UT’s academic advising system fosters student responsibility and initiative

Emily Caldwell

Most UT students can sum up academic advising and all the responsibilities that come with it by using one word: stressful. For a lot of us, college is the first time in our lives where we have to make life-altering decisions on our own, an important stepping stone on the road to full-blown adulthood. The majority of these decisions, however, can be made with the guidance of our academic advisors. UT’s academic advising system not only prepares us for what’s to come in the future, but teaches us how to exercise initiative and responsibility while on campus — a resource of which more students should take advantage.

The University encourages students to seek advice from their advisers, but maintains that students are ultimately responsible for meeting degree requirements and enrolling in the appropriate classes themselves. By placing these responsibilities solely in the hands of the student, UT’s advising system cultivates skills that will serve students well in a professional workplace.

The fundamental values of UT’s academic advising system set it apart from other universities in Texas. For example, UT stresses the importance of frequent meetings with your adviser, whereas Texas A&M’s academic advising page makes little to no mention of the healthy habit. Instead, Texas A&M has a whole section devoted to helping students simply find their advisor — which perhaps speaks to how often A&M students meet with their advisers.

English sophomore Olivia Hesse understands the importance of academic advising. In addition to pursuing an English degree, Hesse is pre-med. “Without the help of my adviser I would have struggled to make a course load that kept me on track,” Hesse said in an email. “He mostly keeps me informed of what I need to be doing.”

“When I meet with my adviser, it doesn’t feel like my mom or a teacher telling me what I need to do in order to graduate, it feels like two professionals having a conversation about the best way for me to move forward,” Hesse said. “The design of my schedule is left to me, and it feels like my own path rather than a preconstructed course all English majors take. The adviser is just there for help should you need it.”

By maintaining the message that the sole responsibility of building class schedules, scheduling meetings with advisers and knowing when to ask for help lies with and only with the student, UT effectively encourages and promotes student autonomy.

UT’s academic advising system is not just a necessary part of being an college student, it’s an opportunity for students to improve themselves and their futures. Cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with your advisor and adopting the responsibilities promoted by the system will help you as a college student and as a working professional. If approached correctly, our advising system has the potential to instill valuable workplace and life practices in UT students.

UT ensures that students learn valuable lessons on campus in many different ways, but their implementation of an advising system that holds students accountable for their own academic paths and futures may be the most influential. Although many of us may hate it, academic advising and everything that comes with it only helps us in the long run. Let’s take advantage of it while we’re here.

Caldwell is a Latin American studies and journalism sophomore from College Station.