Save money, time by seeing academic advisor early

Chris Stauffer
Staff Writer


After transitioning to college, many students may not understand how necessary it is to develop a relationship with their academic advisor. While in high school, it was often recommended to see the advisor if there was a scheduling problem. High school counselors would follow-up by excusing a student from class in order to discuss class selection and to “fix” issues that students may be having in a particular class. In high school, students can depend on high school guidance counselors to remind them of their graduation requirements and responsibilities. In college, advisors can guide students to the quickest and easiest way to acquire a degree.

In order to earn an associates degree, a student must complete 60 credit hours. This doesn’t mean that a person can complete any 20 courses to be eligible for graduation. Thirty-six of the credits must be in the areas of communications, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences and social and behavioral science. These credits are referred to as “general education courses.”

Twenty-four of the credits can be electives. That sounds pretty simple but sometimes the general education courses have a prerequisite and the prerequisite class ends up being an elective. When that happens, creating a schedule can be tricky.

When it comes to earning a specific associates degree, the courses can be dramatically different. For instance, the required courses in Environmental Science are much different than the required courses in Nursing. In addition, if the student’s desire is to continue in school and get a bachelor’s degree, there are some courses that need to be completed before applying to a specific program. This can make scheduling even trickier.

In addition, federal regulations mandate that federal aid cannot be awarded for classes that do not count toward a student’s academic program.

Based on the fact that students are required to complete prerequisite courses, required courses, program specific courses, mixed with the fact that federal aid will not cover “extra” courses, seeing an advisor early and often will prevent spending additional time and money in college.

Broward College has made seeing an advisor relatively painless. After signing into MyBC, there is an “advising appointment” selection from the “Advising” dropdown screen. Students can schedule an appointment based on what type of advising they need. Students can select the campus where they want to see an advisor and set an appointment in advance so they will not have to wait in line in the advising office.
Advisors are available to discuss everything from career exploration to selecting program specific courses. Therefore, assistance is available for those who are trying to figure out what career path to follow as well as those who are having difficulty finding a specific course.

Broward College provides pathways in order to acquire certificates and degrees. This means that if students chose their courses appropriately, they have the ability to earn program specific certificates while they on their way to earning a degree. For instance, an Environmental Science major can earn an advanced technical certificate in Geographic Information System while they are working toward an Associate Degree in Environmental Science. That student can continue with the credits earned in the associates degree program to complete a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

Therefore, making an appointment to see an academic advisor and following up regularly can provide additional opportunities, save money and remove the guessing game out of determining the most appropriate courses in order to complete a degree.

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