The advisement department struggles to operate under wage gaps

Learn how advisors are accommodating students this semester despite the online and in-person discrepancies. Photo by Olivia Nash | The Signal

Despite a majority of students attending online courses, the Academic Advisement Center remains accessible. The center offers various student services like creating or adjusting academic plans via Webex so that advisors can better accommodate students. 

But how are students responding to the virtual advisement format? 

The Georgia State University Advisement Center serves all freshman, sophomores and juniors. Seniors, however, are served by the Office of Academic Assistance in their major college. 

The National Academic Advising Association developed the Academic Advisement Core Competencies Model. Within the model, advisors must be knowledgeable in student relationships.

Yet Georgia State students have had disparate experiences with their advisors and have reported instances that do not reflect the model’s criteria of understanding and knowledge. 

Ndubuisi Onwumere, a junior, commented on the difficulty he had in contacting his advisor. He said that he was once given an unpleasant attitude without reason. 

“I understand every[one] is just trying to do their job, but I wasn’t having the condescending tone she used,” Onwumere said. “[She spoke] to me like I was a child or her child.”

Many members of Georgia State’s subreddit weighed in on the matter and saw inconsistency in communication, random advisor switches and incorrect information. 

Students also noted the difference in advisement experience at Georgia State’s Honors College. One Reddit user said that advisors at the Honors College are “miles ahead of the regular advisors.”

The varying student experiences may be due to an understaffed department. Budget cuts are the main cause.

The Faculty Affairs Committee of the University Senate held a meeting on Thursday to discuss racial inequality of minority staff members and overall employment. 

According to the committee’s report, there is an average of -1.91% difference in pay gap for Black faculty members. 

“It is quite abysmal,” Galchinsky from the Office of Provost said. 

The faculty wage gap extends to Georgia State advisors, since many advisors are Black. Mistreatment of advisors then extends to how the advisors treat the students. 

The Signal recently reported on overflow requests and other faculty services. But the growing number of requests were too much for the amount of faculty.

“Courses are not disappearing, but the mode in which some courses are being offered continues to change based on faculty availability,” Associate Vice President for Public Relations Andrea Jones said. 

The limited amount of staff leads to a lack of student engagement on campus, specifically at the semester midpoint when class registration is at its peak. 

A student-worker at Atlanta’s Advisement Office said that the office is flooded with student requests to discuss schedules for the next semester, and student academic plans during the semester midpoint. 

During the last two weeks of October, advisors free their availability for walk-ins and do not schedule appointments. The goal is to help many students without reserving specific time slots, before students register for classes. 

As a result, advisors are often overworked and are not as responsive to students by email or availability. Especially as the semester reaches a midpoint.