Small Fish in a Big Pond: Advising Rural Students at Large Institutions

aerial view of several farms

April 30, 2024 - 1:00 PM

Students from rural and small towns continue to gain national recognition as an underrepresented population in higher education. Research shows this population enrolls and persists in college at lower rates than urban peers, and has additional challenges in succeeding at large institutions. Presenters with personal and research experience with rural student populations will share best practices, as well as their passion for supporting students from small towns. Join this webinar to learn more about this unique population and the ways in which Academic Advisors can assist in the persistence and graduation of rural students in higher education. Attendees will be provided with tools to use with students immediately and resources to learn more about the importance of rural education.

What You'll Learn:

- Summarize common identities, characteristics, challenges and strengths of college students from rural and small towns

- Discover definitions of rurality, as related to place, education, community, and individuals

- Apply advising techniques by listing ways in which student support staff, especially those at large research one institutions, can support rural student success in higher education

- Explore additional resources related to rural education, people and places

Headshot of Karen Ganss

Karen Ganss

University of Colorado Boulder

Karen Ganss supports students, staff, and faculty with our engineering partnership programs with Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado and Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. Originally from the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, she is proud of my small town roots and am the first in my family to go to college. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western Colorado University and a Master’s degree in College Student Services from Oregon State University. She has a diverse array of interests in higher education, with professional experiences in undergraduate admissions, honors programs, pre-health advising, new student orientation, and engineering support. In her free time, she enjoys trail running, gardening, snowboarding, crafting (making greeting cards in particular), watching Raider football, paddle boarding, and camping.

Headshot of Cyri Dixon

Cyri Dixon

Director of Advising, College of Science, University of Utah

Cyri Dixon is a first generation graduate from rural Eastern Idaho. She majored in Physical Sciences Composite Education at Utah State University and taught middle school science, engineering, and special education before moving into higher education. As a teacher, Cyri resonated with the struggles her rural students faced in thinking about college, so she completed a Master of Public Administration with a focus on Education and Leadership from the University of Utah. Cyri is now the Director of Academic Advising for the College of Science and College of Mines and Earth Sciences at the University of Utah. When she is not advocating for students, Cyri loves chasing hot air balloons and spending time with her dog.

Headshot of Claudia Numan

Claudia Numan

Math and Physics Advisor, University of Colorado

Claudia has had an interesting path that has led her to CU Boulder. Originally from South Carolina, she spent a part of her childhood in Saudi Arabia while her father was working in the area. This time living internationally left a deep impression on her, so in her twenties, it only made sense for her to move abroad once again, this time to Thailand. She lived in Chiang Mai for 16 years, working on public health initiatives and tutoring and advising students attending local and international schools.

Claudia received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Maine at Farmington and is currently pursuing her masters in the same field.  Before coming to CU Boulder, Claudia worked as an academic advisor for a TRIO SSS program. As a first-generation college student herself, she believes in equity in higher education and acts an advocate for all students.

In her free time, Claudia enjoys reading about politics. She spends way too much time trying to find the perfect meme for every situation. A firm believer in the oxford comma, she likes to make lists about dinner options, podcasts, and travel destinations. She is excited to learn what it is like to live next to the Rockies.

Core Competencies Addressed

Academic Advising Core Competencies that will be addressed in this presentation include: 

  • C6 icon.jpg  How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained.
  • I5 icon.png  The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations. 
  • R2 icon.png  Create rapport and build academic advising relationships. 

Register by Mail/Fax

Individuals using checks or purchase orders for payment must use this Registration Form.  

  • Please complete the form, print it, and mail or fax to the Executive Office. Registrations will be processed in the order they are received. Once processing is complete, you will receive via email a receipt or invoice for the event.
  • The completed form and a check or approved PO must be received by the Executive Office at least two working days prior to the event. If the event should reach capacity before your registration can be processed, your check or PO will be returned to you.
  • Note: For your financial safety, we can NOT accept registrations with a credit card via email.

Transfer/Refund Policy

If you find after registering that you are not able to attend the broadcast, you may:

- Choose to simply remain registered and view the streamable recording of the event from the link that will be provided and available for 30 days following the event.

- Transfer your registration to another individual from your institution. (If this person is not a current NACADA member, they will either be asked to become a member or pay the non-member fee.)

- Up to 30 days prior to the webinar: Request a refund of paid registration fees (less $25) in writing. 

- 29 to 8 days prior to the webinar: Request a refund off paid registration fees (less 50%) in writing. 

- Due to service provider obligations, refund requests can not be accepted less than 8 days before the event. Internal campus substitutions can be made up to 3 days before the broadcast.

- In the unlikely event the broadcast is cancelled, registration fees will be returned.


NACADA Members:

  • Before/on March 31 - $150
  • After/on April 1 - $175


  • Before/on March 31 - $300
  • After/on April 1 - $325

Registration closes April 28, 2024