Tips for a successful academic advising appointment

Registration for the spring semester begins in November, which will be here before you know it. If you haven’t scheduled an appointment with your academic advisor, now is the time to do so.

What can you do to make the most of your academic advising appointment?

Show up. No-showing for your advising appointment is unprofessional. If circumstances come up that will keep you from attending your scheduled meeting, contact the advising center to cancel and reschedule. But just as important, you’ll miss the chance to receive guidelines and suggestions for your academic progress.

Be on time. Arriving late leaves less time for you and your advisor to discuss questions or concerns. Depending on how late you arrive, you may be asked to reschedule.

Bring any necessary documents. Transcripts, course planning sheets, placement test results. Store all of this information in an easily accessible folder.

Write down a list of questions. Take time before the appointment to write down any questions or topics you want to discuss with your advisor.

Take notes. Advisors document all appointments. You should, too. Keep track of the conversation, recommendations and suggestions. Written notes will be helpful to refer back to at a later date.

 Ask questions. An academic advisor’s job is to make the course selection process as simple as possible and help you avoid scheduling errors. An advisor can’t know that you’re unclear about something if you don’t ask.

Share concerns. Academic advisors know a lot about campus departments and resources. If academic or personal circumstances are keeping you from a successful semester, let the advisor know. He or she can direct you to support services that can help.

Accept responsibility. Advisors guide the course selection and registration process. But it is your responsibility to know campus policies and procedures, dates and deadlines. You are in charge of your academic career while at the college.

Solid academic advising helps with career planning, too. Your path to graduation is smoother with proper course selection and registration. Delayed graduation delays the job search. Additionally, students who meet with academic advisors can learn about campus resources such as Career Services, the Academic Learning Center and other departments that can help lead to a successful college career. Success in college is a key component to successful career development.



5 common career fears – and how to overcome them

What’s keeping students from selecting a major or career path? Very often it’s because they’re afraid. Do any of these fears sound familiar?

1. I’m afraid I’ll choose a major that won’t lead to a good job. What makes a job “good?” The answer is often a personal one. Salary and job security aren’t the only factors to consider. Plus, your major doesn’t always determine your career path. In fact, it rarely does.

2. What if I choose a major and change my mind? Welcome to the club! The majority of students at many colleges universities enter college undecided or change their mind once they arrive.

3. I’m afraid that everyone else besides me knows what they want to do. They may say they do because admitting to being undecided can be uncomfortable. Many colleges are shying away from using the word undecided for this very reason.  If classmates tell you their selected program, ask questions about how and why they chose that program. The conversation might help spark some ideas – or help you conclude they aren’t as decided as you originally thought.

4. What if I try something and I’m not good at it? You suffer from atychiphobia – the fear of failure. But how will you know you’re not good at it if you don’t try in the first place? Many famous people have offered thoughts about failure that all share the same message: Failure is part of life. Everyone has failed at something at some point. What you take away from it is up to you.

5. I’m afraid I’ll change my career path and my studies will have been a waste of time and money. Odds are good that you will change your career path. As you learn more skills, take on different roles and grow older, your interests will change. You’ll also find that your job search will change: Employers will pay attention to your work experience and skills set.

So what do you do if these fears are keeping you from deciding on a major or career path? Consider the following ideas. 

Do some research.  Can you imagine buying a car before researching your options. Give career research the same attention. Many different online resources can help.

Talk to people. Don’t be turned away by the classmate who knows what degree they’re pursuing. Ask questions about it. Talk to program chairs and advisors about specific programs. Arrange informational interviews to learn about career fields.

Take a class. Doing so is a great way to confirm if a program might be a good fit. Learning firsthand is a better approach than assuming.

Meet with a career counselor. A career counselor’s job is to guide clients through the career selection process. Schedule an appointment to talk about resources and options that can help you.

Meet with a personal counselor. A person’s indecision may be a symptom of something bigger that’s blocking their ability to make choices. A personal counselor can help identify the root of indecision and develop strategies for overcoming it.

Remember that career decision is a lifelong process. This isn’t a one-time event. Knowing that you’ll repeat these thoughts and steps may ease the stress of having to complete everything right now.

What’s keeping you from writing an awesome cover letter?

