Everything communication studies and journalism students need to sign up for academic advising is right outside the communication studies office in the Rose Garden. Photo: Kayla Landrum

APU has amped up academic advising this year in an effort to help students graduate on time, although each department takes a different approach.

For the first time, the Communication Studies Department told students that they are required to watch an advising video prior to any academic advising appointment. Debbie Cram, the department’s administrative coordinator, said, “The faculty came up with the idea.” Cram said the video helps answer common questions that students have and encourages them to come prepared to the appointment so they know what to expect.

“We’ve always stressed advising and have definitely noticed a decline in attendance,” Cram said.“That’s why these last couple of years, Comm Studies has made it mandatory for freshmen and juniors to come in.”

Cram said the department was noticing more seniors coming in during their last semester “frantic” due to missing requirements that could have been noticed earlier if they had taken advantage of academic advising.

Cram also said students who spend time with faculty are not only building relationships, but networking with professors who can write great reference letters, give professional advice and help them focus on their career goals.

“There are noticeable differences between those who take the time to be advised and those who don’t. It makes sense that a student who is wise enough to take advantage of the advising opportunities might also be more intentional in all areas of their academic career,” Cram said.

A recent APU 411, the weekly list of announcements, campus news, classifieds and upcoming events sent to all students, included a master list of phone numbers for every department for students with questions about academic advising, which ends Nov. 1.

Not all departments are pushing academic advising, however. Cindy Richmond, the undergraduate school administrator of the School of Business and Management, said her office has not made changes to its academic advising requirements.

“In the School of Business, we do not require the students to go to advising, but it is strongly encouraged because you want to graduate on time,” Richmond said. “Ultimately, it is up to the student to figure out what they need.”

Many students come in as a freshman with their whole four years already mapped out so they can graduate on time or even early, while others just want to squeeze by and just get through, Richmond said. Business students tend to be the ones to have everything already figured out, she said.

Richmond said there are too many students in the Business School to schedule one-on-one advising with each of them.

“We want students to know it’s their responsibility,” she said.

Many students do not feel the need to attend academic advising, since all requirements are listed in APU’s yearly catalog, which is available online.

“I have not gone because I found the system easy enough to follow as long as I paid attention to the catalog,” said communication studies major Spencer Troutman, who has never been to an academic advising appointment. “I see its purpose because some people like things to be laid out in front of them in order to fully understand what they need to do.”

But Troutman said he wishes he had gone to advising his freshman year, because it would have saved him a lot of stress he had to deal with on his own.

“I do believe APU is trying to give students as much help as possible and that they understand that school is expensive for us and that we want to get out ASAP,” he said.

While some students don’t feel a need for academic advising, others find it a great help in planning their future schedules.

“I think academic advising helps out a lot because many students wouldn’t be able to have the knowledge of knowing what classes need to be taken and what classes are offered in the spring and fall,” said sophomore applied health major Erica Blancas, who has regularly scheduled academic advising appointments since the first semester of her freshman year. “I think academic advising is pushed so much because as professors, it’s their role to help us to get to a better future, which I greatly appreciate and I think so do other people.”