Dr. Teanna Staggs
With new limitations on the length of time that students are eligible for financial aid, never before has advising been so important. In 2009, the San Antonio College Biology Department embarked on a process that has now become a college-wide endeavor. We decided that student advising for our discipline was best placed in the hands of the faculty who specialize in a plethora of Biology sub-specialties.
A self-contained advising system was developed with the help of a talented programmer. Today, almost the entire department is trained on the system. In conjunction with the new Alamo GPS software and six newly revised degree plans, every faculty advisor now carries an advising load of students.
Here’s how it works: Students sign up for advising in the department by providing us with vital information that is entered into the system. Once entered, students are sorted by their chosen degree plan. For example, if the student is pursuing an AS in Nutrition, he will be paired with a nutrition professor. If a student is pursuing a pre-med or other professional degree, she will be paired with one of our pre-medical advisors. At that point the professor will email the student to set up an appointment for advising.
It is important the student brings copies of transcripts for any coursework not currently showing up in the ACES or GPS transcript. Our program will capture all coursework from the ACES transcript and populate a one-page spreadsheet to create a degree audit. The program also identifies any missing coursework the student needs to complete the degree. This is why the transcripts are important. If the courses are not in ACES, we can manually enter those courses and provide Admissions and Records with proof of course equivalency where appropriate.
At that point, we track our students by meeting with them at least once per semester to update their progress and make sure they are following the most efficient path toward graduation. Upon completion of the path, we complete the graduation paperwork and submit it for the student.
Students: Do you know the difference between the AS in Biology with a Pre-Nursing emphasis and the AAS in Nursing? We do.
Do you know which pre-requisite courses are shared among all Texas medical, dental and veterinary schools? We do.
Do you know which universities absolutely will not accept chemistry courses taken during a summer session? We do.
Dr. Teanna Staggs is the chair of San Antonio College Natural Sciences Department, which includes Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science programs.