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Academic advising, U. accreditation process and graduate housing discussed at CPUC meeting

Survey results on undergraduate academic advising, evaluations of the University’s current reaccreditation process and developments regarding graduate student housing opportunities were discussed during the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting on Monday afternoon.

The University has surveyed 50 percent of freshmen and 33 percent of sophomores in the past three years on their satisfaction with academic advising, Senior Associate Dean of the College Claire Fowler said during the meeting. Although the survey revealed that 84 percent of freshmen and 79 percent of sophomores in 2013 were either “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the academic support they obtained from their faculty advisers, Fowler noted that students are often concerned their advisers do not match their interests.

However, she also noted that students often change their minds about potential majors.

“It is important to students whether their adviser is in their field,” she said, “but what trumps that even more, it seems, is the actual quality of the relationship with the adviser.”

Fowler also explained that the University is trying to change its discussions of advising to recognize the fact that faculty advisers are but one part of the resources available to students. She added that peer academic advisers, online resources and community support are also meant to help students in their academic decisions.

Fowler further noted that the survey revealed that fewer than 50 percent of students said they felt they had used academic resources as well as possible, adding that this deficit has improved over the last three years through increased communication.

Another presentation was given on the University’s decennial accreditation process. Deputy Dean of the College Clayton Marsh explained that an evaluation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is currently assessing the University’s compliance with 14 accreditation standards. Accreditation standards evaluate the extent to which a university provides its students with the skills and knowledge expected of them by the time they graduate.

More than 60 faculty members, students and staff formed a steering committee to compile a document roadmap outlining the University’s compliance with accreditation standards, focusing on its independent study requirement. Marsh explained that academic departments are currently publishing the goals, processes and criteria of independent work online, providing guidance for prospective majors and creating a platform for communication between departments.

The University also conducted a self-study on international programs by evaluating the latter’s goals and organizational structure, and by conducting a survey among undergraduates to get their input. Committee members discussed the benefits of exposing students to foreign cultures through extensive summer programs and affiliations with other institutions, such as the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Fewer University students go abroad for entire terms than at many peer institutions, professor in the German department Michael Jennings noted, attributing this phenomenon to a belief that the University is the best possible place in the world for undergraduate academics.

The MSCHE evaluation committee will announce its assessment in June.

Future plans for graduate student housing were also discussed at the meeting. The University is scheduled to open a $113 million Lakeside housing complex for graduate students next year and is currently focused on improving housing conditions rather than expanding them, Vice President for University Services Chad Klaus said.

The Lakeside complex will house up to 715 residents in townhouses and apartments, catering to students’ demands for private bathrooms, family-oriented housing and amenities such as a fitness center, dishwashers and laundry facilities.

Correction: Due a reporting error, an earlier version of this article mischaracterized the results of a survey on academic advising presented at the meeting. The survey showed that 84 percent of freshmen and 79 percent of sophomores were either “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with their experiences with their academic advisers. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error. 

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