The GW School of Business revamped its undergraduate advising this fall, rebuilding its staff for a system that aims to specialize and expand interaction with students.
The changes, spurred by the implementation of DegreeMAP – an online degree auditing system that tracks student progress toward graduation, enable advisers to work in “an intentional advising capacity with students,” Larry Fillian, director of undergraduate advising in the business school, said.
“Academic advising will never go away, but this was a great opportunity to shift our focus to developmental advising,” Fillian said.
The new advisers, dubbed Undergraduate Student Experience Advisers, will now also teach a required two-semester course for freshmen as part of the first-year development program. Previously, business school professors taught the course.
The addition of a teaching load for advisers prompted a restructuring of the position, creating high turnover in the advising center.
Only one undergraduate adviser in the business school remains in the position this year, but Fillian said the former advisers did not want to return to the new role.
Junior Nick Mejia, who is also a mentor for the first-year development program, said that in the old advising system, “most students may not have known their adviser.”
“You never had to actually know them until you picked your courses,” he said.
With advisers in teaching roles, Mejia expects them to build closer relationships with students.
“It’s the first time these kids are coming in, and they’re having classes with 200 or 300 people. This is a great way to tap into a network. [Advisers] can lead you and introduce you to other people in the business school,” Mejia said.
Advisers are still assigned to students by last name, but will also assume specialty roles in advising students who want to study abroad, as well as transfer students.
The business school’s advising center has already been widely praised as the best at GW, while the rest of the University’s advising structures have faced heavy criticism for the last decade.
The reform is one of the earliest instituted by second-year dean Doug Guthrie, who has pushed to raise the school’s undergraduate ranking, which hinges strongly on job placement success.
The school’s career center has undergone related changes this year, adding a required course for juniors in career management that caters to different student interests like finance or sports marketing.