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31 March 2010

Advising doesn’t mean graduating

Marian Dahman, director of senior advising, answers one main question these days: “Can I graduate?”

For students who do not already come in with their degree audit form, Dahman prints it out and makes a grocery list on the back of the student’s remaining classes required to graduate.  At the last minute, students at risk of not walking in graduation due to a missed class or classes scramble for a solution.

“Some are upset because they think they were misadvised somewhere along the way,” Dahman said. “The bottom line is it is incumbent upon you, the students, to make sure you have what you need to graduate.”

Registration for fall 2010 begins April 12, and many students are making appointments to speak with advisers before choosing their classes.

Advising can be frustrating for students at all grade levels, which is why the student government recently drafted an advising compact that states expectations to facilitate the process.

“[The advising compact] holds us both accountable and serves as a way to continue to improve advising. Some examples would be printing and bringing your ace to your advising appointment [or] helping map out 4-year plans,” said Lionel Moise, student government president.

According to Luis Herrera, assistant dean of admissions in the School of Communication, and Barbro M. Vergara, director of admissions, the availability of courses that students either want or need to take is the primary issue.

“If you’re in a course that is a prerequisite we make sure there are enough teachers,” Hererra said. “We also look at past class attendance. We look into adding classes but we also need the resources which are harder to come by with the economy.”

Herrera also stresses the importance of faculty advising for students looking for direction.

“Faculty are advisers are mentors; many are professors that have been in the industry and can give students a better look at what to expect,” Hererra said.

Since the fall of 2009, the university has also made online registration available to some students, though underclassmen, depending on their school, may require a pin number from their adviser first.

Associate Registrar Karen Beckett said students must have several back-up options and pay attention to when courses are offered. However if a class is filled to capacity, not all hope is lost.

“Registration is open all summer, so I would say to periodically check back because people can drop and add classes throughout the summer,” she said.

With spring coming to a close, preparing for a new semester can be overwhelming.

“You know that old saying, ‘it takes a village,’” Hererra said. “Advising and mentoring is not just a one-person job.”

Elena Schmidt may be contacted at eschmidt@themiamihurricane.com.

INFOBOX: Weathering the Registration Storm

–          Make an appointment with your adviser.

–          Check out course descriptions, capacity and times in relation to your schedule and registration time.

–          Have a back up plan for classes that fill up.