In the News

November 3, 2021

How the Peer Academic Advising Program Helps Students Succeed

“Helping students graduate since 1975.”

The UCI Peer Academic Advising (PAA) Program proudly shares that slogan in big and bold letters on the PAA website. For more than 40 years, peer academic advisors have worked in tandem with undergraduate counselors in their respective schools to support pupils’ academic needs.

“The program is primarily composed of current UCI students in their junior and senior years who are trained by both the Division of Undergraduate Education Office and the ICS [Information and Computer Science] Student Affairs Office,” said ICS senior undergraduate counselor Nadia Kast and ICS undergraduate counselor Maribel Valentin (B.A. ’19, criminology, law and society, and English; minor in Russian studies).

ICS senior undergraduate counselor Nadia Kast
ICS undergraduate counselor Maribel Valentin

According to Kast and Valentin — who was a PAA in the UCI School of Humanities when she was an undergraduate student — the PAA program chooses juniors and seniors to work as PAAs because “they are more familiar with their degree requirements, services offered at UC Irvine, and may be more familiar with the internship and research processes.”

This level of expertise and knowledge is reflected in the responsibilities of PAAs. They assist students with quarterly schedule planning by answering questions through ICS Live Chat and email, hosting Zoom drop-in hours, updating students’ DegreeWorks, helping new students transition to UCI during summer orientation and more.

“In providing these services, our PAAs allow counselors to offer more Zoom appointments and work on administrative processes such as reviewing change of major applications, syllabus reviews, review prospective academic probation students, and other petitions that can only be reviewed by an academic counselor,” Kast and Valentin said.

Whereas PAAs usually help with short-term student needs, undergraduate counselors often handle affairs that are more “long-term” and “big picture,” including reviewing two- to four-year academic plans, part-time study requests and withdrawals from the university, and employment paperwork such as curricular practical training and optional practical training.

While undergraduate counselors are better suited for more complex situations, PAAs are a valuable resource for students who are looking for advice that is rooted not just in academic experience but also personal experience because they “can convey the workload of certain combined courses more effectively than an academic counselor who has been out of the school system for many years.”

“The PAAs are also able to offer more mentor-like advice such as when it is a good time to look for internships or begin research as they have most often gone through these processes themselves,” Kast and Valentin said. “They also provide referrals to campus clubs or campus involvement … [and] resources on campus that can help with their academic achievement.”

The work that both undergraduate counselors and PAAs do is valuable and helps UCI undergraduate students navigate college. ICS academic advising will be offered remotely during the fall 2021 quarter through ICS Live Chat, email, Zoom drop-in hours and virtual appointments. Students can learn more about how to get in touch with undergraduate counselors and PAAs here.

Those who are interested in becoming a PAA for the 2022-2023 academic year can keep an eye out for applications on the PAA website. Applications will open at the end of this fall quarter.

— Karen Phan

Meet the 2021-2022 ICS Peer Academic Advisors


How the Peer Academic Advising Program Helps Students Succeed

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Media Inquiries
Media interested in interviewing ICS faculty, students or alumni should contact Matt Miller at (949) 824-1562 or matt.miller@uci.edu