An advising pilot program introduced to several departments two years ago could replace the current advising system campus-wide next fall.
Students would not be required to meet with their advisers in sophomore and junior year to enroll in classes, if the entire campus adopted the program. The program would also develop online tools to help students register themselves.
The main goal of the pilot is to put more focus on students who need help with things outside of class registration, like career advice, life guidance and internship questions, said Samantha Gizerian, associate director for undergraduate studies in the Department of Integrative Physiology.
Advisers are still willing to talk about registration, Gizerian said, but students should make registration decisions themselves if they did not need help.
“Our biggest goal is to serve students in the way they need to be served,” Gizerian said.
Although the program has been around for a couple years, she said, the Provost’s Office recently expressed interest in making it the official advising system next fall. It is becoming more well-known across the departments outside of the pilot program, she said.
Provost Dan Bernardo was concerned students who should spend more time working with their adviser outside of registration were not able to see their adviser as much as they needed, Gizerian said.
However, psychology professor Tammy Barry raised concerns about the program at the Faculty Senate meeting on Feb. 8.
Barry said her constituents worried the program would give students the perception advisers did not want to meet with students, or that advisers were understaffed and overworked, when the opposite was true.
“Our advisers are hardworking and really do meet the needs of our undergraduates in amazing ways,” Barry said.
It is good for students to navigate their own success, Barry said, but it is important to make sure they are supported and do not fall through the cracks.
The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, the Carson College of Business, the Department of Critical, Culture, Gender and Race Studies, Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Molecular Biosciences, and Sport Management have been piloting the advising program for four semesters, Gizerian said. The pilot program aimed to mix departments and majors to see how it worked in a variety of disciplines, she said.
“Different programs have different needs,” she said.
To be included in the program, students must have completed 30 credits at WSU. Running start, community college and transfer credits do not count. Students must be in good academic standing and cannot participate the semester after being placed on academic probation. Students also have to have completed a full load of credits the previous semester, and cannot be in the process of changing their major, Gizerian said.
It is important for students changing their major to see an adviser so they can make a new plan and get the resources and departmental information they need, said Yung-Hwa Anna Chow, interim director of advising in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We want students to understand that advising is not just about registration,” she said.
ASWSU is working on a video project that would teach students how to use MyWSU and do things like search for classes, look at holds and swap class sections, which would allow advisers to make the most of their time with students, rather than spend time on technical elements.
“I think it really is an important educational piece for students to navigate this themselves,” Chow said.
Once the videos are developed, Chow said, they want to make it a milestone where students have to watch the videos and then take a quiz to make sure they understand how to navigate the system.
Chow said they have learned a lot in the past four semesters and have made changes accordingly. For example, students could not participate in the pilot if they had more than 90 credits, but now that number has changed to 75.
Provost Bernardo is set on moving forward, Gizerian said, but she and Chow are unsure whether the program is ready to go campus-wide.
It is still in the pilot stage, Gizerian said. A major hurdle they have to get through is making sure the system that puts students in the program and removes their advising holds is automated and accurate.
“I think [it’s] going to save a lot of fuss in the long run,” Gizerian said. “A lot of it is about changing the culture of advising.”