Spring is near, the flowers are out, and registration at the University of Portland is fast approaching. Although students will be making appointments to plan and double check their next semester schedules, advising students is an all-semester job.
Students walk in with homework questions and concerns, personal inquiries and stories, letter of recommendation requests, and hopes for job offers.
The professor’s task isn’t just about making sure the student’s four year plan is going smoothly. Sometimes their students drop by just to chat and say hello.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Christopher Hallstrom says the small student count at UP makes it easier for them to plan and offer one-on-one time. The difficulty of juggling personal research, lecturing classes, offering office hours, preparing for classes, and grading papers is mostly dependent on the individual. Factors include the department they are in, the requirements they need to meet within that department, and research style.
“For some of us in the Math Department, it’s easier to pick up research here and there,” said Dr. Hallstrom. “For others it’s harder to pick up things right where you left off. It takes some time to think about things and remind myself ‘where was I with this last week? What was I thinking about?”
The type of advising students receive is also unique between departments.
According to Dr. Barbara Braband, Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, nursing students have a set schedule handed to them from the time they declare their nursing major. All their classes (save for their few choices of electives) are assigned for them.
Thus, the professors go over heavy course planning in the first few years. When nurses reach their junior year, the program is specifically designed to start their clinical practices. Most of their office hours are spent answering clinical questions, listening to personal issues, and aiding with identifying their future job preferences. On behalf of the Nursing Department, she said, “Planning is everything.”
Despite their set schedules, there are nursing majors who become double majors or have minors. “Most of the double majors choose a foreign language.”
Dr. Braband says professors also use the time to establish a relationship with their advisees. To this day, she says she still receives emails from graduates keeping in touch and thanking them for all of their help and guidance. “Building student relationships are really important,” she said. “It is the long term impact we make that is the most rewarding.”
Dr. Elayne Shapiro, Associate Professor in the Communication Department, recognized that students should also seek help and advice from other students. “You find out from students what kind of teachers will work for you. Not every teacher is everybody’s cup of tea.”
She also suggests that students should keep their own templates of their tentative dynamic course schedules to double check for mistakes.
This semester, registration will begin right after Spring break. Advisers will be scheduling office hours for registration counseling, but they advise seeking their advice at least a week in advance.