Asking for help is not always easy. Online learners tend to be (or at least need to be to some degree) more independent learners. However, this does not negate the importance of forming connections with your fellow online students and faculty members in your field of interest who can serve as great sources for networking and support during your academic program.
However, there’s another person who also plays an important supportive role in your academic journey: your academic advisor.
For online students, academic advisors may help with scheduling, provide insight on faculty, courses and university policy, and serve as a point of communication within the university. While you may think it’s easier just look up a policy in the catalog, or try contacting someone higher up on the food chain to get your issue heard, the reality is that you may be doing yourself a disservice by not reaching out to your academic advisor, whose job it is to help you in these ways.
“A positive working relationship is achieved by both of us (the advisor and the student) communicating on a regular basis with one another,” notes Northcentral University Academic Advisor Donna Bellina. “Sometimes advising is just words of encouragement when the student is struggling. Sometimes it’s giving the student a better understanding of policy, and sometimes it’s going to bat for them to find resolution when they are having issues with their instructor, their course accessibility or just life in general.”
In an online learning environment, it’s easy to get caught up in weekly assignments, without ever thinking that you may find yourself in a situation where you could use the support of an academic advisor. But if you’re the type of person who likes to be prepared, one of the best things you can do is to start building a solid working relationship with your academic advisor right out of the gate.
Try these three tips to help you get started:
- Reach out early with any concerns regarding your course experience.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Communicate things that are going on in your personal life that may hinder your academic progress.