SG attempts to improve pre-med advising

Through a new program, the pre-med advising improvement initiative, Student Government is attempting to address student complaints on pre-med advising. The program was created due to the high volume of problems cited by the students and members of Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) about not being in tune with the student body.

Prominent problems with the student advising program include students’ lack of awareness of what is going on, difficulty scheduling meeting time with advisors, difficulty locating the advisors’ office, and lack of knowledge about resources provided by the department.

“I feel like the pre-med office is disconnected from the students,” Frannie Montegut, a junior, said. “It’s expected that you’re supposed to go to them but you don’t know why.”

Another problem that students are having is getting their files updated with their correct paperwork.

“It would be great if [the pre-med advising office] could have your updated files online, because some of the seniors couldn’t get into the schools that they wanted because of missing paperwork,” Dione Occenad, a junior, said.

SG officials’ goal for the program is to analyze the problems at hand and seek correction by providing suggestions to the appropriate administrators. Steps toward improvement have been made by the program’s new director, Rita L. Deutsch, associate dean for the Center for Student Academic Services.

SG Senate Speaker Pro Tempore John Constantinide said he was positive that Deutsch would implement some of the students’ suggestions.

“We have met with Dean Deutsch, and she is very insightful to our suggestions,” Constantinide said.

SG conducted research on the pre-med advising program before approaching Deutsch. This research included looking at pre-med advising in other private universities similar to UM.

SG believes that the main pitfall is mostly a public relations problem with the pre-med department.

“Not many students are aware of the resources on Blackboard,” Nathan Skinner, sophomore senator, said.

SG officials believe that the key to creating a better advising program is for student organizations, such as SHAC, to create a closer relationship with the pre-med office.

Some of the suggestions that SG has begun work on include general word-of-mouth campaigns, including a link to the pre-med site on Blackboard, making the pre-med handbook more visible on campus and including the link on the SHAC meeting agenda.

The current transition period in the pre-med office has created a dilemma concerning their effectiveness of reaching students. According to Deutsch, the original director of the pre-med department resigned a little over a year ago, causing several delays in the office, especially in the area of advising.

“It had gotten to the point where I am doing some pre-med advising,” said Deutsch.

The pre-med advising office is listening to the students’ complaints and has already begun to take action. Some of the improvements that are in the works for the pre-med advising program are putting information on the IBIS web newsletter, creating a listserv so that pre-med students can receive information through email and using the Virtual EVAL program to get composite letters and other paperwork to medical schools in a timely fashion. They are also working with the different pre-med organizations to get information to students and modifying the pre-med website so that students can register for the pre-med program on Blackboard. All of these actions are taking place under Deutsch and the director of pre-med advising, Linette Aguiar, in conjunction with SG.

“We really do take students concerns seriously,” Deutsch said.

Although SG officials are working toward methods to reach the students, they also are taking into consideration that the students have to bear some responsibility.

“We want students to realize that they have to make the effort and seek the information for themselves as well,” Constantinide said.

SG is releasing the pre-med advising improvement initiative handbook to interested students. Officials also said they would be willing to look at other advising programs, such as the pre-law and pre-MBA ones, if complaints are brought to their attention.

Khris Parker can be contacted at