By: MANDI STEFFEY
Advising, for many degree-seekers at IU South Bend, is a cut-and-dry experience.
Each semester, students receive an email notification indicating that they will need to meet with a faculty or professional adviser before they can enroll in classes. The meeting between student and adviser is meant to be a time for advice and planning—mostly to ensure that a student is able to graduate in his or her preferred timespan.
But what happens when a student is unsatisfied with his or her advising experience?
The Preface sought out students’ experiences with advising at IUSB, aiming to glean the good, the bad and the ugly. While most of the responses were glowing testimonials mainly about the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Advising Center, there was one student who came forward with what he felt were issues with his advising experience within the Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics.
Tony Gaipa, a nontraditional student at IUSB who says he plans to complete his degree from start to finish in three-and-a-half years, said he has had numerous problems with advising. He said his particular problem deals with the advice and class suggestions that his adviser gave him. He said he was advised to take on half of the course load that he originally wanted to.
Gaipa said, for example, that he was advised to take two to three classes per semester when he wanted to take on at least 15 credit hours to stay on track to graduate.
“I understand that they know their job and know which classes need to be taken when, but their lack of faith in students is outrageous,” Gaipa said. He added that if he would have followed the advice of his advisers and not done extra research to find more classes to take, he would not be able to graduate within his planned time frame.
Gaipa said that he has talked with other students and professors who feel that the current advising system is out of whack. While he was the only student who came forward to The Preface with an advising problem, advisers and other students came forward with testimonials of their own.
One call to the advising department of the Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics revealed that any kind of advising discrepancy can be reported to the school’s dean, Rob Ducoffe.
“In a case like this, all that a student would have to do is contact Dean Ducoffe,” said Patricia Agbetsiafa, an adviser within the school of business. “It’s a simple process. He is very good with following up and responding.”
In most cases, there is a system in place for students to air grievances and possibly be paired with another adviser or given a different solution to the problem. The positive response to The Preface’s request for student advising experiences was far more sizable than any negative response.
One former student and current graduate student at Berkeley University said the advisers she was paired with while at IUSB helped her immensely.
“I have had very positive experiences,” said Kayleigh Cassella.
She said she was indecisive when picking a major, so she bounced around to several different faculty advisers.
“They were all knowledgeable about the course structure and offerings, even in departments outside their own,” she said. “Their ability and willingness to mentor me in scientific research and advise me on the graduate school application process was invaluable.”
Other students had similarly glowing testimonials about their advisers.
“[Adviser] Christine Chmielewski has single-handedly saved my academic life,” said Stacie Balentine, student. “She has worked tirelessly to help me climb my way out of a hole.”
While one experience can’t justify another, the general response gathered from students was positive.
With that in mind, there are some things students should remember should they ever run across an advising problem.
1) Know your rights
As Agbetsiafa mentioned, the School of Business and Economics encourages students with advising problems to go straight to the dean if they feel they feel their advising experience is compromised.
More often than not, any school within IUSB will have someone students can talk to if they have issues.
2) Know your adviser
Many of the students who had positive experiences with advising mentioned having a close academic relationship with each respective adviser. Students should strive to get familiar with advisers and departments—this will make it easier to ask questions about classes and graduation.
3) Know your degree
When it boils down to it, a student is responsible for finishing his or her degree on time. While advising is a resource that students are obligated to use, once an advising hold is lifted from a student’s account, it is up to the student to actually choose which classes to enroll in.
Lists and schedules of classes by semester, along with degree requirements, can be found on campus and online. Scouring these thick texts might be time consuming, but extra research could help save time when it comes to finishing a degree.