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Academic advisers urge students to visit office as program requirements change

Posted on 14 March 2016 by admin

Every five years, STLCC reviews programs to update information

By: CHRISTIAN HARGAS
Sports Editor

 

When St. Louis Community College creates new courses or alters their programs, they go through a curricular process.

The STLCC Campus Committee changes requirements to some of their programs. The Campus Committee is always updating different programs, Dean of Humanities and Social Science Yvonne Johnson said.

STLCC identifies the purpose of the new course, the credit hours and how they will assess and evaluate student work and minimum requirements, Acting Vice President of Academic Affairs Janet Walsh said.

“We have always revised programs to make sure we are keeping them current,” Johnson said.

Some of the programs are accredited by an outside agency. Some of those programs have different requirements that they have to meet, Walsh said.

“Sometimes, the profession and the discipline changes and we have to change how we teach in order to educate the students to meet the orders of the profession,” Walsh said.

A perfect example of this process might be some of the health care programs, Walsh said.

“Their accrediting bodies may say ‘now you have to start teaching this or you have to make sure you have this or that in your program’,” Walsh said. “If we do not have it, then we have to make a change.”

The program requirement changes might also be related to entrance requirements, Walsh said.

“Every five years, programs have to go through a program review for our internal review,” Walsh said. “Programs have to take a look at their student learning outcomes, their success rate in courses, the graduation rates of students, how many students have been in their programs, etc. We look at all of those things.”

The program preview can be a long process, Walsh said.

“When we do a program review, we might determine that we do not have enough graduates or enough students that are passing,” Walsh said. “We take a deep look at that and we ask some tough questions. Typically, we are not making changes just to make changes. We look at the date, the number of students, graduates, success rates, failure rates, and what the profession and organization says we need to be doing.”

The program requirement changes are for the student’s benefit as STLCC is making sure they are on track to graduation and future success, Johnson said.

“We want the students to succeed,” Johnson said. “We want the students to move on and complete their degrees. We also want to make sure our students become more marketable and can get jobs.”

Program requirement changes can alter the length of time it takes for students to graduate by adding classes to their requirements. Walsh said she understands potential student frustration.

“Having been a student many times in my career, if it changes the length of time until graduation, I would be upset,” Walsh said. “If you think you are going to graduate in the spring of 2016 and all of a sudden the program says to you ‘didn’t you know you have to take this class’ and now you cannot graduate because they may not offer that class in the summer. By December 2016, that is another six or eight months where you could have applied for another job, got a job or went to another four-year school.”

Despite the requirement changes in certain programs, students under old catalogs should not have to change to a brand new catalog, Johnson said.

“Students under the old catalog can still complete their current catalog,” Johnson said.

Students working with the Academic Advising department are essential to their success, Academic Advising Manager Julie Massey said.

“It is a joint project between the advisers and the students,” Massey said. “We are helping students to make sure they succeed by exposing them to our services.”

It is important for the student, however, to be proactive and do their homework, Walsh said.

“If an adviser tells you something that just does not seem right or does not fit in with the homework you have done for what you need, then you need to ask questions,” Walsh said. “If an adviser says ‘no this is absolutely right’ and it still does not sink into your mind, then go to a department chair. I think students should never be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes they are because they feel they should already know what to do. If there is a question in your mind, you should ask it.”

Maybe STLCC needs to do a better job of encouraging the students to see advisers, Walsh said.

“When I see students and talk to them, I say ‘have you gone to see your adviser’ and they will say ‘no I am just looking at the rap sheets’,” Walsh said. “I would say ‘please make an appointment to touch base with them and make sure’. During the New Student Orientations now, [Academic Advising] really encourages that. In the Smart Start class, they really encourage that also just to make sure students are on track.”

According to the Academic Advising syllabus, they strive to provide comprehensive services and support that every student needs to realize and achieve their educational goals. Keeping the student’s best interests in mind is important, Massey said.

Advisers hope students will have the ability to identify types of general education courses.

“We are trying to reach out to the students who do not utilize the advising services consistently,” Massey said. “We want more students to utilize the services that we offer.”

 

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