By Shannon Craig
The gradual merger between student accounts and advising has been in the works before students were released for summer last year, and it appears that the process is finally complete. Students returning for fall 2012 may have been surprised to learn that the advising department had become a one-stop shop, providing both academic advising and financial help from the same adviser.
“I’ve been satisfied with the new system,” said Ellie Lehman, a third-year advertising student who remembers when finances and academics were separated, “unless I have a strange question. Then I have to go through a million hoops.”
In theory, the merger was intended to make students’ visits to Bradley Hall more efficient, but as with most theories, it may take multiple attempts to work out all of the kinks.
Shala Miller, a first-year undeclared student, recently visited with an adviser after returning for winter quarter.
“I didn’t get the answer I wanted,” Miller said, “but they helped and gave me some options.”
District spoke with 25 random students, all from different majors, to ask about their experiences with student accounts and academic advising over the last two quarters. Only 24 percent could say that they were entirely satisfied, while 32 percent would describe their encounters as ‘negative.’ However, 44 percent were neutral, sharing instances that were both positive and negative in nature.
Some students didn’t even know that the two advising groups had merged.
When describing most of their negative experiences, students recalled money mix-ups, lags in scholarship payout and being charged for tuition they had already paid.
“I had paid $800 for my tuition and it cleared, but then I was charged a $150 late fee,” said Raine Blunk, a third-year writing major. “It turned out that I was credited the $800, but I still had to pay the late fee for money that wasn’t even due. What the hell?”
Fewer students had complaints about academic advising, one student going as far to say that they “would be satisfied with their experience had it not been for the financial component.”
During drop-add week of fall quarter, fourth-year writing student Adeshola Adigun went to Bradley Hall three times to plan classes for his remaining two quarters.
“I had to be a full-time student financially, and I had seven classes left.”
Adigun was unaware of the merger between academic advising and student accounts and felt that he was being pushed into classes not because he needed them for his degree, but because FAFSA needed for him to carry a full course load every quarter for federal aid.
“It just didn’t feel like there was a lot of thought being put into it, they had to put me somewhere and they wanted to do it as quickly as possible.”
Adigun took winter quarter off, due in part to federal financial issues.
Students received an email February 25 notifying them that the spring quarter tuition payment was due on March 15. Roughly half of students polled regarding their satisfaction with student accounts and advising admitted that they had only recently finished paying off their winter quarter tuition.
“My mom is so p*****,” said Sara Uhlig, a fourth-year dramatic writing student. “Financial aid made a huge deal out of my grants because I am only going to be taking two classes next quarter. I was advised to take another class, but both my mother and I thought that that was ridiculous. I finished paying off this quarter’s tuition halfway through the quarter.”
With admissions like Uhlig’s being far from uncommon, it seems that students are finding themselves asking whether advice and money can have a symbiotic relationship.
So can advice and money mix? Forty-four percent of students just don’t know.
Editor’s note: A response from student accounts and advising will be posted next week.