Advising

AdvisingPillar Two: Advising

Background

Through focus groups with students, staff, faculty and administrators, along with the Campus Climate Survey and research on why students leave before completing a degree, key concerns were identified around advising. These issues include long wait times for appointments with advisors, leading to students selecting courses on their own; inconsistent training for advisors; difficulty navigating the complex array of support resources; delayed evaluations; and the need for software to facilitate student progress and empower advisors with better data. The ratio of staff advisors to students was 1:1,848 when the Four Pillars plan was launched in fall 2015 while the national standard for public master’s granting institutions is 1:300.

SJSU has a network of advisors to support students, including professional advisors in the Office of Student and Faculty Success (SFS) and the college student success centers, as well as peer and faculty advisors. University-wide advising is coordinated by SFS, which provides advising to undeclared students, student-athletes, URM cohorts and students seeking changes to their academic programs.

Colleges have established student success centers with professional and peer advisors who offer GE advisement while helping students develop a path to a degree. Faculty advisors in individual departments support students in selecting upper division and major courses as well as advisement around preparations for graduation, careers, graduate studies or professional advancement. The advising system is strained with minimal drop-in advising availability, long wait times for appointments for college advising, and difficulties associated with delayed evaluation of transcripts and graduation applications.

Solutions

Ultimately progress in this area is only possible via a coordinated and transparent network of well-trained advisors who rely on efficient support systems.

  • Improve advising systems to serve student success.
    • Create an effective advising network of staff and faculty advisors that assures all students timely access to an advisor when they need one and reduce the staff advisor/student ratio to 1:600.
    • Transition the campus to mandatory advising for all undergraduate students.
    • Design a system of advising that is seamless to students, making apparent to students throughout their academic career who their advisor is and ensuring their advising record is available to their advisor(s).
    • Create a model for holistic advising that defines comprehensive advising areas and directs students and advisors where to go for academic advising, informational sessions and other needs such as career, immigration, mental health, financial, etc.
    • Provide centralized coordination of advisor training so that students receive consistent and effective information from all advising resources on campus.
    • Monitor students who are not on track for their degree or do not enroll in 15 units; offer early and effective interventions that connect students with resources that will help with retention and degree progress.
  • Leverage technology for student success.
    • Create an automated degree audit process that will provide real-time information to students and advisors on what graduation requirements students have completed along with what they still need to complete.
    • Create an online smart planner that will allow students to map out a four-year degree plan for incoming first-year students and a two-year degree plan for transfer students. This function will allow students and advisors to have a clear map of what courses are needed to graduate in a timely manner and allow the university to better match course offerings with demand.
    • Upgrade and expand the early alert system and integrate it with the learning management system to identify students at the earliest indication of trouble and provide academic support services to those in need.
    • Optimize academic processes for student success with software solutions including automated graduation checking, automated prerequisite programming, online change of major/minor process and a student data warehouse to support predictive analytics.
    • Implement a mechanism that allows for transferable electronic advising notes.
    • Process transfer credit, test credit evaluation and graduation applications earlier so that students and advisors know what courses students need to pursue each semester. No student should be surprised by the results of a graduation check.
  • Engage faculty in reviewing curriculum to ensure students have a clear path to degree and that skills gained in courses within a major map to workforce needs and/or industry standards.

Pillar-specific metrics*:

  • Align advisor to student ratios (both faculty and staff advisors) with other comparable CSUs with higher four-year graduation rates.
  • Reduce the number of courses taken that do not count toward degree progress.
  • Increase the number of students with a multi-term plan in the student information system.
  • Decrease processing time for transfer credit, test credit evaluation and graduation worksheets.
  • Increase student satisfaction with advising as measured by NSSE or similar surveys.

 

Resources

Initial recommendations include the need for additional staff in key roles such as professional advisors who can assist in multi-term planning and early-alert interventions; programmers for PeopleSoft Student Administration; degree audit and early transcription evaluators; and IEA staff for improved use of data. SJSU has provided more than $3 million to support these activities in 2016-17.

Conclusion

Upgrading the advising infrastructure on campus by adding additional advisors, providing training for all advisors on campus and implementing software solutions will support students in creating attainable graduation pathways. Deputy Provost Carl Kemnitz and interim AVP for the Office of Student and Faculty Success Stacy Gleixner are leading the Advising pillar.