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Sunday, March 26, 2023 — Houston, TX

OAA expanding divisional advisor program amid growing class sizes

Channing Wang / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     4/19/22 10:57pm

In response to the growing class sizes, the Office of Academic Advising’s Director Christine Martinez said that it will be expanding its divisional advisor program. Each college will be adding three DAs — one in Social Sciences, another in Natural Sciences and the third in Engineering. 

DAs are members of the faculty who work with the OAA and college magisters to provide students with academic advising and information about co-curricular opportunities and long-term plans. 

“This expands the size of each college’s DA program from four to seven, and we have added four campus-wide Business DAs, similar to the way we have campus-wide Music and Architecture DAs who specialize in an area,” Martinez said. 

Martinez said this addition was a collective effort as a result of the increased undergraduate population and recommendations by the Faculty Senate Working Group on Academic Advising.

“In terms of recruitment and selection of DAs, it is a collaborative effort with College Magisters providing final approval of their college’s DA team,” Martinez said. “The primary goal of this effort is to attain more optimal ratios of new students to Divisional Advisors, so meaningful advising conversations can happen during [Orientation Week] and throughout the first academic year.”

Maria Hancu, one of the student directors of the peer academic advising program, said that adding DAs to each residential college is a very welcome change.

“We were reaching a point last year where some of our DAs had 40 to 50 students apiece, with five to six students per 20-minute DA appointment,” Hancu said. “We’re hoping that the addition of new DAs will allow for smaller, more individualized advising sessions, especially for Natural Sciences and Engineering students.”

Janhvi Somaiya, a McMurtry College freshman, said she hasn’t had the opportunity to interact with DAs much but thinks having more DAs at each college will make them more accessible.

“I think there’s been a greater emphasis on reaching out to major advisors instead of DAs, so we don’t usually think to reach out to them past peer academic advisors and major advisors,” Somaiya said. “Easier access to divisional advisors would help us better outline our academic paths based on our personal interests, especially if those interests are interdisciplinary or more niche.”

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