AAT banner

Voices of the Global Community


Digital Native or Digital Immigrant, Which Language Do You Speak?

Brad Cunningham, Kansas State University


There is no question that students have changed over the past decade. Every generation uses different slang and has new fashions, but the differences in today’s students go deeper. Today’s students use technologies to explore their world in entirely new ways. With these new technologies they speak an entirely different language, one they expect us to understand. In his article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Marc Prensky (2001) presents two new terms that can be used to describe both ourselves and the students we advise.

The first concept Prensky describes is the Digital Native. The current generation of college students is the first to grow up immersed in technology. They have always had the Internet, laptops, cell phones with text messaging, AIM, Facebook™ or MySpace™, PlayStations™, digital cameras, DVD players, blogs, and any other number of digital technologies that allow them to instantly capture or communicate with their world. They use these tools as extensions of their bodies and minds, fluidly incorporating them into their daily routines (Prensky, 2005). They have learned the language of technology as they communicate instantly with their peers. These students, like all natives, adapt quickly to changes in their environment and look for new ways to incorporate the latest technology into their fast-paced lives.

On the other hand is the Digital Immigrant. The Digital Immigrant is the latecomer in the technology revolution and as with any immigrant, there is a certain “accent” that is readily apparent to the native speakers. Examples of this “accent” are things like calling and asking if a recipient received the email that was just sent, typing out text messages with full words rather than the standard abbreviations (OMG ur my bff!), or going to the library before searching the Internet. Digital Immigrants still try to work around or second guess technology; Digital Natives know no other way. It is important that we understand the differences between ourselves as Immigrants and our students as Natives. When we teach and advise our students using a language different from their own, we shouldn’t wonder why they aren’t listening!

One major difference between Natives and Immigrants is the way we process information. Natives retrieve information and communicate with their peers very quickly (Prensky, 2001). Text messaging has become a primary form of communication because messages can be sent and received quickly in situations where a phone call can not be taken. Whether students are in lecture, at work, or out with friends, a text message can be sent with little disruption. Through texting, Facebook, and use of the Internet as a search tool, students access information right now, sift through what they need, and ignore the rest. Why should students go to the library when they can Google™ their topic and have hundreds of articles at their fingertips? Why call friends when their Facebook pages will tell them where they are and what they are planning to do tonight? Just a few seconds and they know everything they need to about their social networks.

Another major difference between Immigrants and Natives is a sense of identity (DigitalNative.org, 2007). To Digital Immigrants, a cell phone, email, or the Internet is just a tool that can be used to reach someone or set up a “real” face-to-face meeting. Digital Natives look at the same technologies and see an extension of who they are. Each method of communication allows the Native to harness a different set of capabilities and skills when communicating with others. Texting may be better for communicating one idea, while Facebook might be better for the next thing. Regardless of which medium is used, they are part of who the Native is, not just a separate tool that can be used to create a “real” meeting. Digital communication is just as real to a Native as the face-to-face meetings are to an Immigrant.

Our students look to us to incorporate these new technologies into our advising practice. Students increasingly want to contact us via email, text messaging, and instant messaging rather than meet with us in our offices. We may not think that the same level of interaction and connection can be achieved in digital advising, but that is our “accent” showing. We must remember that students feel that a digital meeting is just as real as an office meeting, and they take away the same meaning and feeling as from an office meeting. If we only offer services in ways in which we are comfortable, then students may never feel that we are meeting them at their level. How can we practice developmental advising if we will not expand our comfort zones? Are we helping students when we force them to meet us on our terms? Or are we holding them back?

How do we bridge the gap between Natives and Immigrants? There are some strategies that we can employ that will help us reach our Native students:

  • Expand our comfort zones to meet students where they are.
  • Listen to what students tell us about technology; work with them and value their knowledge.
  • Place importance on how we communicate over what we communicate. Students actively multi-task to hold their interest in the material we present. As one student said “there‘s so much difference between how teachers think and how students think” (Prensky, 2007).
  • Decide with students, not for them (Prensky, 2005). Students today have a whole new set of needs and require an entirely new approach in terms of advising. We learn their language so we can help them make sound decisions.
  • Allow Natives to teach and learn from each other. They often aren’t given the chance to do so because Immigrants view themselves as the experts.

Natives do not see memorizing information as an education. Instead they define an education as the ability to know where information can be found and how to retrieve it (Prensky, July 2007). With instant gratification avenues such as YouTube™, IM, chat rooms, and social networking sites and WiFi hand-held PDA’s with instant Internet access, why should students memorize when they can browse? Immigrants should be willing to teach natives how to find the important information and put less emphasis on forcing the students to learn exact information.

Finally, Natives know that we are not as comfortable or familiar with technology as they are and do not expect us to keep up with them. They do expect us to know what they are referring to and be willing to incorporate some of the new technologies in our advising. They want to share the volumes of information they have about technology if we will just listen. They know that they may need to speak slowly, but they are learning our “accent” as we are learning theirs.

Brad Cunningham
Academic Advisor
Kansas State University
College of Business Administration
[email protected]


Digital Natives. (November, 2006). In Digital Natives Wiki. Retrieved October 9, 2007 from www.digitalnative.org/Main_Page.

Prensky, Marc. (October, 2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved fromwww.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky - Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants - Part1.pdf

Prensky, Marc. (December, 2005). Listen to the natives. Retrieved October 9, 2007 from www.ascd.org/cms/objectlib/ascdframeset/index.cfm?publication=http://www.ascd.org/authors/ed_lead/el200512_prensky.html

Prensky, Marc. (2007). To educate, we must listen. Retrieved October 9, 2007 fromwww.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky-To_Educate,We_Must_Listen.pdf

Prensky, Marc. (July, 2007). Changing paradigms. Retrieved October 9, 2007 from

From the President: Building on the Successes of the Past and Setting High Expectations for the Future

Jennifer L. Bloom, NACADA President 


There are many reasons why I think that NACADA is the best professional organization on the planet, but the Annual Conference is certainly one of the top ones. The opportunity to get together with over 3,000 people who share the same passion for student success and appreciation for the important role that advisors play on college campuses throughout the country is reinvigorating and inspiring. The 2007 Annual Conference in Baltimore was outstanding, and I want to thank Stacey Woycheck and her planning committee for their efforts to ensure its success. The keynote speakers, Patrick Terenzini and Sharon Fries-Britt, both highlighted the importance of the work that we do and inspired us to continue to grow and expand our horizons. The Conference also gave attendees the opportunity to congratulate Charlie Nutt on his selection as Executive Director of NACADA. Congratulations, Charlie!

Another highlight of the Conference for me was the opportunity to meet the inaugural class of Emerging Leaders from the new Emerging Leaders Program. This program is designed to increase the diversity of our leadership ranks in NACADA. This impressive group of nine new Emerging Leaders had the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops and to select a Mentor to partner with during the next two years. As one of the Emerging Leader Mentors, I am looking forward to working together with my Emerging Leader, Cornelius Gilbert, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

I want to thank Susan Campbell for her leadership as President of the NACADA Board this past year. Susan led the Board through a thorough review and update of the by-laws, oversaw the creation of a set of written policies for the Board and the entire leadership team, and much, much more. Most importantly, she accomplished these important tasks by collegially leading with integrity, passion, and determination to make NACADA the best organization it can become. On behalf of everyone in the organization and the Executive Office, I want to publicly thank Susan and her Vice President, Nancy Walburn, for all they did to make 2006-07 a successful year.

B. Joseph White is the President of the University of Illinois and he said, “Education is the most powerful means of increasing individual opportunity and creating more prosperous, fairer, and more just societies. So to have the privilege of participating in that mission is as much as anybody could hope for in life.” It is important for all of us to remember what a blessing it is that we have the privilege of working in higher education. I also feel privileged and honored to be elected to serve as President of NACADA – an organization that has meant so much to me personally and professionally over the past 17 years. Having just moved two months ago from my Associate Dean position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to the position of Clinical Associate Professor of the Higher Education & Student Affairs Program at the University of South Carolina, I can honestly say that I would not have had this opportunity were it not for the experiences that I gained through my association with NACADA. NACADA gave me the opportunity to not only hone my presentation and writing skills, it has also afforded me the opportunity to meet, work with, and become friends with some of the best people I know. Serving as your President gives me a multitude of ways to “Pay it Forward.”


