On Friday, after years of having students in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences muddle through a broken advising system, GW announced it will be making a change. The University is finally tackling the issues surrounding advising in CCAS. Naturally, a number of factors will have to work to make sure the changes are effective, but we greatly applaud GW for this major first step.
According to Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, the University will use $500,000 of funds saved by the Innovation Task Force to hire nine new professional advisers – doubling the number CCAS already has. Also, the University is expediting the implementation of the degree auditing system, a move that would bring the total cost of the changes to $700,000.
That the University has recognized the problems surrounding advising and announced plans to fix them is admirable. This marks a significant step in the right direction for GW, and we are excited that this is actually something the University wants to change. That the funds are coming out of those saved by the ITF is an added bonus, and the acceleration of the degree auditing system’s implementation is encouraging.
Still, the role of the degree auditing system is limited, and while the system will be helpful, it will not replace an actual adviser. In an ideal world, college advising is a resource students can use to explore their larger life goals, how those goals fit into GW, and what courses students should take to achieve those goals. The degree audit system, which will keep students on track with requirements and credits, will aid in only the third aspect of this ideal concept of advising.
The other facet of advising deals with how the addition of nine new professional advisers – which will raise the school’s ratio to 280 students per professional adviser – will change how students see their advisers. CCAS still has more students per adviser than the national average, calculated by the National Academic Advising Association in its most recent survey. That GW supplements professional advisers with faculty advisers could mean this statistic is misleading, but it is still something for the University to consider.
For too long, advising in CCAS topped the list of student concerns but was ignored. It is now finally getting the attention it deserves. But the proposed plans to change advising will require time and resources that advising has not received before. The University needs to make sure its plans procure the results CCAS students deserve. To make such an announcement about changes and then dub the system “fixed” is not sufficient; there must be follow-through.
This is a major move forward on a problem that has long plagued the University, and with this plan in place, we will hopefully see the necessary changes.
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