When Joe Murray suggested placing academic advisors in campus parking lots, he got a good laugh from his colleagues at Florida Atlantic University.
But Murray, the campus’ director of advising services, wasn’t kidding. And now, six months after giving it a try, FAU’s “Get Wise: Advising on the Go!” parking lot advising program has received attention from state and national media outlets like Inside HigherEd, Academic Impressions, the Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.
Most importantly, the students at FAU like it, too.
The program places academic advisors in parking lot kiosks during evening commute time from 5-7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, making them accessible to students with busy lifestyles. Since the start of January, the program has resulted in over 500 advising sessions, with students receiving help with degree audits, academic plans, course scheduling and registration among other topics. Prior to the new program, students could only schedule an appointment at the main advising office during normal business hours.
Murray told the Florida College Access Network that the idea for the program came after the campus invested in a new advising and academic support center in an on-campus residence hall, but realized they needed to do more to connect with students who commute to campus. According to FAU, 83% of their students are commuters and 12% of students attend classes after 5:00pm.
Connecting support and services to students isn’t a problem unique to FAU. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 89% of the nation’s college students live off-campus.
While meeting the students where they are has been the main reason for the program’s early success, the collective effort between campus departments such as University Advising Services (UAS), student support services, the FAU Police Department, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Commuter and Transfer Services, Parking and Transportation Services has also been instrumental to the program.
Murray expects that “On the Go” advising will only increase in popularity as word spreads and better signs in the parking lots make the advisors easier to spot. And now that students have responded well to advisors in residence halls and parking lots, Murray’s team is looking to find other places to reach students, including the campus’ multicultural center.
Key features of Get Wise: Advising on the Go program at Florida Atlantic University:
1. Parking lot kiosks provide greater accessibility for commuters (about 83% of FAU’s student population)
2. Convenient hours for commuters and evening students from 5-7pm twice a week and every evening during the first week of each semester
3. No appointments needed!