posted on August 28, 2019 01:18
Allie Teagarden, 2019 Administrators’ Institute Scholarship Recipient
When I was hired as the Director of Undergraduate Advising for the Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri in September 2018, I knew that it would be important but challenging for me to prioritize professional development in my day-to-day work. As any advising administrator knows, the demands on our time are many as we serve our students, our staff, and our leaders. I was familiar with NACADA and had utilized resources from the Clearinghouse of Academic Advising but had not yet become a member. I expected that attending a NACADA conference would provide a great opportunity to learn from colleagues around the country and provide inspiring ideas to bring back to my advising office. As I reviewed the 2018–2019 conference offerings, the Administrators’ Institute immediately stood out. I appreciated that the institute was designed around the development of an action plan so that I would not only come back to campus with new ideas, but I would have a tangible plan to implement those ideas in my office.
I had the privilege of attending the institute with two of my senior staff members, Karen Lowry and Stephanie Toigo, who each have different areas of leadership within our office. We all had a specific area of our advising strategic plan that we wanted to work on at the institute, but it was helpful for us to get feedback from each other as our action plans developed each day. My action plan focused on developing advising interventions for students in the murky middle—those who are not on academic probation but are not achieving the grades that are required to gain admission into MU’s competitive upper level program and ultimately graduate with a business degree. Karen’s plan focused on developing an advising program for transfer students in a community college pathway program who intend to transfer into the business program. Stephanie focused on revising an advising intervention program for students on academic probation. I think there was tremendous value in attending the institute with a small team, because we could each attend different sessions and gather more insight on how to address the challenges our office faces than any of us could have accomplished attending alone. As Karen, Stephanie, and I compared notes at the end of the day, we each had different takeaways from the sessions we attended and had the opportunity to provide feedback to each other on the various ideas we were interested in implementing within our action plans.
During the Welcome and Plenary Session led by faculty member JP Regalado and NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt, it was clear that I was going to come back from the institute with lots of ideas beyond the scope of my action plan. I took pages of notes on ways that I could better support my advisors’ professional development, opportunities for our Trulaske College of Business advising team to strengthen student success programs, and advising approaches that would facilitate the development of our students and enhance the impact of our work with them. I had similar experiences at each of the sessions that I attended.
As an ambivert who falls in the middle of the extrovert/introvert spectrum, I appreciated that the institute had a sizeable number of participants to network with but was not as overwhelming as a larger annual conference. The structured working group sessions also provided a valuable opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities with colleagues in a small setting and get feedback on my action plan. My working group was facilitated by faculty member Julie Givans-Voller, and she brought helpful questions and insight to every discussion. Furthermore, she fostered a positive, inclusive, and supportive environment in which to develop our action plans.
Karen, Stephanie, and I started implementing our action plans in recent months with the help of the rest of our Trulaske College of Business advising team, and I am eager to assess the impact these plans have on student success outcomes in the years to come. Upon returning from the institute, our advising office began the upper level admissions process for the spring semester. As a result, our advising team was able to immediately implement one component of my plan, reaching out to students who were successfully admitted to the upper level program based on their cumulative GPA but had a deficit in their business GPA required to ultimately graduate. A key takeaway from several sessions at the institute was to reinforce the positive behavior of students instead of only focusing on the areas of concern. The outreach our advisors made to this group of students involved congratulating them on their achievement of gaining admission to the upper level program. As an aside, advisors also offered support to build on students’ demonstrated success as they worked on improving their business GPA in the semesters leading up to graduation. This next academic year, our advising team will engage in similar outreach to students after their first semester. Advisors will congratulate students on their good academic standing after their first semester at Mizzou and encourage them to utilize their resources on campus to build on that success, improving their cumulative GPA to the 2.6 minimum required to apply to the upper level program.
This fall, the Trulaske College of Business advising team will begin to implement components of my plan focused on students who have less time to improve their GPA. As students get within one to three semesters of the upper level admissions process or graduation, our interventions will become more intrusive. We will require students to take an active role in assessing their own progress in the program. We will ask students to develop a semester-by-semester plan of the courses they still need to take and the grades they must receive in order to meet program requirements. They will then be required to discuss their plan with their academic advisor. Another barrier that some students encounter in the semesters leading up to graduation is the requirement of completing an internship. The Trulaske College of Business advising office is currently collaborating with key stakeholders to develop a program to educate students on the internship requirement and equip them with the skills and connections they need to successfully secure and complete an internship well before graduation. We hope to implement this new program in the fall semester.
In addition to coming back to campus with action plans, the institute also spurred valuable conversations within our advising office and with leaders across campus regarding the importance of investing in academic advising. I look forward to sending other staff members from our office to this conference in the future and cannot recommend it enough to any advising professional looking to invest in their professional development and advance the impact of their work.
Director of Undergraduate Advising
Trulaske College of Business
University of Missouri
Cite this article using APA style as: Teagarden, A. (2019, September). Building a strong foundation: How the NACADA administrators’ institute challenged, supported, and inspired me as a new advising administrator. Academic Advising Today, 42(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]