Jean McGee serves as the advisor for all graduate students; full time, part time, and weekend; in the School of Communication (SOC). She has been working with SOC since 2006 and her hard work has paid off for many graduate students.
In 2016, McGee was awarded the SOC Staffer of the Year Award for her endless determination and positive attitude, no matter what the issue or challenge she faces. McGee was also awarded the SIS Special Recognition Award and the American University Staff Collaboration Award in 2017. An excerpt from one of the nominations for the SIS Special Recognition Award said that McGee, "thoughtfully addresses student concerns and facilitates the acquisition of instructor and departmental permissions for course registration. She streamlines a process that can otherwise be frustrating, resulting in an improved experience for our students."
SOC asked McGee a few questions to find out more about the important relationship between an graduate advisor and their student.
1) What are a few things that many graduate students seek advice about?
Graduate students tend to be very focused and many are already looking ahead to post-graduation when they start their programs. This is great, but students need to remember that they are here for an education and their academics should come first, at least for now.
For example, waiting to do an internship, for academic credit, until closer to the end of their academic programs can often lead to a better learning experience at the internship and could potentially lead to employment after graduation. Also, our programs are very intense. Trying to combine four graduate courses with a full-time job can be disastrous. Time management is critical.
3) When advising graduate students, are you focused on career choices and what they can do once they finish their programs, or about the programs themselves?
My work with the grad students is focused on academics. My goal is to make sure that students are fulfilling all of their requirements for graduation. For career related questions I generally refer students to the Career Center, since that is their area of expertise. However, I am always happy to hear about what students plan to do after graduation, or talk about ideas. The Career Center, however, has the expertise in terms of job hunting and career services.
4) What would you say to those graduate students who may not see the benefit of visiting an academic advisor?
I think it is always useful for students to meet with an advisor. First of all, students should meet with an advisor to check requirements for graduation. Advisors are also great at answering general questions, such as, "Who do I talk to about my bill, financial aid or career services?" Perhaps a student is feeling overwhelmed and just needs to talk about what is going on, or may possibly be in need of a referral for more specific services. Students often ask about internships. How would an internship fit into a student’s academic program and/or schedule for the semester? What are the requirements for an internship for credit, or can it be done for no credit? There are many ways an advisor can help!
5) What should a graduate student do to get the most out of their academic advising experience?
Be proactive. If there is a problem, or if a student has a question, don’t wait until things get out of hand. Be sure to read e-mails sent by your advisor and other University offices, the Registrar in particular, for important information. Pay attention to deadlines. Take advantage of services offered by the University, such as the Career Center and the Academic Support & Access Center.