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Developing a Relationship with Your Advisor

Guest Blogger Chloe Rossier,  a sophomore in the class of 2018 and a PA with NSO 2015 shares about developing a relationship with your advisor. 

Chloe --advisor

First of all, to all those reading, I just want to say congratulations on choosing Cornell College! I have to tell you from my experience that college is even better than you’re thinking it will be. However, right now it is still new, still in the future, and of course, a bit nerve racking. Don’t worry because it is the same for everyone!

When you first arrive at Cornell, and after you have settled in and said goodbye to your parents, NSO will begin and one of the scheduled events is to meet your advisor for the first time. You will be meeting in a group with 6 or 7 other students who will be sharing the same advisor, and it is a good time to meet other students who may share your same academic interest–or they may not, but still be a great connection. You’ll go over the Common Text that you’re reading over the summer and get to know each other a little bit. After that, you’ll schedule a time to meet with your advisor individually when they can  help you sign up for your first semester classes beyond your FYS (First Year Seminar). They will show you the ropes on bidding and are a great resource for narrowing down course choices. You’ll meet with them again later in the year to schedule next year’s courses, but can contact them for advising, help, or just checking in any time during the year.

So here comes my first little bit of advice: get to know your advisor. Know that you can meet with them at unplanned times if their door is open. If not, send them an email and know that they are there to support you. Especially with the OCAAT system, there will be some adjustments that they can help you with. I have known friends whose advisors were from a different discipline than their area of interest and expected major (a friend of mine loved psychology and her advisor was an Art History Professor). Even if your advisor is from a different discipline, they are a fantastic resource and for most things, will be able to assist without a direct background in your area. However, if your advisor cannot help you in any way, they will be sure to find someone who can. When you declare a major, you may switch advisors to one in the same academic discipline.

My second piece of advice is to ask your advisor questions when you need help! This year during 7th block I was struggling with my class and really worrying that I would come out with a C, which is something I didn’t want. I called my mom upset and she asked me if I had talked to my advisor yet, and I was surprised it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I went to my advisor and we sat down and calculated my GPA and what grade I would need to get on my final to get a B. We then calculated what I would need to get in my next class to keep up my GPA. I came out of the meeting feeling so much better and so glad that I felt comfortable going to my advisor and asking her for help. It is very easy to forget that they are there if you need them, but they are a great resource to keep in mind.

I hope this calms your nerves a little bit for the upcoming year. You have a lot of support here at Cornell and having a good relationship with your advisor can be so helpful! They can be good friends and mentors to you as you move along in your college career. Everyone is so excited to meet you guys! See you soon! Let me know if you need anything else. –Chloe

Thanks to Chloe for this post! As a now Senior (?!), I can attest to how important developing a relationship with your advisor can be. They are fantastic resources to help you work through scheduling, making sure you are on track with your major, and finding and pursuing opportunities. As helpful as it is for us as students to make a strong connection with a faculty member, when your advisor gets to know you, they get to know what they can do to support you and better understand  how they can help you adjust to Cornell, what you hope to get from your college experience, and the opportunities they may be able to suggest to add to your Cornell experience. My advisor has guided me through designing an individualized schedule, multiple applications (including a semester abroad), and has been a great resource who understands me and my goals. 

If you don’t have an immediate connection with your advisor, don’t despair! It may take some time to get to know them and if they aren’t in your discipline, you may change when you declare a major anyway. You’ll meet other professors that you will feel that connection with and could talk to them about becoming an advisee directly if you wish. Remember that over your time at Cornell, you’ll get to know many professors and inevitably, make a strong connection with at least one–and there’s a good chance that they may be the first professor you meet: your advisor.