In Episode 63 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with Academic Advisor Olga Valdivia and Advising Director Eduardo Mendoza about what students should know preparing for the fall 2023 semester, success tips, important dates & deadlines!
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Welcome to Episode 63 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast. My name is Matt Markin, an academic advisor here at Cal State San Bernardino. And at the recording of this episode, we are so close to the fall 2023 semester starting, so we thought it would be a good time to bring it back advising director Ed Mendoza, and welcome our new guest to the podcast, academic advisor, Olga Valdivia to chat with you, our CSUSB Yoties on what to expect and success tips for the fall semester. So Olga, and Ed, welcome.
Thank you for having us.
Thank you. We're excited to for this podcast, because there's a lot of new things coming up and we can't wait for our students to hear it.
Yeah, for sure. And so, Ed, you've been on the podcast before previous episodes, Olga, it's your first time. So Olga, I'm gonna throw the first question to you. And that's for our listeners to get to know our staff here. So can you tell us a little bit about your path? What it was like, you know, as a student, and also staff?
Absolutely. So it seems like it's been a hot minute. So I started back in 2000. And I think my path was a little different, but maybe similar to yours. I, I started immediately after high school, changed my major a couple of times wasn't sure what I wanted to do, kind of stumbled into some courses to choose my major. But there's a lot of things that I think back on now. And it's like, oh, I should have done this more, I should have done this more. And I think it's just, I was in the moment and didn't really step outside to to like, see that full picture. But got the BA can stayed here continued with a master's. But I do wish I would have done a few things differently. And I say that now because I speak to so many students and it's like, Oh, I see myself in them, right?. And so, but I'm happy to be here. And I'm happy that my path led me here, right? Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now.
Yeah, and we won't say how long you've been on campus, because that would mean how long I've been on campus. But we've kind of grown up together as students and staff here throughout the years. Ed, you've mentioned I mean, you've been on the podcast, you've talked about your story, but just in case anyone hasn't heard it and this is your first time listening to an episode, can you chat about yourself?
Yes, thank you, I'm going to use the word that I hear from a lot of our students. I started here in the 1900s. So I've been here for some time. And I had the pleasure of working with both you, Matt and you, Olga, when you were students, which was wonderful. And that kind of can lead me to one of the points that we'll probably discuss later on is it's it's a connection to the campus. You, as it through employment on campus, so you build a community, because through your employment, you get to know each other through your employment. I also was employed as a student on campus at the bookstore in my in my case, and then I joined organization and things like that. But having that connection makes a difference in terms of what we do in terms of us succeeding. Yes, I earned my bachelor's in administration-finance. And then I, during my undergrad time, I said, I want to work at a university. Yes, I'm finishing my degree in finance, which can help me personally, but how do I give back, this is something I enjoy. There wasn't much advising back in those days. So I got a job in the admissions office. And then I became an advisor. And I've been doing that for quite some time now. But the connection, the stuff we want to give back to students is what's always made me enjoy what I do. A little bit more background, I'm from Rialto is where I and I say that Olga is also from the Rialto area. So we're both nights. So different years, obviously. But we're both nights out from the local area, we walked the same steps. I'm first generation, I had a brother who also came to school here, my younger sister also is an alum from here. So the three of us all graduated from this university. When I got the job, I decided when I go get a master's and also have a Master's in Public Administration from this university. So in two years, I'll be on this campus for 30 years. So I know I'm just turning 35, but I've been on campus for a long time.
Ed, I think that what you said is so true. It's community, right? Because similar to you, my I have one older sibling, a younger sibling also got their degrees here. And it's a lot of what we see our community stays here. And I think that the whole piece to you know, paying it forward and helping those next generations get here and now see them in their in their path. It's really awesome to see.
