Academic Advising undergoing self-audit, finding areas for improvement

February 28, 2017

Daryn Vlad

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     Last semester, Academic Advising started the first phase of an internal audit with a self-study by asking students, faculty and other UCCS community members for ways they can improve students’ experiences with their office.

     In phase two, the study switched to an external audit, where two people were brought in from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) to review the department.

     The auditors met with students and staff and discussed their perceptions of academic advising for two days on campus.

     The self-audit is to review the department’s strengths and determine areas that need to be improved, according to Brett Fugate, director of advising.

     These reviews highlighted what was being done well in advising, and patterns within the system that could be updated.

     “We definitely are not perfect by any means, but we are always looking to improve the experience students have with advising,” Fugate said.

     The department acknowledges that it is often difficult for students to schedule appointments with their advisers, especially at busier times in the semester.

     According to Fugate, advisers are kept occupied with several responsibilities that students are unaware of.

     “Time gets filled up with administrative, clerical things,” Fugate said.

     Bill Bannister, a lead adviser, said that advisers also handle double the national average of caseloads.

     He hopes that Academic Advising can bring more advisers on staff in the future.

     Students are encouraged to meet with their advisers to discuss academic, professional and personal goals, as well as the work it will take in order to achieve these, said Bannister.

     The purpose of the audit is to minimize the extra responsibilities and maximize time spent between students and advisers having meaningful, worthwhile conversations.

     “We need to help ensure that advisers are advisers. The department wants to focus on the quality of conversations had between staff and students, and wants to ensure that students are having the most positive experiences with their advisers as possible,” said Fugate.

     “Advisers are professionals who have intentional, transformative conversations with students about educational goals, plans, the future and life.”

     According to Bannister, UCCS’s advising program impressed the auditors from NACADA.

     “We use a centralized advising model, which not every school does, so they praised us about that,” he said.

     Centralized advising refers to the method in which professional and faculty advisers work together in one administrative unit, according to an article from Kansas State University, where the NACADA Executive Office is located.

     There is no determined end date for the audit, according to Fugate.

     “Students probably won’t see any big changes this semester, but we should have some exciting things to share by the fall,” Fugate said.

     So far, the audit has been a positive experiment for the department.

     “We’re really excited about it,” Fugate said.

      Students are encouraged to schedule appointments with their advisers throughout the semester to discuss goals and plans for success.

     Drop-in advising is available on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.

     To make an appointment from Tuesday to Friday, call 255- 3260 or email advising@uccs. edu.