For many CSUN students, academic advisement has long been a problem.
Several students believe they received bad advisement because they were not aware of the opportunities available to them.
Advisement has its strengths and weaknesses, said Cynthia Rawitch, associate vice president of Undergraduate Studies.
“Not all advisers are created equal,” Rawitch said, adding the type of advisement needed for all students is not the same.
Students, however, do not always seek advisement if it is not mandatory, she said.
Some departments do mandate academic counseling, Rawitch said, adding academic counseling is effective for students.
“Students don’t know anything (regarding opportunities for advisement),” said Gil Sandoval, senior nutrition major. “Registration packets should be sent out earlier.”
The lack or inconsistency of information that students receive is also a problem on campus.
Rawitch said the Integrated Communication Committee was formed to review all materials that are sent out to students by the university, colleges and departments. This process will ensure standards of consistency on campus.
The Academic Advising Reconciliation Committee was also formed in Fall 2005. The committee is responsible for finding out what can be done to better the university, Rawitch said.
Recently, the committee sent out over 100 letters to advisers and others, asking for input concerning advisement.
Based of feedback from the letters, the committee has three areas it is aiming to improve: consistency, communication and training for advisers.
Chris Hacker, junior sociology major, said he has sought advisement every semester since attending CSUN, adding that he was unhappy about being advised by fellow students.
Rawitch said peer advisers, however, generally exist because students are more comfortable with them and feel that they can ask them questions that they would not ask a faculty member.
Both Hacker and Sandoval said they believe faculty members are more knowledgeable when advising students.
Nick Halic, history major, said when he needed to fulfill his major requirements, he found that professors gave more specific information about the classes.
“My professor was very specific in the classes I needed to take,” Halic said.
He professor taught him how to read his DARS and told him what the rules were for taking classes, Halic said.
Halic said he has only seen an adviser once since he transferred to CSUN.
“I didn’t really have that much confidence after I was advised,” Halic said. “It was basically the adviser reading from a paper.”
Halic said he received more information about the classes he needed to take-in a shorter period of time when he talked to one of his history professors.
“It was more of a long (term) look at what I had to take,” Halic said.
Scheduling time to see an adviser is one of the problems, he said, which is a deterrent to seeing an adviser.
“I think a lot of kids don’t get advisement because of the way they schedule (advisement),” Halic said.
Halic said advisement should be more about teaching younger students rather than just telling them which classes to take next semester.
“Instead of just telling them what classes to take, they should teach younger students how to look at their DARS and pick classes,” Halic said.
Christina Issa, sophomore marketing and fashion merchandising major, said she was uneasy about the advisement she received her freshman year and trying to get advisement this year has been a problem for her, Issa said.
“It’s a battle to find time to get advisement,” she said.
In January, Issa said she went to get advisement about the classes she had enrolled in this semester.
“I was already enrolled in a couple of classes and I wanted to know if I was on the right track,” Issa said.
Issa said that because she was a sophomore she was advised to wait until April to get advisement.
“You can’t get advisement unless it’s your appointed time,” Issa said.
Issa said to help students get advisement, departments should have a larger staff of advisers.
“I know it’s their job to be an adviser but it’s not their job to tell you to wait until April to get advisement,” Issa said.
Many students are also under the assumption that advisement is available only when registration begins.
Maria Valiton, director of the Student Resource Center/EOP, said students should take advantage of academic advisement throughout the year rather than just before or during registration times.
Some students, however, have not had difficult experiences with advisers.
“Of course (advisement) helps. I could do it on my own, but they make me work less,” said Migran Gegeyan, undeclared sophomore.
Gegeyan said that although his advisement has been steered in the right direction since his freshman year, he is unsatisfied with the attitude given by some advisers.
“They can be more respectful when you call. They should at least act like they care,” Gegeyan said. Hacker does admit, however, that sometimes he forgets registration is coming around and does not check his CSUN mail.
On the other hand advisers cannot be blamed for all of students’ problems.
“A college education is a two-way street,” Rawitch said.
Rawitch said students should seek advisement even if they don’t have to and “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
Taline Helwajian can be reached at email@example.com. Joseph Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.