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Does the current advising system meet the needs of first year students?
Posted by David Swenson on December 11, 2007 3:25 PM | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/57974
I think we have many excellent programs in place for first year students (Deciding Project,
Grad Planner, APAS, major Worksheets, areas of concentration, etc.) , but the inconsistency in
advising could be a concern. By inconsistancy I mean both how individual faculty approach
advising as well as the advising needs of particular students. I do not mean it as a negative.
As long as faculty advisors are not significantly rewarded for their advising efforts, they
will continue to put their efforts where it will have the most reward for them and the majority
of their students--teaching and research. This makes sense to me. I bet many students are quite
happy to simply email a list of courses to their advisor when registration rolls around,
because that is all the advising they need or want (I would have been annoyed to have someone
vet the courses I want to take, so I would definitely have fallen into this camp as a student).
For the group of students who have serious issues with transitioning to college, close
interaction with their advisor will most likely never be enough to get them the help they need
to succeed at UMM--advisors simply aren't trained to assist students who have big issues to
deal with. Advisors at UMM are not professional advisors, and (I can't say it enough) advising
is only a small component of an advisor's job. Some faculty are better at it (or enjoy it more,
as Andy said) than others. Getting students who are in serious trouble in touch with the
support they need can be done just as well (or better) by an instructor, RA, tutor, staff
person who knows them, etc. as an official advisor. I feel that expecting all advisors to work
closely with all their advisees is an unrealistic expectation from both the advisor and student
To reply to the question posed--I have no idea if the current system meets the needs of first
year students because I have very little idea of what a first year student needs (I guess
that's what your group is trying to find out--thanks for working on this!). Like any system, it
probably works well for some students and advisors, and not so well for others. I like the
suggestion of having first year students assigned an advisor who is also one of their
instructors, an idea which could probably be tweaked to be somewhat equitable in terms of
Barry McQuarrie |
December 12, 2007 10:32 PM
I have been dealing with this a lot lately as I have students I recruited coming to me for help because they a) can never connect with their adviser or b) aren't getting help from their adviser. I'm unsure if some advisers understand the serious financial implications students can have if they do not perform well. I really like Pete's idea of matching students with their actual professors. When I was a student at Gustavus, my First Term Seminar professor (equivalent to FYS) was my adviser until I decided I wanted to change it. That meant I not only had to check in with him before I register for classes, but I saw him at least 3 times a week in class. That level of interaction assured that he would connect with students if things weren't going well, or if things seemed "off."
Right now I am working with a first year student who has never met with his adviser because his adviser simply required him to e-mail a list of the classes he wanted to take for second semester. No face-to-face meeting, no four-year planning, no actual "advising." Just "send me your classes and I'll give you the OK." Well, it turns out this student is having some serious problems academically and personally and doesn't feel like he can go to his adviser for help. Serious, serious problem in my eyes.
December 11, 2007 9:42 PM
I feel strongly that first year students should be assigned advisors who also have them in class. Under the current system, I do not see my new advisees on a daily or weekly basis, and by the time news gets to me about an advisee's troubles, it is often too late to help them salvage their semester.
Pete Wyckoff |
December 11, 2007 8:31 PM
Matching advisors based on something other than "in my presumed major" may encourage students to approach advisors more often. Don't ask me how one would implement such a plan. A "find your advisor" ballroom dance? (kidding)
Len Keeler |
December 11, 2007 5:55 PM
I think it depends on the adviser and the student. As an adviser, I send two to three e-mail messages to my 20+ advisees per semester and the overwhelming majority of them are ignored. On the other hand, there are other advisees that come to see me almost every week when they have questions or issues to discuss.
I am currently teaching three IS courses with many first year students. Many of them do not even know who their adviser is. This is particularly true for those students having problems in my classes.
I think advising is hard work and very rewarding for those of us that enjoy it, but it is a 'chore' for those that do not enjoy it as much.
Andy Lopez |
December 11, 2007 4:20 PM
Honestly, some advisers here are amazing and others are not. Some take the time to sit down and help you plan your schedule and do real planning and others don't even learn the name of their advisees. Other than placing holds on students' registration based on credit hour completion, there really isn't a system at all that forces students to interact with their advisers--something that I think is incredibly important.
I think what would help is mandating what some major fields do, which is having worksheets where students can make a theoretical plan and design their entire course load during their college years. It forces them to look at their options, and gives advisers something to actually look at that reflects what a student wants.
Maria B |
December 11, 2007 3:41 PM
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