Academic Advisors adapt to the new normal after pandemic

Kinsey Canez, Managing Editor

The Academic Advising office at CSUSM has two front desks: one in Microsoft Teams and one on-campus in Craven Hall. David McMartin, the Director of the Office of Academic Advising, attributes this to student convenience.

“We are working both to get back to ‘normal’ but also realizing that there is a ‘new normal’ out there that includes new options that didn’t exist as readily prior to the pandemic,” McMartin said.

In an interview with McMartin through email exchange, he revealed that advising in virtual environments was on the radar before the spring of 2020.

“Right before the pandemic we had been experimenting with offering some virtual advising appointments, little did any of us know that the pandemic would hit and cause us to rethink and refocus our efforts,” he said.

McMartin became director in 2009 after initially serving as Associate Director, and five years after joining CSUSM’s Office of Admissions.

He works alongside 13 Academic Advisors, 2 Intake Advisors, 1 Associate Director, as well as a group of student Peer Advisors. Together, they guide students throughout their academic journey at CSUSM.

Before the office’s virtual front desk, it was not uncommon for students to experience long wait times to be seen by an advisor in person, especially during peak times such as the add/drop period. This scenario was stressful on both ends, McMartin revealed, which is why an online front desk has been an asset to the office.

In fact, the pandemic and the transition to online spaces that accompanied it has reshaped the future of Academic Advising.

“We think the future of Academic Advising will be one that always offers multiple options for those who prefer the flexibility of a virtual appointment and those who desire to meet face-to-face,” McMartin said.

The physical front desk, located at 1300 Craven Hall, is open to assist students on a daily basis. But, McMartin and his team do not plan to abandon the online component of their office.

“I can say that the virtual front desk has been a model for how to see students more efficiently,” he said. “During the last enrollment period as well as the add/drop period we actually were able to serve more students and more efficiently through our virtual services.”

For now, a majority of Academic Advising services will continue to be offered online via Microsoft Teams while more in-person options are slowly rolled out on campus.

“It’s very much a work in progress, but we think we’ll be trying to accommodate students with these multiple options versus back in the day where there was basically just an in-person option,” McMartin said. “…I feel very fortunate to lead a small, but mighty team of advising professionals who truly love what they do, support students along their academic journeys.”

The Academic Advising office at CSUSM has two front desks: one in Microsoft Teams and one on-campus in Craven Hall. David McMartin, the Director of the Office of Academic Advising, attributes this to student convenience.

“We are working both to get back to ‘normal’ but also realizing that there is a ‘new normal’ out there that includes new options that didn’t exist as readily prior to the pandemic,” he said.

In an interview with McMartin through email exchange, he revealed that advising in virtual environments was on the radar before the spring of 2020.

“Right before the pandemic we had been experimenting with offering some virtual advising appointments, little did any of us know that the pandemic would hit and cause us to rethink and refocus our efforts,” he said.

McMartin became director in 2009 after initially serving as Associate Director, and five years after joining CSUSM’s Office of Admissions.

He works alongside 13 Academic Advisors, 2 Intake Advisors, 1 Associate Director, as well as a group of student Peer Advisors. Together, they guide students throughout their academic journey at CSUSM.

Before the office’s virtual front desk, it was not uncommon for students to experience long wait times to be seen by an advisor in person, especially during peak times such as the add/drop period. This scenario was stressful on both ends, McMartin revealed, which is why an online front desk has been an asset to the office.

In fact, the pandemic and the transition to online spaces that accompanied it has reshaped the future of Academic Advising.

“We think the future of Academic Advising will be one that always offers multiple options for those who prefer the flexibility of a virtual appointment and those who desire to meet face-to-face,” McMartin said.

The physical front desk, located at 1300 Craven Hall, is open to assist students on a daily basis. But, McMartin and his team do not plan to abandon the online component of their office.

“I can say that the virtual front desk has been a model for how to see students more efficiently,” he said. “During the last enrollment period as well as the add/drop period we actually were able to serve more students and more efficiently through our virtual services.”

For now, a majority of Academic Advising services will continue to be offered online via Microsoft Teams while more in-person options are slowly rolled out on campus.

“It’s very much a work in progress, but we think we’ll be trying to accommodate students with these multiple options versus back in the day where there was basically just an in-person option,” McMartin said. “…I feel very fortunate to lead a small, but mighty team of advising professionals who truly love what they do, support students along their academic journeys.”

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos