Improvements streamline undergraduate advising in department
A study by the mechanical and nuclear engineering department revealed that faculty are frequently asked questions by undergraduate students that are difficult to answer without extensive advising experience. Faculty spend time researching answers to questions that the Undergraduate Programs Office is actually much better equipped to deal with, such as course requirements, scheduling and graduation.
To address these issues and better serve students, Eric Marsh, associate head of undergraduate programs in the mechanical and nuclear engineering department, moved all academic advising duties to the Undergraduate Programs Office.
“We split advising into two areas – the academic side, which includes all course scheduling, academic planning and day-to-day questions, and the career or professional advising side,” said Marsh. “Moving forward, all the academic questions will be handled by the Undergraduate Program Office directly.”
The change will significantly reduce undergraduate student visits to faculty. Just as importantly, the new system will improve advising recordkeeping. Penn State requires all advising conversations to be documented in their advising software. By moving all academic advising to the undergraduate office, the staff can take care of maintaining those records.
Student will still be assigned to a faculty mentor when they are accepted into the department as juniors and they are encouraged to visit their faculty adviser for guidance on jobs, graduate school, research, or other opportunities.
As part of this change, the undergraduate office now has all-day coverage for walk-in advising questions. Two graduate students, who both attended Penn State as undergraduates, are prepared to answer most academic-related questions. These students received training through the College of Engineering Dean’s Office and in addition to working in mechanical and nuclear engineering, they work a few hours a week in the College of Engineering Advising Office to answer questions for first-year freshman and sophomore students who have not yet been assigned a major.