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Academic advising model is backwards

Jackson Poe

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The complaints that stem from the academic advisers at the University and, specifically, the business school mostly come from underclassmen and rightfully so. The advising sessions for underclassmen are quite short, with advisers who generally do not show much of a vested interest in the individual student. Students pick out most classes on their own and the advisers simply approve them in a very 
informal fashion.

This model will work out fine for students who know exactly the majors, minors and specializations they want to graduate with along with the classes required for each and the exact career path they want to follow. This is not the case for the vast majority 
of students.

The thing that most people do not realize until they have already declared a major is that the University actually has top-notch advisers who are experts in their respective departments. The 
specific major advisers are excellent and much more willing to help students with just about anything they can. They are experts on the curricula and career paths of their respective departments.

The problem, though, with the current model of advising is that after a student has declared a major and begins to see the major adviser, they already have a good idea about the major, the curriculum and the career paths that come with it. Lower level students who are still deciding their plans are the ones who need access to these expert advisers.

Part of the reason these advisers are so much more helpful is that they have less students so they can focus more on each individual student. It would not be possible for every lower level student to meet with each major adviser, but there are ways that these advisers can be made more accessible to younger students.

From the University’s perspective, mediocre advising in the first year or two makes sense: the student takes longer to decide on a major, stays longer, takes more classes and ultimately pays more in tuition and class fees. These academically weak students might leave the University, not harming the school’s reputation. Yet the reputation as an academic institution comes from academically strong students who declare a field of study and progress successfully in their studies. How long a student takes to get to that academically successful point is unimportant to the University as long as the student continues to pay. “Finish in Four” might be a UA slogan, but it is 
hardly applicable.

Students do have a responsibility to figure out their own interests and academic goals in a timely manner. But the University has a responsibility to help advise students the best they can, and the current model does not do this. The University has the resources to better advise, but they are not being used in the right ways.

The current model works fine for the University and will continue to be the model of choice, at the expense of students. If the University wants to continue to progress, it must modify their advising model and employ the resources that exist to invest in the timely academic development of underclassmen.

Jackson Poe is a senior majoring in accounting. His column runs biweekly.

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Academic advising model is backwards