Advising First-Year Students Community

The Advising First Year Students community discusses the challenges and strategies associated with advising first-year students as they make the transition from being high school graduates to successful college students.  We will strive to build both web resources and to support your work as advisors of first-year students through future conference activities. Please contact the chair if you would like to become involved in any of these initiatives.

Online Discussions

March 2021


Best Practices in Orientation and Scheduling Advising - Success on the Orientation Express

Presenters: Maureen Fray, Helen Bailey Hemmer, Darryl Cherry

Does the prospect of another summer of New Student Orientation send you running? In response to advisor burnout and student feedback, Northern Arizona University implemented an innovative hybrid group advising model that is more efficient and effective than traditional 1:1 advising at building advisor:advisee relationships, teaching academic information, and supporting student transition during Orientation. Session participants will learn about the difference between a 1:1 and hybrid group advising model. They will have the opportunity to hear about the development process, program details, training, lessons learned, and walk away with detailed information to begin implementing on their own campus. Join us and learn how to make advising at Orientation more meaningful for students and effective for your advising team.

Maureen Fray, M.Ed. joined the Northern Arizona University Advising team in 2009 and currently serves as the Director of Operations. She earned her Master’s in Education from NAU and as a trained teacher wholeheartedly embraces the notion that advising is teaching. Maureen has had the pleasure of working with first-year and upper-division students throughout her various advising roles at NAU, and is passionate about improving advising processes and technology for students and advisors. 
Helen Hemmer, M.Ed. is a Coordinator for First Year and Exploratory Advising at Northern Arizona University.  She has a background in teaching and holds a Master's in Counseling Education and Student Affairs from Clemson University.  Helen embraces a student-centered, developmental approach to academic advising and is eager to connect with  other advisors and administrators who focus on the First Year to share ideas, best practices, and improve the student experience. 

View the Slides

January 2021


Engaging, Advising, Supporting, and Retaining First-Year Students During an Ongoing Pandemic

Presenters: Wendy Yoder, Alexandra Yanovski-Bowers, Andrea Miller, Darryl Cherry

To share advising practices to support the AFYS advising community. As if advising first-year students is not already difficult enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our assumptions, exposed systemic inequities, and altered our methods of academic advising.  While posing many new challenges, this difficult time has also provided many new opportunities to better engage, advise, and support first-year students.  Please join the Advising First-Year Students Steering Committee as we discuss best practices to improve student engagement, refine academic advising, transform student support, and strengthen student retention efforts. 

View the Slides

November 2020 


Developing and Using an Advising Syllabus

Presenter: Kasey Swanke, Associate Advising Professor, University of Notre Dame
Advisors strive to help students become successful in their classes and purposeful in their educational choices, but much of the rationale for the work that advisors do is unknown to students. An advising syllabus can help students understand (1) the tasks of the advisor-advisee relationship (2) its learning outcomes, and (3) a timeline for their work with their advisors.  This interactive session will cover the basics of using a syllabus and offer practical strategies and examples for developing, revising, and distributing a syllabus. 

View the recording | Access Passcode: dXFc+!7F

View the advising syllabi examples:

Example 1 - Laura Flynn
Example 2 - Kasey Swanke
Example 3 - Cara Wetzel
View the Slides

June 2020

Incorporating Coaching Into The First-Year Experience Online Discussion
Data shows that between 50% and 80% of college students change their major at least once during their college career.  UNC Greensboro's research has shown that 70% of the students in their program want help in deciding their major and/or career plans.  And due to COVID-19, 20% of students are considering cancelling their education plans and taking a gap year. How do we help students navigate this uncertainty?  

This discussion will provide you with an example how Bill Johnson, in Life Planning and Personal Development at UNC Greensboro, used a group coaching format with first-year students to define their meaningful work to not only decide on a major, but to identify potential educational, experiential, and entrepreneurial endeavors that lead to academic and career success. 

View the Recording
View the Slides
Syllabus Example #1
Syllabus Example #2
Snapshot of Life Design Catalyst Program
Life Design Catalyst Approach