Academic Advisement Falling Through the Holes?

By: Anonymous  |  December 20, 2020

By Anonymous

*The YU Observer has verified that the anonymous writer is a current YU undergraduate student.

Pre-coronavirus times, one would merely fill out a handy-dandy form online and schedule either an academic or Judaic advisement appointment online. At the time of the appointment, the person would merely go to the corresponding office and have a “wonderful” time talking about the classes they are lacking. Unfortunately, academic advisement meetings have never been productive for me, and now that the majority of academic support appointments are online, students are finding it especially difficult to talk with their advisors.

In a survey done to collect data for this article, it was found that over 83% of YU student respondents had some type of issue occur during their meeting. 91% of respondents who experienced issues reported that their advisor was distracted during their meeting, failed to follow through on student requests, suddenly rescheduled, or did not show up at all. 50% of these students reported that these issues happened not only during their first meeting, but in following ones as well. One anonymous student stated, “I have scheduled three appointments through academic advice at Stern. Out of those three appointments, my advisor only showed up to one. In that singular appointment, my advisor failed to read parts of my transcript thereby giving me false information as to how many classes I needed in order to graduate. It threw me off and I lost confidence in my advisor.”

Zippy Spanjer, SCW ‘21, expressed a similar sentiment stating, “It’s frustrating how little information is available online. I don’t like that I have to make appointments for basic questions.” 

Unfortunately, it seems that academic advisement has always been sub-par to say the least, and students found that their meetings were about the same online as they were in person. One anonymous student expressed her frustration regarding pre-medical advisement stating, “As someone who came into YU with no older siblings or cousins who could give me advice, I felt that my first year on campus was a struggle to scramble for resources. It seemed like everybody besides me had guidance from some external source, usually from a family member. When I met with a pre-med advisor, they did not offer me any tangible advice or provide any resources. It felt more like a therapy session than an advisement meeting. All of the resources I know about and all of the connections I made were not through YU, rather through my own resources.” 

For academic advisement in general, it seems as though there are extra advisors for the pre-health majors, while liberal arts majors are forced to go to general advisement. One anonymous student stated, “I think what Stern should consider seriously at this point is assigning an advisor to each student, major specific if possible. I’ve always been an advocate for this, but now especially things are chaotic, more so than usual, which means that students need more individualized support than usual.” This addition would be beneficial to students in many regards. 

At other colleges there are specific academic advisors for majors. For example, if someone is a biology major they will have a biology advisor. An academic advisor specific to the biology major can propose which biology classes someone should take and what biological research one should be partaking in within the department. Not only does this advisor have a connection with the department, but they would be able to relay relevant information to students concerning their major. This type of advisement would be very beneficial to both YC and SCW students as we would be able to have major-specific meetings as well as general requirement meetings with our current advisors.

On the upside, SCW advisors are quick to respond to their emails in a clear and concise manner. This saves students both time and energy but it is no substitute for a 30 minute advisement appointment. If you need a quick answer to a scheduling issue during the add/drop period, this is the best means of getting your answer.

Academic advisement online has been below average for the majority of students, but this is no change from academic advisement in-person. Advising is meant to be a supportive experience. Advisors need to have information about the student that allows them to provide accurate advice concerning the student’s course load. They need to conduct their meetings in a clear and concise manner so that students do not need to rely on the support of their friends or siblings for proper information. The good news is that academic advisement and our administration can make a fix. Our school has the potential for meaningful academic advisement only if the administration takes both our voices into consideration.