Health Professions Advisor Views

How to prepare for your first appointment with your advisor

Posted by Lolita Wood-Hill, M.S. on July 25, 2014

I have been a prehealth advisor for more years than I care to admit. That said, I can tell you that there is always one student who starts off on the wrong foot and earns my permanent “I don’t like your attitude but am going to try to help you anyway” stare. Do not be that student! How? Here are some tips on how to have productive and successful interactions with your advisor.

What do all advisors wish for in students?
A brilliant, angelic, slavish bookworm who only does what they are told! Not really, but having even just one of these qualities will give us hope and make our hearts soar!

How should you prepare for your first visit (impression) with your advisor?

  • Be knowledgeable … not an obnoxious expert, but prepared.
    You should already have an idea of what is important for you to do about your dream to become a dentist. Look at the information on this website and some dental school websites to see what resource and information you can glean from them. Why? This lets your advisor know that you are an active participant in your plans for the future and that you are ready to begin a successful journey with them as your partner.
  • Come in already having an idea of the general courses you will need for dental school.
    Review your college’s course catalog and be prepared to talk about the classes you think you want to take. Then, ask for help in how to schedule these classes. It may be a good idea to create a spreadsheet of your four years in college with all of your required courses in your core curriculum, the courses in your major and the predental requirements listed. Although your plan of how to tackle the courses may be a little unrealistic, your advisor will appreciate your efforts and can more easily steer you in the right direction.
  • Know your SAT/ACT scores.
    Why? Advisors may be interested in your scores so they can better understand what you may be capable of in terms of maintaining a competitive academic schedule without jeopardizing that all important science GPA. Are you strong in math, or should you repeat pre-calculus? These are the questions that your advisor may ask, and having your test scores on hand will help them give you the best schedule possible to suit your unique needs as a student. Be ready to accept their opinions that you may need help in some areas!
  • Know what your goals are and ask about ways in which you can prove that this is the path for you. Library Students Feature
    Ask your advisor about internships and shadowing opportunities in dental offices in your area. Should you consider taking some nonscience classes that would be useful for dental school, management 101, public health, foreign languages? Advisors are there because they like to give advice. Take some! Be prepared to accept that sometimes the advice may not be what you want to hear, but may be what you need to do anyway. You do not want to be seen as the person willing to swim upstream to disaster just to prove a point!
  • Ask about resources for help with your science and math courses.
    Is there a peer tutoring program at your school? Are there extra workshops or pre-class workshops to help you prepare for exams? Are there upperclassmen that the advisor trusts to give you guidance and support? What clubs does your advisor suggest getting involved in?
  • See them frequently (no stalking in the halls, bathroom or cafeteria please!)
    Make an appointment and be ready with some questions. We do not read minds and cannot remember everything you tell us, but we will remember that you came in and complained about how long it took for you to get an appointment with us!
  • Ask for assistance if you are doing poorly in a class.
    Ask about your options; do not ask about how we should have known that this class was going to be so hard or how to get out of it without any penalty. Hard classes are real; you cannot avoid them without damaging the competitiveness of your application. Your advisor will question your integrity and your “grit” if you constantly look for the easiest way out.
  • Most importantly, be open and honest with your advisor about your concerns and your goals. Be willing to let them help.
    And always bring chocolate—that is key! :)

About Lolita Wood-Hill, M.S.:

Lolita Wood-Hill

L.A. Wood-Hill, M.S.
Director, Prehealth Advisement
Yeshiva University

Ms. Lolita Wood-Hill has been a Prehealth Advisor for over 20 years. She was the premed advisor at City College of City University of New York (CUNY) for many years and retired from Hunter College of CUNY in 2010. She has been Director of Prehealth Advising at Yeshiva University (YU) since that time. Ms. Wood-Hill received her B.A. in History from Boston College, and her most recent graduate degree in Urban Affairs was earned at Hunter College of CUNY in 2010. 

Special recognition for her work has come from several organizations, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Associated Medical Schools of NY (AMSNY) and the National Association of Medical Minority Educators, Inc. (NAMME). She has also served on the governing board of several local and national prehealth advising organizations, including the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP), the Northeast Association for Advisors for the Health Professions (NEAAHP) and NAMME. Additionally, she has served as consultant to several non-profit organizations dedicated to making health professions careers more accessible to disadvantaged students. She often collaborates with her husband (a financial aid officer), providing workshops around the country regarding medical school admission, financial aid and debt management.

Ms. Wood-Hill’s most recent endeavor has been to help facilitate a college fair, College Edge, for young people in Washington Heights, NY with students at Yeshiva University (YU) organizing and running the entire event. The event is in its third year and has hosted over 300 students from some of the neediest high schools in New York City, offering workshops on financial aid, interviewing, career choices and career training pathways.