Cover letters cause many job seekers a lot of stress. It’s like writing a paper for class except you don’t receive a grade telling you how well – or poorly – you did. This three paragraph correspondence may likely be more challenging than any 10 page paper. But you should send a cover letter for two reasons:

  1. If it’s required and you don’t send one, the employer thinks you can’t follow directions.
  2. If it isn’t required and you don’t send one, you’ve passed up on the chance to market your qualifications beyond what your resume does. What if the other candidates included one?

Use the following checklist to help you “grade” your own cover letter before submitting it.

Reference the job in the email subject line. The vast majority of today’s job applications are emailed, which means the email itself is the cover letter. Don’t leave the email subject line blank! When applying to a job, the subject line should include the job title. Example: Job application for dental hygienist position. Include a job number if you know it.

Include a formal greeting. “Dear Mr. Jones,” “Dear Ms. Smith” are proper greetings to begin a cover letter. Avoiding “To Whom It May Concern” is easier than you may think. A quick call to the company or hiring department with a simple question (“Hello, I’m applying for the dental hygienist position and I wanted to know to whose attention I should send my application?”) often gets your answer.

Let the reader know the position name and how you learned about it. This information becomes the first paragraph. The person receiving your application may be screening several applicants for several positions. This information puts them in the right frame of mind to read your application. Example: I am applying for the dental hygienist position posted on Please accept my resume for your consideration.

Don’t repeat your resume. Give more details about information on your resume that help connect you to the specific job opening. Was there a particular course you studied while earning your degree that an employer might like to know about? Can you reference an example from your work experience that proves your ability to perform certain tasks or demonstrates certain skills?  Example: My clinical experience at Smith’s Pediatric Dental Associates allowed me to develop the personal and technical skills needed to successfully work with kids. I welcome the opportunity to bring this experience to your pediatric dental practice.

Check for spelling and grammar errors. This document is viewed as a writing sample. If it’s full of errors, the employer likely won’t even bother looking at your resume.

End the letter with enthusiasm. Use the final paragraph to reiterate your interest in the position. Example: I look forward to hearing from you regarding this position. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at 704-555-1212 or via email at with further questions.

Give your cover letter as much attention as you do your resume. When you receive the job offer, you’ll be glad you did.

10 tips for a successful part-time job search

Competition for part-time jobs is high. Gone are the days when part-time work was reserved for high school and college students. Students now compete against older workers seeking part-time employment to help make ends meet.

With next week’s CPCC Central campus Part-time Job Fest in mind, let’s take a look at 10 things you should know to increase your chances for securing a part-time job.

Use multiple job search resources. You can’t just look at online job postings. You can’t just attend one job fair. Mixing and combining your strategies yields better results.

Network and hit the pavement. Walk into that retail store and ask to speak to the manager about hiring opportunities. Let friends and family know you’re looking for work. People can’t help you if they don’t know you need it. Most jobs aren’t publicly listed anyway, so you need to network to learn about them.

Apply to many different places. Don’t just focus on retail or restaurants. Apply to both industries. Include other industries, too. And apply to many jobs. Ten applications could produce one to two interviews, so you should complete many applications to increase your interviewing prospects.

Know how to complete a job application. In addition to or instead of submitting a resume and cover letter, you’ll likely be asked to complete an employment application. Treat the application as seriously as you would your resume. This means accurately completing all the sections using blue or black ink, and checking for spelling or grammar errors. If you’re directed to apply online, remember the same grammar rules apply.

Have a list of references ready to go. You’ll most likely be asked to supply references when applying for the job. Know ahead of time who will be your references. Have at least three to five people on your list.

Check the want ads. They’re not completely a thing of the past. Many small companies advertise in local and community newspapers rather than posting positions online.

Review interview questions. You may not be expected to answer the question “where do you see yourself in five years?” but you can expect questions about your skills and abilities as they relate to the job. Know what questions to expect. Practice interviewing.

Dress appropriately. Wearing a suit isn’t necessary, but avoid jeans and t-shirts. A nice pair of pants, top and dress shoes, paired with minimal accessories works well.

Keep track. Develop a system for keeping track of which places you’ve applied, who you spoke to, and the hiring timeline given. This information will help you follow up appropriately.

Follow up. Don’t assume you will or won’t be receiving a job offer. When you submit an application, follow up within one to two weeks. After an interview inquire about your application status if you don’t hear anything within the timeframe the employer gave you.