Ah, it’s that time of the year again. This time of the year
always seems so distant in the depths of winter and we count the
days. If you haven’t registered for classes, you’re probably not
going to get into that capstone class you need to graduate. You
have 20 minutes to discuss your course load for next year with a
professor who has to ask you for your first name three times and
keeps checking his watch during your meeting. And you’re trying to
figure out if you can handle a job, 18-credits and a roommate with
a crossbow and no respect for human life next fall.
Advising at CSU is like a Ford Pinto. While you’re in it, you
hope it gets you to your destination (graduation) while you are
praying no one rear ends you, causing your exposed gas tank to
explode. OK, advising may not be that bad but it does have more
than its fair share of mechanical problems to cause average
students to wear out their fingerprints rubbing their temples in
I knew I didn’t have to look far for someone else that has had a
not-so-pleasant experience with advising at CSU.
Nicole Davis is the entertainment editor at the Collegian and
both her and I took PL101 to fulfill the logic requirement for
journalism students. And journalism students know that PL101
doesn’t fulfill that requirement – too bad advisers don’t. This is
I had the same adviser for my first two years at CSU, and the
last time I went to see her she still didn’t know my name. She is
no longer an adviser, but the two years that she was were more than
enough to wreak havoc on my schedule and my finances.
Because of misinformation that I received from my adviser, and
information that I didn’t receive, I took two classes that I didn’t
need, wasting my time and money. It’s not like these classes are
just given away for free.
Mine is not a unique case. Students all across campus are
spending their time and money taking classes they don’t need
because they were either given wrong information or weren’t given
information at all. This is a huge problem and the root of that
problem is the inadequate advising system currently in place at
Advising sessions have become just another hoop that we have to
jump through in order to continue on with our college career, and
oftentimes that hoop trips us up.
If the advising system is to remain the same then I propose that
they no longer be called advisers, but rather “registration
specialists.” That’s what they are right now. They don’t advise us;
they tell us what classes the form in front of them says we should
take, then give us our SMART form and sometimes they don’t even do
An adviser should be someone who knows the students they advise
and their goals and helps them achieve those goals. In fact,
advising is one of the “quality indicators” that the Colorado
Commission on Higher Education looks at to determine the quality of
education that institutions provide.
“The institution provided information about how closely
employment opportunities are associated with academic program
areas,” reads part of the form located at www.state.co.us/cche.
From the outside CSU appears to more than meet that requirement.
The CSU advising Web site states that “advisers provide you with a
better understanding of your educational goals and develop an
appropriate plan to accomplish these goals,” at
However, as is often the case, the view from the inside is a lot
different. Personally, I have never talked to my adviser about
anything beyond what classes I need to register for, and I’ve
certainly never talked to them about employment opportunities or my
Now, I am fully aware that we all attend a very large
institution with 25,000 students and never enough faculty to go
around, however, it is the very size of our school that makes good
advising absolutely necessary.
An adviser should be a steady faculty contact and source of
guidance while everything else — our classes, our professors, our
goals — change from semester to semester. Ideally an adviser
should know us well enough to write us a letter of recommendation,
and certainly they should remember our name.
There are two primary flaws in the current advising system.
First, the faculty have so many other responsibilities that
advising tends to end up at the bottom of the barrel. In fact, Tom
Milligan, assistant vice president of university relations, said
that advising will always be a problem area in a large,
research-based institution like our own, and when you think about
it, it makes sense. When someone has to teach classes, deal with
students who are in those classes and continue to generate research
in their field all at the same time, it is only natural that the
additional responsibility of being an adviser is least
Second, many advisers simply are not as knowledgeable as they
should be about their specific college’s academic requirements and
the university core curriculum, which leads to misinformation.
Ideally what would solve the first, and maybe even the second
problem, would be a staff of full-time advisers for all students.
However, when the university is already being forced to cut entire
programs due to budget constraints, this is clearly not
So, for the time being, we’ll have to improve upon what we have,
which shouldn’t be too hard given the dire position the current
program is in.
Most changes will have to come from an administrative outlet,
and for that reason I am encouraged that the new ASCSU
President-elect Katie Clausen is already talking with the academic
provost, Peter Nichols, about this problem. In fact, she said that
a commission is already in place whose goal is to improve the
system so that students can graduate in four years.
Administrators must let professors know that advising
responsibilities are something they should take seriously and that
quality advising is something they demand from their employees.
And an evaluation system should be created, similar to the one
currently in place for professors, through which students will
evaluate their advisers every year. Action will be taken against
professors who consistently receive negative evaluations, and
likewise, professors who receive good reviews will be recognized.
Not only will this place a sense of importance on advising among
professors, but it will also create a system of punishments or
rewards, based on the quality of advising.
Advisers should, also, be better prepared by the university so
they know the ins and outs of their own college’s academic program
and the university core curriculum. They should also be aware of
other opportunities that could be beneficial to students such as
study abroad or scholarships. Not only would this stop the flow of
misinformation that causes many students to take classes they don’t
need, but it will also force advisers to think beyond registration
and help students year round.
However, we can’t simply wait around for the people at the top
of the university hierarchy to decide on their own to make these
changes. If other students feel that advising is something that is
essential to their education and needs to be improved, then they
must also let administrators know this should be a priority.
And on an even smaller scale, if you have an adviser who has
hindered your education more than he or she has helped it, you
always have the option of changing advisers. If students stop
putting up with bad advising, then natural selection might take its
course and help to improve the problem.
I am fully aware of the excellent advisers we have at our school
and I commend them. The problem is they are too few and far between
and that needs to be changed.
That’s quite a story.
Nicole is not the first to have a problem like this. I spoke
with Gaye DiGregori, the interim associate director for the Center
for Advising and Student Achievement, previously the Help/Success
Center, about what students can do about bad advising. She said the
first step was to contact the adviser and talk about the issue.
Students can begin an appeals process to recuperate from the bad
DiGregori advised that advising is a two-part responsibility.
Students are ultimately the ones responsible for registering for
the right classes and making sure they meet all the requirements