The university’s Senior Leadership Team recently proposed that academic advising move away from the department-specific advising system to a central advising center. Such a sweeping change would have a huge impact on students and faculty and this sort of change should be carefully considered and discussed across campus before being enacted. Whether you have a great adviser in your department or planning your schedule gives you anxiety, it’s important to consider what a whole new system could mean for you.
The SLT said a centralized system would provide a more consistent advising experience across the board for students. They noted that inconsistencies in advising quality across campus has an impact on retention rates and whether students are leaving or staying at ACU. Additionally, the SLT said a central advising system would allow better university-wide communication and better utilize of student support services on campus.
But we think to remove the advisers from specific departments they are embedded would create more hoops to jump through for students and faculty.
In theory, central advising would be more consistent for all students, but the consistency could result in a loss of specialization when it comes to making schedules. While some departments that are weaker in advising may benefit from the move to an advising center, departments with good advisers would be downgraded to the more generic system. It could be more worthwhile to make sure the current system is equipped with the best advisers possible.
Department-specific advisers know the ins and outs of your major and degree plan. They are familiar with the courses offered and know common paths people take to get their diploma. Especially within smaller departments, advisers are able to connect with students on a personal level and help craft their schedule to play to student’s strengths. In a system where an adviser would be responsible for hundreds of students in different majors, students are more likely to be known as a banner number to be checked off a list.
Part of the “ACU difference” is the connection and community present in all areas of our campus. While they might be more significant to some than others, advisers are important people in students’ time at school. They have the potential to impact a student’s academic experience dramatically, which makes it so important to make sure advising is being done well here at ACU.
On paper, the central system sounds pretty good: a one-stop shop for all of your academic and student service needs, who wouldn’t want that? However new and shiny the advising center sounds, the logistics of what it would take to achieve this sort of university-wide advising harmony would be complex to implement. This big change isn’t just one that we should all come back in the fall and hear about. Such a monumental shift in how academic advising works should be discussed among faculty, staff and students before being rolled out overnight.