100% agree. I mean, it's the connecting the belonging, and then we've been students here, staff here, and then the need to feel that we want to give back to the community and to the university. So I guess that kind of ties into the next couple questions that I'll kind of combine in one. And then I'll go, we'll go back to you, and then Ed anything you want to add to it. But fall semester is gonna be starting soon. And, you know, we have new students starting for the first time at CSUSB, we have returning continuing students coming back to CSUSB, starting a new term. Any advice that you have, like for a new student starting at Cal State, San Bernardino in the fall, and any advice that you have for a continuing student, especially someone that might be coming back as a junior or senior, and maybe they want to remain and kind of get back to being motivated coming back as a student?
So the first thing that comes to mind is don't delay. If you have questions about your schedule, questions about financial aid, start making these calls. Now, as advisors, we can see you get on our calendars, we have plenty of appointments available, you know, reach out to the right offices, right. Sometimes we're like, I don't know who to ask. Okay, well, let's start with what's the question? You know, if it's a financial aid question, let's talk to them. Because as advisors, we don't have all the answers, right, we have a lot of pieces. But checking schedules, if we're the freshmen, you know, knowing your way around campus, and we will be out and around at the ask me tables. So anybody who's lost can can join and get their questions answered. But finding your people find your study buddies, right? And for those students that are returning, remember, while you're here, you know, because at a certain point, you're just like, I just want to be done. And you're almost there. But I like to just remind everybody to well, what made you want to come here? And what is that original goal. Because if we start with the end in mind, we'll keep determined and motivated. And, you know, we see it all the time, we see students start and end, and then we hear of what has happened in their lives after college. And it's really wonderful to see how their their lives change, right. And I always say it all starts with education.
To add to that, for new students, I wrote a few things down here, as Olga was speaking, because we're all on the same page. And a lot of this, it's, and I mentioned this at the beginning, it's connecting to someone can find someone. Because if you find that someone that's the someone that can make a difference in your journey in terms of I don't know what I need to do for this. Let me go to that someone to ask, I don't know, if I should continue school, let me go to that someone to ask. None of these things are our decision. They're your decision as a student. But if I give you information to help you make that decision a little bit better, I will give you I'll give you my opinion. I'm not here to judge you. I'm here to do what you asked me to do. If you say add, tell me what you would do. I'll tell you, it's still your decision on what you're doing. But find that someone, obviously I'm an advisor, and I think our visored are wonderful of being that someone but maybe you're someone is someone in the city union and one of the affinity center, maybe you're someone is someone in the Veterans Success Center, maybe you're someone who is the faculty member, maybe you're someone who is a student, mentor or a fellow student employee, find your someone because I think that will make you feel that sense of belonging because this is a your university, not it's ours, it's ours together. We work for you, the faculty, us advisors, this is for your education, we'll do all this. And we want nothing but success for you. The other part is asking questions. There's a lot of times where students, I don't know, I don't know if the word is fear, but they question themselves, if they should ask questions, because are people going to judge me on that question? Are people going to look at me differently? Like should I have known that question? Especially for first gen first, in first in your family to attend school or college? It's okay to ask question. This is education. How do we learn things unless we ask questions? So ask anything you want. And I promise at least from the advising role, and I know our colleagues around campus, we're not here to judge you. We're here to help you, as Olga said, and I want to say that the numbers show out I think around 50% of the people that work on this campus are alum from this campus and more than likely grew up in this area and did the same thing and probably were first gen themselves or in groups that maybe you associated with. So ask those questions. And the best example I tell new students are hair related. It's like moving to a new city. Most of us have moved at some point in our lives, some a lot of folks maybe grew up in the LA area, and then they moved east out here to the reality or the Colton or the Redlands, it's moving to a new city, you'll meet new friends, you'll find out where the good places to eat are, you'll find out what street to go down or not go down because of traffic. College is a new city, it's not harder, it is different. For the transfer students the same thing that are new to us, it's just a new city you got used to the local community college or wherever you're transferring from, this is just a new city. So find the places that are going to benefit you those study buddies, we have the Habit if you want like hamburgers, we're gonna have Panda Express, coming up this fall, if you prefer that, find the places...where's the good place to study is next to them? Is it in the cantina because they have TVs and some beverages if you prefer that, or is it in the library because I need silence, find your find your place and, and so forth. For the students that are continuing or returning, they just took the summer off or something. I hope the break was was well needed. And I hope you took advantage of that rest. And it's come back, come back to focus again, come back to do what you set yourself out to do. And we'll continue to help with that. But I will ask you to challenge yourself in something new. Because by the time you graduate, I hope that you feel confident in your skills, confident in the success you're going to have in your career. So there's something that you're still unsure about a skill. Maybe I need to do better at public speaking or maybe I need to do more better with critical thinking or, or leading an organization. I challenge you to challenge yourself on doing that next step, focus on the school, keep getting the good grades, keep keep plugging away on your units to get to graduation, but challenge yourself to something new as well. Because I think that's going to make a difference in your career and your time with us. You're going to enjoy more that way.
