USG proposes ideas for advising

Originally published in the Globe April 2, 2014

The United Student Government (USG) discussed feedback on the Point Park 2020 Initiative, focusing specifically on advising.

USG’s suggestions included creating a way to report poor advisors, capping the number of advisees an advisor can be assigned and standardizing the process of changing an advisor. It also discussed adding a way students can choose an advisor, assigning advisors for minor studies and penalizing students for not attending advising meetings.

USG proposed updating PointWeb, introducing a better system of communication with new program guides and updates to curriculum, better communication of graduate school information and engagement, making advising better for transfer students and making the first week of the semester “Advising Week.”

These suggestions came from meetings with University President Paul Hennigan, student complaints and the governing body’s own experiences with advising.

“A lot of this came out of the executive cabinet meeting,” said USG Vice President Evan Schall in the Student and Convocation Center Monday. “These are things that were either missing or that we would like emphasized.”

Schall was particularly concerned with updating PointWeb.

“It’s clunky,” Schall said. “It’s outdated. There’s a better way to go about scheduling classes and looking up advising information. [The site] goes hand in hand with advising.”

One of the main goals of the 2020 initiative and USG’s feedback is standardization, according to Schall.

“Every advisor is different,” Schall said. “Some are more knowledgeable than others. We want every advisor to know how to talk to undergraduates about graduate school.”

Another concern was clarifying the process of changing advisors and the process of reporting poor ones.

“Now, if you don’t like your advisor, you just switch,” Schall said. “We want there to be a way to streamline how you switch.”

One of the recommendations brought up in the meeting was better advising services for transfer students. Dean of Students and Student Affairs Keith Paylo assured USG there are movements to make sure transfer students are “taken care of” by connecting them with the Center for Student Success and walking them through credit transfers.

According to Schall, the main problem is a lack of communication.

“You transfer in and there’s really no communication with your advisors,” Schall said. “You don’t know what to do from square one. Transfers vary case by case, and advisors need to be ready for that.”

Although making the first week of the semester “Advising Week” with no faculty meetings so advisors can focus on meeting with students is just an idea for now, according to Schall, USG feels it would be beneficial.

“There would be more time for students to meet and work with advisors,” Schall said. “For now, it’s just a suggestion from USG we think [the University] should look into.”

The changes brought by the 2020 initiative will make advising a more significant part of the Point Park experience.

“Advising can be so much more than scheduling,” Schall said. “Right now you can go four years without ever meeting your advisor, but students should have someone to fall back on with questions. The 2020 advising initiative is a step in the right direction. If implemented correctly, it will be better than the current system by leaps and bounds.”

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