Students at West Chester University now have more options to get one-on-one advising help outside of meeting with their faculty advisors, thanks to WCU’s Advising Task Force Committee.
The Advising Task Force is comprised of students, faculty and staff from offices on campus, including the Career Development Center and Student Affairs.
The committee works to improve advising by helping more students get one-on-one time to plan their path to graduation.
One of the major improvements the committee made to improving advising on campus was hiring academic coordinators for each college on campus.
“If you can’t get in touch with your advisor, academic coordinators are who you go to,” says Cheryl Wanko, professor of English and chair of the Advising Task Force. “The academic coordinators are trained, many of them with Master’s degrees. These folks have been trained on NCAA rules; they can work with student athletes as well.”
The goal of the academic coordinator is to provide extra support for students who struggle to meet with their advisor, or just simply need another hand in their transition from high school to college, or college to career.
With faculty being assigned dozens of students at once, the committee also hopes to take a little weight off of professors.
“With hundreds of students assigned to advisors, how are they to build a personable relationship with each student?” asks Caleb Kupa, a junior and student member of the Advising Task Force.
While advising students is faculty labor and still very much a part of their jobs, managing many students at the same time period makes for miscommunication, less meeting time availability and/or no opportunity for meetings in some cases.
With the help of academic coordinators, students now have more than one person to go to for help.
“Advising should be a whole institution effort instead of faculty doing it on their own,” said Wanko.
There are five academic coordinators that work in each college. Much of their work is helping students get involved on campus, enter their major and make it to graduation day.
“One important service I offer is graduation planning,” said Jessica McMahan, an academic coordinator in the College of the Sciences and Mathematics. “To this end, I work with students to develop a timeline for degree completion, factoring in financial, academic, professional and employment experiences, along with summer and extra-curricular activities.”
The Advising Task Force meets twice a month to assess the academic coordinator program and determine how to continue to make the program work for more students.
“Right now we are focusing on word of mouth, asking students that do meet with these individuals to inform their friends,” Kupa said. “This has worked, but we are still brainstorming ideas to better communicate these new Academic Coordinators.”
For students who are interested in meeting with their college’s academic coordinator, they can visit http://wcupa.edu/_academics/advising.
Sunny Morgan is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at SM848270@wcupa.edu. Her Twitter is @SunnyMorgan97.