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UA News
Undergrad advising will see overhaul

By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 16, 2002

Advisers to be hired, trained as advising shifts to colleges

The UA will hire 12 to 16 academic advisers and improve training for other academic advisers this year to address undergraduate student complaints about advisers not being available, having to see too many advisers and receiving inconsistent or useless information from advisers.

This is the first step toward plans to make colleges the main source for all academic advising. The aim is to give students and advisers one place where they can go to ask any question related to advising, and give students more access to advisers by decreasing the number of students assigned to each adviser.

Undergrad advising complaints
· Getting transferred to too many academic advisers
· Advisers not being available
· Advisers who provide information that is incorrect or not useful

Short-term plans for change
· Make one central place where advisers and students can ask questions about advising
· Hire 12 to 16 advisers this year

The changes won't come soon enough for some students.

Kristian Richardson, a marketing senior, has been trying to meet with an adviser from the Office of Academic Services since the second week of school, but yesterday he was turned down once again by the OAS.

"I've gone to the walk-in appointments like four separate times and they just won't see me · I asked to make an appointment next Tuesday after 12 and they said, ĪNo, sorry. We're closed that day,'" Richardson said.

The 10 advisers in OAS are responsible for advising 9,000 students.

"We see students back-to-back all day," OAS adviser Teddy Lopez said. "We just don't have enough resources for advising at the moment. We do the best we can with what we have."

In response to problems like the one Richardson has, the Academic Advising Task Force was formed, and an increase in tuition created a $1.25 million yearly fund to be allocated to improving academic advising.

The task force was composed of a group of students, staff and faculty asked to study academic advising and make recommendations for improvement based on their findings.

The findings noted three main complaints from students: having to see too many advisers, not being able to see an adviser when needed and not getting consistent and useful information.

Currently, students have to see general education, minor, major and possibly other advisers based on their academic involvement.

"If you have more than one major · you have to go to (OAS) for general advising and then to a major adviser and then to the other major adviser. It takes up more time than it should," said Olivia Izdebski, a political science and history senior.

In January 2002, the task force proposed advising solutions in the form of a three-year plan.

Solutions included designating a central location where students and advisers can go to ask questions and get advising referrals, as well as hiring more advisers, training them more extensively and rearranging advising so it all operates through the colleges.

The proposal suggested relocating advisers from the Freshman Year Center and the OAS to individual colleges.

The task force spawned the Academic Advis-ing Implementa-tion Team to turn some of these recommendations into reality this year.

"Advising is being recognized as a legitimate factor in someone's college education," said student body president Doug Hartz, a member of the Implementation Team.

Hartz is in the process of writing a letter to the deans of all UA colleges explaining the upcoming amendments and how they will be affected by the changes.

The UA will then hire 12 to 16 new advisers, Hartz said.

Since some advisers are in charge of up to 1,500 students, the new advisers will be distributed to different colleges based on how far they are from an ideal student-adviser ratio of 400:1.

Not every college will need advising help, though.

"There are a lot of units that have very good advising already," said co-chair of the implementation team, Betty Atwater. "There are many model departments and colleges where students are quite happy. Our efforts have been to identify areas where there needs to be additional advising help."

The implementation team's main operatives this year, besides hiring advisers, will be planning and preparing UA to shift all advising to the colleges.

Atwater said that the advising resource center and various online resources for students and advisers are in the works for 2003-2004.

In addition, a permanent academic advising council will be formed to lobby for advising and updating UA advising policy.

While advising can't be immediately fixed, the implementation team thinks eventually students will have better advising experiences.

"Students will get consistent information and develop relationships with their adviser, who, because of new funds, will be more accessible," Hartz said.

Hartz said that he doesn't want advising to be something that students ever have to worry about.

Some students are concerned and struggling with advising under the current system.

"It's difficult. It takes a very long time to talk to anyone and then they send you to other people," said atmospheric science junior Lisa Dashiell.

Some changes in advising could have been started last year, but due to a $13.8 million budget cut imposed by Gov. Jane Hull, then-student body president Ray Quintero gave the money designated for advising back to the UA.

Other money from the yearly fund designated for academic advising was spent on non-academic advising services such as the Integrated Learning Center and the Arizona Blue Chip Program

This won't happen in future years, Atwater said.

"The funding is already set and allocated. The president has a great commitment to seeing that that money is used for advising," she said.


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