Academic advisers keep you on track to graduate

Rebecca Odell

From investigating possible majors to knowing when to withdraw from a class, academic advisers are a resource to help students navigate their college education.

“The adviser is a personal consultant,” said Doug Neitzel, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies and head of the First Year Advising Center. “Part of our job is to make students better consumers of their own education.”

Neitzel said students should know that advising is about much more than selecting classes for the upcoming semester. Students can meet with an adviser for advice on topics such as dropping classes, balancing free time and interpreting university policies and procedures.

Take it from those who know

I withdrew from a math class I started taking. It was really easy, it was five days a week and I’m a journalism major – I hate math. It was for the better because I realized I could take a philosophy class and it would count as my math credit.

Ben Wolford

I always register for the maximum amount of credit hours, just so I can drop one. It’s inevitable that one of the classes or professors, particularly with LER classes, doesn’t mesh well with me. Unfortunately, my mom just told me the other day that it costs us $9 every time I drop a class, so I guess my escape plan should be used with caution.

Halley Miller

“Advising is a means of transitioning into college life,” Neitzel said. “We help students become acquainted with other resources on campus.”

It takes time to understand the flow of the semester, and being on a new campus with new responsibilities and freedoms can overwhelm incoming students, Neitzel said.

“(Freshmen) know they will be challenged academically, but they don’t know what direction that challenge will take,” Neitzel said.

Lack of time management skills is the No. 1 problem Neitzel said he sees in freshmen.

Honors College adviser Becky Gares said the first topic she addresses when a student is having difficulty with a course is the student’s attendance in the class.

Gares said she asks students if they have an organizational system and note-taking skills. She recommends students take the time to talk to their professor about problems before or after class or during office hours.

The next step is to see if any study groups, supplemental instruction or tutoring possibilities are available for the course, Gares said.

“If you’re having trouble, odds are you aren’t the only one,” Gares said.

If a student has tried every avenue and is still struggling with the course, he or she can consider withdrawal, Gares said.

“If you’ve exhausted all those possibilities, by the end of the 10 weeks I would strongly recommend dropping the course,” she said.

University policy permits withdrawal from a course through the 10th week of the semester. Any classes dropped after the second week of the semester will be recorded as a “W” grade on the student’s academic record. If a student does not drop a class before the 10-week deadline, he or she must complete the course and will receive a grade.

Students who wish to retake a class have the opportunity to repeat a lower-division course using the Rule for Recalculation of First-Year Grade Point Average, which replaced the Freshman Forgiveness policy in January 2008.

As part of the policy, the course can be repeated at any time during a student’s undergraduate years at Kent State for a letter grade. All grades received will appear on the student’s transcript, but only the highest grade will be used to recalculate the student’s grade point average.

Any letter grade will be forgiven for a higher grade, but the policy does not apply to content courses such as internships, individual investigations or special topics courses.

Although the Rule for Recalculation of First-Year Grade Point Average is available to students, Gares said students need to realize it could take up to three semesters to catch up after one semester of poor academic performance.

Advisers can help students navigate around policies such as the Rule for Recalculation of First-Year Grade Point Average, but one source is not enough, said Rachel Walls, junior art education major.

Walls, who consults three different advisers, said advisers have always answered her questions and helped her get the information she needed throughout her college education, but she received incorrect information from one during her freshman year.

“It is good for freshmen to know the opportunities available to them, and more knowledge is never a bad thing,” Walls said. “Just be careful to check and double-check your information.”

Gares said students can best make use of their advising appointments by preparing for them. A student should review the undergraduate catalog, Web site and graduation requirement sheets beforehand and have a list of questions ready for his or her adviser.

“Your education is your responsibility,” Gares said. “We are here to keep you on track.”

Contact regional campuses reporter Rebecca Odell at [email protected].