Utilizing the tools you have is an essential aspect of efficiency. Such tools on this campus include the various academic advising offices made available to the students through each of the schools at UCI.
However, what’s offered at these places is often overlooked for reasons varying from a student’s laziness to the inadequacy of a particular advising center.
But before any improvements can be made, the proper blame must be distributed among all parties involved, which includes the students seeking the aid. All students should have realized upon entering this university that they would be the ones making the choices.
Being prepared not only means preparing the questions you want to ask in advance, but also knowing what exactly it is that you need and going to the right place for it. It is unfortunate when advisors are approached with issues that they have little, if any, power over. Such issues stem from students’ lack of ability to distinguish between career counseling and academic advising, which causes minor problems for the students who are simply told where they should be for career advice.
However, blame cannot be placed solely on the students. Advisors should be able to help you understand the polices and rules you are forced to abide by as a student at this school. Instead, the common response to a student’s request is a simple ‘yes, you can do that’ or a ‘no, that is not possible.’ Any explanation is left unmentioned and the student is forced to look elsewhere for aid.
The policies and guidelines this school maintains were established for a reason, but the reasons behind these policies are unclear. Such policies include the 20-unit cap most students face. A 20-unit maximum limits a student to five classes per quarter, which is rather large workload, but what about those students who need an exception because of one extra unit from a foreign language course or a lab?
This is the type of issue that an academic advisor should be able to help you with. They should be able to do more than just hand you a degree checklist or reiterate the school’s policies. Getting into an academic session when seeking help is a hassle in itself because of the large number of students requiring assistance, especially around registration periods.
Students will also find that advising sessions aren’t worth the wait, especially when you finally get in and are told that you need to contact another department for a solution to your problem. This runaround wastes not only students’ time, but also the time of each advisor that gets involved.
A problem like this could be solved with an increase of communication between the different schools on campus, or even with a campus-wide standard for common problems like petitioning into a class because of a unit cap or a major restriction.
It seems that the problems between students and academic advising could also be solved with increased communication or a standard on how to deal with certain issues. Setting up a system with these standards shouldn’t be too difficult for a school that stands for excellence; nonetheless a school-wide standardized system is yet to be seen.
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