OSU professors and advisors help provide students with assistance, support

Sydney Sullivan News Contributor

Bigger class sizes, unfamiliar faces, office hours and advising appointments. Oregon State University provides advisors and professors as resources for students to use during their time in college.

Advisors are usually hired for their primary focus in either student development or advising, according to Terina McLachlain, a program coordinator and academic advisor at OSU. Professors are important because they are specialists in their fields, while advisors are equally important as they are specialists on knowing how to help their individual students succeed.

While most staff at OSU only get the opportunity to be either a professor or an advisor, Richard Nafshun, a chemistry professor and advisor at OSU, is able to see both sides of the puzzle. .

“My students tend to think their roommates are better advisors than their advisors,” Nafshun said.

In order to break the ice, most OSU advisors will require their students to make an in-person advising appointment, according to Nafshun.

“I would really hope after the initial meeting, students would realize this person really doesn’t bite,” Nafshun said.

According to McLachlain, summer START sessions are where most students will meet their advisor. After START, students are required to meet with their advisors at least once a term, but are able to schedule advising appointments as frequently as needed. Students can make appointments through the College of Forestry online appointment system in order to set up appointments via phone, webcam, email or in-person, based on whichever is most realistic for the topics at hand, McLachlain added. Each college within the university has its own advising process so students should find out the requirements for their particular major.

“I’ve always told students, ‘don’t be a lone ranger’,” McLachlain said.

According to Nafshun, advisors and professors at OSU are resources students should be taking advantage of during their time in college. While some students may spend two hours in their room alone trying to solve a problem, they could have a better understanding by going to a professor’s office hours, Nafshun added.

“You might have complete confidence in the problems you’re trying to solve, but stop by, say hello,” Nafshun said. “Advisors are not going to waste your time during their office hours.”

According to Dr. Kevin Ahern, a biochemistry professor at OSU, his technique to helping students overcome the intimidation of office hours is having students attend in groups.

“A professor isn’t somebody to be scared of,” Ahern said.

Getting groups of new students to come in during the first semester allows them to feel more comfortable with office hours, as well as use their professors as resources, according to Ahern.

“When I’m talking to students, I’m reminding them that, of course, they’re paying for this expertise here,” Ahern said. “And so professor’s time is, in my opinion, very underused by students, when you think of how much they’re paying for tuition.”

According to Shannon McDonell-Bryant, an academic advisor at OSU, advisors are there not only for a student’s academic success, but also for students’ health and well-being, McDonell-Bryant added.

“We’re ready to listen if you’re going through something unexpected or difficult at this point in your life and we’re going to be able to support you through that and help you get the resources to support your needs to be successful in college,” McDonell-Bryant said.

According to Banks Blair, an academic advisor for the college of forestry at OSU, though advisors always encourage students to stay in their major, it is also an advisor’s job to know when the major may not be a good fit for a student. Advisors are there for the student and their overall college experience, not just keeping them in a certain college, Blair added.

“We’re a dedicated person that students can always go to for their academic career and advising needs,” Blair said.

While advisors may be guiding their students for academic success in college, according to Ahern, he has found that his students have become a big part of his own personal life as well.

“I can’t imagine not being at the university and and I can’t imagine not having connections with students,” Ahern said.

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