CLAS Academic Advising Center absorbs SASC
The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) at Grand Valley State University will soon be a thing of the past, at least in its current form. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Academic Advising Center is in the process of merging with SASC in a move that some say will allow for a more effective use of both centers.
“It’s really an opportunity to reassess,” said Suzeanne Benet, assistant vice president for academic affairs at GVSU. “The decision is being made so we can better serve our students, particularly the large number of undecided students, and we just don’t have enough advising positions to be able to accommodate all the need.”
Although many job titles are changing and much is still left to be figured out, Benet says no jobs will be lost. Faculty members have been discussing the change for a while, but a final decision was only made over spring break. Benet said she felt the urge to move forward more quickly after realizing how important of a factor orientation would be.
“One of the reasons why we did it when we did, before the semester was over, was because the orientation materials for incoming freshmen are literally going to press,” she said. “I wanted everything to be right in terms of where the undecided students go on all the new materials before orientation starts, not just before school starts. The actual physical moves of the SASC advisers moving into CLAS will hopefully happen during the course of the summer.”
The decision to merge was largely made due to the sheer number of undecided students at GVSU—a number that is increasing, Benet said.
“There are limitations from a budgetary standpoint; we can’t just keep cranking out more and more advisers and also support everything else,” she said. “As long as they don’t declare a major, students are set on the list for SASC. It was just a really big number. That was one facet. Hopefully we can do a better job of supporting the various programs that do come out of SASC still.”
According to Benet, there are many benefits to students declaring a major even if they are unsure, including being put on mailing lists from the department and having access to networking opportunities and advisers within their major.
“There’s real advantages,” Benet said. “Some students list themselves as undecided when they actually know what college they want to be in, and that’s one type of student.
"But another is they’re undecided and they really don’t know. They’re going to start out taking some gen. eds, and those are in CLAS. There’s a lot of natural overlap in the kinds of courses and the suggestions you would be making as an adviser between truly undecided and CLAS students.”
Benet hopes to have all the changes in place and everyone well-established in their new roles by the fall. In the meantime, CLAS is looking at a “more inclusive name” for its advising program to let undecided students know they are there for them, too.