High demand for academic counselling

Office makes the most of limited resources, Senior Academic Counsellor Joyce Hunter says

Academic Advising Services had 29,000 appointments last year.
Academic Advising Services had 29,000 appointments last year.

Academic Advising Services is attempting to deal with high student demand by creating a new website, Senior Academic Counsellor Joyce Hunter said.

The website, which is set to open in the fall, will include advice about common issues that students have regarding academics and different sources of information for students, she said.

Academic Advising Services, located in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, is available to Arts and Science students.

There are two advisors who see up to 10 students per day, Hunter said.

Last year, there were 29,000 appointments, Hunter said, adding that the number refers to appointments with a professional advisor.

“We also have a peer support program and they see several hundred,” she said.

Hunter said the office is understaffed, adding that many advisors try to book students even when they’re not on schedule.

“We’re run off our feet,” she said. “Often, we’re turning people away, but we try to refer them to places where they can be helped.”

Hunter said the office also books appointments with students in other faculties who are thinking of transferring into Arts and Science and high school students.

Students can receive academic counselling on a number of issues, she said.

“Some students come to us with questions about academic regulations, which include, ‘What do I need to get into honours?’ to ‘What happens if I’m being investigated for a departure of academic integrity?’ or how to get a deferred exam.”

Hunter said many first-year students also use the service.

“There are a lot of students in first year who are concerned about how they’re doing and come to us as a sounding board to decide about dropping a course,” she said.

Hunter said academic advisors have access to students’ mid-year grades, which can help them consult with students if they’re thinking about dropping a course.

“Some students come to make sure they’re on track for their degree program,” she said, adding that she often encourages students to get this information directly from their departments since it’s also available there.

Hunter said the advisors guide students to resources that can help them if the Academic Advising service can’t, with issues such as questions about graduate school.

“We often get students we have to refer to Career Services because they’re so closely linked,” she said.

Hunter said the service is doing its best with the resources it has.

“We recognize that academic advising is an important service, but there isn’t sufficient funding to do enough.”

Tim Kavanagh, ArtSci ’13, booked an appointment with Academic Advising.

“I’m looking for some advice on course selection,” he said, adding that he thinks knowing which courses to choose from upon coming to Queen’s is a key concern in first year.

Kavanagh said he thinks the advisors are helpful because they have experience speaking to many students about similar issues.

“They’ve been in this situation before.”

—With files from Rachel Kuper

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