The Advising System Should Work For All Students

Isabel Choi, Staff Writer

In college, exemplary academic advisors prove essential for students’ success, and Villanova is no exception. However, among the student body, there appears to be mixed emotions about the advising system. Villanova prides itself on its integrated advising model and is aware that “no two students share the same goals and the right path may call for different perspectives.”

In direct relation to this quote on Villanova’s website, Mathematics major Isabella Ledet shared that she has had an excellent experience with advisors. She has had to make a recent transfer to a different major and college at Villanova.

“Last year, when I was in the school of engineering, my advisor was able to give me a lot of help surrounding course selection and even career advice despite having an extremely large number of advisees,” Ledet said. 

She continued to beam about this year’s advising experience with her Math major advisor being knowledgeable about the selection of courses she could take despite being in a unique situation after switching colleges. 

“It is really important for advisors to really know their advisees so that they may give them the best advice possible about classes and other academic opportunities,” Ledet said. 

An advisor’s knowledge of their students becomes so crucial in this process because students come to universities not always knowing the technical aspects of it. 

My own experience  as a freshman in CLAS put me into an advising class of around 40 students that met once a week about different resources on campus. Sometimes these classes and conversations were held on different areas of campus to give students a chance to see where each of these assets were. Presentations on health services, diversity and career resources were shared, and they helped me to easily locate different resources. However, I did feel a sort of discomfort during these weekly classes, especially when students were asked to participate in conversations together. Because arts and sciences are part of the same college, I found it difficult to relate to my peers in my advising section, and I feel that the large class size disconnected me from my academic advisor in class time as well.

When it came time for schedule building, I was required to meet with my advisor to receive my personal code for spring semester registration. During this time, I was able to open up to my academic advisor about my intended major and ask for course recommendations based on my preferences. Meeting with my advisor was extremely helpful because I felt like I had someone I could go to for advice if I wanted to stay on track. However, I am under the assumption that Ledet and I were among the lucky few who have had a reliable and reassuring advisory experience. 

There have been a number of complaints regarding advising faced by students at Villanova, especially during class registration.

“During registration for my junior year classes, I had been able to get written into a class necessary for my minor,” one student said. “However, a week or so later, I was asked by my advisor if I would consider dropping the class so seniors could take it instead. The only option that kept me on track for my minor was to take a graduate level course that I did not feel I had the experience necessary to get a good grade in the class.” 

Ultimately, the student expressed that they did not feel comfortable dropping the class and the advisor was understanding, but the indecision around being “written into” a class is an issue that deserves to be addressed by Villanova advising. It also must have been uncomfortable for the student to state that they would like to stay in the class they were originally enrolled in, especially because of the pressure of the advisor’s suggestion that the student should drop the class for seniors.

According to another individual’s experience, their advisor ignored their requests to meet with them at all, despite multiple email attempts at getting their attention. 

“I emailed him all the time, but he wouldn’t even respond to me,” an anonymous first year student said. “So, I didn’t even have help making my schedule, I had to do it all by myself.” 

Eventually, through the help of other campus faculty, the student was able to create a schedule that worked for them, but it is truly disappointing to hear that an advisor would ignore a student’s request for help when it is part of their job to assist students in need. 

However, this negligence could be due to the fact that academic advisors have a lot of different responsibilities. At Villanova, advisors are also full-time professors and head directors departments. This puts a lot of pressure on advisors because while balancing coursework in their regular class periods, their own research and personal life, they also have to advise multiple students who want to take different courses and have different goals for college. 

“I feel as though advisors, if they want to provide as much as help as possible to their students, should focus strictly on advising rather than grading other students or running a department,” the first anonymous student said. “Whenever I mention this to friends at other schools, they all seem surprised that my advisor does things other than advising, so having someone not only teach classes but also run a department seems like stretching them quite thin.” 

I also agree with this statement, as it seems that not all advisors at Villanova have the same quality. It is unfair for students to be matched to an advisor who cannot give them the help necessary to stay on track to graduate and it is obvious that this is a huge concern for Villanova’s student body.