Academic Advising Can Make or Break a Student

When students step onto a college campus, not only do they have to juggle the changes they will soon encounter, but they must do the one thing that can make or break their college career: schedule classes.

This is where advising comes into play. And, yes, some argue that college students are adults and should be able to take care of scheduling classes themselves, but that just isn’t the case.

Scheduling classes can be daunting for a first-year student, and it can be especially problematic for a senior. A misstep in scheduling classes can mean the difference between graduating in three, four, five or even six or more years. 

A report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement in 2018 found that effective advising might have a larger effect on returning students, which directly impacts graduation rates. 

Additionally, students who receive more time with advisers and have more in-depth conversations throughout their sessions are more engaged. 

Advising is the core of student success in college, and the report showed the elements that should be discussed throughout advising include raising aspirations, setting goals, developing academic plans, registering for courses, helping students help themselves and focusing on the big picture.

Although some see advisers as the people that only register them for courses, good advising should include these elements to help a student understand the purpose of classes and how they will relate to future job aspirations.

One example of Youngstown State University employing this is in the Beeghly College of Education.

Charles Howell, dean of BCOE, said the college is encouraging advisers to discuss success strategies with students.

“They’re not just telling them what classes to take but also giving them suggestions about how to improve their academic record and be more successful,” he said. 

This is a great example, and it should be followed universitywide because seeing a student as a whole person and pushing them to succeed should be the main goal of advising.

Additionally, advising should be required for all students at Youngstown State University because although college students sometimes think they know what’s going on, they don’t. But it’s not always their fault.

Between assessing general education, major, minor and upper-division credit requirements, students can easily get lost. And the lack of advising can mean more dollars and time spent at a university.

Martha Pallante, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, is looking to make advising beyond a students’ first year mandatory in her college.

She said the college is looking to have students complete at least two check-ins with an adviser after they have taken 30 credit hours, and administrators in CLASS don’t think it’s best for a student to wait until they have completed 90 credit hours to check in with an adviser.

“We know for a fact that students who do see advisers stay on track to graduate quicker,” Pallante said.

Imagine thinking that you’re on track to graduate just to realize at 90 credit hours that you didn’t take the correct courses. This is why meeting with an adviser is so critical.

According to a 2011 survey by the National Academic Advising Association, colleges in the United States have an average of one full-time adviser for every 367 students.

YSU breaks advising down between colleges, and there are 17 full-time advisers, not including faculty members who also provide advising.

As of the fall 2019 semester, there were 12,155 students enrolled at YSU, which means there is one full-time adviser for every 715 students at the university.

Overall, it would be extremely beneficial for the university to hire additional advisers, and Brien Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at YSU, said hiring more advisers is something the university would like to do, but other alternatives could be considered.

“Investing in talented individuals doesn’t come at zero cost, and so we often have to look at ways that we can invest in more advisers or alternate ways of making sure that students’ needs are met,” he said.

Advisers know the ins and outs of programs and courses, while students don’t have the same knowledge. Advising is not mandatory for all students, but ultimately it should be.