As the advising season begins, a new survey from Student Government reports that overall, undergraduates are happy with their advising experience.
The average satisfaction of all students taken individually was 3.12 on a 4 point scale, where 1 was very dissatisfied and 4 was very satisfied.
This survey was a fulfillment of Student Government President Brandon Gross’ campaign promise to review the advising process.
The information was presented to the Academic Dean Administrative Council (ADAC) on March 26. This council is made up of academic deans from every school and college as well as some administrators from other areas of the university, like the registrar’s office.
“ADAC took this presentation really well,” Gross said. “They liked that they had concrete evidence of what students think.”
About 25 percent of the 10,008 total undergraduates responded to this survey that was due at the end of last semester.
Marissa Orenstein, who had a large part in this project as the SG secretary, believes this number is a large representation of the student body.
“Compared to other university surveys, 25 percent is incredible,” she said.
The results showed that the School of Communication had the lowest satisfaction rate at 2.87 while the School of Architecture had the highest, 3.47.
Paul Driscoll, the vice dean of academic affairs at the School of Communication, could not say why their rating was the lowest, but pointed to the fact that the approval ratings for all of the schools were closely grouped.
“We are constantly seeing how well we are doing and trying to improve,” he said.
The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science had the second highest rating.
Ginger Birghenthal, a senior staff associate at RSMAS, cited their advisors taking a personal interest in students as a reason for the high rating RSMAS received.
This satisfaction rate was also divided by class. Freshman had the highest satisfaction while seniors had the lowest.
Gross attributed the freshmen’s happiness to the unique attention some of the schools and departments devote to them. For example, the School of Arts and Sciences has a special program for freshmen.
Gross attributed senior displeasure to these students not knowing they needed to take a required class until they were one or two semesters from graduating and desiring more advice from their advisor for their post-graduate careers.
Juniors have the second highest satisfaction rating. This was attributed to these students taking internships, studying abroad, and taking classes they were interested in.
Respondents to these questions also responded to open-ended questions. These answers were given to SG senators who then reviewed the information and grouped them into themes.
At the date of this meeting, the themes included a desire for advisors to be well rounded (in areas like second majors, career planning and studying abroad), more coordination between advisors of different schools, advisors that took personal interest in students, advice on creating a four-year plan, and sensitivity to financial issues.
With this information, Gross hopes to be able to create a “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” for students’ relationships with their advisors.
“Students should be able to expect certain things from their advisors and advisors should be trained to meet these needs,” he said.
These expectations include advisors being able to not only tell students the courses they need to take but also if they are only offered in the fall or spring or both. Offering a flexible four-year plan is another such expectation.
However, both Gross and Orenstein think students also have a responsibility in this process of coming prepared to their meeting with their advisor.
This test was the initial attempt to monitor undergraduates’ feelings on the advising process. Additional surveys will be continued to be given to monitor changes in this area.