You have questions, and these people have answers. Before the semester is over you should meet with these five people on your campus to make sure your college career is on the right track.
1. Your Major’s Department Chair
The job the of the department chair is to manage and oversee all faculty and resources of the department. This means they can find all the information you need about your major in one place. For example, instead of you spending hours on your school’s general financial aid website trying to find scholarships that you qualify for, you can go straight to the chair of the department and find scholarships just for people in your major. Also if there’s a class in your major that you really want and its already closed, the department chair is one of the only people who can probably still get you in. The department chair (or their office) may also have other information about free trips, summer programs, competitions, internships, fellowships, and jobs!
If you feel a professor is sexually harrassing you, discrimanating against you, or treating you unfairly because of a disability, the department chair is legally obligated to address this charges. Less serious problems like an unfair grade can also be settled by the department chair of the subject that professor is teaching.
2. The Career Counselor
The purpose of going to college is to learn, and then get a job. Most students get the learning part down pat, but wait until their junior year before they visit the career development center. The best strategy for taking advantage of the career counselor’s office is to visit early in your college career, and visit often. Creating a resume, finding internships, and practicing for job interviews are just some of the resources you’ll need to take advantage of. Seeing the same counselor every time you go is plus, because they can really get to know you and let you know about opportunities before they are advertised to the entire university. A career counselor can also put you in touch with alumni who are in your career field.
3. The University’s Ombudsperson (also known as Ombudsman)
You’ve probably never heard any of your classmates talking about going to the Ombudsperson’s office, but you should make a visit. An ombudsperson is an appointed official who investigates the problems that indivuals may have with an institution. They are totally independent of the university and whatever you discuss with them is confidential. Once you explain to them what your problem is they can explain to you how to make an official complaint and let you know the next steps you should take. If a professor treats you unfairly or if you have been denied something you think you earned, the ombudsperson is definitely the person to help you. They also help student groups that are affiliated with the college or university.
4. Your Financial Aid Adviser
Going to the financial aid office is daunting for every student. The adviser may seem rude and not have real answers for your questions, but the secret to dealing with financial aid is being annoying. Make numerous appointments with the same counselor and send daily emails until all your questions are answered. Try to start asking questions before a semester starts, because the busiest times for the financial aid office is during the first week of the semester. There office is open over summer and winter break, and this is the best time to contact them. Also check studentloans.gov before you meet with the adviser so you know the status of your loans.
5. Your Favorite Professors
After you earn your bachelor’s degree, you may want to pursue a graduate education. The reason it is important to meet with your favorite professors is so that you can build a relationship with them. Once you have a relationship with these professors, they can write you a recommendation for graduate school and talk to you about their experience in graduate school. It would be best if you could get a recommendation from a professor in your field or a high level person in administration.
Who have you met with already?
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