As students in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts balance graduation requirements and their interests in making course selections for winter term, many have spoken with an academic advisor. Yet many students find that accessing the advising centers’ resources requires considerable effort. Students often walk away from an advising appointment without concrete and individualized answers. Students will benefit if the LSA advising system makes some overdue changes to become more accessible, informative and comprehensive.
A central problem plaguing academic advising is its inaccessibility. When a student manages to get a meeting with his advisor, the allotted time is often insufficient. The system provides for half-hour appointments with general advisors and 20 minute appointments with concentration advisors. This shortcoming is hardly the fault of individual advisors, as the LSA academic advising program – like much of the University after years of state budget cuts – is underfunded.
Individual advisors are responsible, however, for providing accurate advice. After declaring a major, many students find themselves juggling information from different advisors. In some instances, advice from a concentration advisor is actually contrary to what a general advisor recommends. Closing the communications gap between advisors would give students more standardized advice and eliminate the need for many follow up advising appointments. The challenges that LSA advising will face in coordinating advice between concentration and general advisors will ultimately enable students to better discover and enjoy the many opportunities available at the University.
The University could also provide more accommodating and useful online resources. During registration, key websites such as the LSA Course Guide are so slow they become almost unusable. Students will also benefit from an online report of their progress toward graduation accessible through Wolverine Access. Not only would this report answer a substantial number of basic advising questions, but it would also help students effectively plan their course selections along a timeline for graduation.
Some students find LSA academic advising in its present state so unhelpful they choose to rely on anecdotes from their peers in charting an academic course. Clearly, the advising program is not accommodating students to its fullest potential. Adding technological resources and improving advisors’ ability to provide comprehensive advice to students will drastically improve the system’s usefulness. At an institution as large as the University, navigating the maze of academic requirements can be overwhelming, and students deserve all the help they can get.