The University of North Georgia will implement a new advisement policy beginning in the fall of 2016.
The first stages will begin next summer during new student orientation, said Eugene Van Sickle, Ph.D., head of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Committee. The broader version will begin in the fall of 2016.
At first, only certain majors will fall under the new requirements, due to resources, Van Sickle said. The majors are psychology, biology, criminal justice, pre-nursing and open option.
“The new advising program requires hiring professional advisers which costs money,” Van Sickle said.
The university will hire four new professional advisers for the Dahlonega campus, and assign them to four specific majors. In the second year, the university will expand the number of majors under the new advising program, and will also expand to other campuses.
The end goal is to have 30 professional advisers, Van Sickle said. Each year, the number of advisers will increase.
With 17,000 students, five campuses, a large number of commuters, a doubling number of dual enrollment students and the university’s geographical system, the committee felt that the university needed a centralized advising system, Van Sickle said. Having more people who are specially trained, he added, assists in creating a more unified advisement system that helps students succeed.
“Not every department is offered at every campus,” Van Sickle said. “There are some students who start as an associate’s degree and move to a bachelor’s degree.”
The new advising process will cost around $1.5 million, Van Sickle said. The university will also have to have office space and other resources to provide for students.
“It’s a major investment on part of the university,” Van Sickle said.
Beginning in the fall of 2016, new UNG students will have to see a professional advisor until they reach 40 hours, and then a faculty adviser at certain checkpoints. The new policy uses checkpoints that are already in place, Van Sickle said. Bachelor degrees require students to turn in a plan of study at 90 hours, so the committee chose that checkpoint as well as a 60 hours requirement.
“Let’s get you on that track by making sure you see an adviser early,” Van Sickle said.
Students also have to attend a “Maximize Your Major” session. This group advisement session will provide students with an introduction to their major and learning experiences with the major, such as an internship.
Van Sickle said the session will also give students a chance to directly connect with faculty members and learn more about career opportunities post-grad.
A team of faculty members studied what could improve student success and chose three topics, Van Sickle said. The team then sent the proposals to the president and executive council to choose a topic. The topics were based on feedback from faculty, students, and alumni.
In a survey, 61 percent of students responded that they felt advising was critically important while 31 percent said it was somewhat important, Van Sickle said. A student survey was the biggest reason in deciding to focus on advising.
According to research, mandatory advisement is the best process, Van Sickle said. The plan, however, is not finalized, but is making good progress, he added.