The Center for Student Advising says that it has improved over the last few years, according to survey results the office released last week.
The annual survey gauges student perception of CSA advisers in categories such as accessibility, care, knowledge, and responsiveness. All statistics included in the report—which come in the form of percent of students who make a given positive statement about CSA—are above 80 percent.
The report shows that several categories have risen significantly. The proportion of students who said their CSA adviser meets their academic needs was 81 percent for 2012-2013, up from 73 percent in 2011. Similarly, students who said their advisers follow up promptly rose from 79 percent to 84.3 percent. Eighty-nine percent of students say their adviser has referred them to other resources when necessary, while 85 percent said this in 2011.
“I am thrilled about our assessment results. Students have rated us progressively higher over the past three years,” Dean of Advising Monique Rinere said in an email. “This trend speaks to our continued dedication to providing students with excellent advising and responding to students’ evolving needs.”
“We have also used student responses to improve our day-to-day operations in the CSA. We were, for example, better prepared than ever for one of our busiest times of the year, New Student Orientation, adding laptops and iPads for a smoother check-in process. Peer Advisers were also on hand to help new students,” Rinere said. “These small adjustments added a personal touch to the experience of every incoming student.”
Rinere also said CSA has been working to improve its outreach to students, as well as helping students develop connections with academic departments and faculty. CSA will hold a workshop on Oct. 10 for first-year students interested in learning about ways to build relationships with their professors.
The office is also working with the peer advisers to develop new advising methods. As the peer advising program only began last fall, it is still fairly new to CSA.
Despite the survey’s optimistic outlook, students interviewed last weekend said they were unsure about some of the results.
“They’re approachable and friendly,” Caitlin Fedio, SEAS ’15 and an earth and environmental engineering major, said of CSA advisers. “Not so knowledgeable about my department, but that’s OK because it’s small.”
Fedio, who said she only uses her adviser “every once in a while,” said she considered CSA “acceptable” overall. Others echoed her sentiment, and few students said they used their advisers often.
“I’ve only been to mine, like, twice,” Fei-tzin Lee, SEAS ’16, said of her adviser. “Most of the people I know don’t use them.”
Interestingly, the CSA report says that the office held more than 23,000 advising appointments in a 10-month period during the 2012-2013 academic year.
With 6,113 undergraduates in Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, that means that, on average, each student served by CSA met with an adviser 3.76 times.
In addition, more than 100 students visit the CSA each day, on average, according to the survey report.
Priya Gunaseharan, CC ’14, said she does try to visit her CSA adviser, although due to changing advisers she has been unable to build a strong relationship with them.
“Unfortunately there’s been really high turnover. I get a new adviser, like, every semester,” she said. “Responsiveness is high for me, but academic knowledge, not so much.”
She also expressed surprise over the high statistics shown in the CSA survey results. Ultimately, Gunaseharan said, she would consider one out of the five advisers she’s had helpful.
The numbers from CSA’s survey do align with student reactions when it comes to responsiveness. Survey results showed that 94.2 percent of students described their advisers as approachable, 91.4 percent felt their advisers were supportive, and 91.5 percent of students surveyed called advisers responsive.