Remote advising poses challenge to UT students

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Photo Credit: Alejandra Gavilanes | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

Students are trying to register for courses and plan their degrees with new advising processes after experiencing major changes in their academic and home lives due to the coronavirus. 

Throughout the registration period, students and advisers have felt a high demand for meeting times and have had to adjust to the remote advising process. Advisers were unavailable for comment due to this high demand.

Gabby Gonzalez, a human development and Spanish freshman, said remote advising has changed advisers’ availability and meetings are shorter than they would have been in person.

“I know that if it was still on campus, I would be able to go into walk-in advising and have help that way,” Gonzalez said. “Now, they can’t handle all the students at once, so they have to take it one person at a time.”

Camila Bohorquez, a management information systems sophomore, said learning about classes and planning schedules has been challenging without being able to meet in person.

“The kind of things that you can usually ask your friends in the hallway, you have to make an appointment to figure out,” Bohorquez said.

Bohorquez, who was supposed to study abroad this summer, said the McCombs School of Business has restricted online advising appointments. Bohorquez said appointments are now only available to plan for summer and fall 2020 schedules, whereas before students could discuss their whole degree plan.

“I feel like I really do need to meet with an adviser to figure out what the next steps for (study abroad) are,” Bohorquez said. “I don’t want to take up their time with something that’s not immediate, but it could end up causing problems for me in the future.”

Taylor Johnson, a biomedical engineering senior, said she has worked as a peer adviser in the biomedical engineering advising office for almost four years. She said it was tricky transferring peer advising to a remote setting, but the advising team worked to ensure students had access to its services.

“It ended up being a pretty good system, considering how it usually runs in face-to-face interaction,” Johnson said. “The biggest obstacle is making sure that everyone is aware of these resources and how we’ve transformed the system.”

Johnson said peer advisers have to meet with the academic advisers every week to discuss what students need and what systems are working for them as a result of moving to remote advising. 

“We communicate way more now than we did when we were in person,” Johnson said. “It’s more dynamic that way, too. Things are changing each week, and I think at the end we came up with a pretty solid system, even though it took a few weeks to adjust.”