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Academic Advising and the Online Learner


Academic success through academic advising

When was the last time you had an appointment with your academic advisor? Have you ever had a virtual meeting with your academic advisor? Academic advising is a beneficial component to student success. Research has shown that students who regularly meet with their academic advisor (or a team of academic advisors depending on your school’s advising structure) have a higher degree of success than those who do not. During orientation, ideally, an online learner will find out about the academic advising structure for their school, program, or degree. Certain specialized degrees may require more specialized advising, while other programs may have a group of centralized advisors that can meet with students around a variety of advising topics.

Because face-to-face is rarely an option for the online learning, technology plays an instrumental role in getting students connected with their academic advisors. Some schools have implemented video and audio chat while others rely on telephone conversations and email. Sometimes, it’s up to each individual student to figure out which form of advising works best for them. It might be a combination of phone calls, web video conversations, and email. If you are unsure as to how to initiate an academic advising appointment, check your school’s website as it will most likely have contact information for how to reach an academic advisor.

So what kind of assistance or advice do academic advisors provide? Well, academic advisors oftentimes become an online learners personal information hub. Advisors can assist students with registration issues, course planning, career guidance, academic success assistance, and a variety of other resources. Generally, if your academic advisor does not know the answer to your question, they will usually be able to direct you to someone at your school who can assist you. Having frequent appointments with an academic advisor should be a core part of the online learning experience. Creating connections, building community, and offering support are all facets of an academic advising position. Advisors are all about student success. 

The relationship between an online learner and an academic advisor is an important one. When a student requires a letter of recommendation for graduate school or for a job application, it is often an academic advisor who is included in a student’s references. Advisors know the academic history of a student and can clearly articulate a student’s ability to succeed.

Some schools may have mandatory advising appointments. This is usually so that students are not solely “self advising.” With so many requirements and logistics, it is vital that students, even if it is not mandatory, make an effort to connect with an academic advisor. In the 3 and a half years that I served as an academic advisor, the most rewarding aspect of the job was watching my students succeed.

Online learning programs and virtual academic advising departments are continually improving both the learning process as well as the academic advising experience. Academic advising is regarded as a form of teaching. Learn from your academic advisor, and in most cases, you will increase your chances of success.

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March 6th, 2012 written by Eric Stoller

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