By Melanie Perez
The graduation rate in 2009 within six years for first-time, full-time freshmen was 52.8%, according to statistics provided on the FDU website. The rest transferred out, graduated after six years, got their Associate’s degree only, or dropped out completely.
Many factors play into why a student doesn’t graduate within six years, including family matters, employment or extenuating circumstances, but beyond these factors, the quality of academic advisement that students receive plays a critical role in whether or not they’ll graduate within that time period.
There are mixed reviews when it comes to academic advising at Metro. Some students love Metro’s academic advising, and others think it needs improvement.
“I think academic advisors should be more responsible with their jobs, as even taking one wrong course may sometimes lead to the late graduation of a student,” said SGA Academic Affairs Senator-Elect Shistata Poudel. “Having heard some worst case scenarios, I think firstly, student voices should be addressed,”
Senior Benjamin Hollweg, an international student from Spain, said he liked the process of classes being assigned to freshmen, but once he started attending academic advising during his second semester, his issues began. “
In my second semester we still had to go to the normal academic advising,” Hollweg said. “They call you in and take you to their office, look at your Degree Audit, tell you the best classes to take depending on the slots you have empty on the audit, fill in the paper and sign it. No dialogue! I was given 12 credits for 3 terms.”
Hollweg said the problems continued when the advising moved to his academic department.
“So you go on with life as if everything is OK,” Hollweg said. “Then the academic advising transfers you to your major department. The first real meeting with my advisor in Spring 2014 put me in tears! She said I might be a bit behind, that the classes I wanted next semester aren’t being offered in the term, and that I need to take 18 or 21 credits and summer and winter session classes to make up for it.” Hollweg found the interaction less than satisfactory.
“She talked to me, I asked questions and she answered them,” he said. “She advised me, but the choice on the workload was mine, which is what I think of as advisement.”
In contrast, although English QUEST major Kimberly Weaver has heard troubling stories about poor advising, her experience with advisement has been good.
“I definitely feel fortunate that I have had such a positive experience,” Weaver said. “Both of my advisors are knowledgeable and available whenever I need them, and have been with me from the beginning of my freshmen year.
“They know me and my personal goals, and they know how to match me to the best classes and programs. Having multiple advisors allows me to feel affirmed about the advisement I receive, even if that does mean it takes longer for me complete registration.”
One student thought that the problem with Metro’s advising is the use of professors rather than full-time advisors.
A chemistry student insisted on anonymity, stating a concern about reprisals.
“My department uses the professors,” the student said. “I think the professors have enough to do that they shouldn’t also have to advise, which they aren’t very good at because it’s not their primary job.”
The student suggested that academic advising might go more smoothly if there were specific faculty or department members to do the advising, rather than full-time professors.
“I also think they should release when courses are offered ahead because they are constantly changing,” she said. “Some classes are only offered once every two years. Also, it would make planning easier to take advantage of Wroxton because many students don’t go because they can’t plan ahead for their degree.”
Another student found Metro’s academic advising to be extremely helpful in regards to taking classes on both New Jersey campuses.
“I needed a solution to not commute all the way to Teaneck,” said sophomore Navdeep Sidhu. They guided me on how to take classes at Madison and still be a Teaneck student. And whenever I’ve physically gone in they have always answered all my questions.”
Her biggest criticism of Metro’s academic advising system revolved around her Degree Audit.
“There should be a training session on the Degree Audit,” Sidhu said, because most students in their freshman year are not aware of its existence until after their first semester is over. It’s a confusing layout that takes a good deal of understanding, which can be difficult, and sometimes this leads to misunderstandings in the communication between the student and advisor, which impacts graduation timing in the extreme cases.”
Sidhu had no idea that the school does, in fact, have a Degree Audit tutorial during freshman orientation.
Weaver, a sophomore, remembered the Degree Audit tutorial she received during her first semester.
“I remember thinking that it was insufficient,” Weaver said, “perhaps because there were too many students in the room all at once. The person giving the presentation could not possibly customize it to fit all of our needs. Though I understand my degree audit, I can’t help but think some people slipped through the cracks.”