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Advisers create educational maps for freshmen

By Amanda Hayduk

July 12, 2012

niversity standing on the corner of East 21st and Euclid holding an overly large campus map, bewildered and overwhelmed.

Not only was I physically lost, but more importantly, I was academically lost. I was only enrolled for two classes and did so via CampusNet without any sort of personal advising or research. I lacked a plan or map for myself, and I did not know where to go and who to speak with to develop an educational strategy.

Over the years, I’ve managed to take unnecessary courses, meet with the wrong academic advisors, and miss out on certain internship opportunities.

It’s the job of a freshman to take the initiative of creating an academic map for themselves, one that guides them through to graduation.

After completing three full years and doing my own research, I’ve been happily surprised and enlightened with the academic advising services CSU offers to help incoming freshmen develop roots and engage at the University.

My goal is to guide freshmen to these helpful resources, and hopefully prevent the mistakes that I’ve made in my own academic career.

“Students tend to feel overwhelmed with data or receive inaccurate information from friends or family, in terms of where to go for advising” said MayBeth McDonald, one of the many CSU academic advisers eager to help freshmen, “We are here to clarify and provide them with the resources to succeed.”

Before any freshman enrolls in courses, it’s important to make an appointment with an adviser in the respective College Advising Office. All the colleges of the university have their own advising services. In case one is unsure, they should seek help with an adviser in the Exploratory Advising Office in Main Classroom 110.

The advisers there are able to answer questions, help students enroll in courses, and present major and minor options. They also provide students with support services to aid in achieving educational goals, and help students in transitioning to their intended college advising office once they have chosen a major.

The University website also contains dozens of tools to give freshman an idea of their advancement during the first year of college and beyond. The degree audit tool on CampusNet, a tool I am now an avid user of, shows a student’s progress towards meeting the three main components that make up any degree: university, college, and major/minor requirements.

The degree audit also shows when a student has an unfulfilled requirement. Students can click on a link that will give them a list of courses that will satisfy that requirement.
The website also has a summary table of the general education requirements, as well as a comprehensive list of all the general education courses.

Furthermore, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the three new Student Success Specialists recently hired by the University. Monica Starks, Jason Gibson, and Midori Lebron will provide guidance to the new incoming Fall 2012 freshmen students who place into either developmental Math and/or English.

“The Specialists will provide those students with highly intrusive guidance and oversight to ensure that they stay on track towards being successful in completing their required developmental course work as well as GenEd courses” said David Bowditch, Director of University Advising and Academic Support.

The Specialists will also see that students receive added support, including tutoring, SI/SLA, information regarding the writing center, and success coaching. Once the students complete between 20-30 credit hours and are in good academic standing, they will be transitioned to the appropriate college or program advising office.

“I have a great team of Specialists that are taking on smaller case loads in order to give more individual attention to each student” said Bowditch, “We want to have contact with our freshmen at least once a month, whether it be a face-to-face meeting or through Facebook or text messaging.”

The advising team in the Exploratory Advising Offices are determined to reach out to freshmen and guide them through their college career at CSU. I was excited to learn just how much the advisers and Specialists care about students.

“We want all of our students to succeed and we are excited to provide them with the resources to do so” said Bowditch.

As a current senior, I look back and wish I had been more proactive about my own future here at CSU. The University won’t hold a freshman’s hand through their college years, nor should they, but it certainly holds the resources a freshman needs to create an educational map for themselves, become successful, and eventually graduate.