Vice President Casey Self (Arizona State University) and I inherit the leadership reins of an organization that is at an all time high in terms of number of members (9,903), number and variety of programs offered, and the amount of money we have in reserve. However, our pledge to you is to not settle for good enough. As B. Joseph White also said, “I don’t think that we’re put into leadership jobs to maintain the status quo. I don’t think we’re put into leadership jobs to preside. I think we’re put into leadership jobs to set high aspirations for the future and to achieve those aspirations.” So, Casey Self, the Board of Directors, the Executive Office, and the rest of the leadership team are going to be working together to advance the field of academic advising and to better serve you so that you can better serve your students. First, the Board is going to continue our work on building a solid infrastructure for the organization, by continuing to formulate policies and by designing concrete goals for fulfilling the strategic plan we recently passed. We made excellent progress toward this goal at our Board meeting after the Conference. We adopted 13 new policies and established a new Board Policy Subcommittee to be chaired by Board member Phil Christman to further consider 33 more policies for Board approval. Second, as part of the strategic plan, I believe that we need to focus on advancing the scholarship and research agenda on academic advising and measuring the impact we are having on our students and our institutions. Third, we must continue to proactively replenish our leadership ranks by involving more of you in the organization’s leadership structure, and we must ensure that that we have representation from our entire and diverse constituency. I will keep you updated on our progress through this column throughout the year. In order to accomplish these goals, we need your support and your involvement. There will be a member of the Board of Directors at every Regional Conference this spring, and I personally plan to attend 6 of the Regional Conferences myself. We want and need to hear your input. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the Board members if you have a need that you think NACADA can fulfill.

Jennifer L. Bloom, President
National Academic Advising Association
[email protected]

Charlie Nutt Named NACADA Executive Director


After an international search, Dean Michael Holen of Kansas State University has named Charlie Nutt as Executive Director of NACADA, replacing Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, who moved into phased retirement as of August 1. Nutt has been with the Executive Office since 2002 as Associate Director, and he had served the Association in a variety of leadership roles prior to assuming the Associate Director role. He has also been actively involved in the Association through serving on the faculties of a variety of NACADA Institutes, publishing in a variety of NACACA publications, serving as keynote speaker or workshop facilitator on numerous campuses, and working with numerous campuses to evaluate their advising programs and services and provide recommendations for improvements.

Prior to coming to the NACADA Executive Office and Kansas State University, Nutt served in various capacities for 17 years at Coastal Georgia Community College, including Vice President for Student Development, Director of Advisement / Orientation, Registrar, and Assistant Professor of English. He has taught and served as an administrator in secondary education as well.

Nutt has an Associate of Arts degree in English from Brunswick College, Bachelors in Education from the University of Georgia, and Masters and Doctorate of Education from Georgia Southern University.

From the Executive Director: Thoughts from the Executive Office

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director 


What a wonderful way to spend the first week of your new job – with over 3,000 of your best friends in the wonderful city of Baltimore! The 31st Annual Conference of the National Academic Advising Association was clearly a first in so many ways – my first in the role as Executive Director, the celebration of the superb and memorable leadership of our first Emeritus Executive Director Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, the introduction of our first Charter Class of Emerging Leaders and Mentors, the first time our NACADA chorus opened our Conference, and our first Conference overseen by a Pirate!

However, the Conference was also steeped in tradition: nearly all of our Past Presidents on stage to acknowledge the tremendous work of Bobbie Flaherty over the past 17 years; as always a phenomenal conference planning team led this year by Stacy Woycheck; thought-provoking, powerful, and informative keynote speakers like Patrick Terrenzini and Sharon Fries-Britt; an outstanding set of preconference workshops, concurrent sessions and panel discussions; and an Executive Office team led by Nancy Barnes and Rhonda Baker dedicated to making this year’s conference immensely successful for each participant in attendance! As our President Jennifer Bloom says in her column, we are building on our past successes and traditions as we set high expectations for the future of our Association.

As you settle back into your routine and the rush of registration on many of your campuses, please take time to begin now to plan for the variety of NACADA events you can take part in for the rest of the year. I encourage you to utilize our successful Webinar series as a means to provide campus-wide professional development for your institution - the next Webinar is on the very exciting topic On the Horizon: The Future of Academic Advising and Technology on December 12, 2007. In addition, in February 2008 in beautiful San Diego, California, we will hold our annual Academic Advising Administrators’ Institute and ourAssessment of Academic Advising Institute, as well as our National Seminar this year entitled Advising by Design: Planning the Future of Academic Advising on Your Campus. We are excited to announce that this year’s Administrators’ Institute has a new track focused specifically at experienced administrators who have campus-wide responsibilities for advising. Last, our ten excellent Region Conferences will begin in March. These Region Conferences are a wonderful opportunity to network with professionals in your Region. I encourage you to not only attend your Region Conference, but to also to submit a proposal to present there.

I also encourage you to continue to explore the variety of publications and CDs we have available for you as grow in the profession and work to provide quality material to your colleagues on your campuses. The quality of our monographs, the NACADA Journal,Academic Advising Today and Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources articles are truly without compare in higher education. I also urge you to take advantage of these publication opportunities for your own research and growth!

I am honored and excited to take on the new responsibility as Executive Director for our Association. As we continue to grow, reaching 10,000 members in the next year, I am committed to work hard to be sure that we continue to have the open, inclusive, and welcoming culture that NACADA is recognized for. Our strength must continue to be that our new members and professionals to the Association are welcomed and mentored by our seasoned members and professionals. I also am committed to increasing the diversity of our membership and leadership and feel strongly that our Emerging Leader Program is a wonderful step forward to meeting that goal. And, last, I am committed to working with our leadership and our superb Executive Office staff to ensure that we are offering the best and most comprehensive services and events possible in as many delivery mediums as we can.

The title of Bobbie’s last column as Executive Director was”We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby! It’s Been a Wonderful Journey!”I agree we have and it has been! But We Have a Long Way to Go and Our Journey Will Be New and Exciting!I look forward to walking side-by-side with each of you on this journey!

Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
National Academic Advising Association
(785) 532-5717
[email protected]

Emerging Leader Partnerships Announced

ELPlogo.jpgThe Diversity Committee has developed the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program to encourage members from diverse groups to get involved in leadership opportunities within the organization, outfit participants with the skills and tools necessary to pursue elected and appointed leadership positions, increase the number of leaders from diverse groups, and encourage and assist members of underrepresented populations to attend State, Regional, or National Conferences. Emerging Leader Program goals include:

  • To identify potential local, regional and national leaders from underrepresented groups who are interested in leadership development and leadership involvement in the association
  • To identify mentors from among experienced NACADA leadership to guide emerging leaders through a two-year leadership development program as they grow in their leadership in the association
  • To provide emerging leaders with a two-year leadership development program which will develop their leadership skills for the association
  • To provide opportunities for emerging leaders to reach out to colleagues and peers from underrepresented groups and serve as mentors to future NACADA leaders
  • To provide the support network needed and desired to foster a strong leadership development program for underrepresented populations in our association

Mentor Jayne Drake explains, “It’s about giving back and moving forward. NACADA, as THE premier organization in the world to support and promote quality academic advising, has given me so much over the years that I now have the opportunity to give back by serving as a mentor in the Emerging Leaders Program. In doing so, I am helping the Association move forward by cultivating the next generations of leaders from diverse and underrepresented groups. They are our future.”

After several years of preparation, the Diversity Committee and the Emerging Leaders Development Team are proud to announce the 2007-2009 NACADA mentoring partnerships. The Emerging Leaders and Mentor partners will develop goals pertaining to leadership in NACADA over the next six months.

Emerging Leader Todd Taylor and mentor Sandra Waters
Emerging Leader Erica Byrnes and mentor Elaine Borelli
Emerging Leader Tami Clavin and mentor Glenn Kepic
Emerging Leader Melva Harbin and mentor Jayne Drake
Emerging Leader Cornelius Gilbert and mentor Jennifer Bloom
Emerging Leader Jose Rodriguez and mentor Charlie Nutt
Emerging Leader Criselda Marquez and mentor Terry Musser
Emerging Leader Carol Pollard and mentor Jo Anne Huber
Emerging Leader Audrey Jackson and mentor Karen Sullivan-Vance


These nine mentors and nine emerging leaders met throughout the Annual Conference in Baltimore for development, conversation, and group building. The partnerships will continue for two years. A second class of emerging leaders and mentors will be selected by April 2008 and will begin training immediately in preparation for matching at the 2008 Annual Conference in Chicago.

Emerging Leader Todd Taylor says, “I first felt a sense of obligation to follow through and apply to the Emerging Leaders Program with my sole purpose of eventually increasing diversity in the NACADA leadership. What I did not expect, but was pleasantly surprised by, was the sense of energy and commitment from the other Emerging Leaders, my mentor and the ELP development team. I realized, in short order, that the Emerging Leaders Program is not only about professional development and increasing diversity in the leadership, but it is also a program that will allow all involved to grow personally and pay forward the opportunity and necessity for involvement from all of NACADA’s constituents.”

Podcasting: Helping Advisors Get Connected to the 'Net Gen'

Sarah Keeling and Stephanie M. Foote, University of South Carolina Aiken


Communicating essential and often timely information to students can be a daunting daily task for academic advisors. Although today’s students are often considered more “connected” to technology than previous generations, this connectivity can present a new obstacle: competing to get students’ attention.

Howe and Strauss (2003) discussed this current generation of college students in their book, Millennials go to College. Students of the millennial generation, or “Net Gen,” are key players in a technological surge. “Millennials will gravitate easily toward – even insist upon – information technologies that simplify and streamline their educational experience” (Howe & Strauss, 2003, p. 127).

