By Michelle Keane
Starting a college career can be a balancing act of classes, exams, work, clubs and personal life. Transitioning from a high school dynamic to college life leaves many incoming freshmen lost in a new and unexplored sea of responsibilities.
Having someone to talk to can always ease the load when feeling alone or overwhelmed. Now, due to the renovations occurring in Blackwell Hall, students here on the SU campus will have a safe and inviting outlet to get advice on academics and a wide range of other topics.
Typically, around advising season, students would visit a professor on campus that teaches courses related to their major in order to ask for advice on academics and the courses they need to take to stay on track with their major and graduate on time.
With the new academic advising system, these professional advisors would take on the role of guiding the students on campus through any academic challenges, refining and deciding on courses for upcoming semesters.
As many of the advisees in the new program are freshmen who oftentimes need assistance in declaring a major or picking clubs that can help them get a job in the future, the advisors are very diverse in their skill sets.
The professionals have the ability to handle many topics and discuss with the students in depth about their majors and paths.
Carrianne Cicero, the liberal arts advisor in Blackwell Hall, touched on the availability and diversity of the professional advisors.
“We are here every day. Once program planning is over, then we get to get into the mentoring piece where we meet with students on a regular basis to check into how they are doing,” Cicero said. “If their grades are falling, they have a lifeline—someone to reach out to and someone to redirect you to appropriate and helpful resources.”
Each professional advisor in Blackwell Hall is in charge of overseeing one of the four schools within the university. One of the crucial parts of their job entails devoting their time to getting familiar with their advisees on a professional and personal level in addition to knowing the courses offered through each school and clubs on campus.
Mark Chimel, one of the professional advisors, is in charge of the satellite programs through Salisbury University. He travels to SU students in all parts of Maryland, such as Cecil College, to advise students who usually wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet with professionals.
The programs Chimel advises consists of master programs such as social work, elementary education and exercise science. He details his position at Blackwell Hall as a professional advisor for satellite programs.
“I don’t teach classes but I advise students all day long from locations around the state, getting to know many sets of course requirements,” Chimel said. “Whereas faculty members are teaching classes and have other roles.”
Due to the fact that being an advisor is their sole purpose, the professionals have much more time to focus on the students’ needs than the professors who are overloaded as they teach classes, run research, oversee clubs and put on productions.
Along with more time to allot to each advisee’s needs during program planning, the new Blackwell Hall will be open year-round to students, both freshmen and upperclassmen, who would like guidance in a number of topics.
Cicerco commented on the value of face-to-face time.
“We talk about classes, we talk about how college life is, how are you adjusting to living in a college dorm, how is your time management, are you doing fun activities on campus like joining clubs and playing on intramural teams?” Cicero said.
The benefits of a full-time professional advising staff are reshaping the students’ ability to be more sharply defined in their talents and potential.
To help freshmen adjust to the busy schedules and new lifestyles of living on a college campus, the advisors work as a transitional guidance counselor.
When attending a meeting with one of the advisors they cover how residency on campus, social life, clubs and grades are going, and can give advice on any attribute of the college experience.
“Freshmen year is stressful, and there are so many changes going on and sometimes you just need to get advice from someone so they can tell you how you’re feeling and what you’re doing is okay,” Cicero said. “We are always here to talk to students and check in to make sure everything is going smoothly.”
With the aid of the professional advisors year-round, students will always have access to yet another resource in their efforts to graduate.
The school’s advisors are available should anyone ever have any questions regarding life here on campus or academic success here at SU.