The average adviser manages 18.78 advisees each school year. The majority of these advisers are full-time professors. Due to the fact that there are more advisees than the full-time professors can handle, other employees of the college also advise.
“We have full-time, part-time, a number of people in student life and someone from admissions who also advise,” Dr. Catharine O’Connell, dean of academic affairs, said.
Evaluations are handed out at the end of each semester by professors. According to Dr. M. L. Sicoli, psychology professor, around six years ago the administration wanted some kind of sense of how advising was going. Dr. Jolyon Girard, history and political science professor, routinely gave his advisees a questionnaire to evaluate his performance as an adviser.
Sicoli ran a test with students to see if Girard’s form served as a reliable method to evaluate all advisers. In order to test for reliability, the survey was given to a number of students at a set date and then again a month later to check for consistency. “It was [found to be] reliable for sophomore, juniors and seniors,” Sicoli said.
Sicoli decided to give the survey annually to juniors, due to the fact that they had more experience with their advisers.
“We ran it for the first time, two years ago in March,” Sicoli said. The survey is now given every year to juniors in March.
“I bought a scoring program for it,” Sicoli said. “Then it goes back to the advisers’ mailboxes and they can get an idea about what the students think.”
Although the adviser evaluations have only been given to juniors for the past few years, Sicoli has noticed similar results.
“There are two areas where [students] felt their advisers could use more help,” Sicoli said. Questions five and seven ranked relatively low on the questionnaire.
Question number five states, “My advisor helped me to obtain information concerning other department’s courses.” Since the results from that question were circulated, the office of academic affairs put out a guide for requirements of all majors.
Questions number seven states, “My advisor was helpful in postgraduate considerations.”
“It could be that when you’re a junior, you aren’t thinking about graduate school,” Sicoli explained.
Spectrum of Advisees
Some advisers direct up to 54 students, while one only advises one student. According to O’Connell, this is due to a few factors.
One of the reasons that the numbers of advisers to advisees are not even is because some advisers teach college success seminars. The maximum number of students that can enroll in a college success seminar is 15, according to O’Connell. However, some advisers sign in a surplus of students.
“The focus of the college success seminars is in the whole first year experience,” O’Connell said, “whereas advising for upperclassman is very much focused on the major.”
First-year students meet with their advisers once a week in a group setting. According to O’Connell, upperclassmen should meet with their advisers at least twice a semester.
Due to the fact that advisers meet with their first-year students as a whole, the number of their one-on-one advisees is not as large as it appears.
“Technically, there is an official list, but sometimes students go to other advisers,” Sicoli said. On the list of the registrar, it appears that she has 15 advisees, however, she said that she actually advises 21 students.
Another reason that some advisers have more advisees is because some majors are bigger than other majors.
Education and English/communications are two of the biggest majors at Cabrini College. According to Sicoli, it makes sense that the professors for those majors advise more students than professors in majors that have less students.
“The chairs of each department actually assign the advisers,” O’Connell said. O’Connell divides up the first-year students into college success seminars.
Dr. James Hedtke, history and political science chair, advises 54 students. First-year student Joseph Woods is one of his advisees.
“I am greatly satisfied with the performance of my adviser who at this time allows me to oversee the flow of courses I’m able to receive in my academic portfolio,” Woods said.
Sophomore Liz Malgieri, social work major , said, “I didn’t go [to my adviser for scheduling].” Malgieri complained that scheduling conflicts leave her unsatisfied with her adviser. “The dean signed my form,” Malgieri said.
“My greatest frustration is the students who don’t really want to be advised,” Sicoli said.
“We’re in this to help [the students] with their futures, not just to sign something.”