University of Wisconsin–Madison

Advising 101

Advisors are professional staff or faculty who have been specifically trained to help you with your plans and goals during college and beyond.

At UW-Madison advising is a partnership between you and the network of advisors you build during your time here. Advising is not limited to certain topics or specific months of year. Your advisors are here to introduce you to opportunities and help you make decisions. If you have questions or want support, if you are looking for a sounding board, or if you simply need someone to point you in the right direction, advisors are here for you.

Why See an Advisor?

Here are just a few topics you can chat about with an advisor:

  • Setting your academic, career, and life goals
  • Getting involved with campus organizations
  • Finding an internship
  • Talking about your challenges and difficulties
  • Connecting with tutors
  • Picking a study abroad program
  • Connecting majors and careers
  • Checking into volunteering opportunities
  • Practicing for interviews
  • Talking about grad school
  • Proofreading resumes and cover letters
  • Understanding university policies and deadlines
  • Selecting the right courses
  • How do I find my advisor?

    You can find your assigned advisor checking your Student Center in MyUW.

    If you’re not sure what kind of advising you need, you can also explore different offices and services under the Find an Advisor page.

  • How often should I meet with an advisor?
    We highly encourage you to meet with your assigned advisor at least once or twice a semester; once to help you plan your coursework, and once to explore and discuss bigger picture questions and goals.
  • How do I make an advising appointment?

    How you schedule an advising appointment will depend on the advisor or advising office you want to schedule with.

    Most appointments can be made by phone, email, and many UW services are now available in Starfish – the main student appointment scheduling tool for campus.

    Check the scheduling information posted on the department or office’s website for details on how to schedule.

  • How should I prepare for my advising appointment?

    In general, it’s a good idea to schedule your appointment 1-2 weeks in advance (and consider 3-4 weeks out during enrollment season which is usually November and April.)

    Do some self-reflection before your appointment so you can be ready to talk about your interests, strengths, and skills. Writing down your questions and looking into them on your own will make your meeting more productive.

  • Can an advisor tell my parents about my courses or grades?

    No. According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, you would need to give UW-Madison written consent first. However, there are some exceptions for special circumstances.

    Read more about FERPA here.

  • Is college advising different than high school advising?

    Generally, yes. Many students will notice some key differences between their high school advising or counseling experience, and their UW advising experience.

    For example, in high school your advisor or counselor might schedule the appointment for you, tell you which classes to take, and you may only see them once a year to talk mainly about scheduling or college preparation.

    In college, you will be in charge of scheduling your appointments, and your advisor will help answer questions and connect you to resources, but they will encourage you to make your own decisions. You also may see your advisor every semester, or more. You may also see advisors other than your assigned advisor who specialize in certain areas like careers or study abroad.

    Finally, your college advisor is here for more than just classes and scheduling. They’re here to help you navigate your college experience, and be a sounding board for your bigger picture questions.

Events & Key Dates

Expectations for You & Your Advisors

Advising is a team effort between you and your advisor. You’ll get the most out of your advising experience if you go into it with the right set of expectations. Do you know what to expect from your advisor, and what’s expected of you?

Expectations for Students

 

Seek Support. Take the initiative to seek support as often as you need it. It’s up to you to schedule (and attend) your appointments.

Monitor your progress. Become familiar with, and track important deadlines, requirements, and policies that affect you.

Come prepared. You’re in charge of leading your advising appointment. Check your DARS, start to look into your questions, be ready to talk about your goals.

Be honest. Your advisor can only help you if they understand your interests, goals, struggles, and concerns. Be willing to open up.

Follow through. Your advising appointment is only half of what you need to do. To get the most out of your advising experience, you need to follow through on your “homework.”

Take responsibility. Understand that the final decision is always up to you. Your advisor is here as a guide, and will challenge you to make independent decisions, and to set your own goals.

Expectations for Advisors

 

Be available. Your advisor will be available to you on a regular basis and respond to you in a timely manner.

Clarify information. Your advisor will help you interpret or find answers to university policies, procedures, and requirements.

Stay current. Your advisor will actively stay up to date through professional development opportunities and training.

Provide a supportive environment. Your advisor will be non-judgmental, and keep your information confidential (unless there are special circumstances).

Make suggestions & connections. Your advisor will explain the pros and cons of different options, give you some suggestions, and make referrals to appropriate resources and advising offices.

Help develop independence. Your advisor will challenge you to take initiative, and provide a supportive environment for you to develop your decision making skills.