Meeting with advisers vital for students

By Melissa Blake

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series examining NIU’s advising system.

Not all students are required to meet with an adviser, but advisers say meeting with them early and often is important for college success.

College of Education

For the college’s 2,500 undergraduates, there are five advisers, roughly 500 students per adviser, said Margaret Myles, director of academic advisement services for the COE.

Although the college could benefit from having more advisers, there are no shortages to report, Myles said.

In fact, the advising situation at the COE is not an uncommon situation at the college level, she said.

“[We were] fortunate enough to add an adviser at the graduate level last year,” Myles said.

The college is unique because NIU graduates or non-traditional older students come back for teaching certificates, she said. The graduate adviser hired last year helps these students to decide whether to pursue a master’s degree or an additional undergraduate degree.

Adviser positions have not been cut in the last four years, said Christine Sorensen, dean of the COE. It has even added advisers for initial teacher certification in the teaching and learning department.

Advising is done in the individual department, and the budgets are all departmentally based, Sorensen said.

“Advisers are very important and provide a valuable link for students,” Sorensen said. “As we see new needs, we would certainly try to meet them.”

Myles does not anticipate experiencing a shortage in the near future. But if the case did arise, the dean’s office would most likely pick up the slack.

College of Business

The College of Business has used the same advising system for many years, said Lori Marcellus, director of undergraduate studies for the COB.

This system includes nine advisers-three college advisers and six departmental advisers. Centralized advising is available for students when they first enter the college, Marcellus said.

The COB serves about 3,600 undergraduates. The college also saw one of the highest incoming freshmen classes this year, Marcellus said.

Although there is not a shortage right now, Marcellus did restructure the advising system about 12 years ago. At that time, graduate assistants were advisers. Marcellus took the money devoted to these advisers and hired three full-time professional advisers.

“That way, the students can identify with an adviser and stay with an adviser [for their entire college career],” Marcellus said.

Some students wait until the last minute to see an adviser; sometimes they don’t meet with an adviser until registration.

“We’re here,” Marcellus said. “We want to get the students in to see us. Now’s the time.”

College of Heath and Human Sciences

The College of Health and Human Sciences is composed primarily of faculty advisers in each of its four departments, with about three full-time advisers.

“Because there’s vacant positions, the advising role is larger for those who are [advisers],” said Sandi Kuchynka, director of academic advising for the CHHS.

Advisers oversee about 2,300 undergraduates, as enrollment has increased 9.5 percent since 2003.

Jobs in the health industry, such as nursing and clinical laboratory sciences, have increased in popularity, which may account for the increase in enrollment, Kuchynka said.

Students who meet with an adviser regularly and use their DARS report should have no trouble meeting graduation requirements, she said.