Poll: Should academic advisers have a degree in the field they advise in?


Angelina Padilla-Tompkins

Students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their academic advisor as spring 2023 enrollment opens next month.

By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins, Opinion Editor

Whether you’re a transfer student or have been at NIU since your first year, you’ve had to deal with an academic adviser.

Michelle Pickett, director of the academic advising center, believes it is great if an adviser has a degree in the field they advise, but it isn’t necessary. 

“But I think the importance is that if you are an adviser in that field, you become well-versed in the nuances of that career field, but also what is needed academically to enter into that field,” said Pickett. 

According to Pickett, there are many aspects to a good adviser that are more than having a degree in a specific field. 

“A good adviser is someone who understands the curriculum that a student has to complete,” said Pickett. “They understand the policies and procedures that a student would need to complete for, you know, enrollment, attendance and graduation, but also someone who is compassionate and passionate about students and student success.” 

Pickett does advise students to get to know other faculty in their field of study who have the experience and can act as a mentor. 

Julian Diaz, a junior transfer student majoring in engineering technology with a focus on industrial management, doesn’t believe it should be required for academic advisers to have a degree in the field they advise, but they should have general knowledge. 

“I think there are other factors that make a good adviser,” said Diaz. “Trying to connect with students, really understand, you know, their goals, what they want to do.” 

Diaz does encourage students to reach out to their adviser if they have any questions about credits, their courses or expected graduation dates. 

Additionally, Diaz believes that students should do research on their own as well, that way they are prepared when discussing with their adviser. 

“Students shouldn’t be completely clueless. They should do some research on their own time, to the best of their ability because, obviously, advisers have so many people that, you know, they meet with, they can’t remember everything, right? You can’t expect them to know everything,” said Diaz. 

Sophomore Ryan Kish, a management major with an emphasis on leadership, transferred from Illinois State University to NIU and experienced a reasonably smooth credit transfer process from one university to the next as he settled into the semester. 

Kish began the fall semester as a business administration major but decided to switch to management with an emphasis on leadership. He then began to run into problems communicating with his academic adviser. 

“I went to see my adviser. I did ask her some questions like when my expected graduation date is, and how can I best fit in some minors, and she kind of gave very open-ended, not really helpful, answers,” said Kish. 

Even with the frustrating encounter Kish had with his adviser, he believes that having a degree in his field would help with career advising, not college advising. 

“Definitely down the line, closer to graduation and stuff, I would prefer to be advised by someone with a bit of experience in that field,” said Kish. 

Both students, Diaz and Kish, expressed the desire for an adviser who had great communication skills that they can go to when they have questions and leave their office feeling better about their academics. 

Perhaps general education advisers shouldn’t be required to have a degree within the field they are advising, but major advisers should.

This poll has ended.

Should advisers have a degree in the field they are advising?


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