To compensate for the recent spike in enrollment, many college advising centers are hiring new staff members and looking for other ways to ease the advising process.
Most recently, the Fox School of Business and Management received approval to add two more advisers to their staff. The College of Science and Technology just hired one more adviser who began Feb. 5. The College of Liberal Arts and the School of Social Administration are also looking to hire additional advisers.
Other changes include an increase in electronic communication in the advising process. Advising centers on campus can now send students e-mail notifications, and advisers can use inter-office instant messaging. Advisers are also utilizing OWLnet session reports, in which students can review their previous advising sessions, and trying to make useful information available on Blackboard. Some colleges are also relying on more group advising and workshops to help students.
Ruby Singh Siddiqui, director of student services for CST, said that in addition to answering students’ questions, advisers are also supposed to empower students to become more self-sufficient while giving them the tools they need to succeed.
“It is not just giving students a fish, but teaching them how to fish,” Singh said.
Many students’ understanding of what advisers should be doing generally corresponds to Singh’s description. Lauren Hopson, a junior psychology major, said she expects advisers to provide students with an idea of what path to take and how to approach it.
“I’ve only had two different people but they were both very sweet and generous and helpful, and they answered all of my questions,” Hopson said.
Undecided sophomore Michaela Pinto said she had a similar experience.
“Anytime I went [to advising] and I had questions, they answered them,” Pinto said.
Others expect more of advising than what they have received in the past. Senior Spanish major Allison Doan said she’s experienced inconsistent advising throughout her years at Temple and wishes that they would spend more time with the students looking for help.
“It’s hard to find an adviser that will spend more than five minutes with me,” Doan said.
Concerns about the time spent with students were also expressed by sophomore Moira Somerdyk, a political science major.
“More students means more chaos,” Somerdyk said. She added that she fears increased enrollment might lead to less time for student advising.
Anar Khandvala, academic coordinator for CLA, said students need to be proactive in their academic careers.
“If a student is proactive, a lot of academic planning can be done in consultation with an adviser with reference to the university bulletin and by meeting the faculty adviser,” Khandvala said.
Khandvala said that advising is extremely busy during student orientations for transfer and freshman students, and that advisers are doing their best with so few advisers compared to the large number of students.
All advisers must go through an advising training curriculum, said Karen Sofranko, director of the academic resource center. She said that they have a three-month probationary period in which they are expected to meet certain benchmarks. They should have general university knowledge, know all processes, policies and procedures, understand the student record system and learn the basic curricula of all of Temple’s colleges. Once hired, there is continued professional development that all advisers are required take.
This year, one professional adviser, an advising administrator, a faculty adviser and a new adviser will be honored for their excellence in advising undergraduate students, Singh said. Any student, staff administrator or faculty member may nominate an adviser which they think has been particularly excellent for the undergraduate academic advising awards by Feb. 29.
Sarah Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org