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Voices of the Global Community


How to Promote Global Citizenry Outside of the Classrooms: At the Local, National, and International Levels

Yung-Hwa Anna Chow, Washington State University

AnnaChow.jpgCentral to the formation of a democracy is the challenge of producing responsible citizens and life-long learners who can critically think and analyze issues that are vital to our society, a practice that results from a commitment to critical pedagogy. Educators such as Paulo Freire believed that education plays an important role in building a democratic society and that through critical pedagogy students are empowered to effect social change. As our world becomes a global community, the significance of producing globally-competent citizens is turning into a hot topic on university and college campuses. As academic advisors move away from a “service”-oriented role to that of a “teacher” (2006), we also need to fulfill our duty in the name of critical pedagogy. As stated in the Preamble of the NACADA Concept of Academic Advising,

Academic advising is integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of higher education. Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community. Academic advising engages students beyond their own world views, while acknowledging their individual characteristics, values, and motivations as they enter, move through, and exit the institutions (2006).

With the global turn and the ever-increasing demands to produce informed and critically-aware citizens, the guiding question for twenty-first century advisors must be: how do we, as academic advisors, connect the need for producing responsible citizens and life-long learners to our global community? I propose that there are at least three ways to fulfill that goal at the local, national, and international levels: 1) Students can utilize lectures, plays, and other public events offered on their campuses; 2) The National Student Exchange Program offers a wide variety of opportunities in various locales and for cultural perspectives within the U.S.; 3) The study abroad program offers international development of cross-cultural awareness in a global society. The role of advisors, then, is to utilize these tools and mold our students into critical thinkers and active participants in our global society.

The foundation of building a democracy through global citizenry is the ability to critically analyze and question social inequalities. West (2004) believes that democracy stems from the Socratic commitment to seek out injustices, which “requires a relentless self-examination and critique of institutions of authority, motivated by an endless quest for intellectual integrity and moral consistency” (p. 16). On university and college campuses, students can strive for conscious citizenry through attending lectures, plays, and exhibits that educate the public about social inequalities such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. The “Tunnel of Oppression” exhibit is a great way to encourage student participation. Each year, many campuses assemble this interactive exhibit that allows students to explore topics related to gender, race, disability, and global violence (www.livingat.wsu.edu/hdrl/events/tunnel.asp). As participants walk through the tunnel, they are confronted with various displays of social issues. Exhibits such as this function as a first step towards inquiry and thus encourage responsible citizenry.

At the national level, the National Student Exchange Program is a great tool that allows students to further their knowledge of global citizenry in another part of the U.S. or in Canada. Students can choose to study for a semester or a year at another institution that provides the opportunity to experience other perspectives through a new location. For example, a black student from a mostly-white college might gain a new perspective by attending a historically black college. For another student committed to the fight against global warming, a semester at the University of Alaska Southeast might provide hands-on experiences in environmental studies (nse.org/exchange/whynse/). Issues, such as racism and environmental deterioration, are abundant within our culture. Advisors should encourage student use of tools such as the NSE to explore ways they can address these societal challenges.

Authors in the NACADA Study Abroad Interest Group newsletter note that, “the Senator Simon Act seeks to have 10 million American students studying abroad within 10 years with a substantial increase in study abroad participation to developing nations” (2007). In today’s global society, education is no longer bounded by space. The opportunity to go to a different part of the world can be a life-changing experience for students. A class on global violence taught at the University of Ghana would be very different than the same class taught in the U.S. Students interested in learning more about race, class, or gender issues might want to learn more about how these societal factors play out abroad. For example, how is race defined differently in Australia or China? Through the study abroad program, students gain firsthand insight into these global issues and further their educations as global citizens.

A democracy cannot exist without responsible citizens attuned to injustices at the local, national, and international levels. I believe that academic advisors must support our democracy, embrace our role as teachers, and make a commitment to critical pedagogy. Through good advising, we can cultivate global citizenship in and out of classrooms. Local opportunities such as the Tunnel of Oppression are helpful to all students but especially helpful for students who face budgetary constraints. I challenge academic advisors to search for ways we can help further our students’ journeys to become responsible global citizens. I hope that the various routes presented in this article will inspire advisors to meet our obligations to make our democracy stronger.

Yung-Hwa Anna Chow
General Studies and Advising Center
Washington State University
[email protected]


NACADA concept of academic advising. (2006). National Academic Advising Association. Retrieved June 25, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm.

NACADA Study Abroad Interest Group newsletter. (2007) National Academic Advising Association. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/interestgroups/C38/documents/C38-Newsletter2007Vol2-1.pdf.

The tunnel of oppression. Washington State University, Housing, dining, and residence life. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from www.livingat.wsu.edu/hdrl/events/tunnel.asp.

Thurmond, K and Nutt, C. (2006) Academic advising syllabus: Advising as teaching in action. National Academic Advising Association. Retrieved June 25, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Webinars/documents/W02Handout.pdf.

West, C. (2004) Democracy matters: Winning the fight against imperialism. New York: Penguin Books.

Why exchange? National Student Exchange. Retrieved July 1, 2008 from https://nse.org/exchange/whynse/.

From the President: Celebration and Challenge in NACADA's 30th Year

Casey Self, NACADA President 


There is nothing more exciting and rejuvenating for me than attending a NACADA Annual Conference with over 3500 of you in a wonderful city! I know you will join with me in thanking the host committee, numerous NACADA volunteers, conference presenters, and the NACADA Executive Office staff for an outstanding job in pulling off the largest NACADA Annual Conference ever. This Association is truly remarkable in the caliber of individuals who make it the best Association and best Conference.

I also wish to extend my gratitude and thanks to all the NACADA Leaders for helping make our members feel that they matter and are appreciated for the roles they play on our campuses. One of the best parts of NACADA is the networking opportunities available through numerous meetings, socials, and presentations at our conferences, seminars, and institutes.

Our second class of the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program was also inducted in Chicago. Though I was not able to spend time with them as a group, I feel honored that I have already been invited and accepted into their Facebook group. If I accomplish nothing else as president, at least I am going to learn how to use some of this new social networking technology I keep hearing about! I mean, how cool do I feel with all my new Facebook “friends”!

I would like to mention two final thanks regarding our Chicago Conference. Thanks to all the participants who met on Thursday evening for our first ever NACADA Common Reading event. Wow! What terrific discussions and insightful comments from the panel members, participants and organizers! I highly recommend this exercise to you all at future NACADA Conferences! Finally, I want to thank fellow NACADA Board member Terry Musser from Penn State University. Terry coordinated two first-time processes that allowed NACADA Leadership to receive feedback from our members on their perspectives regarding benefits of being a NACADA member and suggestions for improvements. We will all benefit from this feedback, and it would not have happened without Terry’s leadership and dedication.

