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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    This or That: Academic advisers, Helpful or horrendous

    This or That is a weekly feature in which members of the Perspectives staff weigh in on a campus-related topic and issue their final verdict from two options. This week’s question is “academic advisers — helpful or horrendous?” You can’t graduate without seeing your adviser at least once in your college career. That being said, advising appointments range from eye-opening to hair-raising.

    Kristina Bui

    Verdict: Helpful

    At the beginning of freshman year, everyone from orientation leaders to your parents will press you to see your academic adviser often. All the time, really. Or you know, at least once a semester. Advisers will tell you how to stay on track, they say. Of course, so will the Internet, and the Internet won’t require me to make a special appointment for a 10-minute conversation.

    It’s not that advisers are entirely worthless. They can clue you in on scholarship and internship opportunities, and be a translator when the Internet’s directions get too confusing. But it’s also not necessary to turn to your adviser for questions that can be easily answered by finding the requirements of your major online or opening up the course catalog. It’s inefficient and a waste of your time and theirs if you go to an adviser without looking for the answer online first. If that’s all you rely on your adviser for, no wonder you think they could be horrendous. Advisers are helpful; you just have to understand they’re there to offer you some guidance, not hold your hand through college.

    Bethany Barnes Barnes

    Verdict: Horrendous

    Admiral Ackbar’s sage advice comes to mind when I think about advisers: It’s a trap! Students should never trust their adviser. If the adviser makes a mistake or tells the student wrong information, the student is the one that will have to stay another semester. I spent my senior year talking to a lot of students about being screwed over by advisers. During that final priority registration appointment I brought my recorder because I knew that if wanted to graduate on time I was on my own. The adviser was frazzled and it was clear she wanted to get the appointment over with as soon as it started. I asked her three times if she was absolutely positive about the classes I needed to take my final semester. I was postive I needed one more. She said she was certain. Unfortunately, she was wrong. During winter break I got back the results of my degree check and it turned out I needed to add one more class. Lucky for me, I did my degree check early; some of my classmates found out they didn’t meet all of their requirements too late. Advisers provide the illusion of being on the right track. I’m sure in some departments there are advisers that have time to be thorough, careful and attentive, but I wouldn’t stake my degree on it.

    Andrew Conlogue

    Verdict: Helpful

    Perfect honesty dictates that every reader of this paper will have some story about how a college adviser has failed them. Stories about the ineptitude of students’ college advisers are swapped almost like ghost stories, with each tale more hair-raising then the last. Certainly many complaints are justified, but to transplant individual shortcomings to the entire profession seems like hyperbole. The entire design of a college advising career is to be a resource to students. Though a test would be needed to confirm the notion, logic suggests that most college advisers are a good resource, and are good at their jobs. Of course there are inherent flaws in the system that are either a symptom of their workload (office hours that are always booked) or accepted practices that aren’t very helpful (weekly floods of useless emails). In addition, as in every profession, there are some really terrible college advisers, and more often than not it is these terrible adviser stories that are circulated around campus. All in all, however, college advisers still succeed as a decent resource, and are worth keeping around despite their flaws.

    Megan Hurley

    Verdict: Helpful

    I remember well the first time I made the ill-fated attempt to read my online advisement report alone. The differences between Tier 1 and Tier 2 classes were very hard to decipher, especially when applied to all of the transfer credits I was bringing to the UA. In addition, most of the community college classes I had fell into the elective category. I did not know what to do, so I turned to my adviser.

    Talking with my adviser was the best move I made. She helped me navigate through my online advisement report and understand what classes counted toward my general education credits. She also assisted me in figuring out the classes I would need to take every semester to graduate at my planned matriculation date. At the same time, my adviser told me about classes I could take within my major that would help me with my plans after college.

    Advisers are necessary because computers cannot do everything. Sometimes a student needs to talk to an actual person about what they are going to do with his or her future. I am excited about my academic plans because I do not have uncertainty. I went to my adviser early in the year and she gave me confidence that no form of technology ever could.

    Ashley Reid

    Verdict: Helpful

    Besides the fairly regular communication flaws and the consequences that come attached with the errors, academic advisers have to the potential to be incredibly helpful. While I will admit that they aren’t going to hold your hand and give you crystal clear instructions such as a high school counselor would, they are equipped with advantageous resources that can vitalize your academic career at the UA. Students need to recognize the line that separates a helpful and a bad adviser. Just because an adviser doesn’t completely compile your class schedule for you and give you extremely specific details does not formulate them to be horrendous.

    Ultimately, advisers are expected to be there for students as a support system and to have a certain amount of knowledge about your major and the career path you’re interested in. With that being said, it truly is the student’s responsibility to get their act together and figure out the classes and criteria they need. The advising systems vary from school to school, and some are more organized and complex than others—for example, Eller requires a “Freshman Follow-up” for their pre-business students, while many departments don’t even require meetings per semester. Advisers hand out the basics, answer the questions, and share support, but it is ultimately up to the student to reach out for resources.

    Michelle A. Monroe

    Verdict: Helpful

    You wouldn’t step into a new country and traverse without a map and travel guide, would you?

    The UA codes and academic rules are numerous and confusing, and advisers can lead you through them, tailoring the information to your specific needs.

    What does it take to make a class pass/fail? There are a lot of special rules and exceptions. Even if you find and read them all, an adviser can interpret them to your situation.

    They’re also great when the university changes a rule that affects your graduation.

    They aren’t just a necessary step toward graduation, advisers are a great way to make sure you’re on track throughout college so you don’t arrive at your senior year and find out your 27 units don’t count for anything.

    While making appointments, waiting in line and meeting one-on-one might sound unnecessarily tedious to people, they’re forgetting that the advice in there is invaluable.

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