Renovated Academic Advising Center Provides Personalized Experience

The new premises for the Academic Advising Center, located in The Hatem and Janet Mostafa Core Academic Center, have been recently completed. The new space, which features a reception area and 10 partitioned areas for each adviser, provides students with a more personalized and simplified advising process.

“The flow of the structure makes the entire advising process much more streamlined,” said Noha Saada, director of the Academic Advising Center. “In the old office, the receptionist was in the middle of the office, making it difficult for students to be guided on where to go. Now, the reception area is at the entrance so students can know where to go immediately after they come in.”

Saada also noted how the new building provides a personal and confidential atmosphere. “In the old office, two advisers would share the same office, so the advising process was not confidential at all,” she explained. “Now, in each partition, there is a very personal and individualized space to share with the adviser, who has their own desk. It is very easy for the adviser to flip the computer monitor and discuss course registration with students.”

The more personal atmosphere is enhanced by a reception area with comfortable sofas and a glass exterior that brings in natural light. “Being in a glass building that brings in light makes the space much more friendly and cheerful,” Saada said.

In an inauguration event held earlier this month to commemorate the new building and other initiatives by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Robert Switzer, dean of undergraduate studies, noted how the new space highlights the important work carried out by the advisers. “This isn’t just a space, but a space filled with students and professional advisers who work with incredible energy,” Switzer said. “In the old campus, advisers were laboring in a corner of the campus, and they were not given that much recognition. They were the unsung heroes. That is much less the case now. We have an Academic Advising Center that is visible and literally transparent: It is a glass house and a tremendous move forward, which highlights the importance of what the academic advisers do.”

The Academic Advising Center helps facilitate the academic transition from high school to the University. “We are practically the first entity that students see when they get their IDs,” said Saada. “Our mission is to assist undeclared students in developing and implementing their academic plans. This is done through advising and mentoring that is offered to students throughout the year.”

In addition to the new space, the Academic Advising Center is planning to introduce several changes in the registration and advising process in the upcoming year. “In the next semester, we are planning to launch an automated advising system,” Saada said. “I’m proud to say that we are finally going to transition from carbonized copies [for advising] to soft copies.”

The Academic Advising Center is also developing an automated e-petition process, which will begin on December 22, for courses that are highly impacted, like classes in the School of Business, in the hopes of addressing frustrations with the inability to get into courses that are in high demand. “Students are at the center of our operations, and we want them to be happy,” Saada said.

Beyond streamlining registration and advising processes, the Academic Advising Center also hopes to address the unique needs of certain students. For example, Saada noted that oftentimes students who are on academic probation need more guidance. Taking this into account, the center has created a special unit to help these students. “This initiative will be rolled out in the next semester,” Saada said.

The center has also started working with Office of Student Disability Services to help address the specific needs of students who are differently abled. “We want to give them the rights they deserve and make life here at AUC easier,” Saada said.

The Academic Advising Center is one several initiatives undertaken by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies (ODUS), which aims to help students explore the different facets of a liberal arts education. ODUS is composed of the new Academy of Liberal Arts, which brings together several key departments with the shared purpose of providing a more integrated first-year curriculum; the Office of the Core Curriculum; the Community-Based Learning program and the Undergraduate Research Program.

“ODUS is designed to bring people under this umbrella so that it can focus on students in their first experience and give them a really solid education -- a sense of AUC as a liberal arts institution,” Switzer said. “[ODUS] will help students expand their awareness and horizons to get a sense of who they are and where they are going.”

To view photos of the new Academic Advising Center,click here.