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The right answer

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University of Calgary students with questions about their academic programs now have a new way to find answers.

The Student Advising Review Team was developed as an element of the Enhancing the Undergraduate Learners' Experience initiative and many of its recommendations are now in place.

The first of these is the development of a new Undergraduate Programs Office.

The UPO serves students in the Faculties of Humanities, Social Science, Science and Communication and Culture. The new office replaces the Student Affairs Office previously administered by the Faculty of Communication and Culture. The change, prompted by changes resulting from the Direct Entry program, will be implemented in the fall of 2002.

"We serve both the faculty and their students," said Natalie Lindsay, the Acting Director of the Undergraduate Programs Office. "We ensure that graduation requirements are met so that students can pursue their programs and meet requirements without spending extra time trying to interpret the maze of regulations."

Another result of SART is the recent development of the FAQ Web site. The Web site was designed by a task force set up over the summer months.

"There is a refocus on advising due to EULE," said Alex England, Co-chair of the Education and Career Planning Committee and Manager of Recruitment. "It was decided that a lot of work needs to be done in the area of student advising. The Web site will not necessarily solve all problems, but it's to get students started and to give them some direction. This way
we can focus on specific advising
issues."

Part of the problem with student advising on campus is students feel they get the runaround. However, according to England, this is not a deliberate gag played on unsuspecting students by whimsical advisors, but occurs because students go to the wrong office in the first place.

"They expect all of their questions to be answered by one person when that's not possible," explained England. "We all have our areas of expertise."

The FAQ Web site not only answers student questions but also directs them to the appropriate location for more detailed information. Also, if a student is unable to find the answer to a query, they can submit the question electronically and the answer will be posted for future reference.

The FAQ Web site usage is tracked throughout the Informations Commons and the questions submitted are reviewed regularly along with how students rank the answers they receive.

"This is the first phase," said Craig Fortner, Director of Career Services and Co-chair of the Education and Career Planning Committee. "Now we want to be able to have better, more targeted questions and a better follow-up procedure to make sure students are getting the answers they need."

The Undergraduate Programs Office Web site can be visited at www.upo.ucalgary.ca. The Frequently Asked Questions Web site is at commons.ucalgary.ca/ecpc/.

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