By Melissa Schill
After being hired in January, three academic advisers are preparing to begin their work with students as part of Wheaton’s new Academic Advising Office (AAO) during the second half of the spring semester.
Mandie Porick, Candyce Cabral and James Kim will be providing advising support specifically designed for first-year and transfer students, in addition to what these students receive from their major-specific faculty advisor. The new team will also serve students who may need increased support, such as first-generation students, students with academic accommodations, athletes and international students.
“I want to make sure we have a place for students who may not have the scaffolding that other students have,” Provost Margaret Diddams said. “First generation and international students don’t have that. Athletes can have very tricky schedules. We want to make sure everyone flourishes here.”
“It is exciting to see how we are taking concrete steps to increase support for our students and do it in a way that leverages the faculty advisor’s role to mentor and coach students through the major and their formative time on campus,” Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs Sarah Miglio said in an email interview.
Each incoming freshman will still be assigned a faculty advisor within his or her major of interest. Although faculty advisors will remain the students’ primary resource for major-specific advice, the new staff advisors are meant to provide additional aid, especially during the students’ transition into Wheaton.
“I have seen firsthand how providing advising support on general education requirements helps students graduate on-time and with reduced confusion or mixups along the way,” Lead Academic Advisor Mandie Porick said. Porick previously served as the academic advisor for ROTC students for 12 years.
The AAO grew out of the Learning and Teaching Collaborative (LTC), one of Wheaton’s six strategic priorities. It is part of LTC’s larger goal to “emphasize student success by providing more robust and integrated academic services,” said Miglio.
Freshman Gillian Klunke thinks the addition of the AAO is a step in the right direction. “My freshman advisor wasn’t super accessible. It’s nice to know that the college is adding staff whose main job is to answer your questions,” she said.
As the AAO prepares to work with an incoming freshman class in the next few months, the new advisors are familiarizing themselves with the Christ at the Core curriculum and the Banner Self Service system. The AAO will be up and running during B-quad and is currently located in the Student Services Building.