Hillary Mayes, director of the MCHHS Student Success and Advisement Center (SSAC) and student success specialist, has encountered more than a few advising myths during her time here at Missouri State University.
The two biggest misconceptions Mayes has found are that advisors and advisement centers are only for students who are falling behind or for students who need help choosing their academic courses.
“The term ‘academic advisor’ is a bit of a misnomer since advisement is far more than simply helping students pick out academic courses,” she said.
The MCHHS SSAC team works hard to understand students’ unique needs and help them navigate their college experiences accordingly.
“We aim to help them connect to their programs and their program faculty in ways that will help them develop their professional interests and move closer to their professional goals,” Mayes said.
Advisement centers are only for struggling students.
Advisement centers and advising staff are here to help all students. In fact, Missouri State requires that all first- and second-year undergraduate students meet with an advisor before they can enroll in classes.
Advisors are a vital campus resource for students to help them navigate university policies, processes and procedures.
Advisors only help with course scheduling.
Although helping students create plans of study and selecting courses is an important part of the advisor/advisee relationship, it is not the only type of support provided. Advisors can often serve as a designated person on campus with whom students can feel comfortable having discussions; these discussions don’t always have to be academic in nature.
As student champions, advisors are here to celebrate with students when they are excited or to brainstorm with students if they feel conflicted. Advisors can assist with career and academic major exploration, connecting to relevant resources or offices and with personal or professional development.
Advisors also work closely with academic units and faculty, assist with marketing and recruitment, engage in professional development and provide service to the university through committee work.
Advisors can register students for their classes.
Because students are in charge of their academic experience, this responsibility resides exclusively with them. Although advisors are happy to discuss course options with students and make suggestions related to timing, course loads and modalities, students are the only ones who can register for their own classes.
Advisors provide mental health services.
This is a common misconception; the role of an advisor is often compared to the role of a counselor. Although advisors do support students and frequently discuss sensitive topics with them, they aren’t licensed mental health providers and can’t legally provide this service. If a student needs mental health services, we have wonderful resources available to them through our Counseling Center located in the Magers Health and Wellness Center.
Advisors hold appointments only when fall and spring classes are in session.
If university offices are open, staff advisors are on campus and available to meet with students. Advisors are 12-month employees, meaning they are available and willing to see students throughout all months of the year.