We all need advice from time to time. Perhaps you need some guidance on what steps to take, options available or just someone to hash out ideas with to get some clarity.
CSU students have access to trained staff that they can go to — academic advisors.
“I think the most common advice we give to students is to have confidence in their decisions and in themselves; they know what interests them, and they know what they’re good at,” says Victoria Steber, lead academic advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences. “Many of our students are older and haven’t been in school for a while. It’s important that they understand they have the ability to earn their degree, even though they will encounter difficult courses/professors, they can persevere.”
Steber is among the 16 advisors CSU employs as part of the Registrar’s Office. She and her coworkers assist more than 3,500 students a week who need some form of guidance. Advisors are paired assigned based on the three colleges at CSU: the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Safety and Emergency Services.
As a CSU student begins their matriculation toward a degree, an action plan is created – sometimes revised—for the student with the assistance of an academic advisor. This road map provides an essential guide to keeping students on a path to their educational success.
“The most useful aspect of the academic advisor service is its ability to allow the student to see the full requirement of courses needed to achieve their degree goals by way of the action plan,” commented Richard Johnston, who is pursuing a bachelor’s in occupational safety and health.
“My advisor, Bethany Marshall took the time necessary to review all the course options with me. We then built an action plan that included courses that I desired to attend and which met the criteria for obtaining my bachelor’s degree. The in- depth knowledge, expertise, and professionalism that Bethany displayed helped me to feel both at ease and confident that my selected courses would benefit my educational growth as well as my degree requirements.”
“The most important aspect of my position is to be a resource to students. I want students to feel confident in the answers that I provide, and trust that I am giving them the most accurate information available,” said Marshall.
How can we help you?
Advisors answer questions ranging from the simple to the complex. They address many different topics such as policy related to course load, probation, suspension and reinstatement, and degree program choice.
“The two most popular requests are currently ‘How many courses do I have remaining in my program?’ and ‘What do you recommend as my next courses?’,” said Sonya Kopp, team lead for the College of Business academic advisors.
One of the students Kopp has helped truly appreciates her advice and approach.
“I have had a very good rapport with Sonya because she is very frank about all aspects of earning a degree at CSU,” said Petra Israel, who is a CSU alumnus returning to earn a master’s degree. “I wanted to know how to move through the coursework most efficiently. Her advice on which courses to take and in what order allowed me to move along at a comfortable and cost-effective pace. In fact, it is her thoughtful ‘no nonsense’ approach that convinced me to stay with CSU for the pursuit of my MBA.”
“In addition to no nonsense, solid advice, I am a satisfied student because we are on a first-name basis. Even though we have never met face to face, I feel like a valued friend, not just a number,” added Israel.
Team leader for the College of Arts and Sciences advisors Victoria Steber says transfer credit is a hot topic, too.
“We do advertise transfer credit, but we will get a lot of calls asking why a student did not get credit for a particular course when their friend did,” Steber explained.
“Another popular topic with students is what counts as an elective or professional elective. I believe this is popular because there is not a defined list. We usually refer the students to the full-course listing (if per-course) or the term-course schedule (if term). We then offer to look at the options the student has chosen to ensure they are taking an appropriate course,” she added.
It’s going to be OK
As with any type of advice, it may not be pleasant to hear, but in the end, it is the best course of action to reach your goal.
“Communication between the student and the advisor is the most important aspect of a positive advising experience. It’s difficult for advisors to provide the right information if students are not expressing the real issue,” said Kopp. “The reverse is also true. Advisors must be completely open with students about their situation – even when it is not pleasant to hear – and offer all options available. Hearing the honest assessment of the situation is the only way to find the best solution and to get back on track.”
Steber concurs and added: “A lot of our students get discouraged if they get a bad grade, have a course they don’t enjoy, or a professor they don’t particularly enjoy. It’s important that we put things into perspective and remind them that they have probably overcome obstacles much more difficult in their lifetime than a professor they didn’t see eye-to-eye with, and remind them that they are earning their education. They will encounter difficult courses and professors and in the end, that will make their degree worth that much more.”
The teams leads also stress that their teams work to inspire and help make sure students understand that perseverance will pay off for their careers.
Enjoy the work
Advising students also has its benefits, say advisors.
“Helping someone achieve a goal that they have set for themselves is a great feeling. When a student has convinced himself that his goal is unattainable because of a bump in the road, it’s a very positive thing to be able to structure a solution with that student and get him to his goal,” said Kopp.
Marshall commented, “Many of our students within the College of Safety and Emergency Services contact us during downtime at work. For example, our students employed as firefighters will work on their courses at the fire station. We frequently begin conversations with students that are interrupted by a fire alarm or call that needs to be attended to immediately. We enjoy this aspect and respect that our students are serving their communities while earning their college degree,” she added.
Overall, Steber explains best why she and others like their jobs and dispensing advice and guidance to CSU students: “I enjoy my work because I love my teammates. I think we have a fantastic group of advisors and it’s great to work with such a high-quality team. I do enjoy helping students reach their educational goals. I enjoy getting to know what a student enjoys, what their passion is, what they want their career to be and why.”