As technology becomes more dynamic, moving from email to MySpace/Facebook and beyond, advisors may find themselves searching for ways to reach their advisees. Podcasting is just one of many tools advisors can and should consider using.

What is Podcasting?

Wikipedia (2007) defined podcasting as a method of distributing multimedia files via the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers; the term comes from combining the words “pod” (portable on demand) and “broadcasting.” Podcasts can be accessed with a personal computer or any portable music player. According to Lum (2006), “national studies show that more than 80 percent of college students own at least one device that can download and play recordings” (p. 4). Carrie Windham’s 2007 article, “Confessions of a Podcast Junkie,” further indicated the popularity of mobile music devices and said that in 2006 these devices were the most popular items on college campuses.

Although podcasts can be downloaded on mobile music devices, students can also access podcasts on their personal computers, in campus computer labs, or on virtually any computer that is connected to the Internet. The vast opportunities to access podcasts can make this technology appealing to advisors, faculty, and campus administrators. Another important aspect of podcasting is that students can often “subscribe” to podcasts and receive updated versions of the podcast when new information is available. The subscription option also makes it possible to produce a series of podcasts connected to a particular topic and make all of those available to students who wish to subscribe.

Types of podcasts range from a simple recording – a person or a few people talking about a specific topic – to enhanced podcasting featuring pictures, Web links, and/or slide shows. Video clips can also be added to podcasts to create a “vodcast.”

Why Podcasting?

Very simply, podcasting can help advisors maximize the impact they have on campus by reaching a potentially larger audience through a more innovative medium. Advisors can not only reach more students through podcasting, they can often do so with scarce resources. Simple podcasts require little more than a microphone and recording software, and there are many online resources to help advisors learn the basic steps to develop and upload podcasts.

Recently many campuses have begun to draw on what they know about the “Net” generation’s interest in technology and have found ways to incorporate myriad technologies into pedagogy. In “Top Ten Teaching and Learning Issues, 2007,” John Campbell and Diana Olbinger described what they referred to as the current generation’s expectations regarding technology: “…they expect it to be integral to their lives and to serve them, including in education” (p. 18).

While various technologies are often grouped together, not all are equal. For example, unlike email, which is often passive and solitary, podcasting usually provides some level of interaction. McNeely (2005) confirmed that interactivity is a learning characteristic associated with today’s students. The versatility of podcasting may also appeal to students with various learning styles and may be used to reinforce instruction and knowledge (Brown, 2006). Further, Brown stated that the novelty of podcasts appeals to both students and administrators.

How Can Advisors Use Podcasts?

Advisors can and are using podcasts in a variety of ways. One way advisors can begin using podcasting technology is to convert workshops to podcasts, either by uploading audio files (procured as the workshops are presented) or by adding slides or video clips to the audio to create enhanced podcasts or vodcasts. The usefulness of podcasts is not limited to communicating information to students; podcasting also presents professional development and training opportunities for advisors. Podcasts can be created to train advisors and made available for them to access on Web sites or in Web portals.


Today’s advisees are utilizing “technology to elevate the community” (Howe & Strauss, 2003, p. 21). Their community is your college campus. Podcasts are not meant to replace face-to-face interactions between advisor and advisee, but are a means of reaching out to the students in ways that are attractive to them. Podcasting, like other forms of technology, will likely grow and change, but for advisors who are willing to learn, podcasting can present limitless opportunities.

Sarah M. Keeling
Academic Advisor
Academic Success Center
University of South Carolina Aiken
[email protected]

Stephanie M. Foote
Director of the Academic Success Center and First-Year Experience
University of South Carolina Aiken
[email protected]


Campbell, J. P., Oblinger, D. G., & Colleagues. (2007). Top-ten teaching and learning issues, 2007. Educause Quarterly, 30 (3), 15-22.

Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2003).  Millennials go to college. Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and LifeCourse Associates.

Lum, L. (2006, March 9).  The power of podcasting.  Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 23 (2), 32. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ763137). Retrieved August 23, 2007, from ERIC database

McNeely, B. (2005). Using technology as a learning tool, not just the cool new thing (chap. 4). In D. G.

Oblinger & J. L. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the net generation (Educause e-Book). Retrieved August 23, 2007, from www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/pub7101.pdf.

Wikipedia. (2007). Definition of podcasting. Retrieved August 23, 2007, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting.

Windham, C. (May/June 2007). Confessions of a podcast junkie. Educause Review, 42 (3), 52-65.

Leaving the 'Hey' Behind: Advising Communication Etiquette

Marisa Gift, University of Notre Dame


“What’s up?”

“O dang.”

These statements sound like they should be shouted across a high school parking lot. However, these are just a few of the ways I, an academic advisor, have been greeted in advisee e-mails. Of course, many students also skip a greeting altogether and launch immediately into their questions or requests. Over the last five years, I have noticed a rapid decline in the communication etiquette of students, especially when it comes to e-mail communication. It often seems that today’s text-sending, iPod™-wielding college generation has forgotten that there are real, live people on the other end of their e-mail exchanges. Although e-mail etiquette problems often are lamented at staff meetings, the issue is discussed much less in print.

Most colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to take public speaking and composition courses; many require coursework in these areas. Yet, there is not a similar emphasis on basic, everyday communication skills such as e-mail etiquette. While formal classes addressing everyday communication skills might not be on the near horizon, academic advisors can make an immediate and important contribution to improving students’ communication etiquette. Below are three simple ways advisors can lead this effort.

First, advisors must identify the rules; they must give advisees basic guidelines regarding proper e-mail etiquette. These guidelines may seem common sense, but that does not mean that they are always followed. Reminding students early of these guidelines will cause them to think twice when writing e-mails to faculty and staff in the future. Advisors should emphasize to students that they are free to address their friends in whatever way they please; however, students should take a more cautious, professional tone when addressing faculty and staff in e-mails. A university official should be treated with the same respect in an e-mail that the student would give in a face-to-face encounter. Here are several examples of “common sense” e-mail guidelines:

  • Include a subject line that clues the reader into the subject of an e-mail.
  • Begin with an appropriate salutation including the person’s name (“Dear Mrs. Smith” or “Hello Dr. Johnson”). Starting with “Hey” is inappropriate.
  • Include an adequate amount of background information. Even if the topic of a message has been addressed before, do not assume that the reader remembers the details. Give him or her a quick refresher at the beginning of the message.
  • Use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
  • Do not compose messages in all uppercase or all lowercase text.
  • Minimize (or preferably, eliminate) your use of emoticons and abbreviations.
  • Do not use text-message acronyms (“can u meet w me @12?”).
  • Proofread the message before you send to catch mistakes.
  • Double check the tone of your e-mail.
  • Respond in a timely manner: less than 24 hours is best.

Second, advisors must enforce the guidelines. In other words, an advisor must not hesitate to “call out” a student when the student sends an improper e-mail. For example, advisors should let students know when their e-mails look like text messages due to a lack of capitalization and/or punctuation. Advisors are doing a disservice to students if they respond to advisees’ poorly-written e-mails without acknowledging their lack of etiquette. Doing this sends the message that a student’s etiquette was appropriate, and therefore, suitable for future use. The way students address advisors, faculty members and staff now will most likely translate into how they address their employers in the future.

Finally, advisors must follow the same rules of proper communication etiquette; it is not enough for us to read and enforce the rules. In the hectic world of academic advising, it is easy for advisors to hit “send” on e-mails without a second glance. However, it is essential that advisors follow the guidelines listed above if they expect their students to do the same. Proper communication etiquette will bolster the credibility and professionalism of the daily contacts advisors have with their students. Furthermore, students will realize that their advisors were not just giving lip service to communication etiquette when they explained the guidelines. If advisors lead the way, students might just follow. Adherence to communication etiquette guidelines should help students leave the “Hey!” in the parking lot.

Marisa Gift
Academic Advisor
First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame
[email protected]

Applying the Concepts of Universal Design for Learning to Advising

Robert L. Hurt , California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Bob Hurt.jpgToday’s college students are the most diverse advisors have ever encountered; with that diversity comes the need to design advising experiences to meet certain fundamental goals while simultaneously ensuring that advising materials, delivery methods and interpersonal communication are accessible and meaningful to each student. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) offers advisors a framework for designing and delivering high-quality advising to students with varying backgrounds and learning styles. This article will first lay out some background about UDL, then focus on applying its principles in advising contexts.

UDL Background

UDL grew out of the broader architectural concept of universal design. The basic idea of universal design is straightforward: built environments should be usable by all people without the need for after-the-fact additions (Burgstahler, 2005). For example, rather than adding on accommodations for the disabled to an office building, the principles of universal design would advocate designing features into the office building to make it accessible from the start. As a result, the building would have maximum functionality for everyone and still be aesthetically pleasing and cost effective.

