20:12 PM

Thinking about changing your major? Your academic advisor will guide you through the process

Written by: Lauren Sawyer

Academic advising provides college students with the support and guidance to make informed decisions about college majors and careers; that lead to staying on track and graduating. That’s why University of Houston- Clear Lake’s Senior Academic Advisor Gabrianna McDowell, who advises students in the College of Human Sciences and Humanities, said she is very intentional when advising students. She makes sure they have plans in place and explores their options with them.

“You go above and beyond when you have a passion for what you do. I’ve never had that ‘that’s not my job’ attitude,” McDowell said. “I really enjoy helping students get started and explaining things that prevent them from making mistakes later on. I believe in being proactive and setting the standard that students have to meet requirements to keep their financial aid and remain in good financial standing with the university.”

McDowell added that her passion for helping students is driven by being a first-generation college student herself. She is the oldest of three children, and neither of her parents received a high school diploma. Because she had caring individuals to take her under their wing and guide her, she knows how it feels and wants to be a valuable resource to her students.

“It plays a role in how I am with my students. I was that student that didn’t know anything. I participated in the upward bound program in high school and luckily got a scholarship,” McDowell said.

The Academic Advising office in each of the four Colleges also assists students that would like to change their major. Majors can be changed within a college, or to another college. The process differs for each student depending on individual needs. The best way for a student to start, is by scheduling an appointment with their assigned academic advisor through the Navigate app.

Ashlee Galloway, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and will graduate this fall. She said the College of HSH's Academic Advising office has been a big help during her time at the university.

“The advisors, specifically Gabrianna McDowell, would sit down and meet with me. I could e-mail or call her whenever I needed help figuring out my remaining hours and courses to fit those hours, she helped me with fulfilling my degree, while also accommodating my busy schedule as a single mom,” Galloway said.

 Galloway said being able to speak with McDowell about her goals, reassured her that she was on the right path, which eliminated having to change her major.

“Meeting with my advisor gave me the confidence I need going into my career. Academic advisors are there to assist us with our academic plans and schedules,” she said. “They also help with making decisions towards our personal education goals. Having them is a major asset.”

Galloway wants students to know that they are not alone in their struggles, and uncertainty about future careers and life choices is something a lot of young students go through.

 “This is the time to not only learn academically, but about yourself. Taking advantage of the resources that are available to you on campus can help open your mind to different interests,” she said. “Dig deep about the things you really want out of this life, and then chase them. Take risks. After all, the most expensive ‘no’ of your life, is the chance you don’t take.”

McDowell said she wants her students to feel confident, supported and empowered after their academic advising session.

“I try my best to help students understand that life is a curve. It is not a straight line or path for any of us,” she said. “If you put your mind to something you can do it. Success is the result of hard work and preparation. When students know that they have someone in their corner, they are more likely to reach out for assistance and stay in the academic environment.”

McDowell said advising is focused on academic, career or personal goals. But the advising office wears different hats, including advising students on life experiences.

“I want students to understand wherever they are, it’s okay. Even for my students on academic probation. Don’t beat yourself up about where you are or have a seat at a barrier and stare at it,” she said. “Find a way to move around it and pursue your goals. I am always here to create independence and build professionals.”

For more information about academic advising at UHCL, visit https://www.uhcl.edu/academics/advising/.