Tips And Tools To Get The Most From Advising

Meeting regularly with your academic advisor makes it easier to navigate your college career from deciding on a major and scheduling classes, to accessing campus resources, making sure you’re on track for graduation, and everything between. But, it’s up to you to take the initiative. 

Here, we share some tips and tools that will help you establish a strong relationship with your advisor.

What To Expect From Your Advisor

Advisors aren’t mind readers, but they tend to be great listeners and guides. That’s why it’s up to you to schedule appointments at least once a semester, if not more, to ask questions and discuss your progress. Your advisor should be available to answer questions in person, via email or by phone. 

Once you’ve initiated contact, there are a few things you can expect from your advisor:

  • Advice on academic decisions consistent with your interests, values, abilities and goals, and recommendations on academic majors and minors that may be a good fit for you.
  • Accurate and consistent communication about college and university polices and processes, deadlines, and campus resources.
  • A responsive listener who will address any questions, concerns, or problems you may have, or who will refer you to appropriate support services when needed.
  • Assistance in defining or clarifying your academic and career goals, creating short and long-term academic plans consistent with those goals, evaluating transfer and study abroad credit, and planning for graduation. 
  • Coordination between you and other individuals on campus who may assist you during your academic career.
  • Respect for confidentially as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 

What Your Advisor Expects From You

Your advisor can offer significant support and valuable advice during your college career, but you’re responsible for asking for their help and ultimately making your own academic and career decisions. In a successful advising relationship, you’ll:

  • Read your University of Arizona email daily.
  • Take the initiative to meet with your advisor at least once per semester to discuss your progress.
  • Be prepared to discuss your goals and education plans during meetings by bringing your questions and necessary materials, and being open to suggestions. 
  • Develop and execute an academic plan directed toward completing your degree.
  • Make your own academic and career decisions based on available information and advice, as well as your graduation plan.
  • Develop a working knowledge of policies, procedures, deadlines, and campus resources.
  • Review and become familiar with your major/minor requirements each semester and track your progress toward graduation.
  • Frequently visit the CALES Career Center to participate in events and services. 

Advising Etiquette

Both your time and your advisor’s time is valuable. Following a few simple rules of etiquette for professional behavior will ensure smooth interactions.

Preparing for in-person appointments

  • Schedule well in advance of your registration period for classes.
  • Write down a list of topics and/or questions you want to address.
  • Write down a list of courses you’re considering.
  • Organize all of your advising information in a folder and bring it with you.
  • Bring paper and a pen to take notes.
  • Arrive promptly and check in at the front desk. 
  • Turn off your cell phone before you walk into the advising office.
  • Call ahead to cancel if you’re unable to make it.

Sending an email

  • Use your University of Arizona account
  • Use a clear subject line, such as “Question about my schedule.”
  • Include your full name and student ID number.
  • Include the course numbers of any classes you’re having difficulty registering for, along with any error messages you may be receiving.
  • Keep your questions clear, short, and to the point.
  • Do not be too casual with your advisor when using email. Proofread and use spell check.
  • Allow 24 hours for a response, excluding weekends and holidays.

Leaving a voicemail message

  • Repeat your name, student ID number, and phone number with area code twice, and then ask your question. 
  • Be sure to speak slowly and clearly to ensure your message is clear.

Four-Year Advising Timeline

As you progress through your college career, your discussions with your advisor will change. As a freshman you may explore potential careers and majors, while as a senior you may be applying for graduate school or interviewing for post-university jobs. 

If you’re not sure what you should be focusing on, or when, our advising timeline may help: 

Freshman/first year

  • Explore interests, strengths and potential careers
  • Make a tentative year-by-year plan of classes
  • Build a resume
  • Get involved with clubs, organizations, and volunteering
  • Look into study abroad, internships, and/or research opportunities

Sophomore/second year

  • Develop relationships with faculty and mentors
  • Finalize and declare major(s) and minor(s)
  • Update resume
  • Seek internships, research opportunities, or study aboard programs
  • Stay involved in activities that suit your interests and goals

Junior/third year

  • Research career options and graduate programs
  • Talk to pre-professional advisors or career services
  • Update resume
  • Continue research, internships, volunteering, and club involvement
  • Take graduate exams such as the LSAT, GRE, MCAT, and GMAT

Senior/fourth year

  • Complete a degree check
  • Apply for graduation
  • Finalize career, professional, or postgraduate plans
  • Apply for graduate or professional schools
  • Submit resumes and begin interviewing 

Additional Resources

if you have questions or concerns, please contact Nancy Rodriguez-Lorta, senior director of advising and student services, by email at, by phone at 520-621-3616, or stop by the CALES Advising Center in Forbes 203.