Entering college, there is an expectation that students will be given a decent amount of advising. Advising on declaring a major and minor, how many units to take, what classes to enroll in and, of course, graduation requirements.
Advising is essential to the school’s academic progress and the individual student’s success. When we receive subpar advising, or none at all, we are being robbed of a crucial part of the university experience leaving many students in the dark to make wrong decisions, potentially prolonging their time in college.
Every major has a group of advisors who should be easily accessible for students to contact when advising is necessary. However, too often are these advisors unavailable or are not trained enough to give reliable and accurate advice.
Responsibility does fall on the students to seek out advising, making sure they are on the right track for their education, but when advisor’s inability to answer important questions impairs on a student’s ability to succeed, something in the system needs to change.
At Sacramento State, students can go to the Academic Advising Center for first year, second year, transfer and undeclared advising appointments.
According to the advising website, the advisors have two goals: to help students take responsibility for their education and persist toward a timely graduation and to provide comprehensive advising through a three-phase program, beginning with orientation.
The advisors, both for general education and major advising, do their best to ensure each student leaves the office having a better idea of the direction they’re going in, but too often does the advising fall short of what we actually need.
An academic advisor’s role should extend further than class scheduling and bare minimum requirements. The kind of advisors we need are ones who can assist each student with nearly all aspects of academics, providing us with information and on campus resources.
In order for advising to be successful, it has to go above and beyond simply telling us what class requirements we still need to meet and what link to click on for our graduation applications. Especially for students lacking the crystal-clear picture of what they want out of their college experience.
We constantly hear our peers complaining about not knowing about a certain requirement or stipulations for graduation, even after attending an advising session.
Timeliness is also a relevant issue with advising. Many students have to wait to apply for graduation, often well past the preferred date of turning in applications, due to different circumstances – such as graduation being contingent on grades from the previous semester.
This is not uncommon, yet majority of students that apply the same semester of graduation have to wait weeks to get any feedback or advising regarding their application status.
There’s give and take on both sides.
Sac State is working on improving the academic advising standard by implementing a few new programs this year – Transfer Student Advising and Residential Student Advising.
According to Senior Vice President for Planning, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Lori Varlotta, the Transfer Student Advising program is intended for undeclared transfer students.
This program consists of mandatory academic advising including course planning, strategies for academic success and more.
Residential Student Advising is meant for residential students on academic probation. It consists of multiple advising sessions with several Residence Life Coordinators and a Residential Academic Advisor.
Students need to go into advising appointments more prepared by having questions prepared, transcript and degree progress forms and some idea of their collegiate direction; while advisors need to be more thoroughly trained to know how to answer the nitty-gritty questions and be able to give practical advice for students who hit roadblocks in their journey.