The Do’s and Don’ts of Academic Advising

“Now what?” asks Prof. Beau

I’m Natalie Guevara and I’m an advisor for students majoring in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME.) As an academic advisor, we are the liaison for students to the university. For Viterbi (and most other departments), every student must meet with their advisor individually in order to register for courses for the upcoming semester. Yes, at times this may be another chore for students balancing their time between midterms, organizations, design teams, and all the other things going on. However, it is a great time for us to check in with you and make sure students are doing well and staying on track for graduation. Most importantly, we are here as a resource to help support you and your experience here at USC. Here are a few recommendations I have for working with your advisor:

  1. Be honest with us and ask questions:
    • Come prepared to your meetings and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are truly invested in your experience as a student and want to make sure that you are doing well academically, professionally, and personally. Advisors are like USC liaisons to several resources on campus. We can help connect you to the various resources on campus…everything from the writing center to on campus mindfulness classes.
  2. We only know what you tell us:
    • What organizations are you involved in? How did you like your classes? When I started as an advisor, I asked students why they liked or disliked their classes. This was helpful knowledge to me when it came to provided recommendations for other students. So if a student comes in sharing they’re interested in taking a class for engineering design, I have good recommendations. It is also helpful when faculty or industries reach out to us and ask if we have any students with strengths in a specific area for research or internship opportunities.
  3. Check your email (no, seriously):
    • In this world of communication, it is easy for students to allow things to slip by…aka students not checking their emails. However, when registration comes by and you still have an advising hold on your account because you didn’t read any of our reminders, it will cause more of a challenge for you. So do us a favor and glance at the emails we send out because they usually have important information, internship/research opportunities, or invitations for free food.
  4. Set up a meeting with us early on:
    • Incoming students have the most questions. Can you study abroad? Can I double major or double minor? How many classes can I take Pass/No Pass? These are all great questions and we love when students really take accountability for their academic journeys…but some questions are better suited for individual meetings and not easy to answer during orientation.
  5. Become familiar USC’s online advising tools:
    • Students will all have access to myUSC, which is the home portal to all things USC. This will be the portal for course registration, financial aid information, grades, etc. Click around and figure out what is available to you. Through this portal you can figure out how to give guest access to your parents/guardians (if you want them to have access) among other features
    • STARS report is a student’s degree progress report. It is essentially the roadmap to your degree requirements and very important to make sure you are completing all of the requirements. It can appear a little daunting at first, but being familiar with this document will help ensure that you are registering for the correct courses.
  6. Get to know other campus colleagues:

Overall, don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to make the most out of your USC experience. And of course, always, fight on!

Natalie Guevara, ’13
Director, AME Student Affairs
USC Viterbi School of Engineering

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