At its core, universal design is built around seven fundamental principles (Connell et al., 1997):

  1. Equitable use. The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  2. Flexibility in use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Simple and intuitive. Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Perceptible information. The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for error. The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Low physical effort. The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Size and space for approach and use. Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

The concepts of universal design can also be applied to the design, delivery and assessment of instructional materials in higher education. Izzo (2007) stated:

Universal design is an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit people of all learning styles without adaptation or retrofitting. Universal design provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information. Universal design allows the student to control the method of accessing information while the teacher monitors the learning process and initiates any beneficial methods.

Universal design for learning (UDL) is not about watering down curricula or expected student outcomes; students should still be challenged to think critically and master basic principles in their learning process. UDL is about breaking down barriers to student learning, making materials more accessible to all students.

Drawing on Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering and Gamson, 1991) and the ideas for universal design noted above, Izzo (2007) offered the following basic principles for UDL:

  1. Identify the essential course content.
  2. Clearly express the essential content and any feedback given to the student.
  3. Integrate natural supports for learning (i.e. using resources already found in the environment, such as a study buddy).
  4. Use a variety of instructional methods when presenting material.
  5. Allow for multiple methods of demonstrating understanding of essential course content.
  6. Use technology to increase accessibility.
  7. Invite students to meet/contact the course instructor with any questions/concerns.

Since, at its core, advising is a form of teaching, the principles of UDL can also be applied to advising contexts.

UDL and Advising

With respect to UDL and advising, Burgstahler (2006) stated:

Make sure everyone feels welcome, can get to the facility and maneuver within it, is able to access printed materials and electronic resources, and can participate in events and other activities. Train staff to support people with disabilities, respond to specific requests for accommodations in a timely manner, and know whom they can contact if they have disability-related questions.

Here are some simple, yet effective, ways to promote the principles of UDL in advising:

  1. Provide adequate physical space in advising offices for movement and maneuvering. Offices and rooms that look “uncrowded” are more inviting, in addition to being more accessible to everyone.
  2. Deliver advising information in a variety of ways: printed material, PowerPoint presentations, videos and via the Internet. Thus, students with diverse learning styles can choose their preferred method for accessing advising information.
  3. In preparing printed materials, use built-in “styles” to differentiate headings from text. Screen readers (software that converts printed material into spoken words) can then provide a list of main headings as a search tool, rather than reading an entire document to find one specific piece of information.
  4. Also for printed materials, use common fonts without embellishments to improve readability. For example, Arial text is much plainer than Times New Roman.
  5. Differentiate material based on position or shape, not on color. For example, in a sheet that lists students’ degree requirements, place all general education requirements on the right side of the page rather than printing them in blue text. While color distinctions may be visually appealing, they are not accessible to students with certain visual disabilities (such as color blindness).
  6. Allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. For example, some students may want to explain aloud the process for calculating a grade point average. Others may prefer to write down a series of steps; still others may demonstrate their mastery by preparing a computerized spreadsheet.

Those six ideas are just a beginning for applying UDL principles to advising. Advisors can dialogue amongst themselves and with students and other stakeholders, then apply their own sense of creativity to create advising environments that welcome and promote success for everyone.

Robert L. Hurt
Accounting Department
College of Business
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
[email protected]


Burgstahler, S. (2005). Universal design: Principles, process and applications. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Retrieved August 8, 2007 fromwww.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Programs/ud.html

Burgstahler, S. (2006). Equal access: Universal design of advising. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Retrieved August 15, 2007 fromwww.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Academics/equal_access_adv.html

Chickering, A. and Gamson, Z. (1991). Applying the seven principles of good practice for undergraduate education. Somerset, NJ : Jossey-Bass.

Connell, B. R., Jones, M., Mace, R., Mueller, J., Mullick, A., Ostroff, E., et al. (1997). The principles of universal design. Retrieved August 8, 2007, fromwww.design.ncsu.edu/cud/about_ud/udprincipleshtmlformat.html

Izzo, M. (2007). Fast facts for faculty: Universal design for learning. Retrieved August 15, 2007 from http://telr.osu.edu/dpg/fastfact/undesign.html.

Goal-Setting for Study Abroad Learning Outcomes

Jodi Malmgren, Study Abroad Advising Interest Group Chair

The NACADA Core Values challenge advisors to “help students establish realistic goals and objectives and encourage them to be responsible for their own progress and success” (NACADA, 2004). As advisors, we know that helping students to set goals and to monitor their progress assists them with achieving their desired educational outcomes.

Anastasia Kitsantas (2004) highlighted strong correlations between goal-setting and study abroad learning outcomes. Kitsantas surveyed her students about three goals for study abroad – enhanced cross-cultural skills, proficiency in the subject matter, and socializing – and tested two subsequent learning outcomes – cross cultural skill development and global understanding. In her study, students who set one of the two academic goals for their study abroad experience (rather than a purely social goal) were more likely to develop cross-cultural skills and gain deeper global understanding.

While Kitsantas’ research was limited to just a few goals and learning outcomes, her exciting results suggest two possible lines of inquiry: what are desirable study abroad learning outcomes and how might academic advisors encourage students to set goals to achieve those outcomes?

Study Abroad Learning Outcomes

How might we define desirable learning outcomes for study abroad participants? Categorizing learning outcomes into three areas can help students determine realistic goals for their study abroad. Categories and examples include:

Academic Learning Outcomes

  • Discipline-specific learning
  • Knowledge of norms and cultures of another country and its educational system
  • Language proficiency
  • Field research techniques
  • Career-related knowledge or contacts developed through an internship

Ability Learning Outcomes

  • Autonomy/self-direction
  • Confidence
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Flexibility

Attitudes/Awareness Learning Outcomes

  • Intercultural awareness and competence
  • Awareness of global issues
  • Ability to evaluate competing perspectives on global issues
  • Interest in community service/involvement
  • Appreciation of difference
  • Awareness of one’s own values and culture
  • New perspective on the U.S. and its role in the world

Goal-setting with Advisees

What questions might an advisor ask to assist students to set goals to achieve those learning outcomes? What kinds of experiences might an advisee seek out when choosing a study abroad program to reach these objectives?

Academic Learning Outcomes

Advisor Questions
Student experiences
Inquire whether students are choosing courses that duplicate what is offered on campus, or if they may choose courses that complement the on-campus curriculum. The advisee might enroll in a course abroad that takes advantage of local experts or that exposes students to a new perspective on their discipline of study.
Encourage students to make a “language pledge” to speak the host country language whenever possible. The student could choose a program that allows students to live with a host family to improve language proficiency.
Ask if advisees have considered doing an internship or field-based learning experience. An advisee might consider programs that offer out-of-classroom experience and make a point to follow up with individuals they meet.

Ability Learning Outcomes

Advisor Questions
Student experiences
Ask students what strategies can be used to get to know their host family or community. What steps will they take to learn more about the culture prior to going abroad and while living abroad? The student may wish to ask for recommendations about what to read or what films to see to learn more about the country of study and its culture.
Encourage advisees to plan a “weekly challenge” that requires them to gain a new skill, such as learning to grocery shop or finding a library. The advisee will want to take time to explore the adopted country and learn how to navigate the public transportation system.
Ask advisees how they will cope with a roommate or host family member whose political beliefs differ radically from their own. A student could try new foods and ask about local ingredients and food preparation.

Attitudes/Awareness Learning Outcomes

Advisor Questions
Student experiences
Ask advisees to think critically about their own norms and values and how those might differ from those in their host culture.
Many students choose to participate actively in the local community through volunteer work, an internship, or other activity.
Encourage advisees to read newspaper accounts of local and global issues while abroad and consider the political perspective of the journalist or newspaper.
An advisee could ask a professor for suggested reading written by a local author on a topic the student knows from an American perspective.
Share experiences with encountering cultural differences; note ways to navigate the unexpected.
Students often seek out ways to meet locals of different age groups and backgrounds and ask respectful questions about their perspectives.

Advisors often assist students with goal setting for study abroad, e.g., deciding where to study and what courses to take while abroad. Additionally, advisors should assist students with deeper goal setting that may help achieve the learning outcomes listed above. Although many of the outcomes above are expected to be natural results of a study abroad experience, Kitsantas’ research suggests that goal setting plays an important role. Advisors should challenge advisees to think deeply about their goals for study abroad and how they might best achieve those goals when they choose a program, while abroad, and as they reflect upon their experiences when they return.

StudyAbroadIG.jpgJodi Malmgren
Associate Director
Learning Abroad Center
University of Minnesota
[email protected]


Kitsantas, A. (2004). Studying abroad: The role of college students’ goals on the development of cross-cultural skills and global Understanding. College Student Journal 38 (3) 441-452.

NACADA. (2004). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. Retrieved September 21, 2007 from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising ResourcesWeb site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Core-Values-Exposition.htm

Shared Responsibilities, Shared Opportunities

Jennifer Joslin, LGBTA Concerns Commission Chair

Jennifer Joslin.jpgImagine a college or university in which students feel that no matter which staff member, advisor, or professor they approach, they have an equal chance of being assisted, nurtured or challenged -- no matter the issue, no matter the question. At this institution, the academic mission and the professional commitment to student welfare meshes seamlessly and is embraced by staff, faculty, and administrators. Here it is clear that everyone shares in the responsibility of the institution’s mission and reaps the involvement and engagement that results. Imagine an institution where shared responsibilities means academic and professional opportunities for students, staff, and faculty exist in abundance.