I mean, you both talked about asking questions. And I think this also goes to Olga's point of like, yes, as academic advisors, we may not have all the answers, but a lot of times we know who to connect you with. And especially if you have a question, you're not sure where to where who to contact, contact your academic advisor. And the easiest way would be going logging into your myCoyote account, go into your Student Center. And then in the adviser box on the right side of your Student Center, there'll be an assigned advisor and maybe it is Olga, that you'll connect with and you can email Olga, or stop by our office and University Hall room 329, go to drop-in like there's plenty of individuals in our advising office to ask questions. And if we don't know the answer, a lot of times we'll know who to send you to or who to connect you with. So there should never be I didn't get any help or I didn't know where to go. You can always connect with with your advisor. And I think this leads into the next question of like, and maybe for especially for new students that like I don't know what to expect. Are there any dates, any deadlines reminders, you think students should keep in mind starting in the fall or throughout the fall semester?
I'll start with this one Olga just to give you a break from so for transfer students that come from a community college, we are different in the sense of when you can drop a class withdraw from a class, we have something called Census Date. Census date, usually the end of week four, in this particular fault on three semester, census date September 21. That is the last day you can drop a class on my coyote without any record on your transcript. If you drop a class by September 21, the class will not even appear on your transcript. Now we ask that you talk to an advisor before you make that decision. Because we don't want it to affect your financial aid. Because let's say you were in 12 units and you drop a class. Now you're in nine units, financial aid may ask for some money back because you're not a full time student anymore. So we want to make sure you're making the right decision at that point. But we'd rather you drop it if you're not doing well in the class and or you don't think you continue the class, maybe you got a new job and it interfered with that same time. But even after census, I don't want you to think there's nothing you can do. There are ways to still drop or withdraw after census, talk to us advisor and we'll kind of guide you on that there's a permission requested drop on the computer in my coyote so you can do it that way. Other deadlines at least immediate one, you can still add or change your schedule via mycoyote with no much permission through the first week of classes. And this applies to every turn every semester. So through the first week of classes, you can still adjust your schedule on mycoyote and we advisors are available. We have droppings every single day from nine to four in person or via zoom or we can make appointments with advisors so we can help you with that. Communicate with professors. Make sure you're showing up those first couple of days of classes because there are up there are times where professional may drop you, if you don't attend the first couple of sessions. Don't expect that. Don't assume it's going to happen. But there are times that it does happen. And it's just about communication. If you communicate with your professional, why you can't attend, maybe the first day or something they'll understand but just communicate with them throughout the whole semester, and you'll do fine but but senses and that communication, those first couple of weeks are big ones. If financial aid is something you're still expecting, make sure you contact them and see, is there anything you're missing for me? Is there anything I still need to do or submit, so you can get your water or because obviously, you need to buy books and, and there's other expenses that you need to have. And what we don't want is because something's delayed on our end, as a university, and now you start working more hours. And now that affects your schoolwork and your time management. So just communicate with us, and we'll do our best to help you out. Like I said, earlier, we are here to support you. There are things that we can do right away, there's things that delay a little longer, but we want to support you along the way.
In terms of important dates, I always like to let students know that they can search important dates on the CSU webpage search bar. And usually that'll get them all the information that they need maybe some additional information they weren't really thinking about. But just to have those dates present is really important. So just find it on the website, right?