It is my honor and pleasure to serve as NACADA’s President this coming year as the Association celebrates its 30th Anniversary. When I transitioned into academic advising in 1994 at Arizona State University, I had no idea my path in academic advising would lead to this wonderful opportunity. I attended my first NACADA Conference in 1996 in Washington DC, and at the 1998 Conference in San Diego I decided to become more involved in two Commissions that connected closely with my professional and personal interests: the Advising Administration Commission and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Concerns Commission

I have had the privilege of fulfilling a number of leadership roles including: LGBT Concerns Commission Chair, Commission & Interest Group Division Elected Representative, NACADA Council Member, NACADA Board of Directors, and most recently NACADA Vice President. I look forward to my term as President this year while our Association pays particular attention to a number of critical and exciting areas:

  • It is remarkable that NACADA now has almost 11,000 members, and over 3500 of you attended the largest NACADA Conference in history in Chicago. While these are truly outstanding achievements, one of my goals this next year is to emphasize our ability to remain an association that connects with every single one of our 11,000 members. No matter how large we become and how far we spread our presence across the world, it is imperative that NACADA remain an association that benefits all members. My goal is that every single NACADA member feels there is a place to call home within our Association, and that NACADA benefits each of you in some way.
  • As the country’s economic crisis looms over our lives, we must continue to find innovative and effective strategies for NACADA to make academic advising professional development opportunities available to all members. As tight budgets and limited travel funds become the norm, the NACADA Professional Development Committee, Board of Directors, and Council will begin to identify current and new professional development opportunities that can be delivered at lower costs and require little to no travel.
  • Each of us must assume ownership, as a member of the academic advising community, for our own professional development as an advisor or advising administrator. Our NACADA membership is a good start, but we each need to help the NACADA Leadership pinpoint ways NACADA membership benefits us in our specific campus roles. I encourage members to contact me at [email protected], or Vice President Jayne Drake at [email protected], or the NACADA Executive Director, Charlie Nutt at [email protected].
  • Our current efforts to infuse research and scholarly inquiry into the Association are off to a terrific start, and I want to ensure that NACADA continues its momentum in these advancements. Peter Hagen, the Research Committee Chair, is leading efforts to create ways in which NACADA can assist those who wish to generate research in academic advising.
  • NACADA strives to be an inclusive, diverse association. Several of our strategic initiatives specifically highlight the continuation and creation of new efforts to ensure that NACADA’s membership, leadership, and programming efforts represent our diversity. Efforts such as the Emerging Leaders Program, publications focusing on diversity issues, and services to ensure that all academic advisors are sensitive to their diverse student populations, will continue to be a priority.

Finally, one of the most exciting parts of this next year for me will be that, as an association, we are formally acknowledging that our memberships and the services NACADA provides are no longer restricted to the United States, or even North America. We currently have NACADA members from 24 different countries, and there were six countries represented at the Chicago Conference. Thanks to the work done this past year, NACADA Leadership will now define what it means to be an international association. I believe this will result in a more dynamic, inclusive, and productive association for all us. This is an exciting time in the history of NACADA as we approach our 30th year.

Casey Self, President
National Academic Advising Association
[email protected]

From the Executive Director: NACADA 2.0 - Planning for the Future

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director 

Charlie Nutt.jpgFirst, THANK YOU to all who attended our Annual Conference in Chicago! What a great conference! In addition to the outstanding sessions that many of you presented and attended, exciting new activities, like our Common Reading Discussion, Silent Auction, and Town Hall meeting, added great opportunities for networking, community building, and stronger connections to NACADA. I want to publicly thank everyone who made this year’s event such a success for the many hours of time and energy they spent both prior to and during the Conference. This includes special recognition of the efforts of Nancy Barnes, Rhonda Baker, and the entire Executive Office staff; the Chicago planning committee; and all the presenters and participants!

It was exciting to be a part of so many Annual Conference conversations and meetings focused on the future of NACADA. Our Board of Directors, Council, Divisions, and Executive Office staff were all engaged in exciting conversations about where NACADA must move within the next five, ten, and even twenty years. In addition to projecting a variety of professional development opportunities and publications for the future, the issue of expanding the Association’s use of technology to support member services, professional development, and networking opportunities for our members was high on everyone’s agenda of needs for the future.

With this in mind, I want to take this opportunity to outline for you the goals for enhanced use of technology by October 2009:

  • online new and renewal membership processing;
  • online member updates (change of address, institution, commission/interest group selection);
  • online purchasing of NACADA publications, CDs, DVDs, and products;
  • online registration for professional development events, including conferences, institutes, and webinars;
  • interactive blogs and discussions;
  • an enhanced conference proposal submission and evaluation system for both region and annual conferences; and
  • password-protected access to membership directory.

In addition, we have goals for enhancing our leaders’ ability to access data to assist them in their roles, such as:

  • access to member information for their region, commission, interest group, etc.;
  • access to immediate Web updates; and
  • increased on-line communication with regions, commissions, interest groups, etc.

I know this is just a beginning for the leaps that NACADA must make in the next few years in order to keep up with the advances in technology that are essential to be an association on the cutting edge! I look forward to your input into these ideas and others for the future. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions or if you have additional ideas for the future.

Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
(785) 532-5717
[email protected]

Going Out The Door: The Internationalization of NACADA

Jeffrey McClellan, Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission Chair 
Shannon Lynn Burton, Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission Member

JeffMcClellan.jpgShannonBurton.jpg“It’s a dangerous thing… going out of your door…You step into the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to” (Tolkien, 2004, p. 74). In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien foreshadows his main character’s adventure with this wonderful literary declaration. Enticed by the mystery and wonder of this statement, the reader is drawn onto a road filled with adventure and peril. It is just such a road onto which NACADA moves as it teeters on the verge of an international expansion. Presently, it is unclear what this expansion will bring; nonetheless, it will likely involve both adventure and peril.

In Tolkien’s classic series, many individuals advise and assist the protagonist on his journey. As NACADA moves forward, the Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission hopes to contribute similarly. The commission focuses on expanding the theoretical and philosophical foundations of academic advising to better inform the practice of advisors, the scholarship of the field, and the performance of the organization. Given the imminent adventure of internationalization, this article provides some key concepts and suggestions for consideration during this expansion.

Knight (1994) defined internationalization as the “process of infusing an international or intercultural dimension into the teaching, learning, research and service functions of higher education” (p.7). As NACADA begins this process, leaders and members must examine their intercultural communication skills and improve their abilities

 to skillfully assimilate ideas, customs, and philosophies from other cultures through fostering relationships of trust. Such relationships, if nurtured and managed effectively, increase networking opportunities, cost advantages, and learning tools. Accordingly, NACADA should strive to become a Global Learning Organization (GLO) (Tolbert, et al, 2002). GLOs are characterized by (Tolbert, et al, 2002, 465):

  • individuals who recognize they are responsible for setting the organizational climate;
  • systems and procedures which are constantly examined to ensure they support diversity, creativity, and global thinking;
  • recruitment, promotion, and employee development processes based on input from a variety of sources and that are closely monitored to ensure they are consistent with the organization’s global philosophy; and
  • maintenance of cultural awareness as a clear and consistent organizational priority.

