Independence is key in college.

Doing it on your own can be the greatest part of college but it can also be scary if you're not prepared.

Part of being your own person includes planning your own schedule and making sure you're on track to graduate. Yikes.

Don't worry, you'll have at least one adviser to help keep you on the right path. But don't bother them with silly questions, your time is limited and they're busy, too.

So here are a few tips from Elizabeth Guertin, the director of advising for the College of Arts and Sciences, about how to make your adviser work for you.

1 Help your adviser help you

In high school you were forced to talk to an adviser before enrolling but in college the decisions are up to you.

"Most students don't come in as often as they should," Guertin said. "The more they visit their adviser the better off they'll be."

Guertin suggests making an appointment to see your adviser at least twice every semester.

You'll be surprised how much information can come out of these meetings.

2 Don't waste your time on credits

While an adviser is there to help you figure out which classes to take and when, don't rely on them for only that information.


CU's online degree navigator -- called DARS, accessible through MyCUinfo -- provides up-to-date information about which requirements you've met and those you still need.

It includes detailed information about what requirements each class will fill, including ones that you have not yet completed.

So take advantage of the online resource and go into your adviser's office with a plan. Have them double-check your schedule, but there are more interesting things you can discuss with them then just credits you need.

3 Get organized

For most college students, a planner can become your life support.

With classes, tests, homework, social activities and work a planner, whether paper or electronic can save you from becoming overwhelmed.

If you're organized, it's much easier to get your questions answered and any problems solved, Guertin said.

Map everything out and you can see ahead of time when there are conflicts. The earlier you approach a problem the better.

Once you have a schedule, you can bring questions or problems to an adviser who can help you balance your time.

4 Get personal

Don't just talk to your adviser about current problems or scheduling for the nearest semester, get more personal than that.

"The better your adviser knows you the more they can help you," Guertin said.

Talk to your adviser about future goals and plans like what kind of internships you might be interested in or if you're thinking about studying abroad.

These things have to be planned in advance since waiting until the last minute could impact your graduation date.

5 Let you adviser advise you

Advisers are just that; they're there to give you advice.

While most students tend to think of an adviser as someone who knows about academics, they also have some insight on other aspects of your college careers.

Getting involved in student groups, campus activities, academic programs and job prep are just a few of the extras that advisers can help with.

They're a good starting point for most student-related questions, Guertin said.