Yeah. And then the extra thing would be kind of going back to the student center, check if there's any holds or any to do lists, items that that you need to take care of, if there's like end sexual violence training, or if there's like the health center, MMR or HEPB, holds that that you need to take care of you can always go to the holds click on it. And there's usually some sort of instruction or description in terms of what you need to do to take care of that hold.
And some of this stuff may have been mentioned on orientation. There was a lot of things mentioned at orientation for new students, and I don't expect you to remember everything or that you wrote everything down. But Matt just brought up a good one. End sexual violence training, that is a every year students have to compete that not just at CSUSB, but across the country. So I believe that sexual violence training email went out to all students, and you have to a certain before a hold goes on. So make sure you log into your MyCoyote. And I want to say it's probably on the top title of your MyCoyote. So you can do that. I think it's a module, it may take an hour, an hour and a half to complete. So whenever you have that time to complete it, because we don't want it to become a hold, and then it stops you from registering for future trends are registering on time for future terms. Because we want to make sure you always hit the classes you need. So pay attention to those things. I want to tell you to always check your emails on a daily basis. But I know as a university, we don't do the greatest job of of filtering or managing how many emails you get. And I know you get a lot of emails, try your best to keep on top of it. Because within all the emails you get, there are some pretty important ones in there too.
Now, let's say student they're cool. I know the dates and deadlines. I feel pretty good starting out for the fall semester. But you know, for new students, even continuing students, they hear it a lot from whether it's us or whether it was at orientation or emails or on social media posts about getting involved. Get involved on campus, you know, have that sense of belonging? What are ways that you could think of that you can tell students about getting involved? I mean, because you also have students with different personalities, you know, you have some that are very much extroverted while you have others, like let's say like myself, that's very introverted. So I may not want to go to every single event on campus, what's your advice to students?
Olga, you go for it, but before Olga goes, it's hard for me to believe someone that has 63 episodes on the podcast is introverted.
I get to view both of you on a computer screen and I get to edit this afterwards. So I don't have to have it perfect on the first try. I have my ways around it.
You know, it's really important to get find your place on campus. We keep going back to that but just being a little bit more involved. I know we have a lot of commuter students, they go straight to class and back home right. But whenever we do have gaps in our schedule, you know, walk around the Student Union, you know, you might find a winner, the affinity centers a great place to study or to meet friends. You know, you don't even have to be in the same majors but just having a common shared space. You know, to build communities really nice. There's clubs, you know, maybe you love going to the gym, we have an amazing gym, you can meet a lot of people there And sometimes it's just a natural, you know, the natural way things go. But there's a lot of activities on campus throughout the year, you know, we have vendors that come to campus, there's a lot to take advantage of. And I would just push students to go a little bit out of their comfort zone. And you know, just poke your head into an office and say, Hey, what service do you guys provide here, you know, might be at the Cross Cultural Center, it doesn't matter, but finding finding your people that place where you're comfortable. That could be your hang out spot, you know, other ways of getting involved, you know, we have, we even have intramural sports, there's just so much that students can do. For me, it was working on campus. As a student, you know, that helped me make my friends I found my place on campus. And I think that made me think differently about my studies, right, because now I saw it from a different perspective.
