Advising program undergoes review

By Lyndsey Potosky

Although some students are dissatisfied with their assigned advisers, or the advice they have received, Rider’s faculty is dedicated to helping students plan beyond their four years of college, said Ira Mayo, associate dean of student affairs.

According to Mayo, Rider’s faculty is developing new advising techniques, such as group sessions, focus groups and feedback loops, to ensure that students are receiving the assistance they need.

“We want students to be more aware of long-term thinking, and we want the schools and advisers to help them do that,” Mayo said. “It is critical for a structure to go to a user to see if the system is working.”

Dr. Jonathan Millen, department chair of Communication and Journalism, said faculty members are using freshman seminars and other group advising sessions to take care of general advising issues.  

“We are hoping that this will make the entire process run more smoothly and efficiently,” Millen said.

Selected seniors were recently surveyed about their advising experiences with Rider faculty, and most said they were either “satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the assistance they received during their college careers.

“I’ve never been unsure of where I was going academically,” a student wrote on the survey.

In recognition of advisers who go above and beyond, Mayo began an adviser award program in 2002, which is based on student recommendations as a way to thank hard-working faculty members.

“Just to know that somebody noticed, I think that’s a nice thing,” Mayo said.

While most students surveyed had few or no problems with scheduling an appointment, they were dissatisfied with the advising they received.

“I didn’t feel like my adviser had a full grasp of the courses I had taken/needed to take because he had so many other students,” one student wrote on the survey. “If he had less [advisees], he could do a little more research prior to seeing me.”

Millen said that when it comes to advising, the student-to-faculty ratio is variable.

“Currently, each of the full-time professors in the Department of Communication and Journalism is working with approximately 55 students,” Millen said. “This sometimes makes it difficult to schedule appointments and to spend sufficient time with each student.”

Millen added that students who battle the masses during course selection may not think of the competition as something to be desired.

“From the students’ perspective, some courses fill up so quickly that seniors end up having to scramble to add the necessary classes to ensure that they will graduate on time,” he said.

Dr. Jonathan Karp of the Biology Department said that the problems with advising are really due more to the actions, or inactions, of students.

“The issue is more on the student side, more with freshmen and sophomores,” Karp said. “Most students wait until the last minute or until it’s too late. They make appointments but don’t show up. I get a lot of e-mails that aren’t in complete sentences and a lot of phone calls where people don’t leave names or numbers or they speak too fast.”

However, Karp emphasized that students who really want to get advice will be able to find it.

“We’ll make the time if students are interested,” Karp said.

Mayo noted that even though the student-to-faculty ratio can be high in certain departments, the faculty at Rider is focused on providing the best advisement for its students and addressing the students’ ever-growing needs.
“I really believe we have a committed faculty here at Rider,” he said.

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