Where this description matches the institution’s mission, then many students, including lesbian, gay, transgender and queer-identified and allied (LGBTQA) students, receive the support and services they need to thrive as students, individuals, and citizens. If this is your campus, you know that shared goals and shared efforts create a crucible from which a different educational experience is possible for all students, including those who, on other campuses, might be the least involved and engaged.

On these inclusive campuses, the following is true:

  • Advisors are committed to ongoing diversity and educational programming that expands their comfort zones, challenges their stereotypes, encourages advocacy, and rewards cultural competency. Advisors are up-to-date on the histories of different campus populations and move fluidly in the nuances of those communities as they work with different students. Advisors frequently refer interested students to majors and programs that appeal to diverse populations and advocate for students when their life-experiences are not given voice in curricular development.
  • Advising offices and administratorssupport the integration of educational research into daily “best practices” and reward advisors who stretch themselves by implementing innovative programming. Electronic and print materials represent advisors and the larger academic community truthfully – a place where all students thrive in a respectful and engaging atmosphere. Advising administrators support Safe Zone programs, NACADA, and other professional development opportunities, as well as campus programming that benefits and nurtures advising professionals.
  • Institutional leaders and decision-makersadvocate for mission, vision, and non-discrimination statements that touch all members of the community such as students living with disabilities, LGBTQA students, and underrepresented minorities. The infrastructure of this campus supports fair and equitable practice in health care and benefits coverage. Individuals on this campus respond emphatically to hate crimes and mobilize campus-wide in response to their eruption. Leaders on this campus seek out and promote “best practices” in all areas of community life in order to better serve students, staff, and faculty.

But what if this is not your campus? How do you get there? How do you create the university or college where you have always wanted to work? At the University of Iowa, we are in the midst of reaccreditation and the air is alive with the talk of “learning outcomes” and “measurable goals.” Certainly, one of the many outcomes of the reaccreditation process will be reflection and recommitment to core values. As part of this process, our advising office will face directives from central administration; directives that will guide our next few years.

One step that we have taken in our office to meet the university-wide mandate is to create an Action Plan. The Action Plan encompasses our goals and dreams but also makes “best practice” a daily reality. An Action Plan is vital when goals are as complex as improving understanding of diversity and culturally competent practice. Action Plans account for short-term steps – Is our office environment welcoming to different campus communities? – to long-term practice – incorporating annual diversity programming into the advisor development program.

In February, NACADA will offer a Webinar that ties together diversity programming on LGBTQA issues and the opportunity to develop a concrete action plan for advisors and advising offices. Casey Self, NACADA Vice-President, and I will present an informative session for advisors and administrators that not only dispels stereotypes and myths about LGBTQA issues but offers tips for assessing current strategies for working with this population. Participants will be able to develop and submit an Action Plan for improving their work with LGBTQA students.

Imagine a campus where everyone understands that we share the larger responsibility for being good stewards to our community. Imagine a campus-wide understanding that in being knowledgeable, informed, responsible, and resourceful, we can see the future as one filled with opportunities. Ongoing programming, such as the LGBTQA Webinar and programming offered year-round at NACADA Regional and Annual Conferences, offers us an opportunity to learn, to understand more about one another, to connect, to share, and to become passionate about that of which we knew nothing a moment earlier. NACADA President Jennifer Bloom and Vice-President Casey Self have written about “paying it forward” as the theme they want to emphasize this year. LGBTA.jpgIn much the same way, our responsibilities and service to our community today will create amazing opportunities for all of us tomorrow. We will, over time, create the campus where we have always wanted to work.

Jennifer Joslin
Senior Associate Director
Academic Advising Center
The University of Iowa
[email protected]

The Impact of Policies and Environments upon Undecided Students

David B. Spight, Undecided and Exploratory Students Commission Chair 

David Spight.jpgThe effect of institutional policies and campus environments on advising undecided students is discussed within the Commission on Undecided/Exploratory Students membership through listservs, conference presentations, and informal conversations. Often the focus of the discussion is how students are served and how advisors deal with institutional policies and practices. The impact that institutional policies and environments can have upon our undecided students is considerable. As Lewallen (1995) explains, “some institutions are extremely supportive; others are indifferent or even nonsupportive. These approaches appear to have the potential to profoundly influence a student’s willingness to declare being undecided” (p.28-29). This article briefly examines some of the literature related to these topics.

College and university policies and practices may be responsible for some of the institutional pressures placed upon students. Many institutions strongly encourage, or even require, students to choose a major prior to or within their first year. Cuseo (2005) argues that “such institutional practice may discourage first-year students to remain undecided, while tacitly encourage them to make hasty decisions in order to meet institutional expectation that they should be ‘decided’ and housed in an academic department” (p. 35). When institutions promote early choices, they may place more importance upon organizational concerns than on the development of undecided students. Organizational change as a result of financial pressures and challenges also impacts undecided students as they face competing pressures to “join” particular majors as different departments attempt to recruit the same students to increase numbers. Or, equally concerning, students may be encouraged not to change majors to keep numbers more financially acceptable for departments. Titley and Titley (1980), however, believe that the needs of the students are sacrificed in these situations.

Additionally, college and university catalogs contribute to the institutional pressures undecided students may face. Institutional information distributed to students, Titley and Titley (1980) explain, “inherently imply that from among the many curricular offerings one ought to be able to make a choice” (p. 297). If academic program course requirements are too inflexible to allow and encourage exploration, students are forced to choose early or graduate late. These strict course requirements, Titley and Titley believe, can make students feel a sense of failure.

Many researchers contend that students need an environment that supports exploration, testing, and investigation of potential majors and/or careers. Most institutions, fortunately, offer support and assistance to undecided students (Lewallen, 1995). As Kramer, Higley, and Olsen (1994) explain, “advisors, academic administrators, and faculty can facilitate students’ academic progress by creating an institutional environment that promotes student exploration” (p. 96). Support should include assisting students with the development and implementation of decision-making skills, determining academic and career plans, and incorporating various related campus services in the process. Gordon (1995) notes that administrators should emphasize that “not declaring a major or career field when entering college is acceptable and for some students encouraged” (p. 50). Additionally, decided students should be afforded the same assistance provided to undecided students. As Berger (1967) claims, decided “students should be encouraged to consider an early choice to be tested, confirmed, or disconfirmed” (p. 888). Institutions must be intentional and purposeful when reorganizing campus environments that support and challenge students to examine, substantiate, or reject initial choices.

Advisors on some campuses may find it difficult to impact organizational structures or institutional policies. However, we can influence the environments in our own offices. Sometimes we focus too much attention upon which organizational structure will serve students best and forget that, regardless of structure, we can provide the kind of service and support that our uncertain and exploratory students need. Consider how we can create a place where students, whether undecided or decided, can examine, explore, or confirm potential majors. Our active involvement in professional organizations, discussions with colleagues, and participation in research and development can provide additional resources that can impact our campus policies and environments.

David B. Spight
Transitional Advising Center
College of Natural Sciences
The University of Texas at Austin
[email protected]


Berger, E.M. (1967). Vocational choices in college. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 45, 888-894.

Cuseo, J. (2005). “Decided,” “undecided,” and “in transition”: Implications for academic advisement, career counseling & student retention. In R.S. Feldman (Ed.). Improving the first year of college: Research and practice. (pp.27-48). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Gordon, V.N. (1995). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge. (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Thomas.

Kramer, G.L., Higley, H.B., & Olsen, D. (1994). Changes in academic major among undergraduate students. College and University, 69(2), 88-98.

Lewallen, W.C. (1995). Students decided and undecided about career choice: A comparison of college achievement and student involvement. NACADA Journal, 15(1), 22-30.

Titley, R.W., & Titley, B.S. (1980). Initial choice of college major: Are only the “undecided” undecided? Journal of College Student Personnel, 21, 293-298.

Advising First Generation College Students

Joseph E. Murray, First-Generation College Student Advising Interest Group Chair, Miami University Hamilton Campus 
Ila Schauer, Prairie View A&M University
Chris Bennett Klefeker , Miami University Hamilton Campus

As we continue to study First Generation College Students, we become increasingly aware of several subgroups within this special population of students. We can identify adult students with family and job responsibilities, those who are among the first in their families to be born in this country, and foster care alumni who are aging out of the foster care system as three subgroups advisors can assist. Each of these groups faces particular issues as they seek a college education. A closer look at these students reveals special needs that academic advisors must take into account if they are to provide these students with the care they require to succeed.

