Math Advising Experiences Growing Pains

By Ciara Pack

Though PPCC has math advisors at all three campuses, students sometimes feel that they aren’t getting the proper help they need.

Travis Boren, previous Math 120 student and hopeful UCCS transfer, says his advisor handed him a UCCS catalog and told him “do this” when he went to advising for help choosing a math class.

He was told that they weren’t able to guarantee that UCCS would take the easier class (MAT 120: Math for the Liberal Arts) and advised him to take the harder math class (MAT 121: College Algebra).

The wait would be long, Advising & Testing told him, because they were using English advisors to guide students in Math.

Chris Sonnenberg, a former PPCC student, says that when he went to Advising he was told to take an online Math class, although he didn’t need it for his major, and was only able to ask five questions of advisors before he was pushed aside.

The problem, Brandan Lowden, PPCC’s Coordinator of Advising says, is that PPCC has 13,000 students at any given semester, and only about sixteen advisors.

Advising doesn’t have the resources to spend an hour with every single student.

Lowden encourages students to use the resources available to them through Advising & Testing and take control of their own education.

Advisors can’t fix things if they don’t know what’s wrong, says Lowden.

“Students should feel empowered that they can have constructive conversations with those of us who are in the positions to affect change in policy but have realistic expectations that these are state decisions,” says Brook Koltun, Coordinator of Testing.

Koltun argues that one of the problems with Math advising is that students avoid taking Math until they have to, which often creates problems with schedules.

While some students have had a difficult time, others are satisfied with the Math advising they’ve received.

Olivia Thomas’ has been happy with the Math advisors. The advisor she went to helped her by telling her which math class fit her major best.

Like Thomas, nursing major Breanna Johnson, has not had problems with Math advising, and has been able to advise herself with the classes she needed that were listed in the catalog.

She’s happy with the class she’s in.

Lowden asked, “Are students seeing advisors as the people telling them to take a certain class?” He continued, “It’s not us telling them, their classes are determined by the Math faculty and the State of Colorado.”

Lowden said, “The students elected the State Student Advisory Council Representative who gives students a voice at the state level. I don’t know if students know that they have a voice in advising concerns.”

In response to students grievances to the advising program, Koltun says she can see students being frustrated if one semester they’re being told one thing, and the next semester there’s a new policy, but those mandates are faculty and state driven, and ultimately the advisors are trying to do what is best for students.

Lowden encourages students to email him at brandon.lowden@ppcc.edu if they have concerns or need help.

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