“Appreciative” advising


Illustration by Dustin Cantos.

FAU student body president Michael Cepeda posted on Facebook Monday, Jan. 5 to signal the following Spring 2015 semester offering:

“Drive-by Advising?

For the first week of classes, Parking Garage 1 will be staffed Monday and Tuesday from 9:30 – 11:30 am & 5 – 7 pm. Parking garage 2 will be staffed Wednesday and Thursday at the same times. ‪#‎NoAppointmentNecessary”

The “one stop shop” for students to pursue fast-paced advising between the first week of the semester until spring break season is one of the motives in pushing accessible advising.

FAU lost $7 million in state funding due to poor graduation rates early on June 2014 based on the 10 metrics measured by Florida’s State University System.

FAU failed under category metrics four and five: six-year graduation rate and academic progress rate.


Their solution? Hiring 23 new advisers, installing software programs to keep students alert, and assigning orderly templates for degrees from start to finish.

“We have also completely reorganized our central advising,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Perry stated. “It is now called University Advising Services. We’ve hired a new director, Joe Murray, who is an expert in student success and intrusive advising, although we are now calling it appreciative advising.”

As well as having advisers placed on all of the colleges and departments, FAU is also offering advising inside the dorms within the Boca Raton campus.

“[It’s] one of the things we’ve introduced this year, again through University Advising Services,” Perry continued. “So we are going out to the students into the halls of residence.”

FAU was at roughly 400 students per 1 adviser ratio before the hiring push—100 students more than the average recommendation established by the National Academic Advising Association.

Alongside the appreciative advising agenda is the introduction of two software programs: Starfish Solutions and Major KnOWLedge.

Starfish Solutions is the new main system for advising appointments and contact information on your academic semester based on your major and class enrollment.


Advisers can use this information to begin an intervention program with their designated student.

“It’s going to become a very personal relationship between the adviser and the student,” Perry added on Starfish Solutions. “If the student is at risk, in trouble or we see that they’re unlikely to come back into the second year in the fall, we are going to find out why, and do whatever we can to change that.”

Starfish also detects the success of advisers in working with students deemed necessary to improve student retention and timely graduation.

Major KnOWLedge is geared for undeclared majors and consists of a five-page career aptitude test with repetitive “would you rather” questions. The results are based on the Holland Code module.

The two additional strategy plans launched are less dependent on technology and still rely on paper records for keeping track of student progress.

Flight Plan contains a four-year map guide on all 98 bachelor’s degrees to plan ahead on the classes necessary to take in order for smooth graduation timeline. These are available in PDF format under University Advising Services’ curriculum tab on the FAU website.

Jump Start, however, is indicated for incoming freshmen only. It is a community program within FAU that prepares a template of general education classes to take within your first year as a freshman. It also includes a free, zero-credit introduction to college class dubbed “Learning Community Experience.”

“Beginning in the summer of 2015, the Jump Start program will become mandatory for all students admitted conditionally to the university,” Perry confirmed. “For students who have a GPA between 3.0 and 3.29, they will be required to take the Jump Start program—and pass that program—in order to be admitted in the fall.”

This new policy will not affect current students who are attending FAU, since the current student body class is already within the old admission standards.

After going over the proposed improvement plan, BOT finished reviewing its end results in order to get half of the money back—an estimated $3.5 million.

“As a result of this report we hope to be returned $3.5 million,” Perry mentioned regarding the withheld state budget. “At the end of June we will make the final report and hopefully the other $3.5 million will return to us, so the entire $7 million will be returned to the University’s operating budget.”

The report was submitted on Dec. 31 and the Board of Governors will examine it at their Jan. 22 meeting.