For at least 18 years, you have probably considered yourself to be your student’s principal advisor.  You have been there every step of the way, literally from the first steps taken, and then on to the first words spoken, the first tests taken, and the first degrees granted.  You probably didn’t have any “training” to be a parent, but somehow you figured it out.

Now, or when college classes begin, there should be another advisor assigned to help your student, and he or she is likely to be professionally trained.  As you step back, you should encourage your student to build a relationship with this academically skilled person who will be working with him/her for the next four years or however long it takes until graduation.

Similar to the situation with orientations, there is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to advising.  Some schools have a group advising pattern, where a student rarely gets one-on-one time with the advisor, but does have an opportunity to meet in a group setting with both the professional and with peers.

Other schools have a tiered approach, sometimes called a “divisional model,” in which there is little, if any, personalized substantive exposure to the adviser in the freshman or sophomore year, but a great deal of exposure, and an opportunity for a relationship, that may develop down the road.

But the approach you are likely to get is fairly straightforward: a professional individual who is assigned to have an advising relationship with your son or daughter from Day One but probably only for Year One.  This could be someone who is advising for the first time, perhaps a grad student or a teaching assistant.  Or it could be someone who has been at this advising role for decades, perhaps since you were in college yourself.

It’s hard to say which individual profile will be better for your student, and it’s even harder to try to make a switch, so don’t bother.

Don’t you agree that even the very worst situations can be a lesson for your son or daughter?  Down the road, in a profession or chosen career, he or she will likely be forced to interact with people who are “assigned” to him/her and that’s just the way it will be: no questions asked.  In the same way, it’s a good “life lesson” now for your son or daughter to be able to work effectively with an assigned advisor.