What’s a program advisor?

September 3, 2014

5 ways your advisor can help you from registration to convocation

Illustration of two speech bubbles in conversationWhen it comes to navigating your way through your post-secondary program – signing up for courses, figuring out the registration system, declaring a major or understanding exactly what electives and credits are – it helps to know that someone’s got your back.

At MacEwan University, that someone is your program advisor. If you haven’t scoped out your program office yet, you really should. You might not need to make an appointment today, or even next month, but program advisors are a great resource that you can access throughout your education.

Here are some of the ways your program advisor can help:

1. Getting started on the right foot

Remember scrolling through that giant email you received this summer with seemingly endless information about your program? That was from your program advisors. From the very beginning, they help to make sure you start off your post-secondary career on the right foot. If you haven’t read that email yet, make sure you do – carefully.

Many programs also offer academic planning sessions that can help you plan your program, learn about the university, find out how to tell a core course from an elective and how you can access resources. Check with your program office or website to see what services they have to offer.

2. Taking the right courses (a.k.a. academic planning)

Some programs have very specific schedules and courses, while others leave a lot of flexibility. Either way, your advisor can help you make sure that you’re meeting your program’s requirements.

“It’s important to take ownership of your academics right off the bat,” says Karen Ravagnolo, academic advisor, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Lots of students want us to tell them exactly what they should take, but that’s not how it works in Arts and Science. You need to figure it out, but we can help you if you run into problems.”

3. Creating your course schedule (a.k.a. enrolment)

Some programs enrol their students in core courses, but most require you to handle your own enrolment using myStudentSystem. Taking the plunge and committing to the click that will register you in a course can be scary the first time you do it.

“It’s normal for first-year students to feel nervous about registering. Know that if you run into problems like error messages, problems with prerequisites or issues registering for a particular section of a course, we can help you troubleshoot,” says Christine Marshall, academic advisor, Bachelor of Commerce.

4. Who to talk to about what

If you’re in a panic and can’t seem to get the registration system to work, don’t know where to park, are having trouble paying your fees or failed your midterm, Karen says take a deep breath and go see your program advisor. “Even if we don’t know the answer to your question, we can point you in the right direction and help you find someone who does.”

5. Planning for the future

You definitely won’t need this in your first semester and maybe not even in your second, but when you have questions about transfer credit, studying abroad, professional designations, or whether you’re on track to graduate, remember your program advisor.

It’s hard to imagine now, but when you’re getting ready to cross the stage at convocation, your program advisors will be there cheering you on.

“One of the really cool things we get to do is to go to convocation,” says Karen. “It’s a great feeling to sit in the choir loft at the Winspear and see students who we’ve met and worked through challenges with, as they cross the stage.”


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