches. Find out where he/she attended college and graduate school and the path that led him/her to NOVA. Ask him/her to tell you some of the things that you should take advantage of while at NOVA.
Meet with your faculty advisor when:
- You are thinking about changing your major or college.
- You are developing new career interests.
- You want to explore courses in a certain area and need help in finding them.
- You need some direction in considering career interests.
- You want to know about research opportunities.
- You need to plan your courses for next term.