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How the College Guidance Program Works for Students

written by: Ellie Walker•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 4/20/2011

This overview of the guidance program for college students includes the different types of advisors and when to meet with each of them.

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    Academic Advisors

    Some of the main advisors that college students will work with inside the college guidance system are academic advisors. At most schools, students will be assigned a general academic advisor who will help them plan their course schedules, fulfill general education requirements, or complete necessary paperwork for various academic programs like studying abroad. These advisors usually meet with students about once or twice per year, although they can be available for more frequent meetings.

    Many departments will also offer academic advising for students who are majoring in that particular subject. Once a student has declared a major, he or she will often be assigned a specific program advisor within that field of study. This advisor will help the student navigate specific course and degree requirements, connect with faculty mentors, or find research opportunities with professors. Like general academic advisors, these program advisors can be met with about once per year, or sometimes more for students who are just entering the program or for those who are about to graduate.

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    Peer Mentors and Advisors

    Sometimes, a thorough guidance program for college students will include peer advisors. These could range from orientation week leaders to tutors to individual academic mentors within a specific field of study. While some are only around for orientation week, others are available year-round for individual meetings, which usually occur about once or twice per year. Others are available in special programs, such as sorority recruitment, peer learning programs or career advising.

    Often, students will feel more comfortable asking their peer mentors for advice, as they can provide more honest feedback about which classes to take, which professors to avoid, or the various aspects of university life. Peer mentors are also much more likely to help students through emotional problems, and they can be a great resource to consult for students who are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

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    Counselors and Psychological Services

    For students who would like to receive counseling in a private, confidential atmosphere, there are many psychological and health services offered by universities. These programs are more like the typical guidance programs that students experienced at school in younger years. Here, licensed counselors and health professionals are available for students to consult for any mental or emotional issues they might be experiencing. While counseling is normally pricey, many colleges offer free counseling services, subsidized costs, or other resources to help lower the price of counseling for students.

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    Career Guidance

    Lastly, there are various career guidance programs at many universities, which can include advising for a wide range of professions. Many career services centers will help students prepare resumes, practice for job interviews, learn the ropes of professional networking, and ask any other career-related questions. Other advising is offered for students hoping to enter the health professions, law school or graduate school, and these programs are often consulted many times throughout the application process.

    The wide range of advising resources in a typical guidance program for college students allows students to receive help at many times throughout their academic careers.

    Source: author’s own experience