Until recently, NACADA operated primarily within the United States/Canadian cultural contexts; however, to the extent that NACADA seeks to become a GLO, the culture must shift to accommodate these priorities. Thus, it is important that we recognize the value of other frames and worldviews within NACADA’s internal and external cultures. Becoming aware of contextual differences like individualism vs. collectivism, high context vs. low context, and differences in value, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance (Gudykunst, 2004) will further strengthen the organization.

Advisors should likewise understand such differences and be aware of their influence when interacting with international colleagues and students. Furthermore, they should learn from and respond to others’ ways of knowing, thereby setting an example across campus and in the broader community. At the core, it would be contradictory were advisors to ask students to become globally competent, without doing so themselves. Advisors’ actions have far more significant effects in this arena than they might suspect.

As advisors and leaders focus on creating a climate of intercultural dexterity, they will realize four key benefits for NACADA, their institutional communities, and themselves:

  • increased success and influence of NACADA, advisors, and the students they serve within the global marketplace;
  • increased mutual understanding and resolution of global issues;
  • expanded knowledge and skills; and, finally,
  • increased expansion, growth, and success.

Gerzon (2003) recommended five values that, if activated, foster global citizenship. These include:

  • integrity -- a willingness to focus on acting in the best interest of everyone;
  • learning -- an openness to acquiring new knowledge;
  • dialogue -- engaging others in open, authentic interaction;
  • bridging -- a commitment to overcoming interpersonal/group barriers through community; and
  • synergy -- a willingness to work together to address common problems (p. 15-16).

As individuals enact these values they become “stewards of the whole” and able “to find common ground in a world of differences” (p. 16). Some recommended means whereby NACADA members can implement these global values include:

  • increase their awareness of their own paradigms, perspectives and practices, in essence, their worldview;
  • read literature on cultural competence and world events;
  • become aware of intercultural issues, domestically and internationally, especially in higher education and advising;
  • interact and partner with individuals with different worldviews, again both domestically and internationally, for publications, presentations, work projects, etc.;
  • organize and participate in projects, task forces, commissions, interest groups etc. focused on issues of a global nature; and
  • explore and invest in technology that facilitates collaboration.

Advisors should realize that diversity often results in conflict. Consequently, to engage effectively in a multicultural, international context, they will have to increase both their comfort with and their skill in managing conflict. Likewise, advisors must learn new means of overcoming conflict because many of the traditionally “American” ways of resolving conflict are not valid in global settings. Both Gerzon (2006) and Lebaron (2003) provide excellent insights regarding how this can be done effectively.

NACADA Leaders must maintain an open mind and flexibility within the organizational structures. Organizations tend to resist change and, as humans, we often look at issues from our own frames of reference. Unfortunately, this may impede our growth. If we are to embrace this change we must learn to adapt to new ways of doing things, becoming skillful at navigating a new frame is central.

Bolman and Deal (2008) state, “In trying to make sense out of a complicated and ambiguous situation… we depend very much on the frames, or mindsets, to give us a full reading of what we are up against” (p. 38). They suggest four frames through which we typically view our organizations: structural, human resources, political, and symbolic. Each brings its own strengths when looking at an issue and none are more right or wrong than the other. They simply allow us to translate observations into making decisions and moving to action. When advisors understand our frames and those of others, we function more effectively and then NACADA will strengthen its knowledge base for advisors and, by extension, for students.

This is a long journey; one not to be taken lightly. It will call for a sustained commitment from NACADA leaders and members to the fostering of intercultural competence and dexterity. In Tolkien’s classics, stepping outside the door proved beneficial for not only Tolkien’s protagonist, but also for those who were brought together in the united quest to make a difference. To this end, it is time to cross the threshold.

Shannon Lynn Burton
Academic Advising Specialist
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University
[email protected]

Jeffrey McClellan
Assistant Professor of Management
Academic Advisor
Frostburg State University
[email protected]


Bolman, L.G. & Deal, T.E. (2008). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gerzon, M. (2003). Becoming global citizens: Finding common ground in a world of differences. Retrieved August 13, 2008, from http://www.mediatorsfoundation.org/relatedreading/becoming_global_citizens.pdf

Gerzon, M. (2006). Leading through conflict: How successful leaders transform differences into opportunities. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Gudykunst, W.B. (2004). Bridging Differences: Effective Intergroup Communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Knight, J. (1994). Internationalization: Elements and checkpoints (Research Monograph, No. 7). Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Bureau for International Education.

LeBaron, M. (2003). Bridging cultural conflicts: A new approach for a changing world. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Tolbert, A.S., McLean, G.N., & Myers, R.C. (2002). Creating the global learning organization (GLO). International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26, 463-472.

Tolkien, J. R. R. (2004). The Fellowship of the Ring. New York: Houghton Mifflin.


In this edition, the issue of Mentoring is addressed from three perspectives. First, members of two NACADA Interest Groups, the Advising High Achieving Students Interest Group and the Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group, discuss their thoughts on how mentoring can be beneficial for students. Then, members of our 2007-2009 Emerging Leaders Program Class explain how mentoring can be beneficial for advisors as well.

Matching Mentors for High Achieving Students

Marion Schwartz, Advising High Achieving Students Interest Group Co-Chair

MarionSchwartz.jpgSometimes the advisors of high-achieving students feel like hosts at a great party. They want to introduce their great old friends—cutting-edge, enthusiastic faculty—to their great new friends—eager, talented students. These students are just the kind to profit the most from engagement with a faculty mentor. But advisors may be tempted to over-identify with talented, energetic high-achievers, and to push them in a particular direction. The ethics of referring students requires a careful balance between taking the students’ articulated interests seriously and at the same time nudging them towards new ways to grow. Therefore, the referral process has to begin with a careful and sensitive assessment of what the students really want.

Students may seek a mentor for various reasons. They may want to meet a faculty member, or have a project they want to pursue. They might need support for a program requirement, like a thesis. They might not realize they want a mentor until the advisor suggests it. Whatever the circumstance, advisors can lay the foundation for a good match by asking some probing questions:

  • What academic disciplines and skills do they want to develop?
  • If they do have a particular topic they want to investigate, how do they want to study? Quantitatively? Experimentally? In the field? In the library?
  • What do they already know? Have they mastered some skills necessary for their goals? What will they need to learn?
  • What role do they expect a mentor to play in their lives? Teacher? Parent? Guide to the institution? Advocate?
  • What are their work habits? Will they need close supervision or can they work alone? Are they detail people? Do they want the big picture?
  • What is their temperament? Do they relish their independence? Will they be sensitive to criticism?
  • Can they talk the language of their discipline? Do they know how to articulate their goals?

Such questions ensure that the student and potential mentor share not only academic interests but also a similar understanding of professional expectations.

