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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Adviser shortage intolerable

    The UA’s main aim is to educate its students and to stay financially afloat while doing so. But meeting student needs costs money. Stopping to hire more advisers may feel like a holdup on the path to financial solvency. After all, advisers aren’t cheap to hire, especially good ones.

    However, the truth is that without hiring more advisers, the UA is simply setting itself up for and perpetuating a major failure.

    Some departments’ advisers are being expected to work with 800 and even 1,000 students, which shows that there is still massive room for improvement.

    Certainly, steps are being taken in the right direction. According to last week’s Arizona Daily Wildcat coverage of the nearly campuswide adviser shortage, the UA has added 40 professional advising positions over the past five years.

    Despite recent improvements, the low number of advisers on campus is an embarrassment to the university and a disservice to its students. Even the goal ratio of one adviser for every 400 students seems somewhat large, though achieving it would certainly be a good first step.

    When it comes to finding funds for hiring new advisers, UA administrators are in an admittedly tough spot. Budgets are tight all over campus, and hiring nonteaching professionals may seem exorbitant as departments are asked to tighten their belts.

    However, during a time when finances are tough and class shortages are rampant, having access to the best advising couldn’t be more important.

    Right now, advisers in many departments function as gatekeepers to classes, ensuring that only the students who belong are given spots. However, if the advisers’ job becomes more student-focused – an evolution only possible when advisers are not expected to work with thousands – they can help students determine what courses are truly best for them. When students have someone to work with when planning out their major course, they will take fewer unnecessary classes, helping to ameliorate the problem of course overcrowding that is presently gripping the UA.

    More advisers would also positively impact the problem the UA has with retention. The UA’s Academic Advising Task Force wrote in its report of findings and recommendations that “”good academic advising promotes student success”” – to the point that retention rates can be used (in combination with other factors) to measure the success of advising services. In short, better advising should lead to a better retention rate. And if the UA can retain students, it can retain their tuition dollars too.

    President Robert Shelton has already demonstrated his ability to mitigate future problems through present planning in his decision to enact difficult budget cuts. Let’s hope he and the rest of UA administration step up the focus on this major problem next.

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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