“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” -Bruce Lee
Ever wonder why peer advisement for college courses isn’t more of a thing? I do. I never really thought much of it until I went to go schedule my classes for my last semester of college. Me, being the ambitious guy I am, wanted to take 18 credits, stack my schedule, and pretty much hightail it out of college. The classes I needed to take however, needed to be approved by my advisor; a professor of mine. As I was sitting across from my professor I had all my courses and a checklist laid out: electives? Met. Gen Ed’s? Met. Credits needed to graduate? Shy by 18 credits. My advisor looked down at the classes I lined up that I wanted to take, looked up at me, looked back down at my list, sighed a little, and then said “why take so many credits? Why not take less credits and take some next semester? I mean what’s another semester, right?” The last sentence he said penetrated my scull, and immediately I made the connection. “What’s another semester!?” I thought to myself, “another five thousand dollars, is what another semester was.” Needless to say I went on to take my 18 credits (6 classes) and pulled a B or better in each of them. Here are my three steps you can take to advise yourself through college, without an advisor:
Pick Your Classes – I know typically when we think of educational institutions, business isn’t the first thought that comes to mind. Honestly the institution I attended was a non profit. Yet, I realized that college professors do not take into account the student’s financial situation. In my case there’s a reason I wanted to bust my butt to finish up with college; money. I didn’t want to pay for another semester of books and tuition. To this day I think that having college professors who are paid from the tuition you pay, and advise you for the classes you should take, is a bit of an inside job. So how do you get around this? I know in my situation my classes did need to be approved by my advisor, but I pretty much got to call the shots. If you have a decent GPA and know you can handle the work and courses you want to take. I say go for it.
Know Your Requirements- I had another really great experience with advisement that I’d love to share. Majoring in both economics and history my university would offer courses that could count towards both majors (#score) So when I saw a class that said Economic History and was advised to take it, I jumped on it! I mean what could go wrong. Well… essentially everything. So it turns out the course wouldn’t be accepted by the business college to go towards my economics degree, and would just count towards my history credits; not exactly what I was hoping for. Yet, after the smoke cleared there was a valuable lesson. Advise yourself. Especially if you are picking up majors in different areas of study, do not count on communication between different colleges within the university. So how do you advise yourself? Online you can find all of your course requirements for any majors and minors that you’d like to pick up. When scheduling or viewing available classes be sure to have a checklist on what requirements you need to take each class. After picking out your classes for the semester go to your advisor and get your selections approved (*I’m sure this process is different in all institutions, so double check what the process is for your college). By you taking on the responsibility you’re assuring yourself your advisement is done right, and at the same token taking the responsibility off the advisor who might not be as educated in the realm of advisement as you might think.
Peer Advisement – I know the university that I attended did not offer peer advisement, but I certainly hope this changes. One of the most useful tools I utilized while advising myself was asking my peers. The great thing about college courses is that there are tons of people who are in different levels of their college careers. You might have seniors and freshman in the same classes. I was quick to find a group of students who I had multiple classes with and asked them what their next moves were, and I remember even sitting down with some going over my own schedule. If colleges aren’t utilizing peer advisement I’m not sure what they are waiting for. It was an excellent way to network, and get better information on what professors and courses I should take.
Conclusion – “So what’s another semester?” You tell me. With a generation drowning in student debt I would make the assumption if another semester could be avoided it would be appreciated both personally and financially by the student. Remember while advising yourself to do your homework. Make sure you know and understand your requirements, prerequisites, and always be sure to put yourself out there to your peers. The work alone in college can be challenging enough, but sometimes you need to step up and make your own luck; something that in my life, proved to be immensely beneficial. What do you think? Do you think professors should advise students on what classes they should take? Do you attend an institution where peer to peer advisement is a thing? Let us know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions!