Students capable of do-it-yourself advising

By Jennifer Meyer

Each semester, NIU students are supposed to visit an academic adviser.

An adviser’s job is to help students pick classes to fulfill graduation requirements. They are supposed to give students helpful advice and guide them through their college careers. However, some students walk away from their advising sessions more confused and frustrated than inspired.

Academic advising sessions are proving to be a waste of time for some students.

Students think visiting an adviser every semester is pointless. Nikki Marie Jovanovich, a junior accountancy major, believes students can read their requirements online and do not need to see advisers.

“[Advisers] are nothing more than a janitorial staff for our files,” Jovanovich said. “They think they are doing me a favor.”

Talking to an adviser is not always necessary. The majority of the information you need is available for you on your degree audit reports. Advisers sometimes just read off DARS reports, something students easily could do on their own. However, many advisers believe students do not understand their DARS report and therefore tell them to come in once a semester. Many disagree.

“They send monkeys to outer space, but they don’t trust us to read a piece of paper,” Jovanovich said.

Senior history major Ruthann Shambaugh has had similar experiences.

“I went in to talk to my adviser about future career options,” Shambaugh said. “His advice to me was to look on the NIU Web site … he did not even discuss my options with me or give me any insight as to what my options were. Last time I checked, advisers were supposed to advise!”

Advisers lack valuable information about classes and often give dim-witted academic suggestions to students. For instance, they may tell a student to take ANTH 101 just because it is at the top of the general education course list. Some students therefore think they are supposed to take certain classes to graduate, when in reality they can choose from many different classes to fulfill requirements.

On the flip side, advisers sometimes do not mention a class students really need. Instead, students find out, on their own, they needed a class the semester before they are scheduled to graduate.

Sophomore accountancy and economics major Christina Munn said talking to advisers about classes or careers can only be useful if the question directly relates to their area of expertise.

She said her advisers have limited knowledge about general questions and career advice. Jovanovich said her adviser told her she needed a C for one of her classes when in reality she could have passed the class with a D. Advisers should have a great knowledge of the classes their students need to take in order to be valuable resources.

One reason why academic advisers have a bad reputation is because they are not well acquainted with their students. Advisers are not taking the time to get to know students on a personal level. Advising sessions are rushed and very impersonal. Munn said she feels she is being pushed out of her session before all her questions are answered.

Shambaugh also believes her advising sessions are rushed.

“The last time I met with my adviser I did not even sit down,” Shambaugh said. “[My adviser] doesn’t even know I am in his department.”

Advisers would be more helpful to students if they spent more than five minutes with them. Getting to know students on a personal level would allow advisers to make better recommendations, and thus be a far more valuable resource to the university and the individuals who seek them out.