It is often easy for those with newfound independence to confuse the personal agency it provides with a need to do everything alone. This can make them less likely to seek out help in situations where it would be a great benefit to them. Such is the case with college students and their advisors.
However, this isn’t just a one-sided problem. At most schools, advisors are so dramatically outnumbered by the students under their purview that it’s a wonder they can effectively advise anyone. That’s why would like to help you learn ways to get the most out of advisor visits in order to reap the benefits that relationship can provide.
During the orientation period of a student’s freshman year, they will likely have an introductory meeting with their academic advisor to consider selecting a major and set up the first-semester schedule. Unless some special circumstances arise, this may be the only time they have a face to face with their advisors all year.
It’s true; you don’t technically NEED to see an advisor unless you have a specific issue you need them to take care of (switching majors, dropping classes, things of that nature). But, you will miss out on all of the services they can provide.
They can be a great resource for referrals, references, or recommendations. They can help you find your way into an internship or job you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. They can help you select courses based on your learning style and which professors you’d be more likely to respond positively to. They’re not exactly therapists, but they can also be a resource when it comes to personal issues, and they can definitely point you in the direction of someone more qualified to help you if need be. The problem is that it’s difficult to do any of these things if they don’t know you beyond your name and your student ID number.
Building a Relationship
As previously stated, your advisor is probably responsible for hundreds (if not thousands) of students. Even if they are exceptionally good at their job, it could be easy for them to see you as more of a number than a person; even if that is not their intention.
If you have questions about anything academic or curriculum related, consider meeting with your advisor. You may or may not be able to find the answer yourself, seeing as the internet is a thing, but getting face-time with your advisor is usually a net positive.
This is especially important if you have questions about your major or academic future. If you are considering making a change, it’s important that you don’t feel like you are burdening them with your concerns. It’s literally what they are there for.
Realize There Is a Line
All of that being said; there is a difference between building an appropriate relationship and just wasting their time. Once again, time that they don’t really have. They are allies to be sure, but they may or may not be your friends. The time you waste with frivolity might negatively affect someone with legitimate issues.
Just be mindful. There’s nothing wrong with regularly meeting with your advisor if you are taking advantage of the services they provide. But it’s not an appropriate way to just kill time. Be respectful of them and the other students they work with.
Ultimately, your choices are your own. It just doesn’t hurt to have someone that has your back helping you navigate the terrain.