By Brianna Gleghorn
Advisement is one of the beginning steps incoming Youngstown State University students go through when preparing for higher education. But within each college comes different experiences; some may be positive where others experience challenges.
Allyson Carnahan, a junior business major, said she had a rough advising experience before switching to the Williamson College of Business Administration.
“When I came to YSU for the [freshman] orientation, I met with one of my previous advisers and everything was fine,” she said. “But when I came back in the fall, the adviser didn’t have my file. She didn’t know who I was, and she was kind of mean to me.”
Carnahan said after switching advisers, she later switched colleges. Now, she’s studying business and is happy with her current advising experience.
“I definitely plan to always see my adviser,” she said. “She’s helped me a lot with my personal life and work.”
Some colleges depend solely on academic advisers to guide students through registering for classes, internships and career advice.
Karen Henning, a senior academic adviser in the Beeghly College of Education, said her college relies on professional advisers instead of faculty advisers.
“We start off with the students that come in through orientation in the spring and summer, and we go through an advising component when we get them registered for their first year of classes,” she said.
According to Henning, there are only two full-time advisers to handle advising needs in the BCOE.
“We may not have enough people in advising,” she said. “It does get to a point where if somebody’s sick and out for a few weeks in this college, there really are only two full-time advisers.”
Henning said one of the full-time advisers is currently on maternity leave, leaving a part-time adviser to fill the position.
“It makes it a little bit tougher not just for us but really for the students because it can put a backlog, although it has not at this point,” she said.
In Henning’s opinion, academic advisers work best because advising is their main priority.
“We know the curriculums in and out; we know all of them and it can help with the students,” she said. “We know what the [general education requirements] are and that not every gen-ed fits for every major.”
Henning said while she values the advising system in the BCOE, it does bring difficulties when scheduling enough time for every student.
“It does make it a little tougher for the colleges that don’t have faculty advisement because that means every student that’s in the college is coming to the advisers,” she said.
The lack of advisers mixed with a large population of students is a campuswide issue, according to Henning.
“The biggest thing on the campus overall is the fact that we may not have enough people in advising,” she said. “You’ll go through a file with a student, and you want to go through things a little bit more, get to know them a little more also.”
Brien Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at YSU, said although advising across campus is similar in purpose, the content of what an adviser does may be different.
“I think the function of advising is similar,” he said. “As far as the work they do, advising students about classes, looking at transcripts from other institutions, advising them how to graduate on time.”
In Smith’s opinion, it’s difficult to see all advisers as the same because each college has its own needs.
“It wouldn’t be easy to take an adviser from [the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services] and move them over to [the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics],” he said.
Wim Steelant, dean of the STEM college, said STEM students see an academic adviser for their first year.
“Once you’re done with your first year, you get transferred to the department and then you’re advised by the faculty,” he said.
Denise Walters-Dobson, academic administrator in the STEM college, said faculty advisers can provide research opportunities, internship travel opportunities and information on courses.
“[They have] inside information that maybe the average student looking at the screen doesn’t know,” she said. “So I really think that the sequencing is a big deal here, and ask questions so they get that information they need.”
Although students are only required to see an adviser their first year, she encourages them to make regular visits.
“I really think that students should have to see an adviser,” Walters-Dobson said. “We have mandatory advising for engineering. They have to see an adviser every single term because it’s such a lock step, and if you get out of lock step, your whole [schedule] could be off.”
Walters-Dobson said the advisers are there to be attentive to student needs.
“It’s always something different, always something new,” she said. “We just want to make it better for them and have them realize their goals.”
Claire Berardini, associate provost for the Division of Student Success, said advising is comparable to teaching because each adviser has different styles.
“Sometimes in one of the colleges where it may be shared between professional advisers and faculty advisers, a student’s experience in that college is going to be different because there’s more people advising.”
According to YSU’s website, advisers are provided as a resource to guide students through their degree but the responsibility to carry it out lies on the student.