March 08, 2013

SIU strengthens academic advisement for students

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A new, coordinated and centralized academic advisement process at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will ensure every student receives the appropriate level of support and guidance during each step of their collegiate career.

The collaborative approach to academic advising begins as soon as students join the Saluki family.

“This new model for academic advising is essential to student success and degree completion,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “Our advisers play a pivotal role in establishing the foundation for that success by understanding our students’ goals and guiding them to the appropriate course of study.  The close attention to the needs of our new students will help smooth their transition to the University.” 

Unlike the traditional advisement process in which each college has its own advisers, the new system will bring all first-year students advisers to the new Student Services building, connecting them all under the University College structure to create a positive total intake model for students, according to Tamara Workman, director of Transfer Student Service and chair of the Advisory Council on Academic Advisement. 

“This is valuable because it allows us to have advisers dedicated to first-year students, helping them to transition into our academic environment in a very intentional way.  They will talk to the students about their career goals and services available to them from Day One.  It dedicates special academic and support services to the first-year students where traditionally the most retention issues occur,” Workman said. 

“We will be incorporating career development with academic advisement at the first-year level.  The required student orientation will not be an event but a process beginning with an event and continuing throughout the year with Week of Welcome, Saluki First Year, University College 101, the core curriculum, peer mentors and the whole package,” she added.    

Workmen said that the change is the result of extensive study dating back to a 2011visit by National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) consultant Lynn Freeman, which led to recommendations for a new, coordinated academic advisement model.  She said NACADA recommends a 200 to 1 ratio for academic advisers to first year students and 350 to 1 ratio at the continuing student collegiate level, and SIU is working toward those ratios.  Experienced advisers will be filling the first-year adviser roles, bringing extensive knowledge and passion to the positions, she said. 

“They will provide the students with a solid academic position.  They will select and know their majors and how to proceed.  Then, in subsequent years they will work with the advisers within each college to help them transition to more developmental relationships where the students take increasing responsibility for their college careers.  The students will be able to have a student-driven consultative relationship with faculty members as mentors,” Workman said.           

The collaborative and coordinated academic advisement process will be in place this fall with the opening of the new Student Services building.

“We believe the upshot of this change will be improved student retention and degree completion as well as increased student and adviser satisfaction,” Workman said.