I'm trying to say intramural sports, so a Rec Center or rec department does have a thing in the fall, they really have soccer, flag football. So for those that didn't go, you know, continue their athletic success in high school or something, or we have the activities. It's fun. It's, I mean, there's referees, the intramural rec center, take care of all that. This is pretty much a league that you're playing for that semester. But it was fun. I did that as a student. I really enjoyed that. That time. So yes, and the Rec Center, I wasn't the one to work out the most in there, I was lifting the heavy weight. But I always went in there and see what was going on and, and played basketball on there. They have indoor soccer in there, as well, because in the rec center, they have rounded walls, so you can play the indoor soccer in there to that fitness course they have a climbing wall. And within the rec center, they also have the outdoors. So every once in a while, the our outdoors team, they'll take students to snow summit for snowboarding, they'll take into raft the note taken to the Grand Canyon, there's always for students, and a very, very, very, if any cost at all to the student. Because all of these things we're talking about the student union, the Rec Center, the health center, all of these, you're already paying for this within your tuition and fees. The fees is for the Student Union, for the rec center for the health center for counseling, psychological services for all these, so it's not free, it's pre paid, you're already paying for all this take advantage of all of it. But those are great places to connect, I wrote down, sometimes folks need fellow students to connect. So our mentoring. So if you if you're not familiar with our student mentoring program, we set you up with fellow students who maybe are similar major, or maybe are similar paths to you. And just another person you can connect with and get opinions from. And some of that's probably a junior senior that's already kind of gone through some of the stuff you're about to go to Olga mentioned clubs and organizations. We have 120 130 different clubs and organizations on this campus. There are social ones. And believe me, I knew of those when I was a student, because that was about where's the fun, where's the party this weekend, who's doing this, but leadership comes out of those social clubs too. But then there's also academic clubs, within your department, so you can network with fellow folks is when you graduate, these are the people that might hire you, these are the people that are going to be in job with you. And when you build those connections, it benefits. So there's academic clubs, but there's also social clubs, there's different kinds. And if we don't have a club that you want, guess what you could create that club. And you can get fellow students and create your own club and do so. But we have a great department we our student government is asi. If there's things that we want on this campus that we're not having, you go talk to your ASI leader, if you go talk to your your student representative say hey, why don't we have more concerts on this campus? Why don't we do more events on this campus? Because they represent us students. So go and talk to your ASI leaders as well to make those things that you want. And you want our campus to because when you graduate, I want you to leave with a lot of good memories from the campus not only just your degree, but friends and memories.
Yeah, and you're mentioning like the the outdoors or adventure office within rec sports. So like yeah, if you want to do something fun and you don't need to plan the trip, it's already taken care of for you. They do the driving and you're with other students get to know them and it's kind of already structured for you. And you're paying a low cost as a student I mean, they have snowboarding trips, surfing trips, cultural trips to museums, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, camping, like you name it, there's probably something that you could take advantage of Have, and then kind of going back with Olga with the like clubs, you know, more than likely your major probably has their own club, most of them do. So that could be something else where it's like maybe that's the first step is like, if you're interested in that major, join that club within the major. And then now you're with other students within the major that you can bounce questions off of, and maybe even have many study groups with some of those students.
if I can add to them that the last thing you just said about study groups. And I know I've heard this from students in the past, how do you expect me to do all this? When I'm working 30 plus hours, when I have 15 units, because you kept telling me I need to take 15 units to graduate on time. So how do you expect me to do that when I'm having 15 units, five classes, I need to study for that. And I'm working. I agree, where do you find the time and this is one of those challenges, where I will challenge you a little, how do you find time to do those extra things. But there's other places to make connections, study groups is one way. But there's within our ACE team, which is our writing center. That's where you can make connections by going to the writing center as you're studying supplemental instruction. There are courses on our campus that normally or historically, students struggle with in terms of GPA or grade. So we give extra support supplemental instruction. There's our tutoring center, a tutoring isn't just for folks that struggle across it. It's also for the folks that you know what, I got this a minute, but I want to make sure it's an A, I need that extra, that extra push that extra for tutoring for everyone, not just for the students who normally struggle. So I encourage all that as well. So we have all these great resources on the academic side as well. If you're trying to focus on your grades and do well, there's still ways to connect with other students and with our campus through these extra services.
And then last question, as we finish up with this episode is, you know, we talked about how you can talk to your advisor, you can go under student at center, see who your your assigned advisor is. But how would you describe academic advising? And you know why it's important that students see their advisor, and how often and when should they see their advisor?
I want to say I regret anything in life. I try not to regret things. Everything that happens happens for a reason. And we learn from it, hopefully, and we become who we become. But if I could do things over again, maybe I would ask more questions when I first started college, maybe I would have done things differently. And maybe wouldn't it take me longer than four years to graduate? I won't say how many year but let's say longer than four years to graduate. I tell people I took the scenic route to graduation, but at least got there. And because of my connections, I never gave up. And because of my connection, I think I kept plugging away, even if it took me longer because I changed majors because I wasn't taking enough units or because I wasn't passing all my classes at time. So like I said, I wouldn't regret it. But if I could do it over, I would ask more questions. Now when I was a student, there was one office with advising. Luckily, I made a connection with someone in the office of the registrar. And every term, I would go to the what do I still need to graduate? What am I say? Even though I have a police report, even though I still I needed that, that validation, I needed that stamp of okay, I'm looking at it right. And that's what advising could be for you. If you just need someone to say yes, you're doing the right, we will tell you that if you need a cheerleader at times, can maybe you're struggling you need that extra push because who else believes in you and you're struggling, we will do that for you. If you need someone to give you the rules and the policies and the procedure, and what can be done what we will do that for you. If you need someone to be really honest with you, we will do that for you. Whatever you need us to be we can do that. Sometimes I used to say we can be your surgery on your phone, we can be the bumpers in the bowling alley, we can, we can adjust to whatever you need. And, and with advisor we have a caseload and we have a lot of students on my caseload. And you'll hear from us either email or we'll call you if we haven't talked to you in a while, because we care. But hopefully you're also making the effort to connect with us because that's the relationship we want to build. Even if you change your major guess what, you're still going to have Olga, or you're still going to have marriage and advisor because we want to make sure those relationships are there with us. But advising kin don't want to say I guess what I want to say advising can make sure you don't have a reason to leave us. I heard an advisor say this one time and it's so true. If you decide to take a break if you decide to school is not for me, at least come talk to us about it. We'll give you our opinions and our thoughts and you can decide from there, but at least come talk to us don't just walk away without connecting with us. That's what we want advising to me, at least from my perspective.
I can definitely agree with everything I've said. We're like an all you know, one stop hub, we got your back. If you have questions just want reassurance clarification, we're here. And like, in my last appointment, she said, Oh my gosh, I wish I would have met with you more often. I only met you at the beginning. And now that I'm graduating and it's those, we hear that all the time, but get on your calendars. We want to meet with you, we want to talk with you. Let's establish that relationship. So yeah, advising is a lot of things. But like I said, we're going to be honest with students where you're here for your success, we really want to see you graduate. That's all of our goal, right? That's what we have in mind, but come in and have those conversations with us. Because a lot of the time just having that conversation, you know, that conversation leads into something else. And then that might bring up additional resources are Hey, have you ever considered trying this or, but it really opens up conversation to things that maybe they wouldn't have considered.
Sorry to interrupt Olga. And it doesn't have to be academic all the time. I know I'm a freshman or normal, sophomore or junior, but I want to talk about career. Let's talk about it. We have a wonderful career center on this campus, that that can obviously help with that to not only the conversation about it, but in the preparing for it, the resume the interview, we have a wonderful career center that can help you with that. But come talk to us buddy thing. You know what I even some family things. We don't all have the certificate or the degree to be the counselor or the therapist. But we're good listeners. And maybe we've gone through it ourselves. Maybe we walked the same path that you're walking, come talk to us. It doesn't always have to be academics. And we're good. We want to talk music. Olga is really good at talking music and the music she likes. You want to talk photography, always an amazing photographer, and she can talk photography, we all have different things. If you look on our website, we put fun facts about ourselves things that we enjoy. I love traveling just to eat food at different places. I'm a foodie. And I mean the basis like the hamburgers and the pizzas and the tacos and the thought as though not like the extravagant kind of food but but those kinds of things come talk to us and we just want to build those connections with you.
So not that like the Michelin star restaurants.
I don't need a five course meal. I just need one good meal that I love.
Five courses and that'll be $600. Olga and Ed, a lot of great advice. Yoties, if you're listening to this, I hope you gained a lot of knowledge from this. You're utilizing all the resources that they both talked about. And if you happen to be listening to this six months from now, and it's not fall 2023 And it's spring or fall 2024, still, it's relevant information. So hopefully you got a lot from this but Oregon Ed, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Thanks for having us.
Yes, thank you and everyone best of luck this semester.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai