Students rank advising poorly


After negative student feedback, academic advising teams are reassessing their strategies and are planning future reforms.

A recent poll,  made available on the MyUVM portal, asked students, “How would you rate your academic experience?” Out of whole student population, 2887 answered.

Seventy-one percent rated their advising experience as either “average,” “below average” or “not acceptable.”

Sophomore Stephanie Spagnuolo said she is no closer to declaring her major even after completing a full year at UVM.

“This is in part because I feel I haven’t received the proper guidance,” Spagnuolo said.

“They help when you ask for it,” said First-year Ryan Brucato. “Advising has been a helpful part of my first-year here.”

Yet given the significant amount of negative responses, which accounted for more than a quarter of the undergraduate population, some advising officials agreed that these results are cause for serious concern.

“How do we make advising the best it can be? This is something that is very important to me,” said Brian Reed, associate provost for teaching and learning.

Reed discussed one recommendation outlined in the Report for Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate. The report was produced in April and was titled “Strengthening Academic Advising at UVM.”

The provost should have each of the academic deans develop, with their faculties, a robust plan for advising that is tailored to the unique nature and needs of their school or college, Reed said.

These plans are now in the development process, said Jennifer Fath and Marnie Owen, directors of Student Services in the School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, respectively.

One possible change in the School of Business would be to have both first and second year students advised by a professional staff member, Owen said. This would be a shift from having a professional adviser for only first-years and be a transition to a faculty adviser, she said.

The biggest change in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences will be a full-time internship coordinator, starting in January, Owen said. They will pilot an internship program to help match students up with the right opportunities, she said.

A centralized student-advising center that would result in student success and satisfaction is proposed by the report of the student affairs committee of the faculty senate. The center would potentially be located in the Davis Center, according to the report.

This would make it a more visible and accessible place for students to receive referrals, direction and answers to quick questions, Reed said.

Junior Drew Guild is a building manager at the Davis Center, agreed this is a great idea.

“Obviously, it would be very convenient because so many students come through the Davis Center everyday,
he said. “I also think that it would reinforce the idea that the Davis Center is a student center and not just a space for external events and vendors.”

The construction of a centralized student-advising center is not yet finalized and is in the process of “taking form,” Reed said.

Additionally, the proposed advising center would be designed to complement, not replace, the other two existing systems of advising, according to the report.