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Best advice: get advising

The best advice for academic success is: don’t wing it alone, get advising.

Portland State offers two types of advising. One is general advising at the Information and Academic Support Center (IASC) on the fourth floor of Smith Memorial Center. The other is specific advising on your major from your major department.

The best first stop for advising is the IASC. This office focuses especially on easing the transition of newly admitted and newly enrolled students. It does advising on general education and degree requirements. The advisers also refer students to academic departments for major advising. IASC maintains an up-to-date advising referral guide to assist students in contacting appropriate departmental advisers. The IASC renders assistance to students experiencing academic difficulties.

The center invites drop-ins Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is 503-725-4005. The first contact is always a drop-in. If it becomes apparent the student would benefit from a continuing relationship with a specific adviser, the adviser can schedule appointments.

Different major departments handle advising differently. Some departments assign advisers based on the alphabetical last names of students. Some schedule group advising. Some departments have personnel assigned as specific advisers. In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Robert Mercer is senior academic adviser, with other advisers on staff.

There will be a special emphasis on advising during new student week, Sept. 17-21. On Tuesday, Sept. 18, and Friday, Sept. 21, advisers from IASC will make themselves available. They will talk to students about graduation requirements, course selection and university rules and regulations. This service aims especially at students who were not able to attend new student orientation and those who still have questions.

The IASC was originally designed for a target population of undecided majors. As time went on, its clientele expanded to include students at all levels. In the last school year, only 20 percent of the drop-ins were freshmen, about 20 percent sophomores, 31 percent juniors and 27 percent seniors.”The seniors want to be sure they’re on track to graduate,” said Dan Fortmiller, IASC director. “They want to know their next step.”

He suggested students do not come to the IASC during the first week if they want an extended conversation with an adviser about long-term plans. The first week IASC tends to be swamped with students trying to change their schedules or looking for substitutes for courses they didn’t get.