Darcy Becker, News editor
In Sept. 2016, shifts began to occur in ECC’s advising model. Such model launched because ECC’s administration desired more “intrusive advising” to aid students. The change also occurred because of the availability of faculty members and expectation of an advising role.
“I think that student’s strongest relationships are with faculty. I think that the greatest opportunity for someone to get to know a student is between the faculty member and a student; however, faculty have a job, and it’s not advising. Their primary focus is teaching,” Shelli Allen, Vice President of Student Development, said.
A faculty member being gone added to some difficulty on Allen and advisers’ end, too.
“The student would then come to us [advisers] wanting to register since the faculty member wasn’t here, and we would know absolutely nothing about the student because the faculty member knew them since they developed the relationship,” Allen said.
Allen also said that it became unrealistic to expect an advising role from a faculty member. She said that advisers know information regarding undergraduate programs, transfer colleges and universities and relationships with other schools.
“I don’t think it’s fair to expect a faculty member to know about American history from the Civil War and also know which classes Fontbonne University will take,” Allen said. “But I have these people here who were hired to do that job, to be able to facilitate the process of moving a student through here and onto the next place.”
With the advising transition, Allen said ratios became one of the most difficult parts because of a small amount of advisers. Nevertheless, Paul Lampe, Director of Advising and Counseling, elaborated on the arrangement.
“We have 6 advisors in our Student Service Center on Main Campus. There are 2 general advisors at our Rolla site. We also have faculty coordinators who oversee advising in specific programs,” Lampe said.
Lampe also said that advisers have “fairly evenly distributed caseloads.”
“All of us, who also have other specialized roles such as counseling, disability services, transferring to other colleges, vocational/career advising, etc., have about 250 students on our caseload,” Lampe said.
Assignment to an adviser first depends on program of study.
“All of our specific programs have an assigned advisor who specializes in knowing that particular program and the degree requirements needed to graduate,” Lampe said.
However, students on a liberal studies path receive an adviser in Student Service Center according to their last names.
“The goal is for students to maintain the same advisor throughout their entire time here at ECC. We know sometimes it won’t work out that way because students change their minds and pursue different academic goals along the way. The more consistency for the student, the better,” Lampe said.
Aside ratios with assigning students to adviser, helping faculty understand the process became another issue.
“Another difficult transition was just helping faculty to understand that no one was criticizing the work that they had done. . .Really, what we were saying is that faculty are teachers, and we were getting in the way of that responsibility [with them previously as advisers],” Allen said.
However, Allen said she believes that they have achieved a happy medium since faculty members still serve as mentors to students.
Furthermore, with several months into the advising change, Lampe said he has encountered fewer students with complaints about advising or the college since prior to this transition. Lampe said he understand not everyone will be satisfied but that advising tries to “make it work.”
Allen also said she feels excited for the future, especially with the advising change. She said she hopes ECC will work to retain students.
“I just would really like to figure out ways to retain our students , and I hope this new advising model will result in higher levels of retention. It will allow our advisers to know their students a little bit better, and with students being assigned to specific advisers, my hope is that there can be some outreach over the course of the semester where they can develop real relationships,” Allen said.