One of the first meetings you have on your college campus is a meeting with your academic advisor. This might happen during a summer preview day, or it might be a meeting that’s set up during Fall freshman week. Whenever you have it scheduled, you might be wondering what an academic advisor is actually for. After all, what exactly do they do?

An academic advisor is assigned to each student at a college in order to meet intentionally and strategically about that student’s academics, career goals, and classes. They are a counselor of sorts, but they focus on counseling college students on their best and most beneficial path through college. Academic advisors also monitor academic performance and can intervene if it appears that grades are plummeting and something is going on.

So what else can you expect from an academic advisor? Here are some specifics regarding the role academic advisors play in a student’s life.

1. You’ll have an initial orientation meeting

Your first meeting with your academic advisor is a great place to start building a great relationship. You might feel a little nervous, but take a deep breath and introduce yourself. Share about your interests and career path goals. Your academic advisor is there to support you and help you make the best academic decisions that you can while you attend that university. The more they get to know you and your interests, the more they can help you make informed decisions about your major, the best classes to take, and what all is required of you in order to graduate.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during this meeting. After all, you’re acclimating to an entirely new place and new academic scene. Your academic advisor does not expect you to have it all together, so don’t be afraid to ask him or her anything. Academic advisors will most likely also explain the available academic services, timelines and information for class registration, curriculum requirements, and explain any other relevant academic procedures.

2. Expect to check in with your advisor multiple times

Throughout your college career, you should plan on meeting with your academic advisor according to your college or university’s regular schedule. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t schedule additional meetings if you have questions or are making a big change—like switching majors.

Academic advisors are there to provide career guidance and can even speak into questions about internships or other opportunities that come your way as the years go by.

3. He or she might inform you of campus resources

Think about your academic advisor as an ever-present guide through the rocky and tumultuous landscape of college. They want you to succeed, and one of the ways they can do that is by letting you know about all the available resources that are at your fingertips on campus. Your academic advisor might let you know about resources for residential life, student services, financial aid, tutoring, mental health counseling, and more!

Your advisor is like a gateway to the rest of the college campus. If you have a question about college, he or she can probably answer it.

4. Your advisor will monitor your academic performance

While this might seem like “big brother is watching,” it’s really a helpful safety net that colleges put in place in order to help students succeed. If your advisor is ever alerted to a student’s failing grades or a dramatic shift in student performance, he or she can advise the right path for remediation or other types of academic assistance. If there’s a personal problem that’s causing the academic performance issues, an advisor can point the student in the right direction for counseling or additional support from residential life or other departments.

5. Career guidance is a part of it all

While most college campuses have a dedicated Career Guidance office, your academic advisor will play a role in that element of your college experience from a different angle. When it comes to choosing which classes to take and which might benefit you in the long run, your advisor can speak into what might work with your schedule and what will make sense for you in order to graduate.

If you have questions about how your major might apply to a career field you’re interested in, don’t hesitate to ask—this is a great question for your academic advisor.