Untapped Resources: Academic Advisors

Author: Sarah Holland

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The summer before your first year at Notre Dame, all incoming students are assigned a First-Year advisor. Students will work with their advisor to make their first schedule of classes, but this is not the only time you'll encounter your advisor. 

Throughout your Notre Dame journey, you will be assigned to at least one advisor based on your college and major; they can help guide you through a variety of challenges you may face with their specific knowledge about your field of study. Here are a few topics you can discuss with your academic advisor to ensure you are utilizing their expertise as much as possible!

Major and Minor discernment. Deciding your course of study is a big decision, and your advisor can be an informed and unbiased person to help you talk through your choice. If you’ve already decided on your major(s), they may be able to recommend a minor that will suit your interests and expand your course of study.

Studying abroad. Many students think that only students of certain majors will be able to study abroad, but that’s not necessarily true! You can speak with your advisor about planning your class schedules accordingly and exploring different study abroad programs that might fit well with your course of study. You can also discuss summer study abroad programs or international research opportunities.

Staying on track. Think you may need to overload on course credits during a semester? Wondering if you might be able to graduate early? Your advisor can answer all of these questions. Your advisor can be especially helpful when preparing for your first spring registration since that will be your first time registering for classes on your own. 

Research opportunities. Though there are so many opportunities for students to be involved in research at Notre Dame, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Your advisor can give you a better idea of what research may look like in your field of study and put you in contact with professors who can help you get involved.

Struggling in a course. It is totally normal for students to struggle in a certain class, especially as they adjust to life during their first year in college. Your advisor can recommend resources on campus, such as free tutoring services or study groups. Also, you can ask your advisor for an unbiased opinion on whether or not you should consider dropping a class if you feel you may benefit from a fresh start next semester. 

Summer opportunities. Notre Dame students have so many unique experiences during the summer, including internships, jobs, study abroad programs, research, summer classes, and volunteer work, just to name a few. If you are unsure of what you might want to do this summer or how to find opportunities, your advisor can make suggestions and suggest some possible opportunities based on your interests. In this scenario, speaking to your advisor sooner is always better because some summer deadlines can be months in advance.  

Throughout your time at Notre Dame, be sure to take advantage of all that your academic advisors have to offer; utilize their knowledge, opinions, and advice. They likely have the answer to any questions you may have, and if not, they will know how to point you in the right direction!