Four Times You Should See Your Academic Advisor

Sarah NantaisBlogs

About the Author
Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais is a Virtual Help Desk Navigator at Campus Manitoba. She contributes to "The Navigator," our monthly blog focused on student life.

A woman stands with her hand on her chin, thinking.

What to do?

There are times as you’re studying in university or college when you may find yourself stuck. You might be thinking about changing your program, or maybe you’re a new student and you want to make sure you’re taking the right classes to meet your goals. This is when  Academic Advisors come in. They’re the superheroes that will help you figure out what steps you need to take in order to achieve that educational dream. We’ll talk about four major times when we recommend speaking with them. In some programs meeting with advisors is mandatory and in some schools if you don’t know they exist, you might never talk to them. A lot of it depends on your program, your path and how many changes you make.

New Students

When you’re brand new to the post-secondary game it can seem daunting. Course registration, degree requirements, diploma specific courses and more can overwhelm you. You can look at the course calendar but even that might be a bit much if you’ve never looked at one before. If this sounds like you, then you need to get thyself to an advisor, right away! If you attend Brandon University, first-year advising is mandatory, so you’re lucky. Same thing for those who attend Providence University College also must participate in mandatory advising.

Make sure you meet with your advisor early in your academic career, especially if advising isn’t mandatory for you. It’s better to be prepared and know exactly what courses and steps to take to get the degree you want, than finding out in your last year you’re missing credits and can’t graduate when you want to.

Degree Changes

The beauty of post-secondary school is that you don’t have to stay in the same program for your entire academic career if you don’t want to. While it may take a bit longer to get your diploma or degree if you switch, don’t let that hold you back from studying what you really want to study. This is when an advisor is also going to come in handy. They can take a look at the courses you’ve already done and talk with you about your proposed change. If you want to switch from Computer Science to Psychology, you can do that. An advisor will sit down with you and go over what you’ve done and what you’ll need to do in order to make the switch. They’d also be able to give you an idea of how long that’s going to take.

Once you’ve had that meeting, you can take a serious look at your path and determine if changing programs is really right for you. Your advisor is that sounding board: that person you can bounce ideas off of that can also see all the pieces of the puzzle. Don’t try to make these changes on your own. 

Transfer Questions

Maybe you’ve found a really interesting course at a university or college other than the one you attend full time. You really like that course and want to transfer it back to your home institution for credit. Is that even possible? We’re happy to tell you that yes, it is! There are some rules around transferring courses between schools but for the most part, speaking to your academic advisor is going to clear those up for you. There’s always the possibility that the course you want to transfer back isn’t accepted for credit at your school. It’s a good idea to write down the course information or bookmark the link that has the details so you can show it to your advisor and talk about it together.

Some students may begin their studies at one university or college and then look to transfer to another to finish their program. Your advisor is also going to be able to take a look at what you’ve taken and where you’d like to transfer. They can give you a rough idea about what courses will be accepted at the new school for credit and which ones won’t. Of course, if you’re going to a new school, your existing advisor won’t have all the answers. They might have contact information for an advisor at the school you plan to go to, which is awesome!

Future Planning

A woman throws her graduation cap into the air

This will be you!

Do you have plans to continue after your undergraduate degree or diploma? If you think you might want to get a Masters or a PhD on top of what you’ve already completed, definitely speak with your advisor. Getting into graduate school isn’t easy as pie. There are a lot of things to consider such as your grade average, or GPA, the program you want to enter, the types of courses you have taken and your ultimate goals. You might need specific prerequisite courses to get admission into a Masters program. If you don’t have them before you apply, that could spell rejection for you. Being told that you don’t have the right courses to apply to a Masters program after you’ve just spent four to five years in school can be heartbreaking. An advisor is going to be able to catch those blips before they derail your plans.

Advisors are Champions

Your academic advisor is a person you can develop a working relationship with that you can trust will go to bat for you. They are ready to be in your corner, help you transform your educational dreams into reality. They might be with you for your entire undergraduate career. Whether you’re in university or college, you have access to them. Every warrior needs good people in their corner. Those who are successful are those who use the resources made available to them. When in doubt, talk it out. Your advisor is there to help you find the tools to reach your goals.


About “The Navigator”

“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!