Editorial: Cut through the clutter with advising department

WiseManOfTheHillsWe have all heard the horror stories of an advisement gone badly: graduation postponed because of misadvisement; students getting flustered during registration because they were advised to take a course without having the proper prerequisites; simply not getting to register on time because advisers are not available, or better yet, out of the country indefinitely.

There is no better way to put it: Baylor advising is a mess.

Some students require more than one advising appointment because they are double majors, transfer students or have had problems with a particular class. Some require more than two. These advisers, who are often professors whose primary duty is not to advise students, don’t necessarily communicate with each other, which can lead to conflicting advice.

And for students who may already be confused about graduation requirements and class registration, it can be a nightmare. It’s often hard to get second appointments to clear up lingering questions, as advising appointments fill up quickly and professors might not prioritize students who have already been advised once.

It’s clear the current system is confusing and inconvenient. Multiple appointments waste students’ time.

Take the example of a student with neuroscience/biology double major and a journalism minor. This student may be required to be advised by an adviser from each department.

That means they not only have to fit three appointments into their already obviously busy schedule, but also have to work around the hectic schedules of the advisers themselves. Now that is frustrating, especially when, advising students may not be many advisers’ top priority.

Because teachers act as advisers, it’s possible for them to have other priorities than advising, which may not lead to the best advice. It’s entirely possible to have an adviser who merely prints out and thumbs through your degree audit with the occasional nod.

There is no system of accountability for bad advising, the consequences of which a student must live with. Imagine missing a course requirement and requiring an extra semester to finish one class to graduate.

Furthermore, since students are moved from adviser to adviser based on classification and where the last name falls in the alphabet, there is no continuity between student and adviser. You aren’t assured of an experienced adviser who knows everything about your unique situation. We think you should be.

Isn’t the purpose of the advising requirement to make sure students are on track for graduation? And to check that students aren’t just absentmindedly picking courses?
It is an adviser’s job to know the details of the courses that are offered.

Students rely on them to be accurate and get them on the right track for graduation. We need these advisers to be well-prepared and thorough so that we, in turn, are not losing out on the education we are paying for.

We are responsible, of course, for our own education, but an adviser is necessary to help guide students through the system. More focus on the individual is not being met by our current advising system.

To solve this problem, we propose a department of advisement. This should be like the department of financial aid, in which specific counselors who are well-versed in their field work together to ensure the student is advised and all angles are covered.

A centralized department in which the process is streamlined and advisers are specialized in students’ majors could give students the best degree plan possible.

In order to increase students’ convenience, we also propose to cut down on the number of advising appointments a student is required to attend.

We agree freshmen and sophomores need advising, as these are the years that students are getting their degree path hammered out.

By junior year, though, assuming students were advised properly, they should know the types of classes they need and how to choose the best ones.

At this point, it would be ideal that students only get advised when they have specific questions. Advising should be optional at this point, but not required.

Students should not be the only ones seeing the whole picture in this situation.

We should be afforded the opportunity to work with someone who is solely devoted to giving students the best advice possible.

This is only possible if Baylor looks into the faults of its advising system and considers the best alternatives.