Monday, August 12, 2013

UNO First Year Academic Advisers Prepare to Welcome Fall Freshmen

As the University of New Orleans Privateer Enrollment Center prepares to open, a new cadre of first-year academic advisers joins the staff.

Four new academic advisers and an academic advising coordinator are now on hand to advise first-year students on academic plans and schedules, said Christy Heaton, associate director for First Year Experience and Orientation. The new advisers will be an essential part of the new Privateer Enrollment Center, which opens Friday, August 16 with a formal ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m.

Promising a hands-on touch and holistic view, the new academic advising team said their presence on campus will help freshmen and transfer students get educated about higher education, so that they can make better choices.

"We'll do more than just scheduling classes," said Caleigh Keith. "We'll help them with their career aspirations. If they know what they want to do, we will help them find a path to getting there. If they're struggling, we'll help them figure out what is going wrong."

Problem-solving, she said, is a big part of the mission.

Keith, who last year worked as a graduate assistant in the Office of First Year Experience and Orientation while working toward her M.F.A. degree, is one of four new academic advisers for first-year students on campus. Joining her on staff are Amy Miller, who has a long career of evaluating academic programs and returns to UNO after an 8-year hiatus; Emily Horne, who recently completed a Master of Education Degree in Higher Education and

Personnel at Ohio University and Jessica de Laneuville, who graduated from UNO in fall 2010 and has worked as an administrative counselor for transfer students at UNO since 2011.

Gerard Williams, who received his bachelor's and master's degrees from UNO and is "just short a dissertation from a Ph.D." in higher education, will serve as the team's coordinator.

"When the opportunity came about, I decided to throw my hat in the ring because of all the groups, I like working most with first-year students," said Williams. "Not that I don't enjoy all the students, but I like working with first-year students all the way through the four years of college to graduation."

The aim of the new academic advising team, Williams said, is "to take some of the mystery out of being a college student."

The first year of being a college student is the most important year, said de Laneuville. Eighty to ninety percent of UNO students receive some sort of financial aid, she said. Students who mess up their financial aid may not be able to return the following semester. Likewise, advisers said, first year students who suffer a rough start could have a hard time bringing up their grade point averages to optimal status.

The hope is that the new triage system in the Privateer Enrollment Center – and more eyes and ears and hands helping students to navigate new processes – will help avoid such struggles and keep students enrolled and graduating on time, advisers said. Fall freshmen will be the first University students to enjoy the cutting-edge enrollment center.

"I'm excited about the students," said Miller. "I'm hoping that they're going to think it's all about them and it's all right there."

In the new Privateer Enrollment Center, students will be assigned to a team of administration leaders from the Office of Enrollment Services – admissions, financial aid, academic advising and student success counselors.

Students will be assigned to so-called "Alpha Teams" by alphabet and the team will look out for their needs throughout the year, counselors said. Academic advisers will each shepherd a team of freshmen through their first year of academia, starting with academic counseling and approval of class schedules – and will be able to point students to helpers in other arenas.

Students will be able to get all their questions answered in the new one-stop-shop, a new University initiative of President Peter J. Fos.

"There should not be any more miscommunication or lack of communication," said Heaton. "I'm just excited for how much more fluid the process should be for these students."


Read More

A Sneak Peek at the Privateer Enrollment Center - Notes from the Lakeshore
First Year Experience