From staff to students: a look at online advising


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

Academic advisors advised students virtually for the Fall 2019 semester due to classes shifting online. In frame: academic advisor Benjamin Sherrill.

Academic advisors help students decide which classes they need to take to graduate on time. 

Since classes have switched to a 100% online format, the advising process has also moved online.

Academic advisor Scott Cooper shared that students often come into advising sessions with more anxiety and questions than normal.

“Some have taken to it, which is awesome,” said Cooper. “Some obviously were not expecting this at all, and they’ve come in with a lot of questions. We’ve tried to kind of get ahead of that a little bit, help give tips on how to be an online student. They’ve definitely had more questions and now especially going into registration, new grading policies and everything. Just all the shifting has definitely brought more.”

Cooper explained that students bring up personal struggles related to COVID-19 changes in addition to their academic questions.

“I think we’ve always had to deal with a little bit of the emotional baggage of students sometimes, but that’s definitely come on a little bit more as well,” said Cooper. “Everyone’s stressing out more. There’s more listening and trying to help people figure out their issues than we would typically deal with.”

With the shift to online also moving staff out of their offices, advisors have had to find innovative ways to communicate with their students and each other.

Mindy Notariano, the Assistant Director for Freshman Success, shared some of the strategies that she has found to be useful. 

“I do like with Google Meet that I’ve been able to share my screen, so it’s been nice to be able to have my screen up and go over their curriculum sheet with them where they can see it,” said Notariano. “We can scratch out courses they have completed already. It makes it nice.”

Some of the changes have been ones that the department plans to keep in place even after in-person classes resume. 

“I believe that our process for doing advising forms seems to work pretty well from our experience,” said Notariano. “It allows the student to receive a digital copy of their advising form, where in the past we always used paper advising forms. So that’s something that’s been very handy with them.”

Grace Meier, freshman biological sciences major, explained how she scheduled her online advising with her advisor, Amy McClain.

“I emailed her asking if we needed to discuss what classes I wanted to take,” said Meier. “She asked me what time I would be available for a Google Meet call and emailed me a link to the call at the requested time. The meeting lasted around 15 minutes and was very easy.”

Meier shared how the rest of the process went.

“She shared her screen while I told her the classes that I wanted to take and she typed them into a Google questionnaire,” explained Meier. “I watched her remove all of my holds, and we talked a bit about how I was doing before the meeting ended. I had no problems registering for my classes the next day.”

Hannah Bridevaux, freshman computer science major, mentioned that she prefers the online advising process to the in-person version.

“I went to the online advising tab in self-service on LEONET, filled out the form, and later my advisor emailed me asking about why I was taking a couple classes,” explained Bridevaux. “I emailed my explanation and she took off my hold. I think the process was pretty easy. I actually prefer the online advising to the in-person advising.”

Open registration began on April 10. Students can now register for courses for the Summer and Fall 2020 semesters.