by Staff Writer, Brandon Hollis & Guest Writer, Samantha Shaw
From what to wear to big life decisions, people seek advice for everything. Advising for school is no exception, but at Northwest University, it’s required.
When it comes to registration, Northwest University locks it down with an advising hold. This denies students the access without advisor approval.
Alex Nasa, a Communication major at Northwest University sees this as problem: “We are in college, we aren’t in high school,” he said. “Give us more freedom and not so many stupid reasons for us being unable to register.”
Northwest University Advising Model
Amy Jones, Director of Academic Success, explains that Northwest University’s advising process primarily deals with new students. When they come in most of them have selected a major they are interested in pursuing on their application. Through the Academic Success office, their choice is verified, and they are given a start through an advising appointment or the SOAR program.
“And then once they are here, as they go into their second semester, they’re assigned a faculty advisor.”
Disadvantages to the Northwest University Advising Model
While Northwest sees this as a beneficial model for students, many of them disagree.
“I have never had the same advisor for more than one semester,” said Christina Ho, a Northwest University Nursing major. “The point of having an advisor in your field is so that you can get info and help on subject matter from that field. I have received none. In fact, my advisors know less than I do.”
Josh Brown, a Pastoral major, has also been disappointed by the system.
“One of my advisors had no idea what he was doing and would have set me back a year if I hadn’t caught it and switched advisors,” he said. “All the advisors need knowledge on which classes are offered during each semester.”
Some students find this troubling as they claim advisors just sign your form and let you go.
“My advisor told me I needed to figure it out and didn’t offer any help when I need someone to talk to about possibly changing my major,” said Taylor Ann Richards, a sophomore in the Nursing program.
Advantages of Northwest University’s Advising
While many students complain about advising, there are others who have success stories. Katie Mittelstaedt, a junior in the Psychology program, has chosen to use the general academic advising office as her source.
“Every time that I have gone to the general academic advising, I have had an excellent experience,” she said. “The women who work in there are very helpful and always willing to do whatever they can to help students figure out their schedules.”
Political Science major, Abbie Kruse, appreciates advising at Northwest, but wants to see some changes.
“I would change the process by allowing more dialogue between the advisors. I also think it would be helpful if the advisor was more knowledgeable about the major. I have really appreciated my advisor because they are willing to help me in getting the classes I need to graduate.”
Advising: The Faculty’s Point of View
“One of the interesting things about Northwest University is we have had mandated advising, so you guys don’t have a choice,” Amy Jones said. “We in essence force you to meet with an advisor.”
Jones wanted to remind students that this is not because Northwest University wants to control lives, but because Northwest Unviersity does not have millions of sections of everything.
“What’s interesting is you go to advising conferences and they are trying to figure out how to mandate advising,” she stated.
Dr. Peg Achterman, is one of Northwest University’s faculty advisors. As an advisor, she is there to offer advice, but not do all the work for you.
“I am not one to ‘hand-hold’ because I feel college is the first step to making decisions on your own,” she said.
Dr. Achterman compares advising appointments to class. “It’s like being prepared for class – students need to have a plan for coursework. This is YOUR schedule, not mine – so I expect you have some interest in what you’re doing!”
Dr. Achterman likes being an advisor, and feels that she would be doing it in some way whether or not advising was required. She recalled being an undergrad and going to professors rather than an advising office.
“…so I understand that people want to see profs in their field and ask questions as to what classes might fit their interests,” she said.
Advising can also be difficult for faculty, as they have to balance their own students with their advisees. Dr. Kara Heinrichs can relate.
“I advise about 30 to 40 students on a semester basis. I am also a professor for about 90 students balancing the 30-40 students to advise,” she said.
Advising at Other Universities
While this model is what Northwest has chosen, other schools have picked different models. Erin Konkle, a Kinesiology major at Washington State University explains their model.
“The advising process at WSU consists of meeting with your academic advisor and looking at your degree audit report to see the classes you still need to take and when it would be appropriate to take them,” said Konkle.
Even with this model, Konkle finds it unhelpful: “I am not the biggest fan of my advisor. She is one that is not very knowledgeable on the undergrad/post-graduation requirements so sometimes she misses classes I need to take that may not be a university requirement but that are graduate school requirements. It can be quite frustrating.”
Eddie Rusu, a student at Cascadia Community College, recalled how the advising is not required for registration at Cascadia, which make it easier for him to register for what he wants.
“I figure the advisor doesn’t know any more than these online resources, so I just make my own schedule. It’s never been a problem, and I’ve been able to take every class I’ve wanted to.”
While most students seemed to have problems with advising, Katie Palmer, a senior at Whitworth University, in Spokane, Washington, has had a much more successful time with advising.
“I have had a great advising experience. It has changed a lot since freshman year when I was assigned an advisor to help me transition into college as well as sign up for classes. Now, I have an advisor in my department and talk with them about everything from classes, life, and my future.”
This model is similar to Northwest University’s advising model. Palmer’s advisors benefited her college career, as they became friends and mentors, helping her in areas of her life.
“They push me and help me grow academically and professionally,” she said.
Advising is something that is present in everyday life. At NU, there is a specific model used. Although Amy Jones sees a world in which, moving to centralized advising could have its advantages, she doesn’t want to lose what Northwest tries to promote as part of the “Northwest experience”—the ability to have contact with a faculty advisor.