Dear First Gen,
To succeed in higher education, studying and getting good grades is not going to be your only responsibility. When you attend a university or college, you will need to interact with several administrative staff.
The most obvious of these will be your academic advisor and the career counselor. But to expand your network and to gather more information about the world that awaits you after graduation, it is to your benefit to speak to a few more people that have a specific focus on student success. Let’s talk about the discussions you should have with each of these people.
1.Academic Advisor: When you select your major, you will be assigned an #academicadvisor to help guide you through the requirements of your major, including the mandatory course sequence to earn a degree, as well as optional or elective courses that may be more tailored to your specific career goals. You and your advisor may become acquainted quickly through regularly scheduled meetings to ensure you are on track to graduate on time. Occasionally, the requirements for your major could change from year to year, so you want to make sure you are referring to the correct course catalog and do not encounter any surprises from not regularly speaking to your advisor.
2.Career Counselor: This relationship could be very necessary for a first-generation student looking to increase their opportunities for employment or acceptance into a program that would further their education. Career counselors are specifically trained in this area, and I elaborate on the value and urgency of this visit in another post.
3.Students Affairs: Most students won’t visit this office unless they have an urgent situation that needs to be addressed, such as a request for a disability accommodation or a conflict at the institution. However, this office is often responsible for assisting with student organizations, hosting events on campus, and inviting special guests. This office delivers a #global experience to you, often without even leaving the campus. This office’s goal is to support your learning, growth, and development. Engaging with the staff in this office will help shape your experience at that institution.
4.Board of Trustees: The idea of meeting with the Board of Trustees was suggested to me by a colleague who is also a first-gen student. He explained that he learned about the opportunity for his current job after securing a meeting with a in his industry. During that meeting, he had a candid conversation about the path he should pursue to become a key decision-maker. That conversation helped him chart his course to become his company’s chief government affairs spokesman quickly. Members of most college’s boards of trustees are frequently high-profile, influential individuals. Not only can they bring in a considerable amount of money to the university, but they are often change agents in the community and have a wealth of knowledge to share. When possible, forging a relationship with a board of trustees member can help you gain access to expertise that may benefit you when trying to plot your own path to success.
5.Faculty Advisor for a Campus Organization: If you’re involved in a campus organization like student government or campus media, there will be a staff or #facultyadvisor assigned to guide the students. Often, even if this person is a professor, they serve in a different capacity in these advisory roles, and are able to be a bit more and personal with the students in the organization. This individual may be someone you want to have more personal conversations with regarding classes, professors, administration, students, or your future, especially if the organization is related to your career goals.
Of course, these are not the only appointments you should schedule or people you should form relationships with at college. But they will give you a jump start on how best to approach your education. The more people you can speak to and learn from, the better your future outcomes will be in the field you aspire to work in. These conversations can be vital to obtaining the “rules of engagement” to succeed academically and professionally.
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