Once advisors know their students’ needs, they can look at the other side of the equation: who would be a stimulating but appropriately supportive mentor. Advisors at the Hot Topics session at the 2008 NACADA Annual Conference in Chicago shared that they found mentors by consulting departments, institutional Web sites, personal networks, and centralized offices of undergraduate research. Experienced advisors may have a pool of known mentors. For those they have yet to meet, it’s important to make personal contact before referring a student. Advisors found that some faculty are reluctant to take on the extra work of training a new researcher. However, if the advisor knows the potential protégée well enough to explain their relevant skills and interests, the faculty member may be more open to entertain the idea. There may also be incentives that new faculty haven’t heard about, such as release time for supervising undergraduate theses, or grants from inside or outside the institution. But the contact is not just to recruit a mentor. The advisor also wants to know about the faculty member’s expectations of students—work load, job description, period of commitment, and general attitudes. Such information helps avoid disappointments on either side.

While the advisor can suggest a promising mentor, the students themselves make the final choice, based on their own contact. By talking to a potential mentor in person, students can decide whether they will thrive in the relationship, not only intellectually but also personally. Together the advisor and student can develop a list of questions to ask, including, for example:

  • What is your big project, and what smaller tasks need to be done to achieve it?
  • Can you describe your ideal student mentee (or researcher)?
  • If you were my mentor, how often would we meet? What would I do to prepare for each meeting?
  • If you lead a research group, what is the group like? Would I be part of it?
  • What do you expect me to know before I start? How can I learn it?
  • What’s the worst mistake someone ever made while working with you? What did you do about it?
  • Do you give academic credit for this work? Is there a stipend? Can I go to a conference? Do you think I might publish something or present a poster?

Not every question will be relevant to every interview, but even discussing the kind of questions students might ask can educate them about the culture of the academic enterprise.

The same meeting where the questions are hammered out can include matters of business etiquette if necessary. Some students need to be reminded about making appointments, showing up on time, dressing decently, and speaking respectfully. They should know how to get to the meeting place. They might bring documentation of their previous projects. They should practice articulating what they want the mentor to help them accomplish.

Preparation is important, but so is follow up. Students may need to debrief. If they have more than one option, they may want to discuss the pros and cons of each. Or they may need new ideas because none of the first ones worked out. They may need to change their academic plans in light of their new project, rearranging their courses or staying for the summer. Advisors can support the mentor relationship by helping the student build an appropriate academic context for it.

This matching process takes a great deal of time. However, the intellectual maturing of students under their faculty mentors can be breathtaking. My colleague,Elizabeth Jenkins, helps place English department students in internships both within and beyond Penn State. She says that the success of her program depends on shaping an internship to suit the student rather than making the student fit the internship. This attitude of putting students first—understanding their interests, strengths, weaknesses, and eccentricities—seems particularly important to the unique gifts of high-achieving students. Knowing them well and placing them with appropriate mentors is an important contribution advisors can make towards fulfilling their great potential.

With thanks to Iona Black of the STARS program at Yale, and the members of the Hot Topics in Advising High Achieving Students discussion at the 2008 NACADA Annual Conference.

Marion Schwartz
Division of Undergraduate Studies Programs Coordinator
The Pennsylvania State University
[email protected]

A Positive and Supportive Intervention for Students on Academic Probation: One-to-One Mentoring

Chris Maroldo, Past Chair, Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group Past Chair
Gwen Hobley, Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group Member


Finding the right combination of appropriate intervention and student participation is a challenge frequently discussed on the NACADA Probation / Dismissal / Reinstatement Issues (PDR) Interest Group listserv and during the PDR Interest Group sessions at NACADA conferences. Many advisors want to learn how to get students to participate in programs that can help them get back on track. This article will explore one program that is successfully addressing these concerns.

Student Comments

“I want to say ‘thank you’ because without you to talk to and keep up with me, I would have never done as well as I did. I finished second semester with a 3.3 and I am totally off probation!”

“My first reaction was one of defiance, but then thought, ‘it can’t hurt.’ I had little idea how much it would come to help me. I don’t have many friends on campus, and with my mentor, I realized I had someone at school I could communicate with and help keep me committed to my goals.”

These comments are typical of students who successfully complete the STAR (Students Taking Academic Responsibility) Mentoring Program at IUPUI-University College. STAR, a semester-long intensive mentoring program for first-time academic probation students and reinstated students in University College, provides weekly structured support as students work to get back to good academic standing. STAR Mentors work with students to address challenges, improve strengths, and connect to campus resources that can help them reach their academic and career goals. Requirements include a commitment to attend weekly appointments with their mentors and to work hard to improve their academics.


STAR was initiated in fall 2005 to provide a different way to help students get back on track. Many students at IUPUI-University College are first-generation students who have difficulty connecting with other students and on-campus resources due to work schedules, lack of awareness of academic policies, or not knowing who to ask when they need help navigating a large urban university. Finding themselves on probation can be a stressful and embarrassing situation, especially after a successful high school career.


In University College, students on first-time probation have a choice—with guidance from their advisors, they pick one of three interventions: attend four of eight workshops offered during the semester, attend a four-session Appreciative Inquiry workshop, or participate in STAR. When students select STAR, a mentor contacts them via email, text, or phone. After classes begin, the student and mentor agree to a time and place to meet.


A combination of students and professional staff are recruited from across campus to be STAR mentors. None are paid to be mentors; volunteers do so as a way to give back to the campus community and help make a difference in a student’s life. Currently, there are 65 mentors. Of these, approximately 15-20 student mentors receive scholarships as resource mentors for the IUPUI Bepko Learning Center. They have partnered with us (at no cost to our program) to mentor up to three STAR students each semester in addition to handling their regular Learning Center responsibilities and attending classes. Ten to fifteen graduate students and advisors also volunteer to be STAR mentors; each mentors one to four students. Other mentors include assistant deans, administrators, faculty, professional staff, advisors from other departments/schools, and facility staff who volunteer to mentor from one to three STAR students. Training is provided each semester and resources, including a Mentor Manual and STAR Program syllabus, are provided. Mentors and students meet for 30 minutes, once a week, for approximately 10 weeks. Helping students set weekly goals is the primary focus of these meetings; topics discussed encompass a variety of skill-building activities, including time management, motivation, and prioritizing.

Use of Technology

To help coordinate communication and support, STAR students and mentors are placed on a STAR Web page in OnCourse, an on-campus Web site that includes students’ courses. OnCourse allows us to send weekly updates and reminders to both students and mentors and offers another way for students and mentors to communicate.


  • Since fall 2005, STAR has mentored 387 students and retained 281 for a 72% retention rate from one semester to the next.
  • Spring 2008 saw the largest increase in STAR participants due to a new mandatory intervention requirement. 160/561 on probation signed up for STAR with 103 (64%) participating (4 or more contacts). 71% of participating students were retained for fall 2008.
  • 83 second semester freshmen signed up and 57 (69%) participated with 65% of those participating retained. 15/37 (41%) students got off probation (cgpa 2.0 or above).
  • 37 upperclassmen on probation for the first-time chose STAR. 27 (73%) participated with 20/27 (74%) retained; 14/20 (70%) got off probation.
  • 40 previously dismissed students signed up voluntarily and 19 (47%) participated, 14/19 (74%) were retained; 4/14 (29%) got off probation.
  • A number of STAR students stay in contact with their mentor beyond the required semester of participation.


