At Salt Lake Community College, students can freely register for classes without the help of an advisor.
This is a problem, but the college is working to solve it, said Gordon Storrs, an SLCC advisor in the School of Arts, Communication and Media. Storrs said that the college plans to require advisory meetings for all students by 2023.
“There’s a proposal that will require students to talk to advisors when registering for classes, and then once per semester,” Storrs said. “It’s part of the long term pathways plan.”
The pathways plan began implementation in 2016, and the college calls it a “student-centered approach to college redesign.” One of the major ways the pathways plan will change the student experience at SLCC will be setting students on a guided degree path early on in their college career.
According to the college, the pathways plan intends to set students on a specific area of study based on their experiences. Storrs said that part of the pathways plan is to encourage every SLCC student to study a specific subject and declare a major.
Potential advantages of advising
Students do visit advisors, but only when they have to, according to a 2017 study by the Center for Community College Student Engagement, a research institute based in Austin at the University of Texas. The report showed that, nationally, 78% of students met with an advisor, but half of those students said that they met with an advisor because it was a requirement for class registration.
Because SLCC students are currently able to freely choose their classes, there are a number of mistakes they can make if they do this without the guidance of an advisor.
“A lot of people end up taking classes they don’t need,” Storrs said.
Students, he said, often feel like they do not need an advisor, but the advising office’s role in student success extends beyond registering for classes.
“Even if a student is just doing bad in a class, an advisor is part of their support team,” Storrs said. “We can help them succeed.”
Navigating online appointments
When classes moved to a remote environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, much of SLCC’s advisory resources also switched to an online-only format — requiring students to schedule their advisory appointments through the MySuccess scheduling client.
Hannah Jones, a psychology major at SLCC, said she had a hard time navigating the system.
“I’m still not sure who my advisor actually is,” Jones said. “I had to go to the advisory building in person to schedule an appointment.”
Storrs admitted that MySuccess can be difficult to navigate, but that students just need to be shown how to use it. Students may meet with an advisor to learn how to use the platform and schedule appointments.
SLCC Computer Science and Information Systems advisor Russ Collett said most students he works with have no trouble accessing the system and are adept at meeting online. He added that the system can be easier to navigate for his students because they tend to be more computer savvy. Because of this and the effort Collett’s team makes to reach out to new students, advisors in his department carry a consistent load of appointments.
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a corrected characterization of the pathways plan as described by Gordon Storrs in the fifth paragraph.