Online Advisor meeting with Student on a Video Meeting

What Does An Academic Advisor Do?

Navigating the complexities of life as an online student can be challenging. That is why the University of Arizona Online Academic Advisors are a critical resource for students. Academic advisors, or student advisors, help guide you through your educational journey and university systems. They ensure that you’re on track to earn your degree and work with you to overcome challenges you might face as an online student.

What is an academic advisor?

As a student, your academic advisor is your dedicated resource for academic knowledge, experience and insight. Academic advising is a collaborative relationship between you and your academic advisor. They collaborate with you to develop meaningful educational goals that are consistent with your personal interests, values and abilities.

We spoke to Shery Crater, Senior Academic Advisor II for the College of SBS-Arizona Online and lead advisor for the SBS Online Advising team, to help us answer some of the most pressing questions about the role of academic advisors. 

But first, we’re curious to know how Shery became an Arizona Online advisor.

Shery explains, “Like many advisors in this profession, I found advising after working for years in another field. I had always been in a role with a lot of student contact, so it was a natural transition. Advising for me feels like a true helping profession, and I love working with students as they work toward their goals.”

Academic Advisor Shery Crater

Your student advisor helps you evaluate and realize educational and career goals by:

  • Approving your academic program of study.
  • Clarifying essential program requirements, policies and procedures.
  • Identifying university resources that are available and beneficial to you.

What does an academic advisor do?

“We help students plan for their degree, select courses that create a good balance, and help them progress toward that final goal of graduation,” answers Shery. “For online students, because they are not on campus, we are really critical in helping connect them with the resources and contacts that are available to them.”

What skills do academic advisors need to help students?

Shery points out that you have to be an active listener, critical thinker, and creative problem solver as an academic advisor.   

“Many days, we are dealing with different student issues or challenges, and our goal is to find the best solution for that specific student,” she elaborates.

What should a student expect from an academic advisor? 

You can expect advisors to help you along your academic journey and give you critical information and referrals when needed. Academic advisors actively work with students to identify goals and create a plan from the first semester to graduation together.


4 out of 5 students indicated advisors helped them feel more comfortable seeking help and gave them a clear idea of what courses to take. Academic Advising was reported as the most frequently used campus student service. 

- Arizona Online Student Survey, June 2020

As a student, you should:

  • Explore academic, career and personal goals with your academic advisor.
  • Utilize resources available to you, including those that are web-based, to monitor academic progress.
  • Know which advisor to seek out and when. As an Arizona Online student, you can easily find your assigned advisor, find their contact information, and make an appointment with them through Trellis.

What is the most crucial attribute of an effective academic advisor? 

For Shery, being an effective student advisor means being proactive with students by trying to anticipate or prevent issues. Academic advisors also need to be quick on their feet to help a student solve a challenge or answer questions in a timely manner.  

When should a student reach out to an academic advisor?  

Shery says that you should meet with your advisor at least every semester.

“But certainly reach out when you get started in your program,” she adds.


Lastly, we ask Shery what sets the Arizona Online academic advisors apart from advisors at other universities.  

“Because our student population sometimes has unique situations and needs, I think Arizona Online advisors are great at meeting students where they are and trying to help them along their own journey, which will look different for all students. We take a really personalized approach to advising with our populations.”

Closing out our conversation, we ask Shery if she can recall an experience during her time as an advisor that has stood out to her. 

“It’s hard to pick one specific situation,” she admits.

I am continually impressed with my students and all the things they juggle. One of my favorite times of the year is graduation when we will sometimes meet students for the first time face to face.

She goes on, “It is such a privilege to be part of the student’s journey and celebrate their successes. I feel pride in the student’s accomplishments, especially while balancing so many things. I also love seeing students return after years away and start their journey again and find such great success the second time around. I get to see true perseverance and tenacity each semester, which is inspiring!”

We’re so excited that Shery could share her insight and experience with the Arizona Online community. Remember, Arizona Online academic advisors exist to empower you as a student and to help you realize your goals and ambitions.