Academic advising under review; hopes to improve department

November 28, 2016

Jasmine Nelson

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     As UCCS undergoes their 10-year evaluation by the Higher Learning Commission to become an accredited university, Academic Advising is being assessed by the university and NACADA, which is the National Academic Advising Association and Global Community for Academic Advising.

     This semester, 74 percent of undergraduate students have communicated with their academic adviser, 47 percent of undergraduate students have met with their academic adviser and 4,800 individual meetings have occurred between students and advisers, according to Brett Fugate, director of Academic Advising.

     “We tend to help students a lot when they’re in transition, whether it’s year to year, or semester to semester, or even major to major,” said Fugate.

     Goals for the department are to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of advising by increasing appointments and offering group appointments.

     This started with the availability of peer advisors, who can answer many student questions on a walk-in basis, said Fugate.

     Advising will be more developmental and proactive, rather than prescriptive, according to Fugate.

     Students won’t be handed a list of courses to take; they will be supported while deciding which classes will best fit their needs, he said.

     The department also hopes to reduce the number of advisers each student works with throughout college.

     Because of a one-month training period for new advisers, Fugate hopes the turnover rate will reduce to ensure that students will not be transferred between multiple advisers.

     Some students decide not to visit the academic advising offices until their senior year, but advisers help all students practice effective study habits, choose majors and determine their strengths and weaknesses.

     Jessica Tvrdy advises students who are applying to the nursing program, which accepts 78 students per academic year.

     “I have some students who need to take 50 credit hours and earn straight A’s in every one of those classes to meet minimum requirements to apply to my program,” said Tvrdy.

     “My job is to provide them with that information, and if they’re ready to look into a different major, I can guide them.”

     Students who want to change their major can speak with their advisers to determine a good fit before transfering to a different adviser.

     “There are students that I care very much about. It’s great to see them get a new major, but it’s sad to hand them off, and I also recognize I’m just not their best person anymore,” said Tvrdy.

     Registration and the beginning of the semester are the busiest periods for Academic Advising.

     Students seek help in choosing their courses and understanding their degree audit, but students should also come in more often to discuss their current classes, according to Tvrdy.

     Academic Advising has an early alert program that teachers use to let advisers know when a student is not doing well.

     “(Students) don’t come and see me to help figure out that maybe what worked in high school won’t work in college for study skills, or what worked for freshman year doesn’t work for sophomore year,” said Tvrdy.

     Students can also receive help on deciding whether their current major is the best option for them based on strengths and interests.

     “A lot of the time, it’s just about having a conversation and knowing what questions to ask,” said Tvrdy.