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Advice for advising

The middle of October is a difficult month for students, as they are preparing for, or finishing up, their midterm exams and are just starting to feel the burnout that the middle of the semester brings. October only gets worse when students of UMBC have to sign up for advising appointments and go through the hassle of seeing an advisor that usually does little to help anyway.

One of the main reasons to see an advisor at UMBC is simply to be granted access to enroll in classes for the upcoming semester. Often, advisors know little outside of their field of study and provide minimal assistance to students when choosing general education courses that are necessary for graduation.

The media and communication studies department does an especially poor job in the way they handle student advising, as students who major in MCS are not even given a specific advisor, but are forced to sign up in a Google Calendar where they may not even get a chance to meet with an MCS professor.

There are few slots available with professors in MCS and students are sometimes stuck with seeing a general academic advisor. Meeting with a general academic advisor is an okay option as they are able to help you stay on track with graduation requirements, but they are completely impersonal and are not familiar with your education history.

Even the professors in MCS are fairly impersonal, as students will most likely have to meet with different advisors every semester. In other majors, students are assigned to academic advisors that follow them throughout their entire major.

However, not all majors at UMBC are equal. Some advisors are more informed about general education courses that are outside their major and are better able to help their students with education decisions.

“My advisor does have a very good understanding of what classes I need to take for my major,” said sophomore financial economics major Alissa Caulfield. “She recommends classes I should take for my general education requirements based off what I like and don’t like. When I finish my advising meeting I always feel better about the next semester because she takes her time with me to make sure I am on the right path.”

Having a specific advisor for a student helps the professor get to know them more personally and have a better understanding of their academic record which can help prevent future problems when choosing classes.

Getting a professor to advise you with regards to your major is only half the battle, as many don’t have a rounded understanding of advising and know little about general education requirements outside their department. A student will always be told which new classes their major will be holding, but it is rare that an advisor has a clear understanding of a student’s entire necessary curriculum.

That is a major problem because advisors are basically a student’s only and best resource when it comes to planning class schedule and preparing for graduation. Professors should be better equipped with general education knowledge when it comes to discussing classes with their students.

Students in MCS should also be given specific advisors they see every semester at UMBC to have a more reliable and personal resource that can actually help in choosing classes.