Academic advising in a university

Academic advising in a university

Office of Student Success

Info for caregivers of College of Health students

Before coming to Oregon State University your student may have worked with a high school guidance counselor. That experience will likely be different from the one they will have with advisors at Oregon State. Our academic advisors:

  • Assist students in understanding the nature, purpose and potential of higher education.
  • Mentor students as they explore and clarify their values and educational and life goals.
  • Provide accurate information about educational opportunities, requirements, policies and procedures.
  • Collaborate with students on the development and implementation of academic plans and educational experiences congruent with their interests and abilities.
  • Communicate regularly with students to monitor and evaluate their educational progress.
  • Teach students to use university resources to maximize their unique educational and personal potential.

High school versus college advising

High School College

Student’s counselor might schedule the appointments for them, plan the agenda and do most of the talking.​

Students are in charge of scheduling the appointment and creating the agenda. They will do most of the talking.

Counselors tell students what classes would best fit their interests, requirements and schedule.

Advisors help students choose their classes and develop a strategic academic plan.

Students are in charge of registering for all classes.

Most of the student’s classes are assigned to them.

The student is in charge of registering for all classes.

Students’ parents’, teachers’ or counselors’ opinions have a bigger impact on their decisions, and they play a bigger role in helping the student know their responsibilities.

It’s up to each student to take initiative if they want academic support, access to resources or information on how to get involved.

Student may only see their advisor once a semester, and mainly about scheduling or college preparation.

Students should see their advisor often, and often may see different types of advisors who specialize in certain areas. Topics may range from career planning, to getting involved on campus, to studying abroad.

What academic advising looks like in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences

Each college and even units within each college has their own unique model of academic advising. In the College of Health, each student is assigned an academic advisor at orientation. This is the academic advisor your student will see the entire time they are in the college. Your student will only meet with their assigned academic advisor so that they may develop a meaningful advisor/advisee relationship to help guide them toward meeting their academic goals.

Students are required (staring fall 2019) to meet with their assigned academic advisor once a term. Regular contact allows for careful course planning and systematic review of progress toward their degree and professional goals.

Although only required to meet once per term, students may visit their advisor as often as they like. Students schedule advising appointments online at any time.

The role of an academic advisor

In many ways, academic advisors do more than simply help students register for classes. They are a teacher and facilitator who fosters and encourages personal and intellectual growth in students. Academic advisors are well informed of Oregon State’s resources and offer a wealth of knowledge that can help students navigate the institutional system and academic regulations. In short, academic advisors assist students in the development of meaningful educational plans that are compatible with personal and/or career goals and instill a desire for lifelong learning.


  • Monitor student progress and guide the student toward academic success.
  • Help the student understand his or her responsibilities toward academic success.
  • Act as a liaison between the OSU and the student.
  • Act as an advocate for the student.
  • Refer the student to appropriate institutional resources.

The student’s role in academic advising?

Student responsibility is the key to all development and learning. In order to have a successful and meaningful college experience, students must accept full responsibility for their personal and academic progress. Academic advisors and parents can act as role models to help students accept this responsibility.

The student role:

  • Responsible for learning and understanding.
  • Monitor his or her own academic progress.
  •  Know the degree requirements of the college and major of interest.
  • Communicate with the advisor regarding issues and/or concerns about academics or student life.
  • Attend classes.
  • Manage time for class preparation.
  • Become familiar with university resources.
  • Understand and adhere to university policies.

Parents’ and families’ role in academic advising?

The most important and valuable things families and supporters can offer their college students are support and encouragement. Because students of today's millennial generation look up to their parents as mentors and role models, positive reinforcement from parents is crucial to college success. It is also important that advisors, students and parents/families support each other in helping students make responsible decisions that will shape their future. Young college students are in the process of realizing their autonomy. It is important for parents and families to let their student do things for themselves so student can emerge from college as capable adults.

Parent/Family role:

  • Be available to support and encourage.
  • Maintain regular contact.
  • Offer advice (when appropriate).
  • Encourage students to do things they can do for themselves.
  • Allow students to make mistakes in this safe environment.

How you can help your student succeed

We know that family and friends are a huge influence in students’ lives. Toward that end, here’s a short, basic timeline of what students might be thinking about (and needing to talk about with you) during their years at Oregon State.

First Year

Researching or confirming a major; meeting with college advisers and major advisers (if they’re narrowing down or deciding on a major); determining degree requirements; looking into academic support services; forming study groups with peers; thinking about education abroad; looking into extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, jobs, internships).

Second Year

Declaring a major and creating a long-term course plan; applying to study abroad; meeting with a department advisor; getting to know faculty in prospective or declared major(s); thinking about possible career paths and/or graduate school plans; looking into extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, jobs, internships).

Third Year

Finalizing major plans; meeting with a college advisor to check on progress with graduation requirements; going to the Career Development Center to explore graduate schools and/or career plans; talking to faculty about post-graduate plans and (if applicable) letters of recommendation.

Fourth Year

Pursuing internships and/or independent study with faculty; preparing graduate school applications and finalizing faculty recommendation letters (if applicable); seeing major and college advisers to check that all graduation requirements will be met; applying for graduation and signing up for the commencement ceremony if participating.