Program helps undecided students

Students who need guidance to choose a best-suited major can now rely on a new center on campus.

The Exploratory Student Advisement program will officially begin Dec. 3. The program combines the former Center for Academic Success and Pre-Major Advisement Center.

Mark Amos, associate provost and dean of the University College, said he has worked on the new program for almost a year. He said it will give any students a program to depend on that will help them decide on the best major for them.

Veronica Williams has been named the new director for the program and will begin work the same day as the center’s opening.

“What’s most important is to make the students feel comfortable talking to us and letting them know that we’re on their side cheering them on and supporting them as much as we can,” Amos said. “We have mentors who are students themselves, and many of them were involved in the CAS and pre-advisement programs themselves, so they can truly relate to them.”

Amos said many students make the mistake of jumping from major to major while trying to figure out what they want to do. The center can help those students focus in on their interests and guide them in the right direction, he said.

Students’ information is sent to the Exploratory Student Advisement program when they apply to the university but do not meet the minimum acceptance, and the program’s coordinators decide whether to accept them, said Jeannie Killian, development skills training specialist for the Exploratory Student Advisement.

Killian said she cares deeply for the program and the students involved.

“I view all of us as a family here, and I have and always will do everything I can to help each student I come into contact with succeed,” she said.

Killian said she uses a triangle as a metaphor to represent the relationship between the advisers, the students and their families.

“The students are on one side of the triangle, their families are on the other and we are on the bottom holding them up,” she said. “As long as we all stick together, nothing can knock us down or prevent us from succeeding.”

Kilian said all of the program’s advisers and mentors share the same passion and drive to help students.

Walter Davis, also a development skills training specialist for the program, said this is his fourth year advising in the CAS program, and he hopes students’ success in this program will continue to grow.

“I’ve seen so many success stories in this program, and I still have constant communication with my former students because I want to continue to help them in any way I can, even after they leave the program,” he said.

Davis said many former CAS and pre-major advisement students visit and speak to students who are presently going through the program to learn how it helped them succeed.

Devonsha Cunnigan, a senior from Chicago studying criminal justice, said Davis advised him when he first entered the program, but he didn’t take advantage of the resources available to him. He was later academically suspended from the university.

“I was overwhelmed by the freedom of college, and I didn’t know how to handle it all, but once I went home and realized everyone was doing the same things as when I left, I knew I needed to buckle down,” Cunnigan said.

He said he was accepted back to the university when he applied again, and he began to use every resource available to him.

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