“I think it’s unnecessary to require consulting solely for meeting graduation requirements.”
“I was satisfied that I could comfortably ask the professor questions via online consulting.”
There are various opinions on the effectiveness of the ‘Academic advising program’ at CBNU. While it was started with the good intention of supporting students from admission to employment, many complaints have risen about its effectiveness. As a result, this CBT reporter probed into whether the program operates according to its intended purpose.
The ‘Academic advising program’ (known as Pyeongsaeng sajeje in Korean) applies to all new students, except for those who were admitted from specialized high schools and contract department students. The program provides guidance on various aspects of college life, including academic studies, career planning, and job opportunities, as well as consultations on workplace issues after graduation. Students are recommended to have one consultation per semester and must participate in at least eight consultations to satisfy the graduation requirements. Consulting more than four times with their own academic advisor are necessary and the rest are completed with alternative advising programs. These programs include career path consulting from the employment support center, college club consulting with college club advisors, and startup consulting from a startup support center.
To figure out whether the ‘Academic advising program’ is properly operated, the CBT reporter carried out a poll regarding the level of student satisfaction with the program. The survey, which was conducted through the ‘Everytime’ and ‘Instagram’ apps from February 3 to February 12, garnered responses from 67 students. According to the survey, 35.6% reported satisfaction (10.2% very satisfied, 25.4% satisfied), while 49.1% reported dissatisfaction (27.1% dissatisfied, 22.0% very dissatisfied). Rating of ‘No opinion’ is at 15.3%. The survey also included inquiries about the positive and negative aspects of the ‘Academic advising program.’ In the survey on the positive aspects of the program (multiple responses allowed), 49.2% of students identified ‘interaction with professors’ as the top benefit, next came ‘career path mapping’(42.4%) and ‘interaction with junior and senior students’ (5.1%). In the survey on the negative aspects of the program (multiple responses allowed), 74.6% of students identified ‘graduation requirements’ as the most negative factor, next came ‘advisor allocation without student's input’ (61.0%), ‘difficulty adjusting schedules with advisors’(23.7%), and ‘lack of in-depth consulting’ (22.0%). Furthermore, 81.0% of respondents who were satisfied with the ‘Academic advising program’ believed that it was capable of mapping out a career path, while only 24.1% of those who were dissatisfied believed that it was.
How can the negative aspects of the ‘academic advising program’ be improved? There has been a long demand to eliminate or reduce the mandatory number of consultations required for graduation, even though the student council of 2020, Doyak, has decreased the number. In the previous survey, students suggested “The advisor program should be ruled out from graduation requirements, so that those who really need consulting will get more opportunities.” and “I often had to ask meaningless questions only for fulfilling mandatory numbers. It is especially tough in cases where consulting is not related to one’s major.” The overwhelming majority of students criticize the consulting program for only being focused on graduation requirements, which implies that the current ‘Academic advisor program’ needs to be reformed. However, changing the current system into a student-led consulting program requires caution. For instance, Yonsei University previously implemented student-led consulting, except for one mandatory consultation for sophomores, but it had to amend the system due to the extremely low participation rate.
Furthermore, negative aspects such as ‘advisor allocation without the student’s opinion’ and ‘lack of in-depth consulting’ should be addressed. In previous surveys, students expressed the desire that “I think we should consult with various professors based on the relevant need at hand.” and “I wished to have in-depth and helpful consulting with advisors instead of superficial consulting.” To tackle these issues, some suggest that students should have the opportunity to change their academic advisor if their interests do not align with their current advisor. For example, at Sogang University, students in the 3rd to 7th semesters, whose majors have been confirmed, choose an advisor from five candidates within their major based on their career path and interests. This provides students with a wide range of options for consulting. Additionally, some say that the promotion of alternative advisor programs should be more widely conducted so that students can use them more actively. Kwon Hee-ju, a 4th-year student majoring in Politics and International Relations, who is about to graduate, said, “I hurried through consultations just before graduation because my career path is not aligned with my advisor’s major. I only found out about the alternative advisor program after fulfilling my duty. If I had known about it earlier, I could have had more effective and meaningful consultations. I think many students are unaware of these programs, so promotion is necessary.” If students map out their career path through alternative advisor consulting, they can have more personalized consultations and participate more actively in them.
It is certain that the ‘Academic advising program’ was initially created with the purpose of helping students with their studies and career paths. However, as it is mandatory for most students and a key requirement for graduation, the program needs to be re-evaluated to incorporate their feedback and seriously weigh up their opinions. If the downsides of the current program are addressed, it can truly help students in developing their future plans.
By Shim Yun-seop