Although student complaints about academic advisement are often exaggerated, the increased number of students attending the CSU system in recent years has contributed to overworked advisers, said Robert Danes, director of Undergraduate Studies.
Each adviser is responsible for an average of more than 40 students per semester, Danes said, and increasing the number of advisers would be helpful, but it hasn’t been possible due to budget constraints.
“We haven’t been able to add more (advisers) because of the tight budget we’re on,” Danes said.
Danes said it is possible for advisers to make occasional mistakes while advising students, but making mistakes has not become an epidemic. He also said the current academic system could be better, but is working.
“There are mistakes,” Danes said. “(But) just because some mistakes are made (it) doesn’t mean the system is shot.”
Students sometimes unfairly make their advisers “scapegoats” when things do not go the way they would like, he said.
“I hear the complaints,” Danes said. “I hear students blame their problems on poor advisement. But when I look into it, (many times) I find they haven’t gone through the advisement.”
But some students said they do not feel they are receiving adequate advisement.
“I wouldn’t say (advisement) has been bad, and I wouldn’t say it’s been good,” said Jared Levine, senior fashion major. “It’s kind of been in between. You definitely walk out of there and you’re still not clear.”
“I think they need more guidelines to follow. (Now) they just give you some advice and send you off. They should map out your entire plan for you so you know what to take.”
Complaints from students regarding advisement include not receiving proper advice on how much of a course-load to take or which classes to take, which could possibly lead to an unnecessarily prolonged college career.
Some students, including Levine, said they do not have the time to see their advisers during the scheduled advisement hours, something Danes said cannot realistically be avoided.
“We live in a time where it seems like everyone wants what they want right when they want it, but it doesn’t always work that way,” he said.
Yuki Yokoyama, senior communication studies major, said he has taken advantage of the advisement program at CSUN and has no complaints.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Yokoyama said. “When I went in and checked, they said I was graduating, so it’s been a positive experience for me.”
One area Danes said he feels is beneficial to students is the course-rotation plan in which students are informed about what classes will and will not be available several semesters in advance, so that they can prepare their schedules with a long-term plan in mind.
In addition, alternate graduation “roadmaps” are designed to better suit students with demanding work schedules and family responsibilities, Danes said.
One student adviser said student initiative plays an important role in ensuring proper advisement.
“The worst is when somebody comes in, I ask them what (classes) they want to take, and they say ‘(Sigh), I don’t know,'” said Robert Nohavandi, biology graduate student who works 15 hours per week as an adviser in the Biology Department.
Problems often arise when students do not take the initiative to be knowledgeable about what requirements they must meet, he said.
“Unfortunately, we can’t baby (students),” Nohavandi said. “Sometimes they don’t take advantage of what we know and what we can do for them.”