Advising troubles: a double-sided issue

Pradyot Sharma

Staff Writer

Some students in the exercise science program highlighted issues that they seem to have about advising. The department is staffed with three faculty members and is responsible for overseeing the curricula for just under 400 students.

Taylor Carbone, a sophomore exercise science major from Hawthorne who transferred to Troy from the University of Alabama, is frustrated by the lack of personal interaction at Troy.

“Coming from a big school like the University of Alabama and being able to sit one-on-one with an adviser and then coming to Troy where we are only having group advising was not something I expected,” Carbone said.

“I think Troy needs to focus on getting more advisers for the bigger programs because group advising is generalized wherein it should be individualized.”

A major issue here seems to be understaffing in the department, which requires it to make the best of what it has. Listening to the faculty’s perspective, there seems to be two sides to this issue here.

“In our department, we do group advising which is generally between 15 and 30 students,” said Lana Johnson, a lecturer in the exercise science department who acts as an advisor for 215 students. “It lasts up to an hour where we tell the students what the new things are, what to do with substitution forms, etc.”

“They also get a chance to listen to other student’s questions,” she said.

“If the student needs further advisement, they can stay after and get one on one attention, or they can schedule a time to meet their individual adviser any time during the semester if their adviser is available and not in class,” Johnson said.

Students coming in for advising at the last minute also make it difficult for advisers, as they would have to process hundreds of forms in a short time. John Garner, chair of the department of kinesiology and health promotion, said students should be more hands-on when it comes to advising to avoid that.

“We always encourage proactivity,” said Garner.

The more proactive the student is the easier the process is going to be for them.

“We have had an exponential growth in the last two or three years but have only three people advising, so we have to come up with an efficient way to advise and answer the more common question in a more efficient way,” said Garner.

Garner stressed that students should be responsible for their course load and take the initiative to come interact with their advisers, not just during the days leading to registration.

“Faculty are not going to reach out, wake students up and take them by the hands,” Garner said. “We believe that students have to take ownership for the advising process.”

Johnson said that students are also welcome to ask questions to advisers who are their teachers before, during or after class.

In the end, this issue seems to reflect the larger problem with advising in Troy that needs to be addressed. Most students view advising only as a process of registering for classes and thus engage with their advisers only a few days before registration.

The purpose of advising should be communicated more efficiently to students so that they can make full use of it.

Both Johnson and Garner pointed out that if the students were more involved with this over the course of the semester, it would be easier for them to get things done.

Noah Verble, a sophomore exercise science major from Montgomery, said that he normally tries to communicate with his adviser weeks before registration. He pointed out that he was satisfied with advising in the department but had an issue with availability and understaffing.

“My adviser is very helpful, and she has helped me with a lot of stuff, and I try to talk to her a week early before she gets overwhelmed with all the other students,” Verble said. “It’s less an issue with the advisers, but the situation that the students are put in, as there are so many students that they (the advisers) cannot dedicate enough individual time.”

Students seem to not know about the availability of advisers for individual advising and the fact that advisers are available should be explicitly communicated to them. However, the administration needs to consider this issue and provide staffing to bridge this shortage, as the steps taken in the exercise science program are only a temporary solution.

“I would love to say we are going to get new faculty, but the decision is above me,” Garner said. “We are going to put in requests every year, and I think we have substantiated requests just in terms of pure student numbers, and we need more lines.

“It is frustrating sometimes, because we think we can solve the situation better with more hands, but we need to make the best of what we have.”

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