Two advising centers replace department faculty advisers

James Vaughn

Advising centers are up and running this semester in both the Pott College of Science, Engineering and Education and the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

The centers have been available to students since August and in the actual facility on the third floor of the Health Professions building since December. Pott College’s advising center is located on the third floor of the Education building.

Sarah Stevens, Director of Advising in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, loves the new facilities, she said.

“We’ve got beautiful windows that let in amazing light,” Stevens said. “We tried to pick out some really nice and inviting furniture. We want it to be a place where students can walk in and feel at home.”

For example, office desks are cornered so that when an adviser is speaking with a student, they don’t have a barrier between them.

The advisers want the center to be a student-focused, student-friendly space that revolves around student needs, she said.

The College of Nursing and Health Profession’s center currently employs two full-time advisers and one part-time adviser.

Stevens said she knows the center will be busy because during priority registration in November, students went out of their way to find the advisers for consultation.

The advising center in the College of Nursing and Health Professions saw 1,104 students during the Fall semester.

Before the advising centers opened, all students had been assigned to a faculty adviser.

Stevens said even though the faculty members make wonderful advisers, they have many other responsibilities and don’t always have the availability to be flexible.

She doesn’t want students to feel like the advisers are only there to discuss their schedules.

“I think students often think we’re just here to tell them what class to take next and we’re not,” Stevens said. “We can offer a lot more than that.”

Advisers can offer students tips on being successful, from where to find tutoring services to study skills, she said.

“Even if it’s just to talk about financial aid or maybe a student is really depressed and doesn’t know where to turn to, we’re there,” Stevens said. “We want to be that first point of contact. We’re kind of a one-stop shop.”

The advising centers are still transitioning. Students who had a faculty adviser will continue their college career under that guidance.

Students who entered the university this spring and students who enter the college from now on will be assigned to the advising center.

Junior dental assisting major Gabrielle Tiggs has taken advantage of the advising center quite a bit, she said.

She said she went in at the beginning of the semester to get advice about taking some courses at Ivy Tech and making sure all of the credits would transfer back to USI.

“The adviser did not have all of the answers to my questions at the time, but she always kept in contact with me,” Tiggs said. “She emailed me with new information and made sure I was doing all right in the courses I had registered for this semester.”

She said the advising center is a very comforting environment.

“I would definitely recommend (that) everyone go because they have always pointed me in the right direction,” Tiggs said.

Elizabeth Daake, Pott College of Science, Engineering and Education representative for the Student Government Association (SGA), said the advising center plans to offer advising and have materials available to students taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Dental Admission Test (DAT) and other pre-professional exams.

Advising centers in the College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts will open in the fall.