Tips on How to Have a Great Advising Meeting
The tips that follow are given with the formal, planned, and necessary advisor/ee meetings that take place each year in view. Of course, there may be informal conversations that take place (inside and outside of the classroom) that very much influence you. That’s fine and to be expected. A little planning and preparation on your part, however, can turn a meeting into a really helpful time of advising.
Be on time. Your professors will certainly understand being late for reasons outside of your control. Most tardiness, however, is the result of poor planning and time management. A good rule of thumb is to consider yourself late if you’re not five minutes early. It is good practice to make an appointment in advance with your advisor (by email/phone is best, since they’re near their planning calendar and can immediately note the appointment). Don’t assume – especially during the “registration rush” that your professor will be immediately accessible. Plan ahead and be on time.
Be proactive and prepared. You should have specific questions in mind (and written down) that you wish to have addressed. Bring all necessary materials and make sure you’ve “studied” all the relevant portions of The Bulletin, departmental websites, etc. that describe the College’s academic policies and philosophies in advance. Keeping a log of conversations in a small notebook or in a file folder is highly recommended. It’s amazing how quickly we can forget! In short, be proactive in educating yourself prior to coming the advising meeting. Your professor is not your mother (with no disrespect to our wonderful Moms intended!); they will not do for you what you can do for yourself. You should know all that you have access to and look to your advisor to help you properly interpret or make sense of all of the data. This is done through conversation and dialogue, not by your advisor giving you a list of “thou-shalt’s” and “thou-shalt-not’s.”
Be open and honest. Oftentimes, your advisor may need to ask more personal and penetrating questions in order to offer you the best counsel. For example, the reasons for not doing well in a class, one that is central to your intended course of study, could be 1) lack of motivation 2) lack of preparation 3) lack of diligence/attention to detail or 4) some combination of 1-3. If you’ve “working hard” from the beginning of the class and still don’t “get it,” be prepared to say so. On the other hand, if your effort at learning the material has been hit-or-miss (or worse), then be prepared to say that, too. There’s no virtue, for example, in staying in a course of study, or single class, that you have no interest in. Conversely, the fact that a class or course of study is difficult or hard is also not necessarily a reason to drop a class or the major. Or, perhaps you’re wondering if you should go directly into the workplace or get some graduate education under your belt first. In all of these matters, your advisors will need to get an accurate picture of your background, interests, aptitudes, and future goals – as well as a sense that you’re open to their input and counsel.
Be prayerful. Seek God’s wisdom for your future not just at registration time, but all the time. Tell the LORD what your desires are and ask Him to bring them into conformity with His desires for you, if they aren’t already. Pray for your advisor, that the LORD might help him have insight and wisdom into your particular situation. Finally, pray for a clear mind and ability to communicate your passions, goals, anxieties, and sense of calling. Remember, your advisor is on your side and wants to help.
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