advising / Constance Dean Qualls

New Program Enforces Advisement Policy

Buffalo State’s advisement policy will be strictly enforced through a pilot program this semester that will require more than 2,000 undergraduate students in select programs to meet with an adviser before registering for spring classes.

Students will receive a special PIN to access course registration in Banner upon completion of their advisement session. Campuswide enforcement of the policy will begin sometime next year.

Approved in 2004 by the College Senate and the president, the advisement policy requires the following students to receive advisement: new students (first-year and transfers), undeclared students, newly declared students, premajors, students on academic probation, and students who will have earned 90 credit hours by the end of the current term. Students in the select programs who meet any of these criteria must meet with their advisers before registration begins in November.

“Good academic advising is important to a student’s overall academic success here at Buffalo State,” said Kevin Railey, interim provost. “This pilot program targets specific groups of students whom we want to reach in order to ensure that they are on the best path to success and graduation.”

Planning and execution of the pilot program intensified this spring when associate deans determined that Banner was ready to implement an “Alternate PIN” system. The six-digit PIN, which is needed only for registration, will disappear once the student uses it.

“Many other colleges with Banner use this method, and it’s simply a part of their cultures now,” said Don Erwin, senior associate vice president for information services and systems. “I’m excited that we now have the technology to implement our academic initiative. The change will ultimately have a positive effect on students’ experiences at Buffalo State.”

Karen O’Quin, associate dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, believes communication to faculty and students will be the keys to success. She understands that the new requirement will increase faculty workload but also knows it will help departments better track their majors.

“It’s important that advisers see this as an opportunity to inform students that advisement involves much more than choosing courses,” O’Quin said. “The meeting is a time to discuss career choices, build a relationship for letters of recommendation, and identify any problems with the major early on so that the student doesn’t fall behind later.”

The Biology Department is one of several participating in the pilot program. Gregory Wadsworth, associate professor and department chair, said biology students were recently required to meet with advisers each semester. He has noticed a significant improvement in advisement and overall retention and thinks the pilot program will help even more.

“Advising can be time-consuming, but we see students who make mistakes [in course selections and career choices] that could have been easily prevented simply by seeing an adviser,” Wadsworth said. “That’s more frustrating to us than having to go through a few busy weeks of advisement.”

Departments are beginning to contact students who meet the advisement criteria. Department chairs will maintain lists of students and corresponding advisers, and faculty members are encouraged to communicate details about the new pilot program to students early and often. Erwin said messages will also be broadcast through the Daily, the Record, Banner, and ANGEL.

Upon conclusion of the drop/add period in January, Erwin and the associate deans will gauge the effectiveness of the pilot by surveying faculty and students. The program is expected to expand to all departments sometime next year once any issues are resolved. An advisement planning committee will assess the efficacy of the campuswide policy after a few semesters.

“The pilot program will help students get connected to the advisers,” Erwin said, “but the most important thing is that advisers spend quality time with students.”