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Meeting with Your Faculty Adviser

You might be nervous the first time you meet with your adviser, but it’s important to try to move past your nerves. A good working relationship with your adviser is invaluable.

Working closely with your adviser helps to ensure that you graduate on time, gain information on internship possibilities and that you benefit from the experience of someone in your field.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

  1. If you make an appointment, be on time. You may wish to swing by your adviser’s office before your appointment so that you know the location and won’t be stressed about finding the office for the first time. If you hope to drop in, knock on the door and ask your adviser if they have time to meet with you. The adviser should say yes, or give you another time for a meeting.
  2. If you can’t make an appointment with an adviser or another faculty member, let them know as early as possible. If it’s only a short time before your scheduled meeting, give them a call in their office.
  3. If you’re afraid to talk to your adviser or other professors, it’s going to be hard to meet with other authority figures in the future…like a boss. Think of the time you spend with faculty members as practice for interactions with superiors and colleagues.
  4. It is always more important to be interested, than to try to be interesting (a truth not only for interactions with faculty). Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so if there is an awkward silence during a meeting, or you run into your adviser or a professor on campus, don’t worry about having something to talk about. Let them do the talking. Depending on how the conversation goes, some appropriate questions/comments are:
    • How did you get into the field of (insert your area here)?
    • Where did you go to college?
    • Do you live in Des Moines?
    • If it’s Thursday or Friday, you may ask your professor if they have plans for the weekend. Or, on a Monday, ask if they had a nice weekend. Note: Stories about your weekend should only be told if they include you feeding the hungry or saving orphans from burning buildings.
    • I enjoyed the class discussion on (insert topic here).
  5. Don’t eat when meeting with a professor or adviser.
  6. Go to meetings prepared. If, for example, you’re going to meet with your adviser to plan your classes for the next semester, look at the schedule ahead of time and have some ideas.
  7. Don’t wait until the last minute to see your adviser or another faculty member. Examples of waiting until the last minute would include doing/saying the following:
    • I know I was supposed to register on (three weeks ago). What classes are left?
    • If it’s the week before finals, don’t say, “I’m still confused about the role serfs played in feudal England and some other stuff we talked about at the beginning of the term.” The professor is wondering why you didn’t come see them earlier in the semester.
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