For Columbia College students, getting advice about their majors is about to become easier thanks to a new Columbia College Student Council advising initiative.
The project aims to streamline communications between students and academic administrators and connect students with an academic data bank that consolidates information about each major.
Nora Habboosh, CC '14 and CCSC academic affairs representative, said the project will help also help students gain a sense of community within their chosen majors, in addition to guiding students through various departments' sometimes labyrinthine websites.
“Undergraduates need a more robust source of information and that needs to come from people who are teaching these classes and people who have taken these classes,” Habboosh said. “One of the main goals of this project ... is to make students feel like their major is more than that set of classes they have to take.”
The new academic data bank is designed to answer students' questions about their majors and help them plan their academic careers. It will be compiled by CCSC, academic department heads, and individual program coordinators.
“It's basically a go-to guide for the most popular questions students have, whether its picking a major and then succeeding in a major, or making the most of it,” Habboosh said.
No such guide currently exists, and student said they find the lack of centralized information inconvenient.
“It was most helpful when departments would publish more extensive literature on what classes we should take, what our plan for the semester should be, because that gives us an idea of how to juggle the various requirements at Columbia every year,” Jing Qu, CC '17, said. “But those kinds of resources are pretty sparse.”
Habboosh said the new project would also provide an easier way for students to get in touch with department members to talk about requirements or get advice.
“Directors may not always be accessible to talk to individual students, which could make a program seem inaccessible,” she said.
Habboosh hopes to eventually incorporate student input into the database and create a better peer advising system, so that students can find mentors for their majors more easily.
Already, an informal peer advising system has come in to fill the void left by the lack of accessible advisers.
“I always turned to upperclassmen to find out what to take,” Jack Macauley, CC '17, said, “because I didn't always find my adviser to be helpful in that regard.”
Students said consolidating information is something that they would find useful in planning their courses.
“As an international student, it can be difficult sometimes to understand the bureaucracy at Columbia,” Tanvi Bhaskar, CC '17, said. “It would definitely help to connect all these resources rather than being directed from CSA to ISSO and from there to somewhere else.”
Habboosh said she hopes that the new system will ultimately empower students by giving them a stronger understanding of systems within the University and the knowledge of how to navigate them.
“It allows students to be advocates for themselves, academically, socially, and as leaders on campus,” she said.
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