Student advisors (SA's) are extremely valuable resources to individuals enrolled in online degree programs. They lend a hand and alleviate some of the stress that busy online students endure on a daily basis.
As the student, it's important to make the most of the situation if your online degree program offers student advisors who are there to guide you along your educational journey.
The following are seven ways to get the most out of your student advisor:
1. Answer and/or return their calls.
"It may seem obvious, but student advisors call when they need something from you," said Sarah Burgen, a Senior Student Advisor at Grantham University. "While you may get sick of voicemail after voicemail, they’re calling for a reason. If you speak with them, chances are the issue they’re trying to resolve will go away and there will be no more vague voicemails clogging your cell phone’s inbox."
2. Call them when you need something.
Don't be afraid to ask your student advisor a question. They are professionally trained to assist students. Take advantage of this unique resource.
If you can't reach your student advisor, chances are someone else is around and would be more than willing to help. At Grantham University, for example, Burgen suggested pressing 2 if you reach your student advisor's voicemail. There are a number of other SA's who will likely be able to provide assistance.
3. Tell them the subjects you struggle with.
"Student advisors are subject matter experts when it comes to course descriptions," Burgen said. "Tell them your 'scary subjects' so they know. While they may not be able to help you avoid them entirely, they can certainly make sure your course load is appropriate and give you tips and support on how to succeed in the more intensive classes."
4. Communicate your career goals.
It would undoubtedly behoove students to be honest with their student advisors about career goals. Not only do SA's have access to career service resources, but they can also place you in courses that are properly aligned with your desired career field.
5. Your SA can be a gateway to other departments.
Course-related inquiries are usually reserved for the instructor/professor. But your SA may be able to answer more questions than you think (IT issues, program help, log-in troubleshooting, etc). And if the SA can't answer the question, he/she can point you in the direction of the specific individual who can.
6. Most SA's are students or have been students themselves.
As a result, they might be able to easily relate to your educational situation.
"Are you feeling frustrated or overwhelmed in your courses? Chances are, your student advisor has felt the same way," Burgen said. "On top of working 40-hour weeks, many of us are students as well. We understand what it’s like to struggle with work, family and other stuff while taking classes. We can commiserate and possibly give you ideas on how to overcome the stress you’re feeling."
7. Build a relationship with them.
Nothing says you have to become best friends with your SA. But it wouldn't hurt to be on good terms.
"If you have a good relationship with your student advisor, the conversations you have won’t be a chore," Burgen said. "Instead, you’ll just be catching up with a friend."
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About the author: Eric Sorrentino joined Grantham University as Social Media Manager in October 2011. Prior to his current position, he blogged about the Big 12 Conference for KUsports.com and was a sports copy editor for the Lawrence Journal-World. Eric received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.