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Academic Advising

Good advising requires an on-going, collaborative and interactive relationship. Because advising is all about communication, advisors and students share responsibility for successful advising. Each have a role to play and it is important to know what to expect from each other. Honesty, respect, patience and courtesy are vital, and realistic expectations are a must.

The following questions and answers will give you an idea of how to get the most from advisors at the U of C.

How do I contact an advisor?

Depending on the faculty or office, you can walk in and see an advisor, call ahead to make an appointment, e-mail or chat on the phone. If you are within the faculties of Communication and Culture, Humanities, Science, or Social Sciences, you can drop in at the Undergraduate Programs Office and see an advisor between 9:00 and 4:00 on weekdays.

How can an advisor help me?

A program advisor can help you in a number of ways. Contact an advisor frequently to get the information you need to make informed decisions about your education. Advisors can provide you with information - or refer you to an expert - regarding:

  • Admission requirements and deadlines
  • Choosing or changing your faculty or program - and the deadline for doing so
  • Transferring credit from other institutions and permission to take a course somewhere else
  • University regulations, policies and procedures
  • What a program is like, what it requires, and how close you are to meeting the requirements for graduation
  • The Effective Writing requirement
  • Your eligibility for Honours, Co-op, Distinction, or the Dean's List
  • Academic standing, grade point average calculations and appeals - it's especially important to see an advisor if your grades are low
  • Deferrals of coursework or final exams
  • Registration procedures and course planning
  • The appropriateness of your registration
  • Problems you encounter when you try to register for a course
  • Prerequisites and other rules that affect whether you can take a course
  • Withdrawing from or repeating a course
  • U of C Calendar regulations - which year's calendar do you use to determine your requirements
  • Unclassified, Visiting, Exchange, Audit and Special Assessment registration
  • Educational resources and opportunities within the faculty and across campus

Advisors can also…

  • Introduce you to the tools you require for successfully planning your program (Degree Navigator, Infonet, the Calendar, the
  • Course Registration and Planning Guide, etc.)
  • Assist you in examining your academic options
  • Sign forms which require the signature of the faculty (i.e. withdrawal forms, etc.)
  • Refer you to the appropriate campus resources to help you achieve your goals or solve specific problems
  • Help you negotiate the administrative challenges that sometimes occur when pursuing your education
  • Bring your concerns to the attention of the Associate Dean
  • Act as a liaison between you and this large institution

When should I go see…my professor?

  • If you are thinking of withdrawing from their class
  • If you are having trouble in their class

When should I go see...my professor or a department representative?

  • If you want to know when a course will be offered in the future
  • To inquire about prerequisite requirements
  • When you need more content or curriculum information about the subject you are
    interested in
  • When you want to know about majors or minors offered by the department
  • When you want to know about career opportunities in the field
  • If you are interested in graduate school
  • If you are interested in seminar courses and field schools

When should I go see...the Counselling Centre - Room 375 MacEwan Student Centre

  • When you need personal counselling
  • If you want help in choosing a major
  • If you need help with test anxiety
  • When you need help with time/stress management

When should I go see...the Students' Union Student Rights Advisor - MSC 251?

  • When you are thinking of appealing a grade
  • If you have been required to withdraw, and want more information
  • If you feel you have been treated unfairly by your faculty or the University

How do I get the most from my Advisors?

Take responsibility for your own development and decisions. Basically, you are responsible for achieving your own educational and research goals, including program choice, course selection, program planning and successful completion of graduation requirements. (Would you really want it any other way?) The advisor's role is to assist you in fulfilling that responsibility, either by providing the information you need or by referring you to a more appropriate source for the information. They are one of many resources available to you, but the decisions -- and the achievement -- are all yours. So, go ahead, be the captain of your own destiny and chart your own course.

Consult an advisor regularly and play an active role in the advising process. Listen carefully and ask questions to ensure a clear understanding of the information provided, and communicate any unique interests or circumstances. Don't be shy - advisors like to know you've understood what they're telling you, so feel free to ask them to clarify anything that confuses you. And don't expect your advisor to know everything about you. Many have access to your courses and grades, but won't necessarily know about your special interests or activities that impact you as a student.

Use a variety of tools (advisors, Degree Navigator, the University calendar and website, etc.) to obtain and verify information, rather than relying exclusively on one source, and make every attempt to understand university and program regulations and requirements completely. Knowledge is power. If you learn as much as you can about your own program, you will be able to ask better questions and recognize when a piece of information seems wrong or incomplete. Also, seeing or hearing the same information presented in a variety of ways deepens your understanding of it, preventing costly mistakes.

Be prepared for each advising session (for example, reviewing courses completed, thinking questions out ahead of time, etc.). You get so much more out of an advising session if you remind yourself of what you do know before getting into what you don't.

Become as familiar as possible with advising so as to know what can realistically be expected from various kinds of advisors and from advising in general. Departmental advisors, Faculty advisors, professors, Associate Deans - all are wonderful advising resources and each plays a somewhat different role. Getting the best advise possible means going to the right one or more than one to take advantage of their unique expertise

Be honest, respectful and courteous. Advisors are professionals, but they are also human and like to be treated with the same respect that you do. They can also think and communicate with you more clearly if the conversation is calm and pleasant. Aggressive behaviour, of course, is not acceptable.

Respect the fact that advisors have other duties in addition to advising, most of which are related to student affairs and support student success. Your advisors may be the same people who timetable courses, admit you to a new program, approve your program when you're ready to graduate, teach courses, conduct or promote research . . . In fact, your advisors are many of the same people who keep the University running. They may therefore be very busy, even when there is no line-up of students in their offices. Keep this in mind when approaching an advisor.