post-it notes symbolizing questions to ask your college advisor

29+ Great Questions to Ask Your College Advisor

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College brings a lot of uncertainty along with it, especially if you don’t have a mentor to help guide you. You may not know what questions to ask because you don’t know what you don’t know! Below you will find a starter list of questions to ask your college advisor.

As institutions continue to increase in size, students need more help with navigating college life. This is where your college advisor can step in to save the day. Sometimes the supportive resources and engagement opportunities are nearly impossible to find on an institution’s (massive) website, but an advisor can assist you in finding whatever you need. 

College advisors can be your guide and potentially help prevent you from making expensive mistakes that could cause you to increase your expenses and time in school.

So, what exactly is a college advisor?

An advisor can be a professional staff member or a faculty member. While I prefer to use the term “college advisor”, most institutions will call this role an “academic advisor” or “faculty advisor” depending on their actual role at the institution. Both are correct, but I believe “college advisor” is more accurate. Advisors help with much more than academic advising, and a lot of students don’t realize that because of the “academic advisor” title. 

On the academic side of things, college advisors can help with selecting a program of study, planning and registering for courses, making sure you meet all graduation requirements and assisting you in applying to a transfer institution or graduate program. 

At the end of the day, your college advisor is someone who is committed to helping you graduate. But again, that doesn’t consist of just academic priorities. If your world is crazy outside of school, you may start to struggle with your classes. Your advisor is your biggest support system and resource. Make sure he or she is a resource you use! 

Keep in mind that many advisors have well over 200 students on their caseloads. I know of advisors that are assigned over one thousand students – yes, 1,000! So while they may not have the ability (re: time) to help you with life-related things that come up, they can help you find someone who does.

I’m telling you this because, while your advisor will always have your best interests in mind, they may not be able to devote the amount of time I was able to devote to my students. The smaller the school, the more likely it is that you will develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your advisor.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask your college advisor questions if you’re at a large institution! They still know a lot of stuff! But you may be better off finding a resource like TRIO Student Support Services or some other smaller program that will assign you an advisor. While your college advisor will be well-equipped to help you with college-related issues, you may find different resources for things that aren’t directly related to graduation (e.g., work struggles, time management, stress reduction, etc).

Pile of colorful paper notes with question marks.

What are some questions to ask your college advisor?

As I said earlier, you may not know what you don’t know. It’s important to know what questions can help you prevent unnecessary headaches and/or help you further your goals.

Here is a small list of questions to ask your college advisor. As I stated above, some (re: financial aid questions) may be better suited for college advisors at smaller schools, but all advisors should be able to point you in the right direction to get your answers:/

Be Prepared

  • How many classes should I take in one semester?
  • Do you have any time management tips?
    • My best time management tip is to use a planner! This weekly planner is awesome because it’s goal-oriented and it gives you enough room to write in all of your assignments that are due each day.
    • If you’d like to plan out each day so you are able to stay on task by the hour, this daily planner is awesome for multiple reasons!
  • How do I know what books to get and where I can find them?
  • How do I log into my email, and what is my email address?
  • I know goals are important to have, but I don’t have any. Can you help me develop some?

General Questions

  • How can you help me? What things do you help other students with?
  • What is the best way to reach you if I can’t come in for a meeting? Do you offer virtual appointments?
  • What advice or tips do you have for me?
  • How close am I to graduating? Can we make an outline of what classes I should take and when?

Discuss Major and Career Options

  • I don’t know what I want to do for a living? Can you help me explore my options?
  • I have changed my career goals. How do I go about switching programs?
  • What kinds of careers can I pursue with this major?
  • (For university students) Do I qualify for any accelerated programs that lead to a master’s degree?
  • (For community college students) I want to transfer to XYZ University for a major in ABC. What do I need to know to make sure I can transfer smoothly and avoid taking classes I don’t need?

Understand Financial Aid and Billing

  • How does the financial aid process work here?
  • Is there anything else I need to do to finish up with financial aid?
  • What types of scholarships are there, and how do I apply for them?
  • How much is this semester/term going to cost me? How do I pay my bill?
  • Approximately how much is my entire certificate/diploma/degree going to cost me?

Know Campus Resources

  • What are the food options on campus?
  • How can I get involved in activities?
  • What are some things you think I should get involved in?
  • Are there any resources available to help me write scholarships essays?
  • I need a job that will work around my class schedule. Is there a career center on campus that can help me with this?
  • Are there any sort of surverys or assessments that will help me figure out what I want to do for a living?
  • I’m not doing well in one of my classes. Is there tutoring on campus or any other resources that can help me?

When You’re Struggling

  • What will happen if I need to withdraw from classes?
  • HOW do I withdraw from classes?
    • You can’t just stop attending them!
  • I can’t figure out how to navigate my online class. Who can help me?
  • I’m struggling to balance everything. Can you help me come up with a plan to manage my time better?

Final Thoughts

If this list isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of meeting with your advisor, check out my 6 Important Reasons to Build a Relationship With Your College Advisor.

Don’t understand why you should ask a particular question? Ask me about it in the comments!

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