This month, academic advising at St. Thomas is making itself more transparent and available for students.
Last week, advisor Owen Marshall launched an outreach initiative. For six weeks, Marshall will visit each of the residences and be available at the off-campus lounge for student questions about anything ranging from their schedules and programs to specific resources they are looking for.
“What I find is that some people are not shy at all and some people are. And often people are confused about academic policies and they hear some strange rumour that’s not in our calendar at all,” said Marshall. “So instead of being on the third floor of GMH where some people seek us, we’re trying to bring a friendlier face to residences and to the off-campus lounge.”
He hopes it encourages those students who have a quick question to just come in and ask instead of booking and waiting for an appointment or not asking the question at all.
Marshall said he decided to do this initiative the six weeks before the last day to drop classes, which is on February 28. He said he would rather have students ask questions before the deadline so they don’t end up with a withdrawal fail, which counts as a zero on their transcript.
“So if people are on the fence about something or wondering about it, it’d be better to have that conversation before the 28th,” he said. “And who knows, maybe it will help save 10 people from getting a [withdrawal fail]?”
The other academic advisor, Shauna Foote, will remain in her office during this initiative to help those who need a longer sit-down appointment.
“I’m happy to help out with this initiative in any way that I can, but then there are some things that probably aren’t best in a crowded cafeteria or a lounge where there are other students around,” said Marshall.
Academic advising did a similar initiative last year but it wasn’t advertised well so not many students utilized it or knew about it. Marshall said the larger size of the new off-campus lounge this year will help with visibility. He will also be using posters and posting on resident and off-campus Facebook groups.
“We just want to make ourselves as visible on campus as possible – to let people know that we can help them out in terms of any sort of generic advice, in terms of university or specific academic advice or general student life questions – for them not to be shy.”