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Improving the Undergraduate Advising Experience in the United States

Saudi Students in U.S.

Academic advisors play important roles in students’ education. They contribute in obvious ways — such as helping students enroll in courses — and less obvious ones — such as helping undergraduates select their majors and obtain internships. Without proper advising, students may fail to take their required courses, may not graduate on time, or may miss opportunities to explore areas of learning they hadn’t considered. According to a recent survey conducted by Civitas Learning in collaboration with the Center for Generational Kinetics, three-quarters of U.S. undergraduate students see their academic advisors as their most trusted resources for help when making decisions about their education. Despite students’ high reliance on their advisors, the advising system at many schools could use some improvement. Here are some changes that the surveyed students identified as improvements to the undergraduate advising experience in the United States.

More in-person meetings

According to the survey, 70% of students want to meet with their advisors at least once per month. However, more than half of these students had not met with their advisors within the last month. Many students share this desire to meet more often with their advisors. In fact, in-person meetings are the preferred method of advising for the U.S. undergraduate students surveyed.

In-person advising is important because it allows students and advisors to connect face to face, leading to closer relationships. The more often students interact with their advisors, the more likely they are to benefit from advisors’ vast store of knowledge and experience.

Quicker responses

Fewer than half the students surveyed believe it would be easy for them to access help from an academic advisor should an urgent issue arise. Many issues that college students face are time sensitive. For example, course registration is usually at a specific time, and there are often deadlines for dropping classes. Students need fast response times in these situations, and it is important to develop quick ways for students to connect with their advisors.

For these reasons, students want to be able to send emails and text messages to their advisors. In addition, communicating via email and text messaging would spare students a trip to their advisor’s office, saving them time that they could spend studying or pursuing career development opportunities.

More convenience

When asked what challenges presented the biggest hurdles to completing their degrees, the highest percentage of students (36%) named time management first. Because students juggle so many school, work, and life responsibilities, they value convenience. Making and keeping an appointment with an advisor takes time out of an already busy day. For this reason, many students want to make video calls to their advisors. Video calls save students the hassle of trekking across campus to meet their advisors while also affording students the benefits that come with having face-to-face conversations.

Many students also feel that phone apps would make academic advising more convenient. Perhaps going forward, we will see apps that allow students to request academic advising help  and advisors to receive real-time notifications that students need their assistance. Such an app could be a game-changer in undergraduate advising.

Closer relationships

Another way students want to receive academic advising is through social media. Of the students surveyed, 37% responded that they felt most confident in their academic decision making when seeking help online. Specifically, the students in the survey identified that they would like to seek academic advising through social media.

By connecting with students on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, advisors would be able to learn more about their students’ personal lives. Students appreciate when their advisors know them beyond their academic profile, and students also appreciate when their advisors reach out to them first to check in and see how they are doing. Connecting on social media would facilitate more short but meaningful interactions. For example, if a student posts a status update about feeling stressed during final exams, an advisor could leave a supportive, encouraging comment. Such a message could go a long way for many students. Not only would social media make it more convenient to seek academic advising, but it would foster closer relationships between students and advisors.

Do you want better academic advising?

Are you unhappy with your undergraduate advising experience? U.S. News Global Education has partnered with many international-friendly universities that all have great academic advising. If you want to attend a school with student-focused advising, we have many transfer opportunities available.