Staff Editorial: Some rare advice

If GW was a student, fixing the CCAS advising system would be a major assignment long past deadline. For years, advising has been a serious deficiency for the school, and something that has had little to no recent progress. Now, the University is rolling out a degree auditing system to help students track their credits for a given degree. This system is too little and too late, but is being presented as a major step toward a final solution to the advising system, a claim that neither parents nor students should allow to go unchallenged.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this development is the presentation of a degree audit system as a solution to CCAS advising problems. Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Paul Duff claims that the degree audit system will lead to major changes in the advising system. Any student who has had to deal with this advising system knows this to be a falsehood. The problems with advising run far deeper than simply tracking academic progress toward a degree, which is all that a degree auditing system accomplishes. After years of working on this system, it is misleading to call this minor step a major change or even assume that the system will be a catalyst for further changes.

Any attempt to create an effective advising system needs to acknowledge that advising is more than simply tracking academic progress. First and foremost, this system doesn’t fulfill the mentorship role the current advising system lacks. A degree audit system will not be able to ask the questions for which an advisor is responsible; it will help students track what classes they need, but not process why they have chosen the major that requires them. An effective advising system would help students find a schedule that is challenging but manageable. This system does not provide any insight into the commitment required by different courses, and cannot help students develop a balanced course load.

If GW is going to get serious about solving the advising problems, the motivation will have come from both students and, dare we say, parents. It is unacceptable to have a problem persist as long as advising has, and yet there has been no sustained pressure from students and parents to solve the issue. Parents send students off to college with the belief that a university’s advising system will pick up where they left off in guiding their student toward a successful future. GW students – particularly in CCAS – currently lack this kind of guidance, and will continue to face this deficiency until sufficient noise is made.

In terms of student advocacy, the Student Association has not been a vocal advocate of the needed change. They claim lobbying efforts, and deserve credit for the degree audit system, but no representative has publicly characterized both the current system and lack of progress as a major failure. They have failed in effectively voicing the dissatisfaction students have with advising, and they share in responsibility for the lingering deficiencies of the system.

Calling the degree audit system a major step forward is like a student finally drafting a paper a month after it’s due. At this point, GW has more than failed the assignment. So here is some good advice on a campus where it is hard to find: keep voicing your dissatisfaction with the advising system.

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