With the outbreak of COVID-19 sweeping the world, this isn’t any normal year. But luckily, the Advising Center at Pacific has worked to make the current advising period for summer and fall semester courses go as smoothly as possible, adapted for the new online environment.
“Online advising isn’t new to our staff. We’ve been doing online advising forever,” says Academic and Career Advisor Mike Shingle in a phone interview with The Index. With this experience already under their belt, the Advising Center has taken this opportunity to train professors and faculty members in online advising, creating an advising “boot camp” to bring them up to speed on how to effectively work with students in this remote situation.
Many new students and transfers already rely on remote meetings with advisors to plan their classes. Junior Morgan Stone had some experience in remote advising in planning her courses for this year.
“I feel prepared,” she says. “My concerns would be difficulties with technology making us unable to communicate, whether that be an issue with the connection or an issue with the site we use.”
Luckily, the Advising Center has also been working to help students adapt by creating a web page to help students prepare for their online advising appointments. The webpage can be accessed through the Advising Center’s page on Pacific’s website by clicking “Online and Distance Advising” on the sidebar. The page gives a short checklist on how to best prepare for online advising, as well as gives options for how to meet with advisors remotely.
“The first thing a student needs to do is figure out what way their advisor will be talking with them,” says Shingle. “Whether that’s through phone, through email, or maybe a Zoom appointment. And depending on what method, they want to make sure that they prepare for that. I always say sit down 30 minutes before your appointment, start thinking about questions you want to ask your advisor, and make sure that your technology’s all set up so you can easily ask your questions and type out your answers.”
Shingle also urges students to visit BoxerOnline ahead of their advising appointment to look at their program evaluation. This can be accessed under the Academic Profile section on BoxerOnline, and lists core and major requirements that students need to complete for their degree. From here, students can explore the course catalog under Academic Planning and make a list of courses that meet those requirements to bring to their advisor.
Junior Miranda Wessman went through her advising process in this new online format and felt that the transition, given the circumstances, was easy to handle.
“I personally didn’t feel like advising online was more of a challenge,” she said. “I spent several hours last night going over my entire upcoming academic year and preparing the right schedule based off my major. When I went to my meeting today, I had it all figured out and my advisor was very grateful that I was prepared.”
All summer semester courses are currently set to be taught exclusively online. However, fall semester is planned to be a return to in-person classes for students on campus.
“As with the rest of the world, we’re in this holding pattern of public health situations and being safe and physical distancing,” Shingle says. Though he doesn’t know if Pacific discussed the possibility of remote classes next year, the unpredictability of the COVID situation could certainly change things down the line.
Aside from advising for future terms, Pacific has also pushed back the course withdrawal deadline for current Spring semester courses to April 22nd, to allow students time to decide whether the new online class structures will work for them personally. If a student misses this new extended deadline, they are encouraged to reach out to their academic or career advisor to discuss other options.