Adviser Shortage Hinders Student Progress

The advising department lobby can be crowded.

Many Clark students rely on advisers to plan their schedules and graduate on time, but a shortage in advising staff can make that complicated.

Administrators aim to increase the number of advisers on staff from the current 12 to 25, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Belden. The current 12 advisers are responsible for guiding the almost 10,500 students that attend Clark according to the college’s website, meaning each adviser is responsible for nearly 1,000 students.  

In a survey conducted by the Indy of two different classrooms, 12 out of 40 students said adviser availability had been an issue in the past. Belden said in order to allow advisers to speak with students more efficiently the department is aiming to have roughly 400 students assigned to each advisor once it reaches capacity.

Director of Advising John Maduta said adequate pay was a major issues for adviser retention in the past.  He said a recurrent issue was that advisors would move to other colleges to be paid more and further their professional development.

The last pay increase advisers received, Maduta said, was a little over a year and a half ago when the classification of advisers was changed.  

Belden said an advising position was considered a classified position before, which according to Clark’s Human Resources department, means advisers were represented by the classified union and could receive overtime pay. Now advisers are classified as exempt positions, which means they are no longer under the union and cannot earn overtime pay, but it also means they get paid on a salary.

Another obstacle to expanding the advising department is finding a place to fit new staff. “We’re pretty limited on space, at least in our current location,” Maduta said. “If we were to grow advising as far as capacity … we would have to definitely take that into consideration.”

With every change, the Advising department seeks to make the transition into Guided Pathways easier, according to Belden. He said the department wants students to have one consistent adviser instead of seeing a different one every time they come. Each student will have an advisor based on their field of study, Belden said, and there are plans to include instructors in the advising process.  “Some of these faculty members do it now unofficially,” Maduta said.

Clark is in the second year of a five-year transition to the Guided Pathways model. “It’s going to take us a little while,” Belden said. “But we know that the changes we are making are going to be beneficial in the long run. It’s a big change for us, but it’s an important change as well.”

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