New advising model inclusive to all

Tamonda Griffiths – News Writer

The university has never had an official universal advising model, according to Vice President for Student Affairs, Tracy Tyree and social work professor, Elizabeth Keenan.

“[The advising model] creates a place for all students to have access to quality advising,” said Tyree, “wherever they are in their Southern journey.”

Tyree said up until recently, each department had their own individualized advising models giving students varying advisement experiences from major to major.

The model has been in the works for the last three years, according to the Executive Summary of Advising Revitalization and Renewal Initiative Advising Model proposal, is based on the idea of academic neighborhoods.

“When we were thinking about what we thought would be helpful for students for advising,” said Keenan, “we were talking about how important it is for students to feel at home in the department where their major is.”

Tyree said each of the professional schools are a neighborhood. The School of Arts of Sciences is broken into three; in total, there are six neighborhoods.

“I’ll be honest,” said Tyree, “it is a pretty big task to take on.”

Tyree said although space is not yet available, eventually, each neighborhood would have its own academic advising center within the department staffed with a professional adviser, a faculty coordinator and possibly peer advisers.

Keenan said these neighborhoods would also provide access to other resources to help students further their education as well.

Tyree said those in-between majors and/ or undeclared are “least served” by the lack of a university-wide advisement model.

“Those are the students that we probably support the least or the poorest right now,” said Tyree.

Tyree said for students who need guidance back on track to a certain major or are not sure which major to pursue, the academic advising center would provide a “more intensive short-term advising relationship.”

According to Keenan, starting in January of next year the School of Business, the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and undeclared neighborhoods should be up and running.

Keenan said by the academic year 2021 all the neighborhoods will be in place.

“We really want students to be able to land in homes,” said Keenan.

Tyree said this new model would also benefit those students in terms of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

According to Tyree, SAP is used by FAFSA in order to determine whether or not a student is making progress towards earning a degree within a certain time-frame.

Monique Harriott, a senior and exercise science major, said in the five years she has been at Southern she “never felt supported.”

“Freshman year, I feel like that’s the most important year for students to – especially as college students – to understand what are we doing here,” said Harriott.

Harriott said she feels advisers should help students filter through a student’s likes or dislikes and strengths and weaknesses so they do not waste two years trying to “find themselves” and end up not graduating on time.

“I feel like the point of advisers [are] to help us through our college tenure and that was not the case,” said Harriott.

Harriott said at this point she just goes to her adviser solely for a PIN number to register for the following semester.

Caroline Adams, a sophomore and pre-early childhood education major, said she had group advising but would prefer one-on-one advising.

Kelly Sullivan, a junior, said she just switched from being a biology major to an anthropology major.

“My previous biology adviser, I was in there for like five minutes and they didn’t really give me much guidance,” said Sullivan, “but my anthropology adviser, I was talking to him for like almost a half hour.”

Photo Credit: Tamonda Griffiths

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