ETSU recently hired 15 new professional advisers to help students choose majors and increase the number of students completing college in four years or less.
The Tennessee Board of Regents allowed ETSU to fund these new advisers through a tuition increase.
“One of my goals is that we will see very few students change majors after their first year,” said Gordon Anderson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I think we’ d say that, on average, students change majors about three times, and if you do that early, that’s OK, but if you do that as a junior, you’ve taken a lot of courses that probably don’t count towards that new major, and eventually they will lose financial aid.”
New advisers will be adopting many of the same responsibilities held by current advisers, but they will also reach out to students who are struggling in their majors.
The advisers will teach students how to navigate Goldlink and Degree Works and build a career path by creating a schedule. They will also communicate with students about majors and career possibilities.
“We will have those conversations with students early on and make sure they are heading in a direction they want to go and feel they can be successful in,” Anderson said.
Incoming students will schedule classes with their professional adviser, but they will also have a faculty member in their department to advise them on other issues.
Students will make the transition to scheduling classes with a faculty adviser after they earn about 60 credits. Of the 15 professional advisers, one will be advising international students and another will be stationed at Northeast State Community College.
Anderson said the adviser at Northeast State will be charged with easing the transition of students from community college to ETSU.
The international students’ adviser will help international students settle into the university, teach them how to operate D2L and Goldlink, and help them deal with their paperwork.
“The other 13 advisers are in the various colleges within the university, as well as the University Advising Center,” Anderson said. “There are faculty advisers, and then there are professional advisers. And the number of professional advisers by college varies quite a bit.”
Anderson said the university also invested in the Student Success Collaborative, a platform database that allows the faculty to look at data and courses taken by students early in their major. Anderson said the database will give a good indication of whether a student will be successful in their chosen field.
“No one is telling a student he or she must change majors,” Anderson said. “We just want to look at other possible areas the student could be successful in.”
Anderson anticipates the new advisers will have a positive impact on students, he said. “I’m really excited about this. I think this is going to make a real difference. Obviously there are measures along the way, but ultimately, the real goal is to see more students graduate and graduate in less time.”