Academic advising leaves much to be desired by students

By Ayanna Fernandez, Staff Writer

Academic advising is an important part of any college student experience. Advisers help students plan their course schedules to graduate with their degree.

Roy Caligan, assistant director of General Undergraduate Academic Advising, said academic advising does not have to be confusing because there are always resources available at Eastern Washington University to help students, one being the academic advisers.

“The Academic Center is one primary component of student development,” said Caligan. “Our department particularly specializes in the undergraduate student and monitors how well the first-year student is developing.”

“We want to make sure [students] are starting off well in their academics, especially in the core curriculum, the general education curriculum,” said Caligan. “We make sure they are doing what they need to do as far as going to class, completing their assignments, connecting with their instructors and really feeling that connection to the campus.”

Senior Rachell Callender, a government major, said her experience with Eastern’s advising has not been exceptionally good nor terribly poor.

“My freshman year, maybe fall quarter, [my advisers] were helpful, but after that they became kind of discouraging,” said Callender. “They tried to lead you on a path of what is safe. They didn’t really try to help you if you have bigger goals or dreams during or after college.”

According to Callender, she wishes she would have been pushed more in her younger years and feels that there are students who feel the same.

Senior Le’Naecha Roberts, an interdisciplinary studies major, said her experience with advisers was poor.

“The advisers that were assigned to me, I think they are all poor quality,” said Roberts. “It’s like they don’t know the curriculum. My adviser made me retake a class I passed with a 3.1.”

Caligan said his department is aware of the issues students can have between their freshman and junior year, and they are trying to fix it.

“If a student feels like they are not being served by their academic adviser, maybe there is a personality clash between the two. I would say go talk to the adviser’s boss,” said Caligan. “Nothing bad against the adviser, just a, ‘Hey, I don’t feel like I am connecting with my adviser. I’d liked to see if I can get somebody new.’”

Both Callender and Roberts sought help from different resources.

Roberts said from the disappointing advising she received her freshmen year and nowhere to turn, she began self-advising herself during her sophomore year. When she became a junior, Roberts said things changed.

“I heard there was a new director in the Africana department and went to introduce myself,” said Roberts. “It all just escalated from there. I needed help and she wanted to help, so one day we sat down and went over my schedule and she slowly became my adviser.”

Callender took a college course she said that made a positive impact on her college career.

Callender said, “It was a class that tried to help you find out your career. That class was kind of helpful because it gave me an outlook at all different careers and things that I could do after college is over.”

According to Caligan, the academic advisers really cannot act as the only resources, so for that reason, the academic center is available to help point students towards other resources available around the campus to receive help.

“If you need help with a tutor, we’ll point you to the learning commons and the PLUS groups,” said Caligan. “If you need help with math, we’ll point you to the math lab. Basically what we do, we help the student connect [to] all of these different resources on campus if they are having a struggle.”

According to Caligan, the TRiO Program is also available to students. Only so many students qualify for this program, but that should not stop students from seeking help.

In the future, Callender said she hopes EWU advisers start trying to really understand who their students are and what they want, so that all students can be as successful as they wish to be. She hopes the advisers will start challenging their students.