University approves funding for new advising positions

Emily DeLetter

President Gary Ransdell has approved five new positions to aid students trying to change a major, minor or area of concentration. These senior adviser positions, which will begin the hiring process within the next few weeks, will work with transitions between colleges within WKU. Ransdell approved the positions to begin receiving funding July 1, at the end of this fiscal year.

Christopher Jensen, director of academic advising and retention, said he hopes these new positions, in addition to the new Schedule Planning software implemented April 5, will help prepare students to graduate on time. Jensen estimated there is an average of 15,000 changes of major, minor and concentration forms each year.

“We want to make sure students have the resources to make the right decision about where they want to go professionally and personally, along with staying on track and graduating on time,” Jensen said.

Jennifer Markin, associate director of advising, said the new positions will have an academic area of focus.

“You may have a student who’s interested in marketing and advertising, for example, and those cross two different colleges,” Markin said. “An adviser who has knowledge outside of the college for both programs can be really helpful.”

McKenzi Peace, a senior marketing major from Lexington, said she would have liked to have had such an adviser when she changed her major.

“There need to be people to talk to who understand what you need to do to change majors,” Peace said. “I figured it out on my own but it would have been nice to have someone to help.”

The WKU Office of Institutional Research releases a fact book each year with data and statistics concerning every aspect of the university. The 2016 fact book accounts a graduation rate of 50 percent and a freshman-sophomore retention rate of 74 percent.

“We often hear students saying ‘I couldn’t get the schedule I want, or even figure out how to get a schedule, so I’m not going to return next semester,’” Jensen said.

Jensen said the goal of the academic advising office is to give students a better picture of what’s going on, to help with retention and make them more informed.

LeLand Cantrell, a senior marketing and political science major from Bowling Green, said having an adviser outside her college would have been a huge help picking classes.

“When you cross colleges, your advisers don’t know about other majors,” Cantrell said. “One of my advisers communicated only through email, so I never knew if I was really talking the right classes.”

Jensen said each adviser will be employed by WKU’s advising office in Downing Student Union on campus.

“We’re trying to put these positions in place so students can have a realistic evaluation of where they stand and what they’ll have to do to move forward,” Jensen said. “It’s about finding what’s the best fit academically for the students.”

Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at (270)745-0655 and [email protected]