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Satisfaction with academic, peer advising on the rise

Although freshmen most often turn to University friends for academic advice, recent survey data from the past three fall semesters shows that underclassmen have expressed increasing satisfaction with the academic advising system.

According to the data presented by Senior Associate Dean of the College Claire Fowler at the March 10 Council of the Princeton University Committee meeting, an average of 50 percent of freshmen and 47 percent of sophomores agreed or strongly agreed that they had made the most of the advising opportunities available to them in the fall.

Fowler said the survey itself will help students take advantage of academic resources in the future.

“By doing the survey, you have to be exposed to all the forms of support available, because we ask you about them,” Fowler explained. “I think in the text boxes some people have actually said, ‘Actually, now that I’ve read the survey, I see what I’ve been using more.’”

Students’ recognition of their ineffective use of resources showed reflectiveness about their own responsibilities in the process, Fowler added.

Like the academic advising system in general, the peer academic advising surveys reported rising student satisfaction. The current peer academic advising system was implemented in every residential college in 2012 and in terms of frequency, freshmen seek academic advice from Peer Academic Advisers after University friends, Residential College Advisers, faculty advisers, parents, professors and preceptors.

Peer advisers are currently expected to lead study breaks for their advisee or “zee” groups and contribute at Major Choices events throughout the year. The number of students reporting that their Peer Academic Adviser had reached out to them since Freshman Orientation jumped from 42 percent to 55 percent from 2012 to 2013. Fowler attributed the change to an increase in training that encourages the peer advisers to reach out more consciously throughout the semester.

Furthermore, 44 percent of students reported that their Peer Academic Adviser’s input was helpful when planning their schedules and thinking about courses, an increase from 37 percent in 2012.

Elizabeth LaMontagne ’14, a Peer Academic Adviser in Forbes College, said that she wanted to become a peer adviser because she received the majority of her academic advice from peers as an underclassman.

“Most of my course advice had come either from people I knew through groups, or people who I just randomly bumped into in Forbes, and I really felt like most advice you get on courses doesn’t come from your official adviser or your college’s dean,” she said.

However, 51 percent of freshmen this fall estimated they had communicated with their Peer Academic Adviser one time or fewer during the semester, and 28 percent reported no communication at all.

Wilson College Peer Academic Adviser Wilhemina Koomson ’14 said that the system would improve if each residential college mandated more activities with zees.

“I wish we had more of those kind of staggered events, so it’s like we can all interact with each other, kind of like pushing us together in a sense,” she said.

Nazik Elmekki ’17 said each residential college should require a more regular relationship between Peer Academic Advisers and their zees, noting that while she would see her Peer Academic Adviser every week during the first semester, the meetings have been much less frequent this semester. She added the suggestion that peer advisers and their zees could have a casual meeting every two weeks.

Kevin Wong ’17 said freshmen should receive a document outlining the responsibilities of their Peer Academic Adviser.

“I don’t really know what they do. I don’t know what their roles are,” he said. “They should have a set of guidelines for what they are intended to do and how they can be useful to us.”

Administrators will develop plans to improve the peer academic advising system during the summer, Fowler said.

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