Six advising secrets for first-year students

It’s the one thing every UofSC student has to do each semester: meet with an academic adviser.

If it’s your first term at Carolina, it’s especially important that you make the most of advising and get a successful start toward your degree. We spoke with Drew Newton, assistant director for first-year advising, to find out how.

1. Start at

The information on this web page can help answer a lot of your questions as you prepare for your advising appointment. 

2. Get to know your first-year adviser

You have an academic adviser; get to know them. They’re committed to at least one 30-minute appointment per semester, but you don’t have to wait until then to ask questions, and you should talk about a lot more that what courses to take.

“Advisers are really able to blend two worlds of student services and academic progressions into one person who gives you the answers or empowers you with the next steps to find the answers with a referral,” Newton says.

3. Use DegreeWorks

Available through Self Service Carolina, DegreeWorks is a degree-auditing tool that displays your progress toward your degree. It also has options including “what if” scenarios to help you determine if a course you’ve taken can fulfill prospective degree pathways.

“You can see how far you’ve made it, how much more you have to complete, and you could even forecast if your chosen major would extend or change your graduation time,” Newton says.

4. Connect with Major Change Advising

Thinking about changing a major within the college? Talk with your current adviser. If you’re thinking about changing from one academic college to another, make an appointment for Major Change Advising through the University Advising Center.

Advisers who specialize in this area can alert you to the deadlines you need to meet to be considered for admission into a new college. They also can talk with you in depth about how changing colleges may affect your graduation timeline.

5. Take advantage of Academic Success Coaching

Academic advising should involve a conversation about your success, comfort level and engagement in your current and prospective classes. Another type of advising — Academic Success Coaching — can help you discover your strengths and use them to guide your academic work and degree progression at UofSC.

Newton says Academic Success Coaching is important for all students, but especially first-year students who are having a hard time in their first semester or upperclassmen who are experiencing academic challenges in their program of study.

“I would encourage students to go now to Academic Success Coaching,” Newton says, “especially if you know you’re struggling with your studying for a particular course, if you feel really overwhelmed by the degree progression that is ahead for you, if you’re wondering about time management at large. And these are not things that are finished at your freshman year and are solved; they continue and even at a greater degree.”

6. Do your homework

The better prepared you are for your advising appointment, the more your adviser can help. And everything you need to prepare is online. You have 24/7 access to DegreeWorks, the academic bulletin for your program and your school’s or college’s website. Check those out, think of questions in advance and take ownership of your degree. 

Share this Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about