Academic Advising is a Must, Not a Maybe

Oh, the confusion of the quarters to semesters transition of 2012. Yes, right when you have finished your freshman year and think “Man, I’ve really got it all figured out,” BAM, they turn the tables on you.

Yes, it is overwhelming to think that the structure of your school year along with all the criteria you need to graduate will completely change once you finish the first year of your college career.

DARS is an acronym for Degree Audit Reporting System. Your DARS is a reflection of your degree requirements for your major that coincide with when you started at Ohio University. The DARS report lists the classes you may select from to fulfill your major requirements along with how the courses you have already taken as a sort of checklist for “what’s left to do.” Although confusing to read, it is basically a snapshot of your academic career. Any Post-Secondary Option, AP, or previous college credits will appear on the report as well as your GPA and high school testing results.

A DARS report is basically an analysis of where you stand academically. It's pretty hard to read and understand, but your adviser will walk you through it.

The good thing is that through all the paperwork looks like it’s written in Latin, you as a student are provided with a helpful and knowledgeable academic adviser to translate it all and set you on the right path.

And no, they don’t bite.

I have always been fairly shy. Strangely enough I have always been more comfortable with getting on stage and singing and acting in a musical than I have meeting one-on-one with a stranger. Times haven’t changed much, even though I know I have matured immensely over the course of this year.

So I must admit I avoided some very beneficial office hours with professors and meetings with helpful people all because of my fear of a good old one-on-one conversation.

Overcome your fear of one-on-one conversations, they can be extremely beneficial!

So this is my advice: Don’t be like this!

With all the changes going on with curriculum and scheduling, your adviser has become, if possible, even more of a necessity than before.

Upon starting school at Ohio University you will be given an adviser that you will meet with in group sessions with peers in your major until you become a sophomore. At that time you will be assigned an adviser that specializes in your field(s) of interest and will meet with you one-on-one. Once your freshman year is over, it is primarily YOUR responsibility to request meetings with your adviser.

According United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an academic adviser is required to provide the following:

  1. To assist students in developing educational plans that are consistent with their life goals.
  2. To provide students with accurate information about academic progression and degree requirements.
  3. To assist students in understanding academic policies and procedures.
  4. To help students access campus resources that will enhance their ability to be academically successful.
  5. To assist students in overcoming educational and personal problems.
  6. To identify systemic and personal conditions that may impede student academic achievement and developing appropriate interventions.
  7. To review and use available data about students academic and educational needs, performance, aspirations and problems.
  8. To increase student retention by providing a personal contact that students often need and request, thereby connecting them to the institution.
(from the National Academic Advising Association) website:
OK, so as much as that list is pretty rigid, it’s all true. Get to know you’re adviser, consider them like a professional friend and not just an “adult” to be feared. They will clear up your confusions, give you advice (even more in-depth than you’d expect) on classes to avoid and anticipate, talk to you about career and future education options, be completely honest about how attainable something is (or isn’t) and overall make sure that while you are in control of your education they are making sure you don’t head off on the wrong path.
Not meaning to sound redundant, but again, utilize your adviser as much as possible. Do not be afraid to call them, email them, or set up extra meetings. College academia can get a bit hazy, but your advisers strives to be crystal clear.
For more info on the quarters to semesters transition, check out Jake’s recent blog!

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