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Quality advising is key to academic success in college. Whether formal or informal, advising sets the tone for the coming semester. College is an adjustment for all students, traditional or non-traditional. 

Expectations are higher while support may be more difficult to access. There are multiple financial and academic resources available to students, but they don’t know about them or how to access them. Advisers are meant to help students utilize college resources and graduate in a timely manner. If a student is improperly advised, they could end up taking the wrong classes or miss classes that they do need to take, jeopardizing their graduation date.

Student Success Mentor Asma Shuaib, a former LaGuardia Community College (LaGCC) student and current Liberal Arts First Year Seminar Discipline leader, says: “advising is absolutely important for multiple reasons. Even if you receive not the advice that you were looking for, at least you have another perspective to look at. If anything goes wrong you have a plan b.”

With 19,000 students enrolled in LaGCC, advisers are overwhelmed with trying to provide quality assistance. Students complain of generic advice and difficult schedules given to them by their advisers. Peer Advisor Luis Class discloses, “most students that I advise usually tend to feel that they can’t rely on the advisers as they feel that they don’t really take into consideration thestudents’ individual circumstances and repeat the same verbiage towards all students.” When prompted, many students reveal that they haven’t gone to be advised at all, either wary of the cautionary tales or simply unable to make time to visit the Advising Center. Several gave an account of piecing together what they heard from other student’s in their major or professors in their classes. Some choose to rely on their program curriculum available on the LaGuardia website.

Advising is either by appointment only or during walk-in hours on Fridays from 9 am – 2 pm, stranding students whose schedule does not allow them to visit the center. The hours at the center poses a challenge to many students working while studying or students with little availability.

With the number of students in need of advisement and the few appointment slots available to them and limitations on times of day, many turn to peer advisors or to a sympathetic professor in their major’s department. A peer adviser who prefers to remain anonymous, says “I think they don’t want to go to advisers because they feel like they are not easy to talk to. They feel more comfortable speaking with a fellow student.”

However, despite how effective the Peer Advising Academy has been in lightening the load shared by advisers and peer advisers, it is not the answer to the problem.

Students need to feel like they are welcome to visit or consult with their advisers. They need their advising experiences to be helpful and positive. Mr. Class shares, “advising aids students in making a connection to the school and helps them feel comfortable.” The administration realizes this, and therefore has launched a new effort to improve advising. In conjunction with Alpha Theta Phi, LaGuardia’s Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society chapter, the administration launched a survey in order to understand what students need and want out of advising. The data will be collated, and the results will be used to improve advising across campus.

The project was a result of the College Project initiative of the Alpha Theta Phi team. Led by Chapter President Javair Anderson, the project began with reaching out to the administration to see what they felt was needed at LaGuardia and how the ATP team could help in achieving those goals. The advisement survey was already underway and was the project chosen. The officers aided in reviewing the survey questions and through promotion of the survey among the student body.

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