In Depth: Students struggle to find advice

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

Casey Joyce ran into trouble last Spring Semester when he decided to change his major. The switch was simple enough, but when it came to graduate planning, Joyce thought the advisory office fell short.

“I wish they had more information about it,” said the sophomore psychology major.

Although students are ultimately responsible for their own performance, some have expressed varying levels of disappointment with the guidance of their college advisory program.

Joyce isn’t alone in his dissatisfaction. According to a 2005 University Academic Advising Committee survey, 15 percent of students were dissatisfied with help creating their class schedules, citing one student who said “they aren’t helpful in determining what I could handle.” Another 14 percent were dissatisfied with general education and degree requirement information.

The survey also stated that 25 percent of students are dissatisfied with post-bachelor education discussion with their advisers.

Two years later, some students still show dissatisfaction with their academic advisers.

Paul Ricketts, a senior physics major, wished that the advising offices would do more to “stay in contact with other department advisers.”

However, not everyone has qualms with the advisory process. Ricketts thought his departmental advisers were helpful, “especially their ability to know what they’re looking for (in your major).”

Brad Sorenson, a senior in meteorology, felt that his advisers were “very helpful and knew how to keep me on the right track.”

A problem arguably worse than unsatisfactory advising is no advising at all. “No one actually mentioned (student advising) to me,” said Roxy Young, a sophomore in modern dance. Like Young, some students are left figuring out what classes to take and what major to declare on their own.

Freshman Alex Griffin said she has “no clue who (her) adviser is,” and chose her schedule and linguistics major by herself.

To improve awareness of student advising, a mandatory advising policy was implemented this semester. Freshmen and undeclared students are the first to have mandatory meetings with advisers. The policy was introduced to them during freshmen orientation. According to Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski, associate dean of the University College and director of advising, other grade levels will eventually be integrated into mandatory advising.

Prior to mandatory advising, University College kept busy with help-seeking students. Assistant dean William Jency Brown estimates that the office receives an average of 200 students per day at the beginning of a semester, plus more than 200 inquiring phone calls. Once students have settled into their courses, the average eases down to about 50 appointments per day.

To improve time spent at advising, Nazon Bruschke, a student adviser for the art department, encourages students to pay close attention to their required number of hours in a discussion with their adviser, “to make sure that they’re on track for graduation.”

[email protected]