Writing flags, core classes, claiming credit and graduating on time. If these four phrases make you shudder with anxiety, you’re not alone.
Each of the almost 400 degree plans that UT offers has enough fine print to confuse even the most organized and savvy student. In addition to the plethora of academic opportunities on campus, UT exposes students to a wide variety of extracurricular activities, social groups and pre-professional organizations. While all these resources help create an enriching college experience, students may have a hard time navigating such an engaged and academically motivated campus.
While UT’s academic advisers aim to alleviate these difficulties, scheduling meetings with advisers often proves difficult for students.
Adriana López, assistant academic adviser at the Vick Center for Strategic Advising and Career Counseling, highlights the importance of students meeting with their academic adviser.
“I think it’s essential, honestly,” López said. “We are trained professionals to help students figure out their path. We have a lot of institutional knowledge about some really complicated processes. Requirements change all the time and degree plans change all the time, and we have first hand knowledge about that.”
As essential as academic advisers may be, some students struggle to schedule appointments that fit into their complicated schedules. “Especially during registration, I know it’s really difficult to find an academic counselor that’s free,” finance junior Elizabeth Dinh said.
López also noticed that some students find it difficult to meet up with their advisers.
“I have had students who have declared a major in a different college on campus come back and tell me that they haven’t been able to find times to meet up with their advisers,” López said, “especially in those huge colleges like Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences.”
The Colleges of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences boast some of the highest enrollment on campus, so the caseload for academic advisers is much higher. However, students often have to meet with their advisers before registration to clear bars and ascertain if they are on the best track to graduate on time with all the credits they need. As a result, registration time can be an incredibly hectic period for both students and advisers.
A lack of access to academic advisers can leave students feeling disillusioned, especially those who are struggling to make sense of complicated degree plans. Furthermore, students who can’t meet with their advisers are sometimes prohibited from registering for their classes on time.
For students with difficult schedules or those who live off campus, the use of a remote advising system could facilitate the advising process. Utilizing Skype and screen sharing services would allow students to “meet” with their advisers from home and at easier convenience, making it much easier for them to access their counselors.
Additionally, López suggests more flexible scheduling for academic advisers.
“I think that if we were able to maybe start later and end later in the day for a few days out of the week, it would make us more available to the students,” López said.
Lastly, training First-Year Interest Group mentors to assist students with questions about registration and degree plans would help alleviate academic advisers’ workloads, allowing them to devote more time to advising appointments with students during registration.
There are a handful of ways UT can improve student access to advisers. Academic advisers are dedicated to helping students, but can only adequately do so under the proper system.
Dasgupta is a neuroscience freshman from Plano.