The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Enrollment brings mixed reviews of SMU pre-major advising

Enrollment brings mixed reviews of SMU pre-major advising

What can you do with $35,000?

One SMU student had no choice. The money went toward a semester of college that may not have even been necessary.

Julia Christen, an SMU junior majoring in advertising with a double minor in French and corporate communications and public affairs, said she could have graduated at least a semester early without the unnecessary classes she was advised to take her freshman year. She was told she could not apply to the advertising school until sophomore year, but since she had completed the pre-requisites as a freshman she could have started earlier.

With tuition and fees now totaling over $70,000 per year, errors like these are costly.

“There are people in my track who are sophomores now and can graduate a year early, and I could have done the same thing,” Christen said.

Josh Mumford, on the other hand, has had a great experience with pre-major advising. The freshman came to college knowing he wanted to study finance but was unsure about his minors. He said his adviser always comes prepared and has helped him get on the right track.

“She has always made sure we both fully understood what was going on and I really appreciate that,” Mumford said.

Pre-major advising at SMU gets mixed reviews from students. Ultimately, the role of SMU advisers at all levels is to lead students along a course of study and help them understand the necessary requirements for graduation. However, it seems that some students get better direction than others.

“I kind of think of us as guides,” said a pre-major adviser Joshua Beaty. “We’re there to provide information, we’re there to help students make informed decisions.”

Beaty understands students are sometimes frustrated with the advising system at SMU. He attributed the dissatisfaction to heightened student expectations about the role of their pre-major advisers. He said that some students come in thinking that their adviser will be able to solve every problem, which is simply not their responsibility.

Not every student knows what they want to study when they arrive at SMU. According to an SMU Daily Campus survey of 60 students, only 48.33 percent knew exactly what they wanted to study. The same survey also revealed that 68.33 percent of students did not feel their advisers helped them decide their majors and minors.

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Results from the survey. Photo credit: Survey Monkey

Beaty said his role is to help students find classes that interest them and to get them on the right track, but students must choose their own academic path.

“Ultimately, I want students to be responsible for their own choices, and I don’t want to have to make those choices for them. I just want to give students the tools to make those choices,” Beaty said.

According to the SMU course catalog, students are responsible for initiating and preparing for advising meetings. It is the adviser’s role to help a student navigate their degree progress and stay on track to graduation. Beaty said pre-major advisers help students most when they first arrive at SMU, but students need less help as they figure things out for themselves.

“When first-years are first starting here, it’s going to be a bit more hands-on, there’s going to be a lot more information to convey, and then hopefully, as the relationship continues, my role becomes less and less,” Beaty said.

Transfer students also have unique experiences with pre-major advising. Ellie Zogg, a sophomore tennis player who transferred from the University of South Carolina, said her athletic adviser and pre-major adviser were helpful through the confusing enrollment process.

“I decided to transfer in May and I wanted to play tennis here,” Zogg said. “I had to hear back from the coaches, so I didn’t really fully commit to SMU until late May and I had a really late enrollment. I don’t think I enrolled until late June, maybe even July.”

At the University of South Carolina, Zogg wanted to study international business. Upon arriving at SMU, she decided to study marketing, but found that not all her credits transferred, meaning she is not yet able to enter Cox. Despite this setback, she is been mostly pleased with her pre-major advising experience.

“Honestly, they were pretty helpful overall, but I think, as for most students, sometimes getting into the classes you really want to get in was hard,” Zogg said.

Some students have been frustrated by other areas of advising at SMU. Mumford said that while his pre-major advising has been great, he has experienced trouble with financial aid advising.

“I had to go talk to an adviser about dropping a class and how that would affect me, and I had no idea what to do for that. I have a specific adviser and I couldn’t find that information anywhere,” Mumford said.

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Results from the survey. Photo credit: Survey Monkey

Satisfaction with pre-major advising varies based on individual experiences. While most of the surveyed students believed their experience was on par with expectations, students like Christen wish they had a more positive experience.

“They could at least pretend to know what is going on. Just be more informed. If you don’t have all the answers, just recommend that I talk to somebody else,” Christen said.

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