Academic advising is an educational career focused on counseling students to assist them in meeting academic goals. Academic advisers might work on a high school or a college campus. They interview students to assess their stage of development, both academic and personal, and assist them in establishing realistic and attainable academic and career goals.
Academic advisers identify options for students to satisfy graduation or degree requirements. They evaluate and make recommendations on petitions and amendments to the student’s program of study. They monitor academic progress, analyzing progress reports from instructors and assessing the need for such support services as help with study skills, behavioral counseling, or tutoring.
Academic advisers need to be familiar with the graduation requirements of their own school as well as with the requirements for admission to various colleges and universities to be sure the students’ classes prepare them for admission. Academic advisers should attempt to maximize the strengths of each student they counsel.
Academic advisers need to be familiar with the policies and procedures of the school that are relevant to academic advising, including grading policies, attendance, proper use of university computing services, and cheating. They need to understand and be able to communicate their importance in the educational setting.
Academic advisers need to be flexible and able to adapt to nontraditional students. Such students might be working, single parents, or older or younger than average. Academic advisors need to determine support needs and the resources that are available to meet those needs.
Academic advisers can meet their students’ needs in various ways:
- Help form networks of people in similar situations to act as support groups.
- Feel confident working with students who might have more extensive career competencies and life experiences than you do.
- Explain jargon to people who might not understand it.
- Incorporate various forms of technology to allow for counseling when you can’t meet face-to-face.
- Help students who lack professionalism to understand the need for appropriate methods of contacts with peers, faculty, and staff.
- Familiarize yourself with the general structure of college and university degree requirements. Again, schools will use their own terms to describe degree requirements, but if you look deeper, you’ll see similarities across institutions.
- Check career services websites, especially those associated with colleges and universities, to learn the basic skill sets associated with various degree programs.
If you are still working on your own degree (undergraduate or graduate), ask whether your department or institution offers peer advising or tutoring. If so, become a peer adviser or tutor to gain practical experience.
The average salary for an academic adviser is $34,228, but it can be higher if the individual holds a master’s degree in psychology or works for a large college or university.
If you like to help people and if you can find satisfaction in their success, academic advising could be for you.