By Alison D’Arrigo
It is no mystery that navigating through Hofstra’s curriculum, no matter what your concentration, is not the simplest task. With a multitude of locations on campus filled with advisors climbing out of the woodwork of different schools such as business and communication, it’s hard to believe that there are unsatisfied students overdue to graduate all over campus.
It’s not hard to find a frustrated student. Look no further than Hammer Lab, where students’ frustrations can’t help but be overheard. Alexandra Rawding, 21, is one of these students that seems to have been let down by Hofstra’s advisement program. A psychology major, Alex went to see an advisor in room 107 of the Student Center. She was given a list of classes to sign up for and sent on her way. When she was a junior and started getting ready to begin her psychology classes, it turned out that she was advised to take the wrong classes, and had to start from scratch in order to get her prerequisites out of the way in order to take the classes required for her major.
“I was told to take a math class, but a year later it turned out to be the wrong one. I wasted time and money and had to take a whole other class and put off taking the classes I really wanted to,” says Rawding. Since then Alex has been doing her own advising, reading her own Degree Audit Report (DAR) and taking help from her teachers. Luckily, she is set to graduate on time in May 2009.
Suzanne Berman, Assistant Professor and go-to advisor with the School of Communication, says that unfortunately this happens often, “The advisors in Memorial Hall and the Student Center don’t necessarily know how to build a schedule around certain majors. There’s often more than one route you can take in completing all your classes and graduating.”
Berman says that it is important to go to general advisement so that problems with graduation requirements can be caught early. However she stresses the importance of going to an advisor in your school of study because they will help with internships, prerequisite requirements and overriding classes to maximize your time and effectiveness.
Berman suggests always bringing your DAR to advisement. “It’s the number one problem students have. They think they know how to read their DAR but miss something, or the advisor won’t know what’s happened so far in their curriculum.” She also suggests starting classes in your major as soon as possible, not forgetting to select a minor, and not to be afraid of languages! Now more than ever she says being multi-lingual can only help.
“General advisement and advisors in your field have to work together,” Berman insists. “Each has options that the other may not necessarily know about and it’s important to piece them together to make your time at Hofstra as effective as possible.”
Stefano Fasulo, Assistant Dean for the Center of University Advisement
What are the biggest mistakes students make when it comes to registering?
-This whole process of registration is a learning process, so there are no real mistakes. Some things students should do is understand university, major, and if applicable, minor requirements. Also, understanding how to read and interpret the student Degree Audit Report (DAR) helps the registration process.
Students are also encouraged to meet with their faculty advisor for their major course work.
Is it likely to graduate on time or is it the exception?
-Students have the capability of graduating on time; it is not the exception to do so in 8 semesters/4 years. Students that tend to take an extra semester, or be a “super senior”, may have not taken the sequential courses required within their respective major.
Also, when students change their major one or more times this could add to a delay in graduation because of pre-requisites and sequencing requirements.
Should students read their own DAR and make their own schedule?
-We encourage students to interpret and read their own DAR, however to make appointments to see a major and academic advisor. These steps will ensure that the student in on track with university and major requirements; leading to graduating on time.
How is advisement most helpful?
-Advisement is helpful in many ways. We provide general academic advising; we help students take advantage of the many services Hofstra University has to offer such as: the Career Center, the University Tutorial Program (UTP), activities hosted by the Office of Multicultural and International Student Programs, etc.
The Center for University Advisement tries to be consistent in answering students’ questions and addressing their needs accordingly.
What is the best advice you can give to students when going through advisement?
-Become proactive, be independent! We want to encourage individual growth and development without sacrificing our contact with students. Students should have a game plan going through advisement. When students are unsure of what major to pursue, we are more than willing to help out. However, it is a wonderful thing when students go and ask questions to find out what may be the best fit for them. Students are ultimately responsible for their academic progress. They need to take an active role in meeting with the faculty, planning out requirements, discussing elective options, as well as major and minor requirements.
What are the biggest problems you see when students come to you?
-One of the largest problems we are encountering is when a student approaches us late in their academic career and they have not had any academic advising. Upper-class students are not required to meet with an adviser, so they should read and assess their own DAR. HOWEVER, it is wise to check in with their faculty adviser regularly to make certain they are on the right track, in that the student missed classes that are pre-requisites to continue on in their major, or they missed deadlines to withdraw from a course that may affect the over-all GPA.