Advising changes add to an already stressful time of year

UTM students and faculty are preparing for various changes to the summer and fall registration schedules.

The changes are intended to improve students’ ability to complete their education in a timely manner and have a smooth experience while on campus.

Among the changes is a new advising process that sets aside a week specifically for registration for summer classes, followed by another week for registration for both summer and fall classes.

UTM Registrar Martha Barnett proposed the registration idea to the Academic Council. Barnett hopes the alterations will persuade more students to take summer classes, as well as expand the university’s summer programs.

“[We] need to bring greater prominence to our summer courses here and the importance of retaining our students here in Martin for summer,” Barnett said.

Another new feature is the introduction of advisor evaluations.  Once a student sees his or her advisor and has the advising hold removed from their accounts, an advisor evaluation hold will automatically appear on their account. Students must then evaluate their advisors before they can register for classes.  The evaluations also contain open-ended questions for any additional feedback that the student might have.

Dr. Jerald Ogg, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said that the goal of the advisor evaluations is to address the need for consistency in advisng programs across campus.

“The UT system is looking at advising based on the Board of Trustees’ initiative, and actually sent an auditor in two years ago to look at our advising,” Ogg said. “It became clear to us that while we can say that we have good advising … this way we’ll be able to collect some data we can deal with them through workshops and training.”

Dr. Janet Wilbert, Interim Director of Student Success Center, has also made changes to the “Soar in Four” tuition model that began in Fall 2016 that are intended to boost the morale of academic advising on campus.

“We have very many faculty who are wonderful advisors on this campus, and they care about our students,” said Wilbert. “They are very [good] at helping them, progressed at helping them get their degrees, finding good career paths, [taking] them to conferences, and [getting] them involved in student research.”

Wilbert said that part of the new model includes the hiring of three new Success Counselors in the Student Success Center, primarily for helping freshmen receive the help and resources they need for success.

“Freshmen have many other obstacles than what the regular upper classmen do not have, and they don’t know who to ask if they do not like their roommate, or who to talk to if they run out of money on their food card,” Wilbert said.

Wilbert also said that the “Soar in Four” initiative would also address areas such as blocks in scheduling in classes that students need in their first two years of college. One example given was the potential hiring of more faculty to teach Communications 230 (Public Speaking) classes, allowing more freshmen and sophomores to easily register for that class.

Wilbert hopes that the “Soar in Four” model will help to evolve into better advising across campus, more opportunities across campus and more assistance for different academic departments in advising.

Early registration for Summer 2017 classes begins on March 20, and early registration for Fall 2017 classes begins the week of March 27.

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