Every new program faces challenges that must be addressed if the program is to continue to develop. One is how to get students to show up for mentoring. If we can get students to come for the initial meeting, then they tend to come back for additional mentor meetings. We encourage strong communication through email, phone calls, and OnCourse. Another challenge is that since its inception (fall 2005), the program has more than tripled in student participants. Recruiting more student mentors without a way to pay them is a concern. We plan to search for grants and work with other campus departments/schools, i.e., Social Work, Education, Liberal Arts, and Business, to find students in need of practicum sites. Getting more faculty involved is also a priority.


As STAR has grown and developed into an effective intervention program, we have been successful at recruiting a diverse group of mentors. This probation intervention model is working at University College and is consistent with our overall goal of helping students achieve at IUPUI.

Chris Maroldo
Coordinator, Academic Success Programs
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
[email protected]

Gwen Hobley
Graduate Assistant Advisor
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
[email protected]

Emerging Leaders Program: A Year into the Process

Audrey Jackson, NACADA Emerging Leader
Karen Sullivan-Vance, NACADA Mentor

TheELPlogo.jpg Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), a new initiative for NACADA in 2007, was created to prepare members within the organization for leadership positions by providing them with mentoring and growth in their professional capacities. Emerging Leaders and Mentors are required to apply for the positions. Audrey Jackson, Counselor Coordinator for the Deerwood Center at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, was chosen as one of the ten Emerging Leaders for the 2007-2009 Class. Karen Sullivan-Vance, Director of the Academic Advising and Learning Center at Western Oregon University, was chosen as one of the initial ten Emerging Leader Mentors. At the mid-point of their appointed time together, they share their experiences with us.


The Emerging Leader (Audrey’s Perspective)

Why did I apply for the Emerging Leader Program? I was looking for an opportunity to work in NACADA. I had an urgency to work and not just attend sessions and meetings. I wanted to take a giant step into being a part of the progress that was being made by NACADA. I wanted to be able to say 'I helped accomplish that goal.'

One reason I had such an urgency to get involved was because I completed my degree and started in higher education late in my career. I felt behind and had a need to act immediately. I wanted to have a professional resume with contributions I made to the profession. My goal was to be connected to the association and involved in projects at the state, regional, and national levels. I desired to be able to correspond with someone who could help me identify and strengthen my weak areas. I also had a secret desire to write, but I had no clue how to produce a professional writing sample or who to contact to get involved in writing. My writing had only gone as far as class assignments.

I was encouraged to apply for the Emerging Leaders Program after listening to NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt talk about it. I mustered up the courage to talk with him personally, and his warm personality drew me in and made me believe that ELP could be my open door to being involved. I was ecstatic about becoming one of the first Emerging Leaders. It was an awesome experience to meet the other 2007-2009 leaders, mentors, and program facilitators at the 2007 Annual Conference in Baltimore. My first conversation with Karen was the best indication of how the mentor/leader relationship would be. Karen's support is stretching across the nation to help me grow.

The Role of the Mentor (Karen’s Perspective)

Mentoring always seems to be a fluid experience for me. As we mentor our students, staff, and colleagues, so too do they mentor us. In some instances the differences in experiences can be so marked as to ensure that the flow of information and support is in one direction, but I believe that individuals open to the mentoring process will find that they can learn from those they mentor. The act of mentoring causes us to stop and take stock of our own values, paths chosen, and what we still have to learn.

I chose to apply to the Emerging Leaders Program as a Mentor to give back. I have been fortunate enough to have numerous mentors in my life who have positively impacted my professional development. Currently, I have mentors within my peers, a cadre of colleagues I aspire to be like. At different stages they have advised, pushed, encouraged, challenged, and supported my professional growth.

After applying to the ELP, I was chosen as a Mentor. At the NACADA Annual Conference in Baltimore, the Emerging Leaders and Mentors got to meet each other, spend time talking, and find out about each others' areas of interest. In something akin to speed dating, we tried to ascertain as much as we could in a short time. On the second day, we were paired with our Emerging Leaders. Audrey Jackson and I had the chance to sit down, away from the noise, and just talk. Seriously, NACADA could not have gotten a pairing that was physically further apart, as Audrey resides in Florida and I am in Oregon. Even so, we connected.

The Process

How did we begin the leadership/mentoring process without a road map? Quite honestly, it was a little daunting. For us, as part of the inaugural class, we started to hack a path through the woods.

  • Karen: Audrey shared her resume so that I could see what she had done and help her identify key interest areas.
  • Audrey: Karen not only recognized my strengths and areas of interests, she helped me organize my resume so it looked ordered and professional. Now, my resume made sense! I could see how my career had evolved and identify directions for future growth.
  • Karen:The next step was for Audrey to verbalize her areas of greatest interest. In identifying key areas, we could focus our energies on them, keeping the process manageable. At the same time, it was important to look for bigger goals Audrey identified as important, such as getting involved in her region and professional writing. We discussed starting small, with a book review for the NACADA Journal. At approximately 600 words, this was a task that Audrey felt she could accomplish and it could serve as a building block to the next writing project which could be an article for the NACADA Clearinghouse. A mistake many people make is to take on too big a project and then fail because it becomes overwhelming. By breaking goals into smaller steps, we can scaffold the experiences. Growth comes from this process. Few of us will go out and write a novel, but as an aspiring writer, it is important to start the process small and build on it with subsequent challenges. A book review is the first step to an article. An article is the next step towards a chapter in a book and so on.
  • Audrey:Karen supported my endeavors by being encouraging and resourceful. She had presented at several conferences and shared her experiences of developing and presenting a topic with me. With her encouragement, I submitted two proposals to my Regional Conference, and they were accepted. I presented with my Dean of Student Services on “Carrots or Sticks: Focusing on Options and Opportunities for Student Success When Working with Suspension Students” and “Advising Teamwork: Unmasking the Behind the Scenes Operations to Increase Efficiency.” The experience was successful and proved that I had information that others wanted to hear! I also am testing the writing waters by writing a book review for the NACADA Journal.

Goals for Second Year

Audrey identified that during her second year in the program she would like to be instrumental in bringing a drive-in conference to her state. She is currently working with her Region Chair to start the process of building a conference. This article is a joint writing project between us and another opportunity for Audrey to scaffold experiences into professional development. Audrey is also beginning to explore doctoral programs.


Often we look at professional development in terms of adding lines to the resume. The reality, though, is that experiences lead to our growth as professionals. By challenging ourselves to go beyond what we know and try new things, we model and mentor to our students and colleagues. Audrey is a great example of an individual who is challenging herself professionally and becoming a leader. The skills she is developing benefit her in her job, but also as an Emerging NACADA Leader.