Adult Students

Much has been written about adult students who face special hurdles while striving to get the education they need to better their lives. Cook (2004) notes that the American Council on Education report on low income students includes a profile of low-income adult students and the challenges they face. Often these adult college students must study after the children are in bed and they themselves are tired from the day. The combination of school and family adds a level of stress seldom faced by traditional-aged students. Many adult students work full-time and find that required courses may not be offered at times compatible with their work schedules. They often are faced with the decision to leave school, enroll in online courses, or take a part-time job and borrow money.

First Generation Born in the Country

There is a small body of literature that discusses the special requirements of students whose parents immigrated to the U.S. and Canada. There are obvious issues when the country’s primary language is not spoken in the home and students must move between two cultures. These issues can be compounded when advisors apply theories of identity development in college students to these students. Alessandra and Nelson (2005) illuminate the challenges these students face in constructing a sense of self while dealing with their parents’ attempt to incorporate the values, language and customs of their home country. Therefore, these students may feel some identity confusion as they try to fit in on the college campus.

Conversely, Alessandra and Nelson (2005) found that students who are the children of immigrants scored higher on self-esteem scales than students whose parents were born in the U.S. Alessandra and Nelson speculated that the action of moving from a familiar country to another culture requires high self-esteem. Thus, these parents may demonstrate a high resilience; their children’s ethnic pride may be a positive rather than a negative factor on the college campus.

However, Fry (2002) reports that while Latino students enroll in college at a very high rate, they are far less likely to graduate than students from any other ethnicity. Many Latino students choose to attend part-time, attend two-year schools, and attend at a later age than their peers. Thus, they face powerful forces in their communities, their families and their checkbooks. Fry points to a lack of support systems and underfunded high schools as two possible reasons for this low graduation rate.

Foster care alumni

Foster youth who “age out” of the foster care system are often left out of the mix when it comes to college applications. While the “system” possibly addresses their problems in terms of money (and indeed scholarships are important), readiness for college, a place to live, counseling, and connections are all necessary for college success. Wolanin (2005) noted that programs addressing independent living support for foster children are serving only about half of those eligible.

Burley and Halpern (2001) suggest that only about half of foster youth complete high school; thus the stage is set for low college entrance rates even though as many as 70% of foster youth want to go to college (Wolanin, 2005). These students are fully aware that a college education is necessary for their success, but often their secondary school experience is a large deficit; their lack of knowledge regarding the application, admission, and financial assistance for college is a challenge many are unable to surmount (Wolanin, 2005).

Once the fortunate few foster care alumni make it to a college campus, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory. College can be overwhelming for those not equipped with the independent living skills necessary for college success. These students do not know where to seek help and many are hesitant to ask for it. Maturity issues, poverty, absence of support systems, unfamiliarity with the procedures, and lack of assistance from colleges—all add up to confusion and uncertainty for these foster care alumni. Indeed, under 2% of these young people receive a bachelor’s degree within a few years of their emancipation (Casey Family, 2006).

What can be done to help these students?

While the issues raised in this article need more study, academic advisors should be familiar with the programs that effectively address the outlined problems. Outstanding examples are the TRIO and McNair Scholars programs, which are federal education programs designed to target students from disadvantaged backgrounds and help support and motivate them to continue their education. Hahs-Vaughn (2004) noted that first generation students need to be connected to academic and social support programs before they go to college; programs such as Upward Bound work with these students even in elementary or secondary school. Mentoring programs are vitally important for first generation students and are especially valuable for the aforementioned subgroups.

Community colleges can serve a common starting point for these students. More pro-active agreements between community colleges and universities can be of great value to these students.


The First Generation College Student Interest Group continues to explore ways to advise and support students; one way to do this is to study the issues which affect them. This article has touched briefly on three subgroups within this special population. Obviously each of these groups merits their own research to explore not only their needs but also the strengths they demonstrate.

Ila Schauer
Professional Advisor
Prairie View A&M University
[email protected]

Joseph E. Murray
Director for Academic Advising and Retention
Miami University Hamilton Campus
[email protected]

Chris Bennett Klefeker
Academic Adviser and Retention Specialist
Miami University Hamilton Campus
[email protected]


Allesandria, K. P. and Nelson, E. (Jan/Feb 2005). Identity development and self-esteem of first-generation American college students: An exploratory study. Journal of College Student Development.

Burley, M and Halpern M. (2001). Educational Attainment of Foster Youth : Achievement and Graduation Outcomes for Children in State Care. Washington State Institute for Public Policy. Retrieved November 2, 2007 from www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/FCEDReport.pdf

Casey Family Programs. (2006). It’s my life: Postsecondary education and training. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs.

Cook, B. with J.E. King, A.P. Carnevale and D.M. Desrochers. (Feb 2004). Low-Income Adults in Profile: Improving Lives Through Higher Education. American Council on Education, Center for Policy Analysis.

Fry, R. ( September 5, 2002 ). Latinos in higher education: Many enroll, too few graduate. Pew Hispanic Center.

Hahs-Vaughn, D. (2004). The impact of parents’ education level on college students: An analysis using the beginning postsecondary students’ longitudinal study 1990-92/94.Journal of College Student Development.

Wolanin, T.R. (December 2005). Higher education opportunities for foster youth: A primer for policymakers. The Institute for Higher Education Policy.

The Healthy Advisor

Lee Kem, Joe DeBella, and William Koenecke, Murray State University

The CAS Standards for Academic Advising (2005) direct advisors to “exhibit personal behaviors that promote a healthy lifestyle” and “exhibit behaviors that advance a healthy campus and community” (p.3). There are five major areas in which we can be healthy role models.


Advising is stressful! Registration, students experiencing academic difficulty, advising, mentoring, and committees can add up to high levels of stress. Depersonalization, isolation, and insulation from others are common problems for advisors. Ever increasing and fluctuating professional demands can result in feelings of powerlessness leading to physical and mental exhaustion. “Many advisors (and teachers) find the demands of being a professional educator in today’s schools difficult and at times stressful” (Wood, McCarthy, 2002). Eustress is a normal response to events, but high levels of stress can be detrimental to well-being. Stress involves the stressor, frequency and duration of the stressor, and our response. “When the stress response occurs too frequently or is long term, those stress hormones that were meant to save your life actually harm you” (Colbert, 2007, p. 229). “Events perceived as potential threats trigger the stress response, a series of physiological changes that occur when coping capacities are seriously challenged” (Wood & McCarthy, 2002).

Stress indicates an imbalance between demands and resources for coping with them (Wood & McCarthy, 2002). Symptoms include anxiety, frustration, lowered performance, and interpersonal difficulties.

Stress Management Steps

How can we model dealing with stress? First, identify things over which we do and do not have control. Kem (2006) lists some ways to take control of the first area. Covey (2004) lists three steps for gaining control of stress:

  1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for an external plan developed by others! “…as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions” (Covey, 2004, p. 71). Advisors must be proactive and accept responsibility for our behavior and choices. Choices must be made based on principles and values rather than on moods or circumstances.
  2. “Begin with the end in mind” Covey (2004) utilizes the principle that “all things are created twice” (p. 99). First, it’s created in the mind and then created physically. The future is shaped by creating a mental vision to manage stress. Begin by developing a personal mission statement or philosophy/creed. “…Focuses on what you want to be (character) and do (contributions and achievements) and on your values or principles upon which being and doing are based” (Covey, 2004, p. 106).
  3. “Do first things first” (Covey, 2004). This is the practical fulfillment of steps one and two. Decide to be in charge, create a mental vision of the outcome and put the plan into action.


The mission statement for physical health includes sleeping, eating, and exercising. Adequate sleep, generally between seven to nine hours each night, repairs the body and prepares it for the day. The heart rate is slowed down, blood pressure is decreased, and muscles relaxed (Meeks, 2007; Atkinson, 2007).

The goal for healthy eating is to achieve a good ratio of body fat. This reduces hypertension, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides and elevates low HDL, decreases cholesterol, and increases glucose tolerance (Wardlow, 2006). Healthy eating means breakfast fit for a king/queen; lunch fit for a prince/princess; and dinner fit for a pauper. Six small meals each day is the best option. Appropriate meals include fruit and vegetables with very little flour and sugar.

Exercise is essential for a healthy body. Movement is the key in three essential areas:

  1. increased cardio-respiratory endurance. Aerobic activities lower heart rate, increase heart stroke volume, and increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood (Mood, Musker, & Rink, 2003).
  2. muscular strength and endurance, achieved through resistance training using free weights or weight machines. Benefits include increased muscle mass, decreased fat mass, increased metabolism, increased bone density, improved body image, self-esteem, self-confidence, elevated moods, improved insulin effectiveness, and enhanced weight loss/management (Hales, 2006).
  3. flexibility - range of joint motion. Leads to reduced stress/tension, relaxed muscles, and improved posture/symmetry; prevents lower back pain, muscle soreness, and helps prevent injuries (Anspaugh, Hamrick, & Rosate, 2006).

