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Your academic advisor will help you register for fall courses this summer — but that’s just the beginning. Your counselor is your go-to person for questions about academics, whether you’re struggling in a class or already thinking about study abroad. Here's your roadmap for making the most of that relationship.

Your counselor is your personal academic strategist.

Throughout your freshman year, your advisor can help you choose a major, sharpen your study skills and generally adjust to how things work at St. Edward’s. Working with freshmen is their specialty. “Our counselors really enjoy helping 18-year-olds find their passion and find their place at St. Edward’s,” says Director of Academic Success Mary Culkin.

You’ll meet during orientation this summer.

During summer orientation, you and a group of fellow freshmen will meet with your academic advisor to talk about course registration. This is when you’ll learn about degree plans, graduation requirements, and classes you can take this fall. Relax: there’s no need to pick out classes in advance. “Students do not need to worry about planning what they need to take prior to Orientation,” says Culkin.

Your course schedule for the first semester is pretty straightforward.

In your first semester, you’ll take a Freshman Seminar and an English Composition course. Your other three classes can include a course in your major and two general education classes that let you delve into your interests and develop new ones. All of these will count toward graduation requirements.

It’s okay if you haven’t picked a major.

If you have no idea what you want to study, you’re completely normal. Nationwide, 78% of students change their major in the first year. While you (or your parents) might feel anxious about this, look at it as an opportunity, says Culkin: “It’s actually pretty exciting if you haven’t picked a major yet — if you have lots of different fields you want to study, or you’re completely open minded and want to explore. The great news is that you don’t need to know your first semester, and that we’ll be meeting regularly to help you figure it out.”

Your academic counselor can help you solve this week’s problems … or make a 4-year plan.

Once school starts this fall, your counselor can help you master the transition to college academics. Need help with time management? Check. Note-taking strategies? Check. Talking to a professor during office hours? Definitely. Your counselor can also introduce you to people in the offices of Career and Professional Development and Global Engagement who can help turn your dreams into reality. “If all you know is that you want to study abroad, and you want to work in the capitol, we can help you get there,” Culkin says.

There’s no appointment necessary.

Sure, you can schedule a weekly meeting with your academic counselor. But you can also drop in any time. You might even visit with your counselor at the coffee shop, in one of your classes, or in the bleachers at an athletic event. “All of the Academic Counselors spend several hours each week in the residence hall lobbies,” says Culkin. “Students are hanging out, watching a movie or playing ping-pong, but their Academic Counselor is also there to answer questions or to chat about how classes are going. The morning of registration, we are in the halls and many students, some still in their pajamas, bring their laptops down to the lobby to register with their Academic Counselor close by. We helped 600 students that day.”

By Robyn Ross
Photography by Morgan Printy