CASA helps students reach academic potential and graduate on time

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Designed to help students reach their full academic potential at the University of Indianapolis, the Center for Advising and Student Achievement recognizes that every student’s career path is different and requires someone of their academic department to help him or her graduate on time, according to CASA Director Lela Mixon.

Mixon said that CASA was created in 2013 in response to students’ needs to improve the understanding of what advising services were and the quality of those services. Before CASA, the University of Indianapolis was decentralized, so every academic advisor was in a different school or college and had his or her own process and timeline for advising. The administration wanted to make this more consistent across campus to accommodate those students wanting to change their major.

“The purpose, since we were created, has been to make sure that incoming students understand the university’s requirements for graduation, including the core curriculum and curriculum for their major,” Mixon said. “We also want to reach out to the [senior] students early, to make sure they are on track to finish within two to three semesters.”

On the MyUIndy webpage, under the Student tab, there will be a CASA tab. Once clicked, the CASA page will have four tabs. The second tab, Help with Registration, offers a link to the Shared Advising Model. The Shared Advising Model demonstrates the way CASA works.

“The intent for the way CASA operates is to work with faculty to make sure that all students take care of their advising and get registration needs met,” Mixon said. “We want to keep faculty advisors engaged in the process, because that is why students are here. They [students] are taught by faculty, so we want to make sure they are communicating with faculty members.”

Mixon explained the previous process by which students would register for their courses each semester.

“When CASA was created, there used to be a process where students were required to visit with two or three people before they received their registration code, and they would have to have signatures indicating that they had met with those people,” she said. “And because everyone was in a different school or college, the timeline of when they met and got the signatures in time for online registration varied.”

Mixon discussed the new method for meeting with advisors to receive registration codes.

“When CASA was created and given to us, one of the new policies for students was that they had to meet once with their assigned advisor to get their code but are given the option and are encouraged to meet with their advisor more than once,” Mixon said. “We do see students in their sophomore and junior years, but they are not assigned to us for us to issue them their code. They just come to us for whatever reason. We are assigned to freshmen and seniors to make sure they [freshmen] are introduced to the whole curriculum, and that they [seniors] are finishing up on track.”

Mixon addressed why CASA is a necessary resource for UIndy students.

“I have been reading some national information about the role of advising services in helping students graduate on time and reducing the amount of credit hours,” she said. “We had been looking at a couple of different sources for the best processes when CASA was created, and we continue to follow up with these sources. It has become a national problem with low graduation rates and higher tuition, stemming from the political conversation about college debt and college value. I think that a lot of people still believe that it [a college education] is still valuable but are struggling to address the debt issue.”

According to Mixon, when students take excessive credits, they are not only on campus longer but also run out of aid while they are getting their college education.

“The role of advising is to help students know what courses are necessary to take and also to help them with their plan,” Mixon said. “Most students don’t plan for four years, and there is more to college than just taking courses. So we [CASA] initiate [a] conversation, often to talk about their Greyhound Plan. We want to help people graduate on time and be more intentional in going through the exploration process and having that happen sooner.”

Sophomore biology major Anna Schmuelling spoke about her previous experiences with CASA.

“I have used CASA in the past,” Schmuelling said. “Before scheduling my classes, I had to meet with my advisor to check my schedule and receive my PIN.”

Schmuelling recommended that incoming freshmen and other students on campus use CASA, even in the years that it’s not required.

“Definitely go [to CASA] to figure out your path and make sure you are on the right track, especially if you don’t know what you want to do, and you are just taking general courses, so they can help you figure out what you want to do,” Schmuelling said. “They [CASA] also have mock interviews and other tools to help speed along the success of your college education.”

For those who are seeking assistance in scheduling courses, online registration and guidance in the exploration of majors, CASA’s advising offices are located in Room 206 of the Schwitzer Student Center, and the office hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

Important dates to remember regarding scheduling courses for the 2016-2017 school year are located under the Help with Registration tab towards the bottom of the page.

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