As a first-year student at UCSB, I have had a few occasions to visit advisors, including academic, financial aid and registrar advisors. However, a majority of my experiences have not been worthwhile.
I first visited the UCSB Academic Advising Office in Cheadle Hall for questions regarding classes, as I knew I had one of the worst pass times for registration. I needed to ask the advisor if there were any classes for my major that still had open space, as many were already full.
After explaining my situation, the advisor decided that I needed to learn how to perform an advanced search on Gold. Despite my many protests stating that I already knew how to make an advanced search, she continued anyway. She eventually dismissed me, stating that this was all that could be done.
A few months later, during pass three, a friend of mine decided she also needed to visit an academic advisor. She approached them with a similar problem — needing another class but not finding any with vacancies.
After about 20 minutes of sitting through unimportant information and growing annoyance, she finally asked if there was anything at all that the woman could do to help her. Finally, the advisor pulled up a list with classes that had open spots.
Essentially, to get anywhere in Academic Advising, you need to continually pester the advisors until they give in and finally help you.
We are spending a lot of money and effort to attend UCSB, and it is not acceptable to be left in the dark on matters as critical as class registration.
As for financial aid advisors, my one experience was moderately helpful, yet not something I would strive to repeat. For those unaware of how the Financial Aid Office is set up, there are multiple booths, each with a peer advisor. As the students explain their situation, the advisors write details on a whiteboard. If they cannot help you directly, they proceed to bring said whiteboard back to their superior, who will either report back to the peer advisor or come to you directly.
While, again, the service provided was not necessarily bad, the way in which students are helped is insensitive considering the matter at hand. For students with more personal questions, they may try to whisper, but the reality is that anyone can hear. My question, for instance, was completely personal yet I was not offered any accommodations for privacy. While I would not expect to receive accommodations that were not offered to other students, it was made clear to me that the office lacks discretion in these matters.
All in all, I have learned that unless you have a serious concern, such as a change of major request or scholarship information, Academic Advising will likely not be of any use to you. The advising associates that you meet with to determine whether an appointment — walk-in or otherwise — is needed simply do not seem to care.
While this is a broad generalization based on mine and others’ experiences, it is the message that is projected every time students are rushed out the door without the advice the advisors are there to give. There are advising associates and academic advisors that do, of course, do what is requested of them, but it depends heavily on what your particular circumstance is and how many students are in need of support.
There need to be higher standards upheld when these aids are helping students determine their college paths. We are spending a lot of money and effort to attend UCSB, and it is not acceptable to be left in the dark on matters as critical as class registration.
On another note, the amount of time these advisors often spend dancing around the lines of the question we need answered could easily be matched by directly answering the question at hand. There is no reason why a faculty member could not take the time to assist a student. Any excuses given are just that: excuses.
I hope that in the near future, the faculty will begin to understand the stress they inflict upon the students and in response start providing more support when sought out.
For students who have not received the help they need, I recommend asking fellow classmates. While a person in your inner circle might not have the advice you are looking for, branching out is always an option. Confer with mutual friends, ask in a club’s GroupMe or even post on one of the many Facebook groups provided to UCSB students. I guarantee that there is at least one student on this campus that has dealt with a similar situation and can assist you.
Financial peer advisors, while seemingly productive at their jobs, involve a breach of privacy that students may not want to deal with when discussing their financial aid. Things also have a chance of getting lost in translation, as you are giving information to a third party who will then see that it gets to an advisor that can bring to you a suitable answer. I was thoroughly unimpressed by the way in which this system was organized.
For students with personal concerns, I recommend emailing a financial advisor directly to set up a face-to-face appointment. This will eliminate the third-party interference and allow for a more solid understanding of the problem at hand. Alternatively, if you are comfortable enough, I recommend asking a resident advisor, a counselor or a fellow student.
Overall, as hard as these advisors must work, they are not giving sufficient assistance. We are constantly left confused and irritated, and we are expected to solve our problems on our own. I hope that in the near future, the faculty will begin to understand the stress they inflict upon the students and in response start providing more support when sought out. Until then, however, the students must work together to provide each other with the solutions to our problems.
Stephanie Arentz wants to see improvement on a resource that is critical to student life.