Registration reminder of advising pros, cons

Story by Brittni Straseske, Staff Writer

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At a university that has four separate colleges, 80 degree programs and countless classes to choose from, it is easy to get lost in a four-year plan of classes. Advisers are here to help students navigate the waters of degree audits and graduation plans.

Students are assigned an adviser based on their major or minor. Vicki Whitledge, professor of actuarial science, said she thinks the job of an adviser is to provide accurate information for the students to make decisions regarding classes and their future.

“(The job) is one of just assistance because in the end the student does have to make the decisions for him or herself because it is their life and their academic career and then their career after academics,” Whitledge said.

Whitledge has 38 students assigned to her for advising. She said the past two weeks have been busy as students prepare to register for fall classes.

That number of advisees is fairly typical for most of the mathematics degree programs, Alex Smith, chair of the math department, said.

Smith estimated 80 percent of a professor’s job is teaching and 20 percent is the additional work, which is not limited to just advising.

“All that other stuff on top of teaching … gets crammed into there … and they’re probably doing 130 percent,” Smith said. “They make time (for advising) but it might be at the expense of a scholarship or committee work.”

Jennifer Steckel, a special education major, said while she has heard stories of bad advisers, she thinks it is most beneficial to have professors also act
as advisers.

“I think it works well if professors double as advisers because, that way, they have firsthand experiences and can share these with their advisees,” Steckel said. “I do believe that some professors can be too busy to have a large load of advisees, but a majority of them really care about their students.”

Freshmen and sophomore students are required to meet with their adviser every semester in order to get their PAC code needed to register. After reaching a junior status, students aren’t required to check in.

Carter Smith, chair of the foreign language department, said even though it is not required, upper level students should still meet with their advisers.

“Students don’t take, in my experience, as much advantage of their adviser as they should,” he said. “I think they should come in to review any given semester … and then ask questions when they get closer to the end, not so much what they are taking but what they plan to do.”

Teresa Dallman, an education studies major, said though the system has worked for her, she feels many professors don’t have enough time to advise on top of other duties, such as research or advising an organization.

She credits her success with advising to a persistent attitude on her part, she said. Her boyfriend, however, has faced problems, she said. After submitting a request for graduation, and planning on graduating in May, he was told he was still 10 credits short of a degree. After talking to his adviser, he realized he would have to stay another semester, she said.

“This was a very frustrating and upsetting experience for him, and it was all due to poor advising,” Dallman said.

The college of business has taken steps to avoid mistakes like this. The Center of Academics, Development and Enrichment advises new students. Professional advisers sit down with students and plan out their schedule and form a four-year plan, said Diane Hoadley, dean of the college of business.

 

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