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Archive for Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peer advisers can help with academic plans

August 14, 2010

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Jordon Simmons of Fort Scott goes over a packet of information during an advising session with new pre-med students as part of KU’s orientation for incoming freshman

Jordon Simmons of Fort Scott goes over a packet of information during an advising session with new pre-med students as part of KU’s orientation for incoming freshman

Pre-med adviser Paul Crosby, right, explains some of the ins and outs of surviving the first year of college.

Pre-med adviser Paul Crosby, right, explains some of the ins and outs of surviving the first year of college.

“How long does it take to get across campus?” “What’s an easy class?” “Is this professor good?”

These are just a few of the questions that Kansas University peer advisers field as incoming freshmen enroll. It can be a stressful time for advisers, but it’s even more stressful for students.

“It’s an overload of information,” said Jessica Watkins, a sophomore peer adviser from Cunningham. “Sometimes they cry, get mad or just feel really stressed.”

After assisting as a peer adviser for close to 20 student orientation sessions this summer, Watkins is not surprised by anything. In fact, she said, the different personalities from student to student are what keep the summer interesting.

The challenge is the fun part for Lindsey Leikes, a peer adviser from Hays. Searching courses, finding times that are compatible and dealing with the pains and frustrations of class scheduling make the end that much more gratifying.

“The most rewarding part is finally getting a schedule to work out and seeing the student excited about their classes,” Leikes said.

There is one tool that can help students survive: flexibility.

As majors change, courses are dropped and interests develop, students visiting the University Advising Center must be flexible.

Tammara Durham, director of the center, said the staff help more than 9,000 students a semester with anything from academic planning to helping a student find the right major.

“It’s okay to be undecided,” Durham said. “Some students have never had to study before and are just figuring it out on their own.”

For the thousands of undeclared students who seek advising at the center each semester, “not knowing” is not that uncommon. In fact, it can be helpful for some.

“A lot of students don’t know how many options of classes there are,” Durham said. “They think about the common things, but advising opens students up to the variety KU has to offer.”

The center can help with all sorts of academic planning, from figuring out major requirements to tallying credit hours. The best advice Durham can give is to plan ahead and take advantage of the resources available.

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