by Dave Hardy
Some of you may have heard this story before, but I really struggled my first two years of college. I had always been a good student in high school; grades came easy to me, and to be honest, I thought college would be more of the same. However, when I first arrived at Brigham Young University (BYU), it was a totally different world. I was used to the structure of high school with people helping me organize my workload and showing me what classes I needed to take. Unfortunately, I spent the first two years at BYU taking the wrong classes, and it took me six years to graduate. Neither of my parents went to college, so they didn’t really know how to help me. I worked really hard, and made it through, but I was used to doing things on my own. Everything would have been much easier had I known I had an advisor assigned to help me with these decisions.
This is one of the primary reasons that we want each of you to be in the habit of seeing an advisor on a regular basis. As you already know, our entire purpose here at Upward Bound is to prepare you for college. . . . to make it so that when you are a university freshman, you won’t make the same mistakes that I did. While there are some fundamental differences between what we do in our advising sessions at Upward Bound and what you’ll experience in college, we want you to know that there are people out there whose full-time job is to help you make it through. We want you to get the most out of those visits and your educational experience in general.
To help with this goal, I’ve compiled a small list of suggestions that could help you with advising, not only in the future when you’re in college but also starting right now with your advising sessions with Upward Bound.
Be proactive—Yes, we will try to contact you if we haven’t seen you in a while, and a collegiate advisor might reach out if you’re in trouble academically, but it’s for your benefit to reach out early and often to make sure you’re getting the assistance you need.
Prepare for your advising sessions beforehand—Think about questions or concerns you can share with your advisor and write them down so you can make these meetings as meaningful as possible. Technically speaking, you should be driving the conversation. . . . getting what you need, not what I think you need.
Open up and share with your advisor information about your life, your interests, your family, activities you’re involved in, and ambitions you have in life. Your advisor will be able to assist you much more effectively the more they know about you.
Consult with your advisor before making major changes to your life that could affect you academically. While here at Upward Bound we don’t have the authority to change your classes or things of that nature, we can help provide resources or direction that might be helpful. When you’re at college, your advisor will be the one who can help you change majors, figure out the best career path, etc. Get in the habit now of working closely with your advisor.
This list could go on, but I think you get the point. I get that some of you may only do your Upward Bound advising session once per semester because it’s a requirement, but try to remember the purpose of these sessions. We want you to be in the habit of regularly seeing an advisor so that when you get to college, you’re that much more prepared for the challenges you will face. As I meet with students on a regular basis, I see these changes already occurring—these meetings become much more meaningful, and I see a lot of progress as you each continue toward your goals. While these 20–30 minute meetings may not seem like much to you at this point in your lives, you are preparing yourselves to be successful in college, and that is why we have advising.