Advising is more than PIN numbers

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The College of Arts and Sciences has revealed a new process for academic advising, affecting the 1,600 students enrolled in the largest of Fairfield’s four colleges.

CAS has released a student advising checklist that includes six sections that students must prepare in advance. The questions range from a straight-forward list of what core and major classes remain, to reflection questions on how study abroad and internships could help in preparation for career goals. The checklist concludes with course preferences for the upcoming semester.

The completed checklist and a printed degree evaluation are required at each advising session. Students without their prepared materials will not receive advising. An email sent to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences explained these changes by stating, “Advising is a conversation that requires student preparation.”

The new system requires students to take time to reflect on their academics beforehand, which Dr. James Simon, associate dean of CAS, hopes will “bring more balance to the process of advising.”

In the past, students showed up to advising sessions to briefly discuss courses and receive the PIN necessary to access the registration portal. Simon said he wants to make the advising session more of a conversation between advisors and advisees, and move away from the simple transaction of PINs.

After receiving feedback from FUSA and pretesting the new advising system with the sophomore Residential Colleges, the CAS decided to move forward with the advising checklist.

A number of students surveyed about the previous advising process admitted to feeling awkward when meeting with their advisers, Simon noted. He said he hopes that the new advising checklist will encourage students to utilize their advisers for academic advice.

He said he believes that it comes down to students being good consumers and making the most of the resources on campus. “You are paying a small fortune for this education, so get your money’s worth,” Simon advised.

The print button on the degree evaluation will measure the number of people who actually make use of this feature and follow the advising requirements. Simon said he plans to follow up with the advisers and gauge if the advising period was different using the new system.

While students have been notified of what the CAS expects of their advising sessions, many have not heard from their advisers, though advising week has already begun. A number of freshmen have yet to connect with their advisers for the first time, including Alexandra Aylward ’17, who is currently undecided in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Due to the large number of communication majors at Fairfield, many advisers in that department do not have time for individual meetings with their advisees before registration. Communication students can meet with any communication professor throughout the year for more in-depth advising, and are told to go through the department secretary to receive individual PINs.

Seniors in the CAS are hesitant about the new checklist, as many of these features are no longer relevant. Senior Ally Sheridan, a math major, has already planned out her last semester.

“My adviser reached out to me individually and did not mention any of the new features. I already have my schedule set, so the checklist didn’t really concern me,” she said.

Senior Marty Misiaszek questioned whether the checklist is the best way to facilitate a conversation in advising sessions.

“I’ve been blessed with a great adviser and I think making students come prepared takes away from the mentoring environment,” Misiaszek said, and he wondered if his adviser will utilize the checklist.

Underclassmen will have to put the most effort into this new advising process, though they also have the most to gain.

Junior Tim Manning said, “It seems like a lot of work, but I think that it will help students plan out their four years better with it.

“I think it shows that the College of Arts and Sciences is trying to address the problem that a lot of graduates of liberal arts educations face, which is finding a job after graduation,” he said.

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