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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Academics & Research

Students ‘discouraged’ by academic advising wait times

Some students grapple with long wait times for available academic advising appointments. | Santiago Gaughan/The Cougar

Academic advisers do more than just help students choose the classes that will get them one step closer to a degree; they also assist students with decision-making, provide career guidance and offer moral support. 

But some students struggle to find available advising appointments. The average ratio of students to academic advisers at U.S. colleges and universities is 375 to one. UH aligns with this norm, with approximately 400 students assigned to one adviser.

However, “a small number of majors” only have one academic adviser, said UH senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost Paula Myrick Short. This could mean a heavier caseload for a single adviser in departments where they’re working alone.  

“Ensuring the success of our undergraduate students is a key institutional priority, and high-quality academic advising is vital to supporting the success of our students,” Short said. 

Academic advising can influence academic success by impacting the development of basic requirements for academic success, such as study skills and self-efficacy.

So what happens when students cannot have their academic questions answered in time for course enrollment and other deadlines?

For some students, like nutrition sophomore Jenny Yun, degree requirements can be confusing but academic advising does not feel readily accessible.

Yun has never met with an academic adviser, citing difficulty in scheduling an appointment in a timeframe when her questions could be addressed.

“It’s so hard to make appointments that unless it’s really important, you’re better off just choosing classes yourself based on the academic map provided by UH,” Yun said. “(But,) it would be much less of a headache to have someone experienced, such as an adviser, walk me through it.” 

The wait time for an advising appointments can vary between one business day to two weeks depending on the proximity to enrollment time, Short said.

Yun said that the wait times have discouraged her from seeking academic advising.  

“I’ve had to wait around three to four weeks for advising appointments and when I see that, I see no point in getting an appointment then or even in the future,” Yun said. “By the time I can see my adviser, the enrollment season will either be over or all the better classes will be booked.” 

Yun thinks that the University could provide a better staff-to-student academic advising ratio. Mathematics sophomore Janelle Bauske feels similarly, underscoring that trying to have your academic questions answered on a deadline can be “frustrating.” 

“For my major, there are only two advisers and personally, I think that they could use another to help out with the amount of students assigned to them, especially during times like course selection and the end of the semester,” Bauske said. 

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