As the old adage goes, the first step to solving any problem is admitting there is one. When it comes to advising, GW has long acknowledged that there is a serious problem. One year ago, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences released a report outlining issues within the current advising system. It now seems that GW doesn’t know how to take the second step.
The report outlined three major areas to work on: adjusting the student-to-adviser ratio, improving incentives for more professors to become advisers and altering first-year advising. One year later, none of these improvements have been made.
The solutions that GW has introduced have provided mixed results at best. The Guide to Personal Success program seems to have been created with the idea of making up for some of the current advising system’s failures. In theory, GPS is supposed to provide students with a mentor to help them transition into the GW community. It is now time to reevaluate the effectiveness of the program.
The GPS program suffered from a late start and a shortage of staff willing or able to be mentors. As a result, GW turned to involved students to become GPS guides. This change, done out of necessity, needs to be reversed. Students who are assigned student mentors will have a radically different experience from those who can reach out to staff members. Much like advising itself, the solutions for GPS might consist of increasing student-to-guide ratios or creating more incentives for staff members to participate; either way this disparity needs to be resolved.
The first few weeks of school are an especially rough time for incoming students. The GPS program has the potential of bringing freshmen into the GW community smoothly. Nonetheless, the University should not assume that this program will make up for the rest of the CCAS advising system’s flaws. Simultaneously improving both programs without further delay is the best way for GW to take that second step.
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