Cleaning the murky waters of academic advising

How many clicks does it take to get to the center of an advising issue? Too many.

As it stands now, a student must click 3.17 times, on average, to reach the advising section of a Northeastern college from the university’s main site. Why not simplify?

Online accessibility is just one of students’ concerns in what is a much larger issue: a lack of sufficient communication between students and their academic advisors. Students have complained of long waits for office responses, advisors’ insufficient knowledge of programs and classes, confusion regarding advisor’s names and incompatible office hours.

But help is on the way. Hopefully.

Tomorrow, the Student Government Association (SGA) will vote on legislation that will, if passed, make public the so-called “Academic Advising Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,” and display it in the Student Handbook. The bill of rights would set standards for interaction between students and their academic advisors. As of now, not all advisors in all colleges are held to the same standards, and the bill of rights makes a concerted effort to change that.

The creation of “Academic Advising Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” is a positive step toward attaining the best advising services for students throughout the university.

In the past, some students have had trouble with receiving feedback from their academic advisors and in some cases, advisors neglected to respond to students voicemails or e-mails in a timely fashion. Other students complained that their advisors were not proactive, and failed to contact them without students initiating communication. This left students in the dark in terms of being aware of their academic progress.

Students must be kept abreast with this information. While students can gain insight into their progress using the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) on the myNEU portal, assistance from informed people can turn the potentially nerve-racking experience of choosing classes into a satisfying one. The bill of rights could bring students closer to this improved process.

The SGA’s insistence on having advisors keep hours convenient for students on co-op, among the other proposed rights, is helpful. If a student is on co-op, he or she needs to communicate with his or her academic advisor to pick the courses for the following semester that are most helpful and pertinent to his or her academic plan. If students are unable to contact their advisors during a co-op period, they may miss the chance to register for prerequisite courses they need to take in order to take upper-level classes. Looking farther down the road, they may have to stay at Northeastern longer than planned during their college-search days.

When the SGA meets tomorrow to vote on this bill, senators should take into consideration its biggest benefit: making students’ academic advising pleasant. Such endeavors should be nothing less than that.

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