Columbian College to start student peer advising program

Students have teamed up with GW’s largest college to install a peer advising program next fall.

The Student Association will be working in conjunction with the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences to implement the system, which would supplement faculty advisers.

“This is a CCAS initiative that we are pushing for the creation of, not control over,” said sophomore Nicole Capp, president-elect of the SA. “We want this to be a long-term facet of CCAS, not a one-year SA initiative.”

Tim Little, SA vice president for academic affairs, said the SA received 1,600 responses about academic advising in their April 2005 Senate survey.

“Constantly, undergraduate students have recognized failings associated with CCAS advising,” Little said. “By instituting a peer-advising program, more advisers would be available to answer questions and provide a student’s perspective on classes, majors, student life, academics, etc.”

Peer advisers would likely have office hours, in addition to communicating with students via e-mail and instant messaging, Little said.

Advisers would likely be trained through an online program hosted on Blackboard, according to a memo from Capp and Little. It would not be mandatory for students to meet with peer advisers.

Students in GW’s largest college have an assigned faculty adviser who is responsible for removing academic holds and approving four-year plans.

Ideally, there would be 70 to 80 peer advisers, said Landon Wade, director of the academic advising program in CCAS, but the program is aiming for at least half of that for next fall.

Adviser applicants must have at least a 3.0 grade point average, a declared major and at least two semesters left at GW, according to an e-mail sent to CCAS students. Additionally, they must be available for two hours per week, starting in the fall.

“Peer advisers will be there to address any issues that students may have,” said Wade, “but the focus will be on a CCAS student’s perspective.”

The program will be primarily directed towards freshmen and sophomores, Wade said. Depending on applicants’ availability, some may be involved with Colonial Inauguration.

The Elliott School of International Affairs already has a peer advising system in place. There are 18 student advisers in he Elliott School who have walk-in office and instant messaging hours, in addition to their availability through e-mail.

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