Opinion

Administration: improve advising

The university should make advising more accessible and personalized for students.

alisa_islamAs students work to schedule their classes for Spring 2017, some are encountering challenges.

They can choose to seek help at their respective advising offices, but they may soon realize that booking an advising appointment is not always an easy option, either.

Temple currently has separate advising offices for each school and college. To simplify the process for students and maximize their resources, advising needs to be more streamlined and accessible across the university.

The process of scheduling an appointment with an adviser varies from school to school, and oftentimes students have to compete for limited time slots.

“You have to get [an appointment] as soon as their schedule is put up, and they only update it weekly,” said Thomas Roman, a junior accounting major, who sees advisers in the Fox School of Business.

John Bishop, a sophomore chemistry major, has had trouble seeing an adviser, too. His advising is through the College of Science and Technology.

“They are very busy. They don’t have time really,” Bishop said. “I scheduled my appointment not too long ago to schedule my classes, and the next appointment was mid-December. It’s a considerable amount of time.”

It seems like many advising offices can’t handle the influx of students around especially hectic times, like class registration and withdrawal periods. This can pose a problem for students whose classes fill up quickly, and set back their graduation date.

“I think students have a reasonable expectation of meeting with an adviser,” said Chris Wolfgang, the senior advising director for the College of Liberal Arts. “It’s part of what they pay for.”

Temple would benefit from extended hours in advising offices to accommodate the spikes in demand during peak times — like at the beginning of the semester — and hiring more advisers in schools with the most students.

The College of Liberal Arts, the school that offers the most majors and has the second largest number of students, currently only has 12 advisers on staff.

The Fox School of Business, the largest school in terms of enrollment, only has a few more total advisers on staff with six advisers working with freshmen and sophomores and 11 advisers working with juniors and seniors.

Some students also expressed frustration that they have to inform an adviser of their academic plan every time they meet, since they don’t have an ongoing relationship with a specific adviser.

“I feel like they don’t really remember who I am,” Roman said.

Some universities like the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have a system in place in some of their schools and colleges so that each student is matched up with an adviser when they enter the university. This allows students to avoid having to explain their whole story every time they go to an advising appointment and also allows for more specialized advising based on the student’s individual situation. Temple could benefit from instituting a similar system.

“I’d like to have just one adviser, just so that she would know everything,” said Seojeong Meang, a freshman biology major.

Having an individual adviser would also help students who have majors or minors in different schools to find information specific to their studies.

The university’s honors advising already helps students in this way because advisers work with students across different schools and colleges.

“We like to figure out with the jigsaw puzzle of their life how all these different pieces can fit together in a really wonderful, beautiful pattern,” said Honors Program Director Ruth Ost.

“For example if you are an English major but you are considering adding a minor in mathematics we can advise you on that information even before you are able to go and declare that program,” said Musu Davis, a senior academic adviser in the Honors Program. “[This] helps students make more educated decisions on what they want to do next.”

Currently, students without this individualized advising have to navigate the various school and college advising offices on their own, collecting and analyzing different semester plans while keeping in mind the requirements for various departments.

Gabrielle Marshall, a senior painting major with a psychology minor in CLA. She said dealing with multiple advisers can be difficult.

“They tell me I have to meet different advisers for each set of information,” she said. “I have to keep going back and forth. … They’ve told me things that I could do that I couldn’t do and I’ve been behind.”

These types of setbacks occur because advising at the university is disjointed. Temple needs to streamline advising for students to see one adviser for the duration of their schooling, so students like Marshall can receive individualized advice.

These improvements to advising need to be made to benefit students not only during registration periods but throughout the entirety of their schooling at Temple.

I hope the university considers tailoring its advising setup to better meet the needs of students.

Alisa Islam can be reached at alisa.sarasarn@temple.edu.

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