$1M, but no plans for semester advising
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
Ohio State officials don't know much about graduation requirements after the conversion to semesters, but they do know one thing: Students will graduate on time.
In less than two years, current underclassmen will be settling into their first semester at OSU. But many still do not know what to expect.
"I actually don't know that much about it," said Zach Devier, a first-year in biology. "I just hope that credits aren't messed up too much."
OSU made a pledge to undergraduate students that academic advisers "will understand how the changes in courses and curricula may affect students' degree programs … and will be prepared to assist students in planning their remaining semesters to graduation," according to the Office of Academic Affairs website.
But Todd Bitters, administrative director for Arts and Sciences Advising and Academic Services, said semester advising is still in the "planning stages."
"There's a lot of planning that's going on without knowing exactly what the programs are going to look like," Bitters said. "That's still got to go through the process of approval, so we're planning as best we can."
The university set aside about $1 million for extra advising but has not determined how to allocate the money, said John Wanzer, assistant provost of the Office of Enrollment Services and Undergraduate Education.
Because the money will be distributed among the colleges at the main campus, as well as the regional campuses, Wanzer said $1 million "is not a huge amount."
Officials hope to integrate more online programs — including an updated degree audit service, enhanced university notes and transitional advising — into the advising process, Wanzer said. Those services are meant to ease the transition from quarters to semesters.
Many colleges plan to increase their advising staffs to accommodate an expected increase in students seeking guidance.
"We've already added, in 2010-11, three advisers in anticipation of the conversion," said Jackie Elcik, executive director of the Fisher College of Business. "In 2011-12, we're bringing on two more advisers."
Colleges have the option to request money to hire part-time advisers, Wanzer said. But he has doubts about how useful they would be.
"Part-time advisers — what are you going to do with them?" he said.
The University of Minnesota converted from quarters to semesters in the late 1990s, said Peter Zetterberg, who directed the conversion. The university assigned teaching assistants to help with advising during the process.
Using teaching assistants instead of hiring full-time advisers has advantages, said Ed McCaul, program director of Undergraduate Education and Student Services for the College of Engineering at OSU.
"A TA could be hired for two years," McCaul said, noting that after that time, the additional employees would no longer be needed.
But Wanzer said that, in addition to paying hourly wages to teaching assistants, the colleges would have to pay their tuition.
All advisers — current and those hired for the conversion — will need extensive training.
"They'll suddenly have to digest new information that they had years to absorb" in the quarter system, Wanzer said.
Advisers began giving students general information about the conversion at first-year orientation this autumn.
"Instead of doing advising by group … we did a similar session where we give the same information, but then afterwards, advisers were available for 15-minute appointments with each and every student," Bitters said.
During those appointments, advisers were supposed to give first-years information about the conversion process, he said.
But some first-years left orientation with no new information about the process.
"Advisers didn't talk about" the conversion, Devier said. "They might have said it was going to happen, but they didn't go into detail."
Elcik said Fisher is developing strategies to manage the conversion.
"Our hope is that there won't be students affected," Elcik said. "We will do our best."