No time for the gym? Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week using common items in the office or home will produce equal benefits. In the office: sit up straight in a chair, stand up, and sit back down in the chair several times, repeating this process until the heart rate has increased. Park at the far end of the parking lot and briskly walk to the office. Many advisors exercise together by walking before school, during their lunch time, and/or after work. A fast-paced walk provides many health benefits and walking together provides a support team.

Caution: consult your physician prior to engaging in any exercise program.


Good mental health is attitude, attitude, and attitude! Our attitude toward an event may cause stress. The pessimist looks for difficulty in every opportunity, while the optimist looks for the opportunity in every difficulty.

Remain interested and curious. The famous quote attributed to Dorothy Parker notes that “the cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity” (Lopez, 2007). To enhance life-long mental functioning, continue to read, think, be curious and open to new experiences. Mental well-being includes accepting what cannot be changed and working on what can be changed.

Acknowledge that some things are beyond our control. For those areas within our control, learn to say no! Refuse to take on too many responsibilities and unnecessary activities. The essence of time management is: “Organize and execute around priorities” (Covey, 2004, p. 149).


Focusing on the present moment can be “a potentially powerful antidote to the common causes of daily stress” (Colbert, 2007, p. 234). Find something to enjoy in the present moment that relates to what you are presently seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling. This minimizes frustration. The social component of a support program, someone with whom to talk, is essential for well being. Find a group that you feel comfortable talking with and sharing common experiences (National Mental Health Association, 2006).


Research supports the concept that a spiritual connection (meditation, reflection, contemplation and prayer) can result in lowered levels of stress and illness. Studies have found that meditation improves the immune system and helps ward off illnesses. Be consistent and include time for this type of relaxation.


Advising is an awesome responsibility and privilege in today’s educational climate. To be a good role model, learn to reduce stress, exercise regularly, eat properly, and think positively. Advisors who have mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body) will live longer, feel better, and be more effective during their careers.

Lee Kem
Murray State University
[email protected]

Joe DeBella
Murray State University

William Koenecke
Murray State University


Anspaugh, D., Hamrick, M., & Rosato, F. (2000). Wellness concepts and applications. (4th ed). Boston, MA: The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.

Atkinson, H. (2005). Getting adequate (and high-quality) sleep. Retrieved May 14, 2007 from www.everydayhealth.com/publicsite/index.aspx?puid=86d4f17f-5f84-4c10-ad51-b98f265dfa30

Colbert, D. (2007). The seven pillars of health. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam.

Council for the Advancement of Standards ( CAS ). (2005). Academic Advising: CAS Standards and Guidelines. Retrieved September 9, 2007 from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Standard.htm.

Covey, S.R., 2004. The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York: Free Press.

Hales, D. (2006). An invitation to health brief. (4th ed). Belmont, CA : Thompson Wadsworth.

Kem, L. (2006). WWDD – What would Dorothy do. Academic Advising Today,30(1): 7.

Lopez, J. (2007). 16 best Dorothy Parker quotes. Retrieved September 21, 2007 fromwww.associatedcontent.com/article/202557/16_best_dorothy_parker_quotes_.html

Meeks, L., & Page, R. (2007). Comprehensive school health education: Totally awesome strategies for teaching health. (5th ed). New York, N : McGraw-Hill.

Mood, D., Musker, F., & Rink, J. (2003). Sports and recreational activities. (13th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

National Mental Health Association. (2006). Stress - Coping with everyday problems. Retrieved September 19, 2007 from www1.nmha.org/infoctr/factsheets/41.cfm

Wardlow, G. & Smith, A. (2006). Contemporary nutrition (6th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Wood, T. & McCarthy, C. (2002). Understanding and preventing teacher burnout. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from www.vtaide.com/png/ERIC/Teacher-Burnout.htm.

Academically Advanced, Developmentally Ill-Equipped: Helping Young Advanced Student Find Their Places

Danielle Tisinger and Julie Murphy, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Colleges and universities nationwide report increasing numbers of students who arrive on campus with an abundance of college credits already earned (Resiberg, 1998; Barry, 2004). There are a variety of ways in which high school students accumulate college credit, but no matter how the credits were earned, our experience has taught us that these students will face a number of challenges as they acclimate to the academe. Advisors should know how they can help students overcome these challenges.

How Credits are Earned

  • Students may earn credit by passing Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams. In 2006, President Bush pledged to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science (Bush, 2006); institutions are likely to see an increase in the number of AP courses completed during high school.
  • Increasingly, students may complete college courses while in high school, as many states have developed pre-college, credit bearing programs. One example of such a program is Minnesota ’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, through which 7,000 high school juniors and seniors earned college credit in 2006. Students may register for full-time credit loads while in the program, giving some an excess of 60 college credits before they graduate from high school.

Challenges for Students

In our work with PSEO students, we have observed that many academically advanced students face developmental challenges:

  • Academically-advanced students often do not make intentional choices about coursework or potential majors, nor do they reflect upon their pre-college experiences in such a way to help them navigate developmental milestones in a healthy and purposeful way.
  • Students who fulfill general requirements with pre-college credits often choose advanced classes simply because they provide a challenging way to fulfill high school requirements or because they provide “free” college credit.
  • Academically-advanced students sometimes have trouble meeting same-age peers to whom they can relate, and many young students struggle with issues of anxiety and perfectionism as they attempt to compete with their older classmates before they are developmentally ready.
  • Many academically-advanced students have high ambitions of pursing graduate or professional degrees, but are denied admission immediately upon graduating college because they lack the maturity and life experience that admission boards value.
  • Students who have received many of their pre-college credits through an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate program may not be prepared for the actual college classroom experience.

How Advisors Can Help

Recognize and name the challenges. Administrators, faculty, advisors, parents and academically-advanced students themselves are often unaware that arriving at college with an abundance of credits can pose challenges. In fact, these students are also identified as high-achievers who do not need additional help, since they are academically successful. Identify these students early and understand that they may need help without realizing it. Advisors should become aware of the struggles such students may face in their institutions. Identification of potential challenges to these students and early referral can help these students cope with challenges.

Encourage intentional career exploration.Advisors can help students intentionally reflect on what they have learned about disciplines and about themselves in pre-college classes by asking open ended, probing questions. Encourage students to participate in career workshops and panels and to take career exploration courses.

Remind students that education is not a race.Encourage students to view their abundance of credits as a chance to “buy time” for career and personal exploration rather than putting them a “lap ahead” of their peers in race to the graduation finish line. Encourage studying abroad, joining a student group, or completing an internship to gain hands-on experience in non-academic settings while still working toward a degree.

Graduate school is the new undergrad.Some students believe that they can best explore their career options in graduate programs. These students can be disappointed that graduate programs are specialized; some struggle to find a good career fit post-graduation. Help students identify future plans before committing to more school out of fear of the “real world”.

Involve parents as allies. Parents of academically-advanced students are often very involved in students’ academic and personal lives beyond high school graduation. Involve parents in developmentally-appropriate ways; educate them about developmental milestones that their students will face in college and how they can be allies for their students.

Educate yourself about mental health issues and perfectionism. Many academically-advanced students face extreme pressure from their families and/or themselves to move through their education at an increased pace e.g., taking the maximum number of credits allowed each semester. Anxiety disorders, substance abuse, depression, and problems with perfectionism can develop in these students. Advisors should be aware of the basic indicators of mental health issues and be prepared to refer students to mental health services on campus when student issues are beyond their professional expertise.

Base your work in theory.Advisors should incorporate career development theories into their every day work with students. For example, in her model of career exploration, Molly Schaller (2005) explains that students move through four important stages of exploration, including random exploration, focused exploration, tentative choices, and commitment. Advisors should help academically advanced students progress through these stages at developmentally appropriate times and encourage them to return to focused exploration when they feel that their choice of major or career does not fit.

Collaborate with other campus services. Advisors should help others on campus understand the challenges facing academically-advanced students; collaborate with other student affairs professionals to better assist students. Advisors and other campus staff should continually evaluate college policies and requirements (e.g., when should students be required to declare a major).


The college experience plays a fundamental role in a student’s personal development. We believe that increased accessibility to pre-college, credit-bearing options indicates that the number of students who earn pre-college credits will continue to grow. This continued growth will challenge higher education institutions to find ways to meet the needs of these younger college students. The most successful students will be those whose college educations help them make intentional decisions about their classes, majors, and careers in conjunction with successful evolution through developmental stages.

Danielle Tisinger
Pre-College Programs
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
[email protected] 

Julie Murphy
Pre-College Programs
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
[email protected] 


Barry, T. (October 11, 2004). Credit to the future. StandardNET. Retrieved October 2, 2007 from www.schools.utah.gov/curr/concuren/Credit_to_the_future.pdf.

Bush, G.W. (2006). State of the union address by the president. Retrieved August 23, 2007 from www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2006/.

Reisberg, L. (June 26, 1998). Some professors question programs that allow high-school students to earn college credits. The Chronicle of Higher Educatio n. Retrieved October 2, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/che-data/articles.dir/art-44.dir/issue-42.dir/42a03901.htm.

