Planning your courses, thinking about the future, and juggling all of the opportunities in between can be daunting, especially if you’re not quite sure where it’s all going to lead you. Luckily, Dal has some experts to help you through it—your advisors.
There are a ton of advisors on campus: academic advisors, faculty advisors, student success advisors, access advisors, international advisors…you name it. So what’s the difference between them all? Essentially, they’re all experts around campus who can give you advice. Academic advisors know all things academic—degree requirements, planning, etc. Faculty advisors are experts for all things academic in their particular faculty—programs, post-grad opportunities, etc. Student success advisors help you identify your strengths, learn new skills, and create and achieve your academic and career goals. Access advisors are experts when it comes to student accommodations and accessibility. International advisors are experts on all things international. You get the gist.
Whether you’ve been to see one or not, you may be missing out on some of the great ways they can help you. From picking the best courses to reach your goals to choosing the best electives and extracurriculars for you, they can help you make the most out of your degree. I spoke to the psychology and neuroscience faculty advisor, Leanne Stevens, about the different ways your advisor can help you.
1. They know the rules of the university
The academic calendar is detailed, but it’s still easy to overlook important rules that could hurt your degree plan later. Maybe you registered for two exclusionary courses (meaning you’re only going to get credit for one) or you don’t have the prerequisites to take the classes you’re going to need in your third or fourth year. Maybe you’ve been saving a class for fourth year, but it’s not going to be offered then. Your advisor can help you catch potential problems!
Tip: If you’re in your first year, declare your major at least one week before second year registration. Some classes won’t let you register without it.
2. They can introduce you to DARS
The Degree Audit Reporting System is an incredibly useful tool that shows you your degree requirements, what you have, and what you’re still missing. You can access it on DalOnline and check it every time you register for classes to make sure you’re on track. However, it’s a bit complicated. Going through it with an advisor can easily save you an hour or more of stress!
3. They can help you plan for the future
Did you know that some post-grad program applications have specific requirements like taking a full course-load in your final two years of your undergrad or having a specific number of classes in one or more topics? What about how to transfer your exchange credit hours back to Dal? Your advisor can help you plan your schedule based on your degree requirements and future goals. Your faculty advisor also knows how courses build on each other, so they can let you know if you’re passing over a class that could really help you later on.
4. They know how to make the most out of electives
Electives are great, but it can be hard to choose which ones to take. If you’re applying to a post-grad program, your advisor can help you plan your schedule to meet the requirements. If you’re planning on taking a standardized test like the LSAT, your advisor can help you pick electives that will help you prepare. Most importantly, your advisor will consider what you’re interested in, what your future plans are, and what skills you want to have in the future so you can find the electives that work best for you.
5. They can help you find ways to augment your degree
If you have an interest other than your major, you may be able to get a certificate. By completing a certificate program, you get an additional piece of parchment when you graduate, which can boost your resume and make your additional interests an official part of your degree. Your advisor can help you figure out which certificate will work for you and your degree!
Tip: Don’t choose a major just because you think it will look good to others, and don’t do a double major for the same reason. If you choose a major you’re genuinely interested in, you’ll be more likely to succeed!
Advisors are a great resource to help make life easier for you now and in the future. If you’re not sure where to go, here’s a great place to start looking.
Sarah gets great advice from her advisor.