UTSA is preparing to implement a new program that will not require students to have so many different advisors.
The proposal for this program was released on Aug. 6 and is currently in preparation. This change has the potential to improve the advising process to benefit students. The new program primarily focuses on the change in assigning advisors to a student. It aims to pair students with an advisor that will remain constant all throughout that student’s journey to a degree.
Currently, freshmen advisors are completely separate from department advisors. When students change majors or simply transition from freshman to sophomore year, their advisors change, which can cause confusion.
This is being planned through a research-based system that clusters majors into categories, according to UTSA’s Academic Advising Restructuring Proposal.
As research has shown, students who declare a major upon entry are likely to change it throughout their college career. Therefore, this new program has prepared secondary majors depending on their popularity at the university and their popularity as second majors based on the first declared major. For example, according to the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), numbers show that students who initially major in the social sciences tend to change their major into areas such as interdisciplinary studies, marketing or kinesiology. By expanding an advisor’s knowledge on a broad variety of majors along with their popular secondary majors, advisors can target a wide population of students and thus the relationship between the advisor and student is maintained even if changes in their majors are made.
Academic advising will be organized into clusters for downtown, arts and humanities, social sciences, interdisciplinary education, business studies, engineering, life and health sciences and mathematical and physical sciences. Additionally, there will be clusters for the law institute, health professions, the Honors College and Athletics.
The expectations for this program are that, with a stronger relationship between student and advisor, the students will be more likely to succeed in completing their degrees.
Another major improvement to the advising program will be record keeping. Advisors will be able to access the advice that was previously given to their students in case the student changes their major and doesn’t fall under the advisor’s cluster of secondary majors. The new advisor will be able to pull up that student’s information on the computer and see the advice that has been given to that student. This helps with consistency and avoids confusion for both the student and the advisor.
One UTSA advisor, who wishes to remain anonymous, is skeptical that this change in structure will work, saying, “A huge advising shake-up for the sake of increasing advisor-student continuity ranges somewhere between counter-intuitive and self-defeating.”
The proposed changes are contingent upon advisors remaining at UTSA and will also require current students to adhere to the new system.
“It just seems like an overreaction to something that may or may not be that big of a deal,” said the advisor.
The new plan looks toward advisor expertise in a certain field to optimize student opportunity. Advisors are expected to connect students to the right majors, concentrations, minors and classes, as well as the right extracurricular activities, faculty mentors, graduate programs, career ideas and internships. Some advisors feel that it is more valuable for them to have a strong rapport with a student, rather than know a student’s specific field of study.
“Thus, the benefit from increasing the continuity between advisors and students will be far outweighed by decreasing the advisor continuity with all these other things,” said the advisor. “It’s as if knowing catalog requirements is all the provost thinks advising consists of.”