With the move toward mostly virtual classes in March of 2020, classes weren’t the only major aspect of college education that required a dramatic reworking. Advising for all students, including freshmen has been largely free of face-to-face meetings in professor’s offices, but to video calls over Zoom or Teams.
The process is one upperclassman have been largely used to over the years, but the confusion was often felt most palpably among freshman students, including some who are yet to truly step foot on campus.
The College of Education has moved to a new system of advising, where instead of faculty being split among a class of students, there is one person, who is not a professor, students will meet with to have questions answered and schedules generated. This new system will likely be university-wide, with one or multiple people acting as advisors over an entire college or school. Kandice Rowe is the director of the Student Center of Professional Education Services, or SCOPES, program in the COE and has been the advisor for students in the college since it was piloted in the fall of 2020. “I did a Zoom meeting with every single freshman. Which was about 120 meetings over the summer. It’s saying what I would say to a group of students but saying it one on one.”
Paula Lucas is a professor in the College of Education who mentioned that the university hoped the new system would bring consistency among the level of advising students receive saying: “We have one person in the college that does all the advising, we used to all do it – as far as faculty go. Some were better than others. Some took a lot of time; I know some faculty that spent 15-30 minutes per student who would come in… Others just kind of say ‘that’s what you want to take’ and then check off.”
It is yet to be determined if students will appreciate the new system when it is implemented across the university, some of which may be used by their current advisor. Professor Lucas had mentioned that she still receives emails from former advisees asking her questions or for general advice for classes and that if the university moved to this kind of system advisors might need to be specific in their role as such. “If that’s the way the university is going to go, there needs to be a specific person within each college who really knows the ins and outs.”
Kandice Rowe mentioned the additional new faculty mentor that students would be assigned, who has usually had experience in the field of study or interest that the student is in. “If students come to me and ask me what it’s like to teach second grade, I’ve not taught second grade, but if you talk to a faculty mentor who used to be a teacher in the real world, they can kind of explain that to them.”
The combination of a new system combined with the new format in meeting has certainly changed the potential landscape for how students will do advising, at least in the near future. Despite these changes, the university and faculty hope that the new system will be one of consistency but still provide the same benefits as the old advising system, if only over a video call instead of a physical meeting until the time of normalcy returns.