Monday, July 25, 2011

College Advisors and Counselors Explained!

By: Beth Hammett
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Your graduating seniors have visited Admissions and taken the college tour. Now, it’s time for them to see advisers or counselors. Both assist in the enrollment process, and understanding the differences between the two can increase students’ college success. The following can help high school teachers and parents guide new college students to the right person for the type of assistance needed.

An adviser is usually suggested as the first stop when enrolling in classes. This person will ask for students’ major but does not help with career options. For help with majors, students should visit their colleges’ Career Center, or a career counselor, where quick assessment tests measure abilities and strengths. Next, students will be asked to consider degree plans based upon their career choices. These plans are divided into semesters and show sequences of classes.

Before enrolling, students need to know freshmen level courses begin with one (Biology 1401), sophomore with two (Biology 2401), junior with three, and senior with four. Also, students should be careful to follow the sequence of courses regardless of enrollment hours. Students need to make sure they understand all prerequisites for the courses in the plan. Finally, advisers will send students to enroll in courses through the college’s website. Advisers are there to guide students through course selections, but are only one piece of the enrollment process.

Students should see a counselor if there are special needs or circumstances. These include a part-time or full-time job, caring for others, or a long commute. Perhaps students are returning to college, are older, or speak English as a second language. If a student has a disability or is a veteran, a visit to the counselor is a good idea. There are many factors which can affect academic success, and counselors can help students prioritize their responsibilities.

Students will be told that they should block off three hours of study time per week for each college class they are enrolled in. Counselors help figure out enrollment hours and assist in planning schedules. They can often enroll students in courses. Then, these experts explain tutoring or other college resources, such as clubs and special interest groups. Students may schedule future appointments as needed. Many times, counselors act as mentors, seeing students through the entire enrollment process and monitoring academic success.

Whether students will be visiting an adviser or a counselor, first-time enrollment should be completed with the assistance of a professional. Course selections are important, and seeing an adviser or counselor will set students’ college careers on the right path.

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