We spend some of the most important years of our lives in college. It’s that crucial period in our lives when we finally make decisions regarding our career. We also set important goals and milestones to get there. For many, this can be a tough decision requiring proper guidance by experienced personnel. Someone who can help us in figuring out the path to success. An experienced individual who will not only guide us to set academic goals and objectives but also show us how to get there. If guiding young impressionable minds to reach their goals is something you aspire to do, then perhaps you must consider the job of an academic advisor.
So what is an academic advisor?
Colleges and universities typically hire academic advisors. Their chief role is to help students discover their career paths. This is done through academic advising sessions which are held on a one-on-one basis. Here, academic advisors meet students and help them discover their hidden talents and potentials. They also help students in shaping these talents into future careers while informing them all there is to know about the said career choice.
Important attributes for becoming an academic advisor
Academic advisors play a pivotal role in shaping a student’s future. To be good at this job, it is crucial to have the following skills and attributes:
- The desire to help students recognize their passion and individual talents, and then show them how they can turn it into a career
- Being a problem solver and having a good sense of humor
- Extraordinary communication skills: You are dealing with an age group that is surrounded by uncertainty, self-doubt, and qualm. Having sound communication skills will help you build trust with the students. This creates a safe space for them to communicate their ideas and share their thoughts. Listening to them without harshness is the key.
- One of the most critical traits is to becoming an academic advisor is to remain patient under all circumstances. Hearing students rant about their life struggles and constantly changing interests is just a part of your job. You must help them navigate through all that clutter and reach a point where they can hear their true calling.
- Strong observation skills: Being observant will allow you to fill in the gaps, read their body language, help in leading the conversation, and gain valuable insight.
- Developing trust: Sharing your concerns, doubts, and problems with a stranger is not a simple job; even for a college student. This makes learning the art of developing trust with them extremely important. If you wish to work as an academic advisor, then cultivating a warm, welcoming personality where students can know that they can trust you is of utmost importance.
Other important qualities for academic advisors:
- The job of an academic advisor is to help lead students into their future, where they feel both confident and empowered. You can do this by making an active effort to not judge them for their past mistake, and grades or discriminate amongst them in any way possible.
- Even though working as an academic advisor involves dealing with teenagers. Nonetheless, showing them respect will only help you in gaining their trust and allow them to open up to you.
- Demonstrating an open and accepting attitude towards all students despite their background or grades is another essential trait for the job of an academic advisor.
- Being Research Driven: Education is a vastly changing arena, with new policies being introduced almost every single day (each differing from state to state.) Part of this job is to know and understand different educational policies but also the different career prospects.
- Having the ability to maintain boundaries and remain empathetic
Duties one can expect on the job of an academic advisor
An academic advisor is typically responsible for
- Familiarizing themselves with the various programs being offered by the school or college
- Conducting orientation sessions
- Informing the students of the various policies and laws stipulated by the state.
- Making and keeping appointments with all the students (preferably at the beginning of each semester)
- Closely monitoring student grades.
- Helping students maintain a steady grade.
- Maintaining files on all students and keeping them up to date. This includes updates on classes, grades, latest accomplishments, as well as notes from each counseling session.
- Taking the time out to know each student individually, as well as familiarizing themselves with their diverse backgrounds
- Helping students discover their ideal careers based on their interests and passion (and sometimes even limitations)
- Working together with students in setting academic goals and then helping them in figuring out how to achieve those goals
- Assisting the students with enrollment in universities and graduate schools.
- Reviewing and checking the authenticity of their past degree
- Working as an academic advisor also involves helping with financial assistance programs, scholarships, and transfer planning.
Educational requirements for becoming an academic advisor
Before you dive into considering the educational requirements needed for the job, you need to decide whether you want to become an academic advisor to college students or high school.
Once you have decided that, then you may embark on your journey. To begin with, you need a bachelor’s degree in either education or counseling followed by a master’s degree in the same discipline. While completing your master’s, try getting hold of an internship or offer to work at your school’s administration department to get relevant exposure. This will not only help you get your feet wet, but also helps in building a strong resume.
The next step is to get licensed through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Many states also require you to get a teacher’s license as well. Hence, it’s best to take a closer look at your state policies for the job of an academic advisor. Apart from the licensure, you must also pass a background test to begin practice.
What salary can you expect while working as an academic advisor?
When it comes to salary, where you work and your experience in that field matter a lot. For instance, an academic advisor working in a public or a community college may end up earning less than one who works in the private sector. The salaries of academic advisors vary from state to state as well.
An academic advisor can expect to earn somewhere between $33,000 to $94,000 annually plus benefits. The job of an academic advisor is quite rewarding, provided that you have what it takes to get the job done. Remember! Not everyone is lucky enough to hold the hand of another and show them the way to success.