Dean: Premajors to benefit from new advisers

The Center for Academic Services has joined the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences to provide three new professional advisers funded by the Vision In Action plan. The VIA initiative is spending $932,000 over five years to recruit advisers in an effort to improve academic advising because students expressed their dissatisfaction with advisement by specialized major departments, said Michael Butler, associate dean of the AddRan College.

The cost is not only to compensate the advisers, but also to equip them with administrative supplies such as computers, copy machines and printers, Butler said.

This professional advising is exclusively for premajors and first-year students because individual colleges have faculty members available who are trained to advise students in their major, Butler said.

Shanell Whitley, a freshman premajor, said despite the cost, the benefits of having professional advisers are greater, because she had never been helped in the previous system of advising.

“It would have helped me out this year if I had someone to help guide me,” she said. “I can benefit from (the program) because I need guidance to decide what I should take and if I should double-major or get a minor.”

There are now five full-time professional advisers and one part-time adviser from the National Academic Advising Association, a group of professional advisers, counselors and faculty members trained in advising, said Marsha Ramsey, director of the Center for Academic Services.

Butler said by improving students’ advising experience, AddRan administrators aim to increase the university’s first-year to second-year retention rate.

“Our goal is to increase the retention rate by 1 percent every year with the program,” he said.

Butler said that although the college plans to increase the current 83.9 percent TCU retention rate, this initiative is also intended to help more students graduate in four years.

Half of the 2005 class graduated last spring, Butler said.

Bianca Nunes, a sophomore finance major, said that although she is not affected by premajor advising, she believes if the advisers give students the right guidance, graduation in four years is feasible.

“If you take classes that don’t really count toward your major, you’re wasting hours,” she said. “If you have advisers who can plan everything out for you, then there’s no problem.”

Butler said although the program does not apply to majors in other colleges, it will benefit professors in every department because they will no longer have to deal with premajors and can focus on students in their own academic disciplines.