Students seek more help from advisors

By
October 16, 2003

Though the registrar and the provost are working hard to improve
the advising system with workshops and retreats, many students are
still unhappy with the advising program at Mills.

An advising workshop, which occurred on Sept. 19, involved 55
faculty members and served to introduce the new general education
program.

“Advisors learned how to be advisors and to help guide students
in making choices of academic careers and their futures,” said Dr.
Mary-Ann Milford, Provost and Dean of Faculty.

In addition, advisors for freshwomen attended an advising
retreat on Aug. 19, and were given a manual to read before they met
with their students, according to associate director of student
administrative services and registrar Alice Knudsen.

However, even with these improvements on advising, many students
still expressed concern that the advisors aren’t trained
properly.

“My advisor had no idea that I was signing up for the wrong
sections and didn’t even know I was a transfer student,” said a
student who wanted to remain anonymous.

Advisors are given information about each student, including a
copy of her transcript if she is a transfer student, according to
Milford.

“We continue to support the advisors in every way we can by
getting the information to them and encouraging them to use it,”
Knudsen said.

Students often feel their advisors are misguiding them, by not
being clear about how heavy a workload they are taking on. Some
students believe their advisor has nothing of value to say to
them.

“She is incompetent,” said sophomore Catherine Abboud about her
advisor.

However, some students feel that their advisors are very
helpful. “He is very knowledgeable about his topics,” said
sophomore Rosalie McGie.

“She [my advisor] told me all the prerequisite classes that I
would need to take for my supposed major and was very supportive
and all for the classes I chose,” said freshwoman Catherine
Neill.

“I like that they give us the opportunity to find our
way…she’s [my advisor is] easy to talk to and she thinks it’s
really exciting to be older and returning to school,” said resumer
Darvany Deal.

Other students often find themselves being rushed through
meetings with advisors.

“He was sort of like here’s your class, signed it, and now off
you go,” said freshwoman Haley Davis.

Some were assigned advisors that aren’t in the field of their
majors.

“I was surprised when they gave me a chemistry professor,
because I had put math as my intended major,” said Neill.

One student, a child development major who chose to remain
anonymous, said she was assigned to an advisor that was in the
natural sciences department because her advisor became ill.
However, her advisor, whom she has never met, is listed as a
professor in the education department.

This problem arises because there aren’t enough advisors to
cover all the majors for first-year students, said Knudsen.
“First-year advisors don’t cover all the majors, but we try and get
all the divisions covered,” she said.

For the fall semester, there are four advisors each in letters,
social sciences, and natural sciences, two in fine arts and one in
education.

Though there are over 90 advisors on campus, this also includes
the major advisors that are chosen by the student when they declare
their major.

“Major advisors are usually specialists in an area of a
student’s interest and they help formulate the ideas of future
plans for the student,” said Milford.

Moreover, students also cite scheduling conflicts as a problem
with meeting with advisors.

“I’m trying to declare my major, but because my advisor is on
maternity leave, I can’t get anything done,” said Abboud. “The
advisor I’m trying to switch to doesn’t have any office hours
posted, so how am I supposed to know when to come and talk to him.
They are not well organized.”

Many students complain that they have to do everything
themselves. One student even got another teacher to sign one of her
forms. “He kept referring me to other people,” said Davis.

However, the administration points out that the advisors
shouldn’t be the one doing all the work. “Students need to
understand that advisors won’t spoon-feed the information, there
must be response and discussion,” said Knudsen. “Students
themselves need to take initiative, very few things are offered on
a plate and there are certainly a lot of opportunities if one makes
the most of it,” Milford added.

Furthermore, students can switch advisors at any time by filling
out a form in the M Center and getting their old and new advisors’
signatures.

“Students are also welcome to see any advisor they want, but
their official advisor should be the one to sign off on things,”
said Knudsen.

However, students are often uncomfortable with the idea of
switching advisors when their advisor is also one of their
teachers, which an anonymous student noted.

Solutions for the advising problems are in the works. The
student information given to the advisors is just beginning to go
online.

“Rather than compiling the file, we can just change the access
codes,” said Knudsen.

Milford said she is “optimistic about having the workshops.”

However, the student body also has its own solutions. One
student felt they need undeclared advisors as her current advisor
was assuming her major even though she is undecided.

Deal feels “it might be better to have it set up like they do at
a community college where there are a few people who advise all the
students and know all the programs and professors.”


Students seek more help from advisors was published on October 16, 2003 in News

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