The Importance of Academic Advising as an Undergrad
CU Denver student Nayzeth Landa reflects on her experience with undergraduate advising and its impact on her academic and professional careerAug 18, 2023
Whether you’re a student just starting out at CU Denver, or well into the process of completing your degree, academic advising is a resource that can help propel you towards success. If you’re an undergraduate student still deciding on your major, planning to change majors, and/or are looking into a minor or certificate program, the Center for Undergraduate Exploration and Advising (CUE&A) is a great starting point and has managed to help students like Nayzeth Landa.
During her first year at CU Denver, CUE&A assistant Nayzeth Landa started out undeclared, but on a medical track. “I always knew that the career for me had something to do with helping people,” she explained. However, as a first-generation student and the first of her siblings to pursue higher education, she admitted that she was unaware of all the different career paths that could also help her achieve her goal of helping others. Her perspective broadened after taking a University Skills & Engagement (UNIV) course.
Designed to support students, College Success (UNIV 1110) is a first –year course that focuses on academic skills and strategies, university engagement, personal strengths and goals, and diversity awareness and inclusion. In Fall 2022, Nayzeth’s course was instructed by Emilie Waggoner, Director of Student Transitions, and John Patsey, Senior Success Advisor at CUE&A. It was through John that Nayzeth learned about CUE&A.
Recalling her experience as a freshman struggling with her initial major, Nayzeth talked about her major exploration process:
“From the very beginning, it was very intimidating and scary! One day I was in a required biology class that I dreaded going to, and the instructor said something along the lines of, ‘Since you are all on the medical track, this is the first course introducing you all to your future career paths.’ I thought to myself, ‘All classes are going to be like this?!’ The weekend came, and I spent an entire day doing a four-page worksheet for the course, but I did not understand it at all! I was struggling so badly. I was having an emotional breakdown when my parents entered my room and asked me what was wrong. I told them I didn’t understand my courses and that I didn’t like my major. They told me if others could do it, so could I, but I was ready to be done with school and really considered dropping out. My only motivation was knowing I liked school and that I wanted a degree—I just didn’t know what I wanted to study. I began to feel super lost and alone. Everyone in all my courses knew what their major was, and they seemed to like it, so I had no one to talk to about what I was going through.
That same week, John Patsey asked everyone in the UNIV course what their major was, why they chose it, and why they wanted the certain career path they chose. He kept stating that it was okay if we didn’t know our major and that being undeclared was perfectly fine. Without knowing what I was going through, John was making me feel better and more comfortable with the fact that I was lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had finally found someone to reach out to for help, so I emailed John after class. I told him that I didn’t like my major and wanted to explore other careers, so we scheduled an appointment.
I was very nervous entering the appointment because John wasn’t my advisor, and I hadn’t talked to anyone about what I was going through—not even my family. John asked me a lot of questions to really get to know me: what work setting I liked or pictured myself in, what my strengths and weaknesses were, etc. Slowly but surely, I was beginning to open up. He started saying that he was proud of me for being first-generation, having a work-study job, and only being 17 at the time. He told me he believed in me, and that he knew that together we could find the major for me! Based on my interests, strengths, and personality, we discussed and narrowed it down to a couple of majors and courses I should try. From there, he asked me which class seemed the most interesting, and I selected HDFR 2000 with Dr. Ruben Viramontez Anguiano. We created my Spring 2022 courses, and towards the end of the appointment, I was very emotional. I felt huge relief and remember asking John if a lot of people cry in his office because I felt like crying—not because I was sad, but because being in his office felt like a therapy session where I was finally able to talk to someone about the struggle I was going through since the beginning of my college experience.”
HDFR 2000 ended up being the perfect class for Nayzeth, who is now majoring in Human Development and Family Relations (HDFR) and set to graduate in Spring 2024. She says, “With my major, you can be a lawyer, therapist, counselor, advisor, social services, work in higher ed, work in high school middle school, etc. There is a lot you can do. With the classes being about helping others, we learn about building relationships, understanding development, etc. My major has also brought me a ton of great opportunities! I came to CU Denver straight out of high school, am finishing my undergrad in 3 years, and am coming straight back for a master's thanks to the 4+1 program. I also got the opportunity to study abroad in the summer with CU Denver in Spain: Serving, Families, Schools, and Communities. While I was in Spain, I got to experience working with refugees that came straight out of Ukraine!”
Nayzeth’s positive experience with CUE&A even led her to apply for a work-study position with the office, where she now assists advisors at the front desk. Both her personal and professional experience have helped her to know the importance of meeting with an advisor.
“Academic advisors can guide you to the correct courses you need to receive your degree and help you discover different majors and resources you may need. They help students with academic concerns, academic probation/suspension, course selection/registration/withdrawal, career advising, degree audit and planning, early alert, major or minor change/declaration/exploration, etc. They can also connect you with resources on campus!
Working at CUE&A, I have noticed a lot of students feel the same way that I did. When they walk into our office, they’re very stressed and overwhelmed, but when they come out of a meeting with their advisors, they come out smiling. Working with all the CUE&A advisors, I can see how much they love helping students and providing the best resources for them. Having experiences with advisors that don’t listen can negatively impact students’ experiences. I want students to know that they have someone on their side cheering them on, supporting them, and believing in them during their academic journey. I would love to potentially be an academic advisor and a professor.”
Nayzeth suggests that students should see their advisors at least once a semester to select courses for the following semester. Want to make an appointment with your advisor? In your student portal (UCDAccess) you can make an appointment with your advisor by going to the icon at the top left that says “Make an Appointment”. Or you can go to Lynx Central and follow the “Appointments” icon.
CU Denver’s new student success platform, Inspire, powered by Civitas Learning is replacing Navigate, the previous platform used to schedule advising appointments. If you would like to learn more, check out our Student Success Technologies page. Further resources regarding advising can also be found on the advising page!