11 Key Questions to Ask an Academic Advisor

Posted on March 02, 2023

Posted on March 02, 2023

When you’re attending college, your academic advisor is a key asset to navigate your institution and make a plan for your future. They act as guides to help you choose a major, stay on track to graduate, and maximize your experience.

Whether you’re a first-year student, a transfer student, or a senior looking toward graduation, there are many questions to ask an academic advisor to set yourself up for success – both in your academics and your future career.

Questions to Ask If You’re a First-Year Student

1. Should I Pursue a Minor Area of Study? 

Most colleges don’t require a minor to earn a bachelor’s degree, but the right combination of a minor and major in certain industries can help you stand out as a job candidate. Your advisor will be able to help you decide if a minor is important for your career, and if so, what minors are recommended.

2. Is an Internship Required for This Major?

In some industries, employers expect candidates to have some work experience coming into the role – and that may require an internship. Typically, you’ll see this with education and human development fields, technology, sciences, medical and veterinary fields, and architecture and applied engineering.

Your academic advisor is a valuable resource for your career planning. Because most advisors have knowledge of the area of study and the job market, they can help you determine if an internship is an important part of your career path. 

3. Are There Specific Courses I Should be Prepared For?

Some courses have a reputation for being challenging. They’re called “stumble courses.” Even the most gifted of students tend to struggle with some courses, and often the same ones. If it happens at the wrong time in your academic career – like in your senior year – it could delay your graduation.

Ask your advisor about any stumble courses you should anticipate and make a plan for when to schedule them. Then, if you do run into problems, you have time to retake the course without throwing off your anticipated graduation date.

4. Are There Opportunities Other Students Have Taken Advantage Of? 

Every college has resources for student success, whether they’re writing resources, tutoring, learning archives, or short courses that focus on academic success. Your advisor can help you learn about all the resources available to you and can share real-world recommendations from other students.

Some universities offer short courses to help first-year college students, which is a valuable networking opportunity. Students in these courses can build connections that will serve them later in their academic career, whether that’s applying for internships or getting into a graduate program. Be sure to discuss your options with your advisor.

5. Do You Suggest Taking Online Courses? Why or Why Not?

While some colleges and universities have their own online courses, others may accept credits from online learning institutions like Sophia Learning. You can tackle your general education courses at your own pace, and possibly save some money in the process. 

Ask your advisor if online courses are recommended and discuss your options to take general education courses at Sophia Learning to transfer for your degree program.

Questions to Ask If You’re a Transfer Student

6. How Are Transfer Credits Handled?

Each college has its own policy for transfer credits. Your college advisor can help you understand what credits transfer to your new school, what requirements they satisfy, and what you need to do to complete the process. You should also receive a personalized plan from your advisor. 

7. Will I Graduate on Time?

If you have a plan to graduate at a specific time after transferring, your advisor can tell you how many transfer credits you have and what you need to complete to graduate and earn your degree. You can go over your course requirements and timeline together, adjusting as needed to finish on time.

8. What Can I Expect at My New School?

Your college advisor is your touchpoint for your new school. During your first conversation, ask about what you can expect from the school and its culture. For example, is the environment really competitive or more laid-back? Because an advisor speaks with so many different students, they have a good idea of what the college experience is like at their school and how you can make the most of it. 

Questions to Ask If You’re a College Senior

9. Does My Current Plan Have Me on Track to Graduate on My Desired Date?

Your senior year is the final stretch, but the work isn’t over yet. It’s important to meet with your academic advisor early in your senior year to ensure that you’ve completed the requirements for your degree and that you’re on track to graduate on time.

If you’ve had courses you need to retake or incompletes that you haven’t resolved, they can impact your timeline and credit total for graduation. Ask your advisor if your projected courseload for your senior year will be sufficient to graduate. If it isn’t, see what you can do to stay on track for your anticipated date. 

10. Are There Accelerated Programs Leading to a Master’s Degree That I Can Take?

If you’re planning on pursuing a master’s degree, getting into an accelerated program allows you to start your coursework in your senior year while you’re completing your bachelor’s. Your academic advisor will know what options are available to you, the admission requirements, and how to set yourself up for success.

11. Are There Recommended Courses to Enhance My Resume for Employers?

Part of the college experience is preparing for your career. Some colleges and universities have opportunities for undergraduate students to apply for grants, conduct research, get published, and present findings at industry conferences. Having these experiences on your resume can make you a desirable candidate. Speaking with your advisor ensures that you can take advantage of any resume builders the school offers to help you on your career path. 

Your Advisor Is Your Key to Success

Your academic advisor is one of your greatest advantages in your college career – use them. They know what resources the school offers and how to support students at every stage of their academic experience, but you can’t get help if you don’t ask!

These questions are a guide to help you in your academic journey, and our Sophia Learning coaches are here to help our students as well. Reach out today or start a free trial!

Category: Higher Education

Subscribe to our blog

About once a month, we'll send you Sophia news, educational insights, and more. Only the good stuff - we promise.

*All fields are required.

Thanks for subscribing!

Start a free trial no credit card required!

Try a Sophia course for free. Your free trial work is applied toward course credit when you become a member.