At the halfway point in the program, we can honestly say that we have both benefited from the ELP relationship. At this point the leader/mentor lines blur at times. We encourage each other to take on new challenges. In some relationships, it might be a one-way street with information flowing from mentor to leader, but for us, it is a two-way street. As a mentor, Karen is getting as much out of the relationship as Audrey is as the Emerging Leader. We are learning from each other, evaluating, encouraging, and questioning. What an amazing gift of professional growth and belonging from NACADA! What more could we ask?

Learn more about the Emerging Leaders Program and begin preparing your application to be a NACADA Emerging Leader or Mentor today! You’ll be very glad you did!

Audrey Jackson
Florida Community College-Jacksonville
[email protected]

Karen Sullivan-Vance
Western Oregon University
[email protected]



International Vantage Point.jpg

Grounding the Helicopters: Moving Toward Proactive Partnering for Student Success

Darren Francis, Simon Fraser University, NACADA Emerging Leader
Nicholas Johnson, University of the Fraser Valley

DarrenFrancis.jpgNicholasJohnson.jpgParental involvement with millennial students has become a “hot topic” for post-secondary professionals at every level. As Mark Taylor (2006) notes in his article, Helicopters, Snowplows and Bulldozers: Managing Students Parents, “Mention parents to administrators, staff, or faculty at most colleges today, and you will hear a litany of complaints about monitoring, interference, and downright intrusion in their work with students. From admission and housing through course selection, to employment and student organization involvement, parents are inserting and asserting themselves like never before” (2006, Taylor).

As advisors, we have all had the experience of working with a student who has had at least one parent involved in their post-secondary decisions. From which school to attend, program to major in, courses to select, etce., parents are at the very least influencing students’ decisions, if not fully directing the educational future of their sons and daughters. As a result of their strong influence and the perceived “hovering” nature of their interactions with university professionals, the term “helicopter parent” was coined to reflect a parent’s “meddlesome” involvement within the advisor/advisee relationship. Other terms have since been introduced to describe these involved parents, including the Stealth Bomber, Bulldozer, Snow Plow, and others. However, upon reflection, is this perceived parental meddling an actual problem and does a parent negatively impact the advisor/advisee relationship? In the May 22, 2006 issue of Newsweek, Barbara Kantrowitz and Peg Tyre point out that the efforts of so-called “helicopter parents” have paid off as more students than ever before are entering post-secondary education. Combined with the fact that teen pregnancy rates, crime and drug abuse are all down (2006, Kantrowitz and Tyre), there is an indication that our perception of “helicopter parents” needs to change.

It is important to remember that students with their parents’ support are entering post-secondary education from a high school environment which not only encouraged additional parental involvement, but in some cases mandated it because research demonstrated that the more parental involvement, the more successful students became in high school. Subsequently, it is only natural that a parent would expect to continue his or her involvement as the son or daughter embarks on the journey of post-secondary education. Better understanding the K-12 school environment to which students and parents are conditioned can assist advisors in utilizing a strong student/parent relationship. For example, in our personal experiences seeing students, we have never had a student with strong parental support miss an appointment or fail to understand the significance of the information they were gathering. Obviously, students do need to be taught to make their own decisions and become independent, but it is clear that those skills have not been developed during the students’ time in the secondary school system, and as advisors and professional educators we must move beyond the pejorative stereotyping of using a term like “helicopter parent” and adapt our interactions to better prepare students and parents for life during and after university.

Validating the Student/Parent Relationship

When we were first trained as advisors, many of us were taught not to, under any circumstance, empower a parent’s right to be in an advising appointment with their son or daughter. We were told to discourage a parent from attending the advising appointment with their student, and if not possible to exclude the parent from the appointment, then to not respond to parents’ questions other than reiterating that the student was the individual with the appointment. At some institutions, parents were outright banned from attending student advising appointments. As one would expect, this only furthered parents’ resolve to be involved, as they felt their concerns were not being validated, and their exclusion generated much unnecessary concern. As we have gained more experience and better understood parents’ motivation, we have learned how to better manage student appointments and that it is better not only to acknowledge parents but to embrace their attendance, as it allows us to alleviate parental concerns and to work with both the student and parent to facilitate the transition of educational stewardship from the parent to the student.

Setting Boundaries

In his recent article “When Employees Bring Mom and Dad to Work,” Anthony Balderrama (2008) illuminates how the strong relationship between parents and children without the proper boundaries can become extremely invasive and be a detriment to the long-term development of the child (or student), having the exact opposite effect of the parent’s intent. Knowing this, it is our responsibility as advisors to better prepare not only students for success outside of the classroom, but to prepare parents with how they can best help their sons or daughters succeed. Developing a parent-only orientation is a great way to establish boundaries and set the “do’s and don’ts” of parental involvement. Showing up on the first day of classes is a good example of what a parent should not do and can be shared at a parent-only orientation in a humorous anecdotal story, which can be the impetus for providing parents with appropriate university etiquette, highlighting the differences between university and high school.

At the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, a relatively young institution (est. 1974), a parent-only orientation event has recently been introduced, with great response and success. 100% of respondents from the 2007 Parent Orientation indicated that the event was helpful, informative, and beneficial to them. One of the comments received which reflected the parents’ overall appreciation was, “So great to know staff will take the time to inform parents who are investing in their institution = TRUST!”


It is not sufficient to understand why parents are as involved as they have become recently, or to be sympathetic to that involvement, or to have tools to work with these seemingly meddlesome parties. Post-secondary professionals must accept this parental involvement and embrace it. A parent's motivation is always towards the child's best interests as perceived by the parent, however misguided the parent's actions may seem at times, and however frustrated this may make an advisor or other post-secondary professional. Additionally, many students want their parent(s) to be present and involved. In the post-secondary world, we identify, advocate for, and sing the praises of the myriad of supports provided for students: writing and math centers, tutors, advisors, counselors, disability services, financial aid offices, etc., but rarely if ever do we acknowledge the significance of parents as part of that support network. We need to recognize that parents are our partners and an integral component of student success. In many cases, parents are a pillar for student success.

It is well documented that the transition from high school to university can be dramatic for students, and without the proper support services students are at a greater risk of withdrawing because of the uncertainty which occurs during the transition to university. This transition can be just as dramatic for parents, especially when considering the environment of required involvement parents are accustomed to in the secondary education system. Subsequently, without implementing support services for parents designed to help them with their transition and preparing them with strategies for how to let go of children who are now becoming independent adults, how else are parents supposed to know how to support their sons and daughters? Thus, it is the responsibility of advisors and other university professionals to provide information through parent-only orientations, inquiries, handouts and Web pages designed specifically for parents, and inclusion in advising appointments to prepare parents on how best to support their sons and daughters in the post-secondary education environment. By eliminating pejorative terms to describe involved parents and educating parents on how best to support their children, we can help alleviate the adversarial relationship which often occurs between parents and university professionals, because expectations and boundaries will be set and all parties involved will be able to focus on what is truly important: the student’s academic success.