Helkowski, C. and Sheahan, M. (May-June 2004). Too sure too soon: When choosing should wait. About Campus, 9 (2): 19-23.

Schaller, M. A. (August 2005). Wandering and wondering: Traversing the uneven terrain of the second college year. About Campus, 8 (3).

Annual Conference a Huge Success!

Over 3100 colleagues came to Baltimore October 18-21 to share information on current advising topics. To paraphrase one participant: “Thanks for putting on a spectacular conference. As a newbie to NACADA, and a relatively new professional in Student Affairs, I appreciated the breadth and depth provided in the sessions;and especially enjoyed the welcoming NACADA veterans that made me feel at home.


Opening keynote speaker Patrick Terenzini (co-author of the two-volume series How College Affects Students) discussed From Myopia to Systemic Thinking.

It was announced during the Opening General Session that Charlie Nutt will succeed Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty as Executive Director of the Association. Congratulations, Charlie! Retiring Executive Director Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty was honored with a plaque and other items.


During the second General Session, outgoing NACADA President Susan Campbell passed the gavel to incoming President Jennifer BloomSharon Fries-Britte gave the second plenary address.

The 2007 NACADA Award recipients were honored at a special Awards Ceremony and Reception. Pictures of all recipients will soon be available on the Awards Website.


After Conference hours, attendees enjoyed the numerous nearby dining and entertainment opportunities. Congratulations to the Conference Committee:Stacy Woycheck (Chair), Bill Elliott, Karen Lewis Law, Susan Fread, Bruce Norris, Karen Archambault, Paulette Lail Kashiri, Bethany Spore, Paula Ashby, and Kathie Sindt– along with Conference Director Nancy Barnes– for a job well done!


And thanks to “Pirate Bill” for providing for the photo ops!

We look forward to seeing everyone next year in CHICAGO!

Dear Members,

In a recent conversation with an advising colleague, the question of what makes a good job applicant arose. Those of us in jobs that we love don’t often think about other people who are less satisfied or have a desire to move on or upward in their career. Therefore, we may not be aware when it comes to knowing what the most-sought-after qualities and skills are in today’s job market. There are hard skills and soft skills to consider.

An Internet search produced many sites with good information. This article addresses what I found to be the most desirable qualities for any job candidate, either someone just out of college or with many years of experience. Many of these skills and qualities have also been reported in the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2007 survey, which is available for purchase online.

Hard Skills

Computer skills – Demonstrable competence with multiple software programs. A decade ago, having solid working knowledge of common software programs topped the list of desired skills. In today’s job market, it is assumed that a candidate knows how to accomplish duties using a variety of programs.

Soft Skills

The soft qualities of an individual are not as easy to discern in a prospective employee. These are the skills that are, in today’s marketplace, more highly regarded and desirable. They include individual characteristics that are learned or adopted as a person matures. In no particular order, they are:

  • Honesty/Integrity
  • Strong Work Ethic
  • Flexibility/Adaptability
  • High Attention to Details
  • Interpersonal Skills (relating well to others)
  • Teamwork Skills (working well with others)
  • Communication Skills (verbal and written)
  • Strong Analytical Skills

In addition to these skills, there are other indicators that interviewers look for that are much more subtle. In an interview setting, candidates will be scrutinized for evidence of such factors as:

  • Awareness of the image they are presenting
  • Appropriate emotional maturity
  • Sound decision-making
  • Focused energy and enthusiasm for the work
  • Follow-through and completion of various tasks
  • Personal values that mesh with those of the organization

I hope these qualities and skills are food for thought. Whether you are seeking a new job or reevaluating your current one, it’s important to understand and appreciate what employers are looking for in new employees.

Katie Davis
Chair, Member Career Services Committee
Fielding Graduate University
[email protected]

Sparkler banner.jpg

It takes but one SPARK to ignite the flame for an idea. Does your campus have an unusual or exceptional process or program that could spark an idea on another campus? If so, tell us about it in 350 words or less.  Send your 'Sparkler' to [email protected] 

In this edition, we share SPARKLERS from Texas Tech UniversityVirginia Tech, and Rutgers University.

Rebecca Daly Cofer tells us that Texas Tech University wanted to offer specific academic counseling and tutoring services to a population historically overlooked in higher education, students with disabilities. “While all campuses are required, by law, to provide academic accommodations to students with disabilities, our university wanted to provide additional services and target an even more specific and very much prevalent portion of this population,” Rebecca explains. In the fall of 1999, Texas Tech created the TECHniques Center, a fee-for-service academic enhancement program for students with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; it is part of Student Disability Services. The TECHniques Center began with a very small group of approximately twenty students and two academic counselors. Since then, it has increased in both its size and the amount of services it offers. The TECHniques Center, exactly eight years after its inception, has 125 students and six counselors. Not included in these numbers are the students put on a waiting list to become part of this program. In addition to academic assistance with counselors, the Center also provides assistive technology that is not available to all students in the Student Disability Services Department. “Often said to be the backbone of the program, though,” Rebecca points out, “are the peer tutors that are trained to work with students with learning differences. The TECHniques Center is one of only a few in the nation that works only with students with learning disabilities and ADHD. Our counselors and staff provide specialized services to this population with the goal to provide individualized service and attention. While the Center certainly has more students request admittance to its program, our department wishes to keep its numbers small, with a ratio of twenty-five students for every counselor.” The goal of the program is not only to help students achieve success in college, but also to achieve success beyond college, providing a philosophy of self-advocacy. Counselors and tutors also stress organization and time management skills so the students’ success continues beyond Texas Tech. Currently, the TECHniques Center is acquiring additional space and cutting-edge technology to facilitate the increasing number of students coming into the program. For more information, contact Rebecca at [email protected].

Karen Watson tells us that at Virginia Tech the Math Emporium, “a 500 computer mathematics lab, open 24/7, located two blocks off campus, is where courses in geometry and calculus with trigonometry or matrices are taught in a self-paced on-line learning environment to a majority of VT students.” Karen, from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, along with colleagues in six colleges/units, collaborated to provide more than two hundred students with the Math Empo Tempo, an academic advising program – a panel of students and professors who discuss with the students the “tempo” and strategies that can be used to be successful in this learning environment. “Academic advisors at VT,”says Karen, “ not always prepared to teach strategies for completing these courses, know there are very few alternatives to math at the Emporium.” Students are oriented to the Emporium the first week of classes and then provided tutoring and instructor assistance on the computer floor for about 14 hours a day; professors lead information sessions weekly. Watson and her colleagues provide the tempo program two weeks into the semester after the students have had time to experience the Emporium. Panel members are “peer mentors” who talk about the strategies, such as time management, that they used to overcome their struggles to learn math at the Emporium. Also on the panel are faculty who teach math at the Emporium and a math tutor and/or professional from the Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence (CAEE) who advise students on course procedures and the tutoring resources available both at the Emporium and CAEE. The panel members stress that the key strategy is spending more than an hour or two a week studying math, especially for those students who say they can’t teach themselves math. They contrast the time spent in the Emporium with the time students spend attending class and completing homework for a classroom based math course. Short cuts, such as skipping the learning modules and using the practice quizzes to study for the weekly quiz are discussed by the panel. CAEE professionals also address the impact of negative self-talk, “I can’t teach myself math,” on their academic success at the Emporium. For more information, contact Karen at [email protected].

Julie A. Traxler of Rutgers University tells us that a key part of her advising conversations with undecided students is a referral to major departments. Julie says that she had long felt confident in her ability to refer students effectively, but while collecting data for her doctoral research, she discovered that she may not be as effective as she had assumed. Julie recalls, “I had seen Elizabeth for advising and referred her to the Physics department to discuss the major. As part of my interview study, I asked her about the conversation I assumed had taken place; she blushed. ‘Maybe it was just me,’ she said, ‘but I just feel uncomfortable [approaching an advisor]… you don’t know what to ask, ‘cause you want help, but you don’t know what kind of help you need’.” It was an Aha! Moment for Julie. “I had been communicating the who and where,” she says, “but not the what and why of the contact. And that lack had hampered my ability to assist students in getting crucial information.” Julie asked colleagues to help develop a set of questions for undecided students to ask, and together they created a Referral Card for advisors. This 4x6 card has the advising office contact information and space to write referral information on the front. Discussion prompts are printed on the back:

Some Suggested Questions for Major Advisors:

  • What courses would you suggest I take to try out this major?
  • Are there any prerequisites to declare the major?
  • What are the required courses?
  • Does this department offer special programs or opportunities for its majors, like study abroad, internships, or research experience?
  • How does your major differ from other similar majors?
  • What kinds of course assignments and types of testing are typical for your courses?
  • Is there a student club or organization associated with the department?
  • What types of careers do students in your major pursue?
  • What is your favorite thing about

Julie concludes, “I review the questions with students and encourage them to write down additional questions that they have. The card ensures that they leave my office with knowledge about with whom and how to make contact, and more importantly, a start to the conversation.” For more information, contact Julie at [email protected].  


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one!

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.
Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.