By Robin Alcantara |Staff writer|
The beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year brings new faces to the campus: new students, new faculty and a new advisor for the College of Arts and Letters.
“I hope to help students achieve their goals,” said Allison Garcia, the new professional advisor for the college.
Garcia is the first professional advisor of the college. Her role will help guide students, through academic mapping, to graduation in a more timely fashion.
“Sometimes my schedule does not coincide with my faculty advisors so that does create some conflict,” said Brenda Moreno, a senior majoring in communications.“This puts me at ease because now I can make time to see the advisor and schedule times when I’m already on campus.”
This position will supplement the current advising system of the college, a system that some students feel isn’t working.
“I think this is going to benefit students a lot,” said Matt Bell, a senior with a concentration in public relations. “I feel like I know more than the academic advisors at times.”
“One way to graduate with less debt is to graduate in a timely manner,” said the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Terry Ballman.
A published study of student loan debt by projectonstudentdebt.org suggests CSUSB students are among those with the largest amounts of debt at graduation time within California.
The average amount of debt for CSUSB students graduating with a bachelor’s degree is $21,787.
Garcia does not directly relate the debt rates to advising, but she did suggest it might be one of the contributing factors.
Students changing their major in the course of their college career can delay graduation dates further.
“One of the goals of effective advising, whether that’s done by a professional advisor or by faculty, is to make sure students proceed through their academic program in a very timely manner,” said Ballman.
“The average time students graduate in this college is 5.1 years. We would like to cut that down so that we have a higher percentage of students graduating at four years,” added Ballman.
Advising also aids students in deciding on career paths and helps guide them towards majors best suited to their interests.
“There is a place and a person who is always there for them,” said Ballman. “She can help us establish the culture of “there’s a place for you to go.”
The College of Arts and Letters is hoping to create easy access guidance for students.
“Some students do not come in college ready,” said Garcia, explaining another factor she believes might be contributing to the students’ extended time at CSUSB.
Students also experience having to stretch their time thin, as many hold jobs, families and other outside commitments.
“It’s not just about going to school full-time anymore,” said Garcia. “I was a student here too, so I understand.”
Garcia understands the responsibilities that today’s students face and feels that she can make a difference.