Adviser-to-student ratios to improve

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 Infographic by Mandy Derfler

Infographic by Mandy Derfler

Current ratio is more than twice the limit.

By Cynthia M. Herrera

The adviser to student ratio at this college is one to approximately 800 students, but the recommended ratio from the National Academic Advising Association is one adviser to every 350 students.

There are 13 full-time advisers in the counseling and advising center, as well as five in the empowerment center and two advisers in Disability Support Services and six advisers in Veterans Affairs.

Counselor Steve Samet said during the April 1 Faculty Senate meeting that the chancellor has ideas that are good and bad.

Samet said the advising model would be a good model if done right, but it is underfunded because of spending money on the wrong things. Samet said that money is not being spent on the personnel needed.

The advising and counseling center expects to receive six more advisers in the summer.

“Their 800 could expand to 1,200 (students),” Samet said. “My point is that even with 20 to 21 that’s a third of what we were promised in advisers. And to handle 18 (thousand) to 23,000 students, that’s not meeting the needs.”

Joan Tsacalis, director for advising and counseling, said the advising model she is trying is to have advisers switch to a case load model. The model is to assign every adviser to a department or field of study and handle students from there.

“I really do like the idea of a case load model because it gives you that consistent relationship,” Tsacalis said.

The college uses a cross-training model that helps the advising team match an adviser to a student in case the assigned adviser is absent.

Tsacalis said the advising center is manually assigning advisers to students. Within the last two months, the center has assigned approximately 9,000 students to advisers.

The process takes about 45 seconds to manually enter after a student is enrolled in the college. She estimates 19,000 students will be manually assigned advisers by the end of summer.

“I’ve come from a place where it’s a vast process; I can take 500 students and assign them to an adviser,” she said.

Tsacalis has been at this college for six months.“The good thing about me being a new supervisor of this area is that I can bring the best practices from the places I worked.”

She has worked for 20 years in higher education at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas State University and the University of Cincinnati.

The advising center is waiting for the system to be adopted, which allows the process to work faster. District promised to hire 60 advisers within a year.

While the number of advisers is expected to grow by the summer, the number of counselors is an issue. There are only three counselors on this campus with only one full-time female counselor and one part-time.

“In a short period of time, we will probably lose all our females except for one,” Samet said. He added the part-time counselor recently received her doctorate, and is looking to find a full-time job to start off her career.

There are two part-time counselors in the empowerment center.

Now that Title 9 is to be enforced, women are likely to speak to a female counselor rather than a male, Samet and Tsacalis agreed.

“I know being a woman myself that there are some issues I would only want to address with a woman,” Tsacalis said in an interview.

Title 9 gives protection to students who face discrimination from sexual harassment, gender inequality and domestic violence. Starting July 1, new students are required to complete training. If a student confides in a faculty member about an incident, faculty are required to report those cases.

“Do they really want to deal with a white Anglo male? No, they want to see a female,” Samet said during Faculty Senate.

There is only one full-time female counselor, Maria Gomez, in disability support services and one part-time counselor, Marlise Lonn, in the advising center.

They are available on a rotation schedule throughout the week.

Advisers not only help with new student orientations but also with career and transferring, as well as interviewing skills. Counselors are available to help students with interpersonal situations.

To visit an adviser, students must come to the office as a walk-in and should come in as early as possible to avoid long wait times. The offices are on the first floor of Moody Learning Center.

For more information on advising and counseling, call 210-486-0334.

For information on Title 9, visit


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