CSAS looks to change advising program

In an effort to give students better direction for their studies, faculty members and students are working to improve the undergraduate advising system in the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences.

“There have always been problems with advising, but now there’s motivation to change it,” said Student Association undergraduate Sen. Carrie Potter (at large), chair of the Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee. “There’s a lot of communication and the faculty has been really open to hearing our ideas.”

Administrative committees and the SA plan to alleviate problems in the present system to make advising a more effective endeavor for students, CSAS Associate Dean Kim Moreland said.

Moreland said her top priorities are improving the freshman advising workshops and enhancing the overall advising process for first-year students. Improvements specifically are intended to help students who have not declared a major and those not enrolled in advising classes, she said.

To better understand students’ advising needs, the SA recently sponsored a town hall meeting on academic issues to give students the chance to speak out about their advising problems. Potter said the SA is looking for other ways to canvass students so it can address their most pressing concerns first.

Sophomore Danielle Cormier said she is frustrated with the advising process since she has not yet picked a major.

Cormier said her adviser has only told her which courses to take to fulfill her requirements.

“(I am) not receiving actual guidance,” Cormier said. “No one’s giving me help in my direction.”

A peer advising program might be more productive in giving students direction in selecting a major, Potter said.

“The best way to learn about something like that is through word of mouth,” she said.

The SA will formulate a comprehensive plan for advising changes to present to the GW community by the end of this academic year, Potter said.

But Potter said changes to the advising system may take months to implement.

She said the large enrollment of CSAS may mean the peer and professional advisors available in other GW schools may not be as easily accessible in the Columbian School.

Moreland and Potter both stressed the importance of effective communication between students and faculty members.

Students’ opinions are important in the process, Moreland said. For example, the current evaluation of the Columbian School’s freshman advising workshops includes students as committee members.

Department heads and program chairs in CSAS also have offered input about their departments’ advising processes through a survey conducted by the dean’s office, Moreland said.

“What we’re all interested in is having the best possible advising for the students,” Moreland said.

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