Darren Francis
Manager, Registrar & Information Services
Simon Fraser University
[email protected]

Nicholas Johnson
Department Head, Educational Advising
Student Services
University of the Fraser Valley
[email protected]


Balderrama, Anthony (2008). When employees bring Mom and Dad to work. Retrieved September 29,2008 from MSN careers: http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-970-The-Workplace-When-Employees-Bring-Mom-and-Dad-to-Work/.

Kantrowitz, B. and Tyre, P. (2006). The fine art of letting go. Retrieved October 10, 2008 from Newsweek online articles.

Taylor, Mark (2006). Helicopters, snowplows, and bulldozers: Managing students’ parents. Retrieved October 23,2008 from taylorprograms.org: http://www.taylorprograms.com/images/BulletinNov200612-21a.pdf.

Undecided / Exploratory Students and Persistence

David Spight, Undecided and Exploratory Students Commission Past Chair

David Spight.jpgThere is a perception within higher education that students who start college without a declared major are less likely to persist. Early literature described undecided students as an at-risk population that needed special attention in order to be retained. Recent research argues otherwise. Below is a brief summary of the literature related to persistence and undecided/exploratory students.


Much of the initial research was not directly aimed at examining undecided students, but rather sought to determine reasons for student attrition. According to Noel (1985), there are seven forms of attrition, with academic boredom and uncertainty of major as types of attrition specifically associated with undecided students. Noel believes that students become bored because they lack motivation. He attributes this academic boredom to undecided students, describing it as reflective of students without clear goals. Noel (1985) also claims that, “uncertainty about what to study is the most frequent reason talented students give for dropping out of college” (p. 12). Anderson (1985) agrees, suggesting that uncertainty and indecision about career plans is a negative personal barrier to persistence for undecided students. Typical undecided students, Anderson feels, lack goals and direction, which is a reason why these students leave college. Sprandel (1985) contends that a major reason why students drop out is the inability to succeed academically. One reason for academic failure for vocationally and educationally uncertain students, Sprandel believes, is that they “lack a real reason for going to school” (p. 303).

Foote (1980) felt other factors, however, were more likely to affect persistence than the initial choice of major. Impacting student attrition at a higher rate than major choice were the pre-college academic aptitude and achievement of students. “High school percentile rank and ACT entrance test scores appeared to be more related to persistence in college than major designation” (p. 33). Students with higher entrance exam scores were more likely to progress successfully in college. Foote did also find that “determined” students remained in college at a statistically higher rate than “undetermined” students.

As with most research about undecided students, there is little agreement. Some researchers recognize that determining the cause of attrition is problematic, as undecided students do not make up a homogenous group. Gordon (1985) expresses, “some of the general factors identified as causing attrition have also been used to describe the undecided students population” (p. 116), but admits, “it is difficult if not dangerous to make generalizations” (p. 117). Anderson (1985) concedes “there is seldom a single cause for any human behavior; rather the causes are multiple and interrelated” (p. 50-52).

Some scholars have determined academically uncertain students are not more likely to leave college. Lewallen (1993) believes that being vocationally undecided does not mean a student does not want to graduate. Additionally, Graunke, Woosley, and Helms (2006) found that the “commitment to a specific major or career is not related to degree completion” (p.17). Lewallen (1993) explains that the previous studies suggesting that undecided students are more likely to drop out “have confused the construct of commitment to college completion with educational and career choice” (p. 103).

Lewallen (1992) claims “by far, the most critical methodological problem” (p. 32) is reflected in the design of the research on student persistence. The design used in many studies is “an ‘income-outcome’ assessment approach to researching the problem” (p. 32) with the input variable being undecided and persistence/attrition as the outcome variable. This approach, unfortunately, does not consider other factors such as those within college student experiences, campus environment, or student involvement.

Lewallen (1992) argues that the misperception that undecided students are at higher risk of attrition has been reinforced by frequent citation of Beal and Noel (1980), in which they researched information from staff and administrators from hundreds of colleges and universities. Beal and Noel explain:

The survey instrument itself was designed to solicit information on institutional retention data regarding the degree to which analysis of attrition/retention had taken place on the campus, on the positive and negative characteristics of institutions that might relate to attrition or retention, and on how campuses were organized for retention efforts, and on assessment of the problem area encountered by institutions engaged in retention efforts (Beal and Noel, 1980, p. 15-16).

Beal and Noel (1980) found in their results what they felt were the “most important factors in student retention...on a scale of one (low) to five (high)” (p. 43). They believe there are four factors related to why students might be less likely to persist. Limited educational aspirations and indecision about major/career goal, the second and third factors, support the contention that undecided students are more attrition-prone.

Lewallen (1992) counters that there are some problems with Beal and Noel’s (1980) findings, as their results “were not empirically derived from studying students, but were the result of respondents’ opinions, perceptions, and judgments” (p. 29-30). As Lewallen (1992) describes, most research on undecided student persistence and attrition is flawed:

The literature which examines undecided student persistence/attrition is not very plentiful. Some of these studies did not directly examine undecided students, but rather examined persistence/attrition in general. It is extremely difficult to make generalizations from this research and to conclude that undecided students are attrition prone because of numerous methodological problems (Lewallen, 1992, p. 30).

More recently, Cuseo (2005) agreed with Lewallen that it is unfortunate there is a perception that undecided students are more attrition-prone. He argues that decided students who made inappropriate choices of major based on lack of information, lack of thoughtful planning, or lack of a realistic self-assessment of their abilities and interests, might in fact be at a greater risk of leaving college than undecided students. Graunke, Woosley, and Helms (2006) also found that “individuals who reported relatively high levels of commitment toward a specific career path were less likely to complete a degree in six years than were individuals who reported lower levels of commitment” (p. 17). The significant number of major changers as shown in research (Foote, 1980; Kramer, Higley, & Olsen, 1994; Pierson, 1962; Titley and Titley, 1980) supports the possibility that decided students are at least at a comparable level of risk of attrition as undecided students.

Based upon these findings we, as advisors, may want to consider how we can help our “declared” students confirm or reject their initial choice of major, and how are we targeting them in our retention efforts.

David B. Spight
Assistant Dean for Advising
The School of Undergraduate Studies
The University of Texas at Austin
[email protected]


Anderson, E. (1985). Forces influencing student persistence and achievement. In Noel, L., Levitz, R., Saluri, D., & Associates. Increasing student retention: Effective programs and practices for reducing the dropout rate. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Beal, P.E., & Noel, L. (1980). What works in student retention. Iowa City, IA and Boulder, CO: The American College Testing Program and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

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.

Foote, B. (1980). Determined- and undetermined-major students: How different are they?Journal of College Student Personnel, 21, 29-34.

