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Working With Your Academic Advisor

Students at LIU Post are extremely fortunate to have the assistance of a staff of professional academic advisors. They are available in Kumble Hall every school day throughout the year, and they are happy to give every student personal attention. From the sophomore through the senior year, students are assigned to advisors according to major. Their names and extensions are in the course registration booklets each semester, as are the names and extensions of advisors who specialize in "undeclared" students.

The key to working well with your academic advisor is your own preparation. The phrase, "working with" implies a collaborative experience. That means you have to do your share of the work. You can have an excellent, productive meeting so long as you

  • Know the Honors Program requirements
  • Know the requirements for your major, including prerequisites for advanced courses
  • Know what you need to take or would like to take in the way of electives
  • Know your work schedule or other obligations that you need to consider in order to choose class sections (days and hours)
  • Know (where applicable) how many credits have been transferred from another school
  • Know your projected date of graduation

The Honors Program requirements are spelled out on another sheet. They are also in the bulletin, which should be your major reference book in planning a schedule. You will find all of the departmental major course sequences and degree requirements in that book.

Your major department may also have a detailed flyer or a web page about its various programs and faculty members. You should build a small collection of all the materials that will help you answer scheduling questions throughout your academic career.

It is most important that you be active during the meeting with your advisor. Advisors are responsible for many students. You are responsible for yourself alone. Therefore, help the advisor by knowing what courses you need to complete in order to graduate. Sometimes, an advisor does make a mistake. That's only natural. If you have any doubts about a course that has been suggested to you, question your advisor about it. Then double check in the catalogue, with your department or, if it relates to Honors, Dr. Digby.

The advisor will help you make up a master plan of study. When you are satisfied with it and fully understand the projected programming, make several copies of it so that you can refer to the document in meetings with your faculty mentor (tutorial/thesis) or the Honors Director. Academic advisors are usually familiar with the faculty in the departments they work with. If you have questions about a particular professor or want to know more about the various professors in order to make a choice, ask.

The academic advisor can be a useful resource in other ways. He or she might be able to help you choose a major or find an internship that will allow you to test your commitment to a possible career. Don't be shy. During your meeting put on the table all of the questions that you have, even the broad ones about your future.

Schedule your appointment early in the registration period. If you wait too long, the courses or sections that you wish to take might already be closed. At every meeting verify your progress in the completion of degree requirements, major (and if applicable, minor) requirements and Honors Program requirements. Make sure that you have fulfilled all competency exams (library and computer skills).

Make sure that you have no blocks. Students are blocked from registration when they have outstanding debts, including library and parking fines.

You may be a very different person from your academic advisor. Consider this scenario: You might, for example, be looking to take a new foreign language. Your advisor knows you have completed the foreign language requirement, so she doesn't suggest any language courses. Speak up. Say, "I want to take French. Please find a way to get it into my schedule." There is, by the way, be a new diploma citation for students who choose to take an elective foreign language. Here is another example. Some students do not look forward to the laboratory science requirement. You enjoyed Physics in high school and you would like to take further study in this discipline. Ask for Physics. (If you want a particular science that is not being offered as an Honors course, Chemistry for example, you are welcome to take a regular, departmental science course.) The main point is that you know what interests you. What others call "difficult," you might call "fun." So speak up on your own behalf.

Finally, you are the one responsible for fulfilling all the requirements of your degree.

"My advisor told me..." does not get you off the hook when the records office totals up your credits for graduation. Know what you have to do, and then work with your advisor to accomplish it.