Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Advising Redux: The Mechanics of the Monstrosity

Just how bad is the advising situation? Fleshing out some of the points made in the earlier post by my esteemed colleague, I can say that it has all the problems associated with this administration’s obsessive need to unilaterally impose its will on the university. Before getting into the substance of this post, I want to emphasize that nothing that follows should be construed as a criticism of those unfortunate men and women doing the advising. They are being exploited by the university, many of them work without benefits, without sufficient training and subject matter expertise, learning on the job in a position where an advising mistake can cost a student months of time and thousands of dollars. The full measure of their exploitation should become clearer as this post progresses.

At present, the university apparently employs a grand total of 15 (fifteen) advisors for its undergraduate population of better than 3300 students (these figures are from September 3, when the enrollment stood at roughly 96 percent of the final total). The advisors are split into two categories, 6 (six) advise Freshmen (students with fewer than 30 credit hours), 9 (nine) advise all other undergraduates. The advising loads are staggering and the division of duties is lunatic.

The average advising load for the 6 First Year advisors is 93 students. The assignments frankly make no sense. The Colleges of Business, Education and Health Sciences each have one advisor for all First Year Students, while 5 of the 6 advisors are responsible for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The advising loads range from a high of 109 students to a low of 69. Here are the various assignments—Advisor 1: University College (half), Criminal Justice and Sociology (Arts and Sciences), total students: 93; Advisor 2: College of Education (all majors), Biological Sciences, Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental (Arts and Sciences), total students: 69; Advisor 3: General Studies, Art and Design, CMAT, African American Studies, Geography, History, Liberal Studies, Music, English, and Spanish (Arts and Sciences), total students: 80; Advisor 4: College of Health Sciences (all majors), total students: 97; Advisor 5: College of Business (all majors), all undecided students, Political Science (Arts and Sciences), total students: 108; Advisor 6: University College (half), Mathematics and Computer Science, Chemistry, Engineering, Physics, Psychology (Arts and Sciences), total students: 109.

The 9 advisors doing the rest of the undergraduate advising have an average advising load of 273 students. The division of duties could have been devised by Rube Goldberg. Five of the nine advisors advise students in the College of Health Sciences, two advise students in the College of Education, two advise students in the College of Business, and seven advise students in the College of Arts and Sciences. All the advisors but one have advising responsiblities in multiple colleges, and one advises students in three different colleges. The advising loads range from a high of 302 students to a low of 219. Here are the various assignments—Advisor 1: Early Childhood, Primary and Bilingual, and Elementary Education (Education), Health Information Administration (Health Sciences), total students: 276; Advisor 2: Accounting, Finance, and Management Information Systems (Business), Community Health (Health Sciences), total students: 288; Advisor 3: Psychology (Arts and Sciences), total students: 294; Advisor 4: Individualized Curriculum, General Studies (Arts and Sciences), Nursing, L through Z (Health Sciences), total students: 285; Advisor 5: Criminal Justice, Political Science (Arts and Sciences), total students: 302; Advisor 6: African American Studies, History, Sociology, Liberal Studies, and Geography (Arts and Sciences), total students: 281; Advisor 7: CMAT, Art, Music, Computer Science, English (Arts and Sciences), total students: 219; Advisor 8: Management and Marketing (Business), Engineering, International Studies (Arts and Sciences), total students: 290; Advisor 9: Secondary Education, Career and Technical Education, PE and Recreation (Education), Pre Physical Therapy, Pre Occupational Therapy (Health Sciences), Pre Health (Arts and Sciences), total students: 225. Currently, students in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Spanish, and undecided have no assigned advisor. Makes perfect sense no?

I will not revisit the potential difficulties cited in the previous post, but I can say anecdotally that this abominable creation is not working so well. I’ve had three students complain about their experiences in the advising center, one who said he waited an hour to see an advisor who then could not even answer basic questions. One again, the administration demonstrates its lack of competence, once again, it shows its contempt for the students, staff, and faculty at Chicago State.

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