Starting out on one’s own as an adult, making life choices and starting a future in college can be scary for anyone.
Forced to make decisions every single day can be overwhelming.
One part of college that should not be intimidating is finding a major, which is what the Sonoma State University’s advising center’s main goal is.
The team of highly trained professionals work daily with lower division and undeclared students to guide them through the GE pattern to find which courses interest them and to help match those courses to a major.
Within the same office, there is a peer advising team that specializes in assisting students who have already declared a major and who have questions with registration or how to look up classes at junior colleges that transfer for credit.
“A lot of if is just working with students and going through the classes and saying ‘you know, sometimes you have to compromise,’” said advisor Edie Brown. “It’s getting them to understand that you can’t always have a Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule.”
Brown has been working with the advising center for 13 years as an academic advisor.
Prior to the advising center becoming its own division, Brown, along with advisor Janet Swing, worked side-by-side with the Educational Opportunity Program and career advising offices.
She has recently become the coordinator for compliance and at risk students, acting as the branch of the advising center that focuses on working with students who need to take remedial math and English.
Brown works closely with orientation coordinators, admissions and records, and the math and English departments to make sure that incoming freshmen are taking the courses they need so they can move on with their GE pattern.
“Until this semester, Janet Swing and I were the only two advisors for about 1,100 students,” said Brown.
There are now three full time and one part-time advisors in the office with the addition of new advisors Vanessa Bascherini and the part-time help of Khou Yang-Vigil.
The two additions alleviate some of the pressure from Brown and Swing who were in charge of the entire undeclared population until now.
“It’s provided us the opportunity to put on the March Major Madness workshop series as well as see students as they drop in with questions,” said Brown. “We have people to brainstorm with now and help do the work.”
The March Major Madness is a series of workshops put on by the advising center all throughout March to help students become aware of the multitude of majors Sonoma State has to offer.
All students are welcome to the workshops, located in Salazar 1070 across from the international services desk, to check out the majors that interest them and meet with advisors specifically from those majors to see how they can get involved and possibly start the process of becoming declared.
A few of the major departments who have confirmed that they will be attending different portions of the series are kinesiology, early-childhood development and German, along with many others.
Yang-Vigil has taken on the role as program coordinator for the series and is excited for students to dive in and make a proactive step towards getting a degree.
Alvin Nguyen, the sophomore year experience (SYE) coordinator, will be assisting with a workshop on how to make the most out of a student’s second year at Sonoma State.
A few of the other themes the workshops will be covering are how to declare a major and how to change a major, which Yang-Vigil, as well as the other advisors, feel is extremely important for academic growth.
The first workshop will be March 3 at noon and it will be for students who are looking into going to graduate school and how to prepare for it.
Aside from helping students find a major, Yang-Vigil also works as a residential life coordinator and feels that it is important for students to know that the advisors are there for them to confide in and help guide them.
“I like being able to help the students; to be a resource,” said Yang-Vigil. “Someone who students can go to, not just about their academics, but about life.”
Students are already finding that the revamped advising center is a valuable resource that they wish they had when they were undeclared freshmen.
“I kind of felt like I was on my own freshman year,” said third year Joey Schick. “I wish I would have utilized what the advising center had because it would have helped me find a better path to finding my major rather than just jumping around and taking classes I didn’t really need.”
The advising center team has proven to be passionate and dedicated about what they do and show each and every student the attention that they deserve.
“The advising center is a unique place in that these people work really hard at what they do, every single one of them,” said Brown. “We want to see our students be successful and take advantage of all of the resources on this campus and we can help them do that here.”
The Academic and Peer Advisors are located in Salazar Hall 1070 and they can be contacted at 707-664-2730.