What is an Academic Advisor? What Do They Do?

academic advisor

An Academic Advisor assists students with maintaining their grades and help them achieve their academic goals. They ensure that students are on the right track and are taking the necessary courses to meet graduation requirements. Their main function is to help students navigate their educational decisions and prepare for life after graduation.

What Does an Academic Advisor Do?

Academic Advisors guide students throughout their academic careers. Academic advisors work in high schools, colleges, and universities and work with students regarding credits, tests, schedules, applications, and other related assistance programs.

Academic advisors advise students on what courses to take to satisfy their major or minor requirements, meet prerequisites for future courses, balance their required and optional course options, and maintain their grades. As required, academic advisors refer students to specialized staff members for needs like financial assistance, counseling, or study-abroad programs and opportunities.

They also help students with career planning for after graduation. They coordinate orientations for new or transferring students and determine student eligibility for certain courses or programs based on the student’s grades and prerequisite courses.

They advise students on a wide variety of academic aspects including registration, course changes, transfer or program requirements, institutional policies and procedures, costs of tuition, books, and other necessary materials, school initiatives, and more.

Academic advisors also serve as a liaison for their school. They attend college/university fairs to discuss enrollment and registration with future students who are interested in the school or a specific program offered by the school.

How To Become an Academic Advisor

To get started on the path to becoming an Academic Advisor, you first need to earn a relevant education. Some academic advisors need a Master’s degree while others only need a bachelor’s degree. The field for these degrees can be in counseling, education leadership, student development, social work, or a similar and relevant subject area. Many schools are not too picky about what field your degree is in so long as it falls under the Liberal Arts umbrella and will give you the appropriate background for the job.

Next, you’ll want to earn some on-the-job experience. Many schools look for previous experience in admissions or a student advising office position. Volunteering or working part-time in this type of role during your education is an excellent way to prepare for entering the job market. Experience in higher education is also a good idea. Working as a professor or in an administration role in a university or college will be extremely helpful when applying for academic advising jobs.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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