Was the College Advising Center ready for the class of 2019?

By Editor-in-Chief

As the semester gets underway, many new and continuing students are busy strategizing how to make the most of their time at Columbia, both in terms of their academics and extracurricular opportunities. 

The College Advising Center is one of many resources meant to guide students down their desired path as they progress through their education. If students do not receive the proper—or even worse, receive the wrong—guidance while attending the school, they may begin to feel undervalued and become more likely to leave Columbia. 

Of the college’s total 8,961 students, 2,871 are new students, as announced by the college Sept. 25.

The new student category consists of 1,805 freshmen, 815 transfer students, 118 graduate students and 133 other new students, according to a Sept. 25 email from the college. 

While there are 2,871 new students joining Columbia’s community, they are greeted by an advising center that is lacking one-third of its intended staff.

Designed to have 18 college advisors, Columbia’s advising center has only 12 advisors currently employed, including one advisor who is currently on a temporary leave, as reported in the Front Page article. 

The advising center is currently in the early stages of implementing a new advising model for the college that has been outlined in Columbia’s Strategic Plan, according to Brian Marth, director of the College Advising Center.

Keri Walters, assistant provost for Academic Services, also said the college plans to fill the six vacant advisor positions by the end of the Fall 2015 Semester. 

Implementing the new advising model may greatly improve students’ advising experiences at Columbia.

Rather than meeting with a college advisor just once at the beginning of their college careers and then meeting with their faculty advisors for their remaining time at the college, the new model would allow students to meet with college advisors consistently, with faculty advisors serving an industry-focused mentor role.

This change will likely better serve students by ensuring they get both the academic and industry-related guidance they need. 

As reported in the Front Page article, Marth said college advisors are currently responsible for caseloads ranging from 400–800 students per person.

The target goal the new advising model is set to reach will have each advisor only held responsible for interacting with 400 students, which should enable those advisors to spend the proper amount of time with the students they need to see. 

However, the college could have better prepared for the transition having had notice of the buyouts and impending sick leave last semester.

Despite the potential for advising to drastically improve next spring or in later semesters, the college’s 2,871 new students could easily get lost in

the shuffle. 

Poor advising can lead to students leaving the college, or in some cases, can cause them to stay longer than the average four years and pay for additional, expensive semesters or lingering course requirements that may have been overlooked by an advisor who was overwhelmed by an excessive caseload. 

Rather than leaving college advisors to scramble during the first, most crucial weeks of the semester for students, the college should have made better efforts during the summer months to fill the center’s vacant positions and offer students the guidance they deserve—and pay for.