Are academic advisers accessible and effective?
Most academic advisors are professors, so they generally tend to be very busy, either with their classes or other work, although this may vary slightly from adviser to adviser. The majority of advisors are very helpful to their advisees, but they will only meet with the students on occasions that they are needed, such as when the students are making big decisions. You’ll most likely meet them shortly after they are assigned to you, then again during key stages in the year (such as right after a recess week or at the start of a semester) and of course in anticipation of module selections for the next semester. I would highly advise you take advantage of your advisor’s learning: you can definitively stand to benefit from their knowledge of the school, its courses, and other professors. Moreover, it is more than likely that they have already seen other students making similar choices and will be able to use that experience to help you make your own decisions.
When students are assigned an advisor in their freshman year, the professor in question may not be from their field of interest. Once a student’s major is decided, they get a new academic advisor from the same field, and the academic advisor’s role becomes more prominent. At this point, students can receive effective advice about module selection, internships, and other decisions to make on the road to majoring in their subject of choice.
If you haven’t declared your major yet, but need some advice that your academic advisor cannot give, there’s nothing stopping you from seeking out a more relevant professor. This is especially easy if you’re taking a course in your field of interest because you can just approach your professor outside of class. However, even if they’re not teaching you at all, it is easy to ask a prof whether they would be willing to meet with you to discuss your interests (and maybe tell you about a course you could take in the future!).
Professors are a very useful resource. If you’re looking for advice on (or experience in) something specialized that might not be available at Yale-NUS, profs are also your best bet for putting you in touch with professors outside school (such as ones at NUS) who are doing work that you’re interested in.