Gordon, V.N. (1985). Students with uncertain academic goals. In Noel, L., Levitz, R., Saluri, D., & Associates. Increasing student retention: Effective programs and practices for reducing the dropout rate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Graunke, S.S., Woosley, S.A., & Helms, L.L. (2006). How do their initial goals impact students’ chances to graduate? An exploration of three types of commitment. NACADA Journal, 26(1), 13-18.

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. (1992). Persistence of the “undecided”: The characteristics and college persistence of students undecided about academic major or career choice. Dissertation Abstracts International, 53, 12A, 4226.

Lewallen, W.C. (1993). The impact of being “undecided” on college-student persistence.Journal of College Student Development, 34(2), 103-112.

Noel, L. (1985). Increasing student retention: New challenges and potential. In Noel, L., Levitz, R., Saluri, D., & Associates. Increasing student retention: Effective programs and practices for reducing the dropout rate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pierson, R.P. (1962). Changes of major by university students. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 40, 458-461.

Sprandel, H.Z. (1985). Career planning and counseling. In Noel, L., Levitz, R., Saluri, D., & Associates. (1985). Increasing student retention: Effective programs and practices for reducing the dropout rate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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.

In Our Own Best Interest: A (Brief) History of Tribal Colleges in America

Les Ridingin, Native American and Tribal Colleges Interest Group Chair
Robert Longwell-Grice, Native American and Tribal Colleges Interest Group Member
Adrienne Thunder, Native American and Tribal Colleges Interest Group Member


Native Americans have attended college in the United States since colonial times. Unfortunately, the experience of most Native students at predominantly White institutions has not been entirely positive (Boyer, 1997). Although images of uneducated, needy Indians were used by educators to increase giving to colleges, only a small percentage of the funds collected actually went toward the education of Native Americans (Huff, 1997, Wright, 1995). Instead, these funds often were used to further the schools’ economic and political interests, which often included adding to the endowment.


As westward expansion threatened Native land, colleges became acculturation agents, using education of Native Americans for assimilation into the predominant culture. Indians were not, understandably, eager to accept these offers of education. The Seneca Chief Red Jacket, commenting upon these efforts, said, “Instead of producing that happy effect which you so long promised us, its introduction so far has rendered us uncomforted and miserable. You have taken a number of our young men to your schools. You have educated them and taught them your religion. They have returned to their kindred and color neither white men nor Indians. The arts they have learned are incompatible with the chase and ill adapted to our customs. They have been taught that which is useless to us” (Velie, 1979).


Although times have clearly changed over the past two hundred plus years Native Americans have attended U.S. colleges and universities, the latest data (2002) shows that American Indians represent “less than 1 percent of all students enrolled in college,” and they earned “0.7 percent of all associates, bachelors, and advanced degrees conferred that year” (U.S. Department of Education, as cited by Guillory and Wolverton, 2008). Two major barriers still remain for Native Americans: the struggle to get into college and, if admitted, the struggle to successfully complete a degree. The desire to remove these barriers was behind the start of the Tribal College movement.

Bennett and Okinaka (1990) connect an “inhospitable climate” on most predominantly White campuses to the low matriculation and high dropout rate of Native Americans on these same campuses. Furthermore, the diversity of heritage and customs within the Native population is often ignored and rarely acknowledged (Longwell-Grice and Longwell-Grice, 2003). Inaccurate, exaggerated and homogenized representations of the history and culture of American Indians continue to be written by scholars who never visited Indian country (Mihesuah, 2004). When combined with the developmental issues that typical students encounter during their initial college years, it is understandable why American Indians sought other ways to obtain a college degree.

According to Crum (1989), the idea for Indian colleges has been around since 1911, but Crum (2007) argues that three major developments of the 1960s lead to the development of the Tribal College consortium. These developments were the:

  • rise of Indian activism in the 1960s,
  • socioeconomic reforms of the Great Society, and
  • notion of Indian self-determination, which surfaced in the 1960s and became policy in the 1970s.

Crum (2007) noted that tribal people of the 1960s were fully aware that the dominant society had never encouraged higher education for the vast majority of Native Americans. In order to carry out self-determination, Native Americans sought to create Native run colleges. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC, 2008) asserts that Tribal Colleges were created “in response to the higher education needs of American Indians and generally serve geographically isolated populations that have no other means of accessing education beyond the high school level” (¶ 2).

The Navajo Community College, renamed Dine College in 1997, was established in July 1968, and was the first Indian-controlled Tribal College built on an Indian reservation (Crum, 2007). Through steady growth, the number of Tribal Colleges has increased to 39, and the number of students served now numbers over 17,000 (AIHEC, 2008). As dramatic as this success appears, however, Tribal Colleges continue to struggle due to their limited funding, poor facilities, and geographical isolation.

Shanley (2003) pointed out that, unlike traditional community colleges, Tribal Colleges cannot rely on taxation revenue from the community due to the largely impoverished areas they serve. Initially, Tribal Colleges were funded under the Tribally Controlled College or University Act. However, to qualify for federal funding, the Tribal College must have satisfied an eligibility study that many Tribal College leaders believed to be purposely difficult to limit funding (Shanley, 2003). Colleges that did receive funding were still under the auspices of the federal government, reinforcing hegemonic relationships. Tribal College leaders began to search for alternate funding strategies.

New, innovative funding strategies combined with limited, often painful, funding decisions became the new funding formula (Benham, 2003). Fortunately, as Tribal Colleges gain the trust of the communities they serve, the benefits to these communities emerge. For example, as more American Indians graduate from Tribal Colleges, the number of American Indian businesses that directly impact the tribal community has increased. Clement (2006) explained that from 1997 to 2002, in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, the growth of Indian-owned businesses was notably higher than growth for firms in general. Specifically, Clement (2006) cited statistics showing that in South Dakota Indian-owned businesses jumped 37 percent during that time compared to six percent for other businesses.

While communities are benefiting, Tribal Colleges still answer their original mission to graduate American Indians whose needs would not have been met at predominantly white institutions. Boyer (1997), in a survey of Tribal College students, found that students who enroll in Tribal Colleges bring with them a long list of needs – academic, personal and financial – that place a heavy load on Tribal Colleges. According to Boyer, while Tribal College students were critical of the services and facilities these Tribal Colleges offered, they were unanimous in their praise for the warmth and encouragement members of the campus community provided. Boyer described Tribal College faculty as “heroic figures” who made extra efforts to understand student needs, help them succeed, build their confidence, and become trusted advisors and true friends.

Thanks to a combination of Indian activism, federal support, and the desire for self-determination, Tribal Colleges have flourished. Today, Tribal Colleges are recognized as unique institutions making broad economic, social, and cultural impacts on the students and communities they serve. This impact has come despite severe under funding, high rates of poverty in the communities they serve, and poor facilities. Despite these challenges, Tribal Colleges continue to flourish and make their mark on American higher education.

Les Ridingin
University of Texas at Arlington
[email protected]

Robert Longwell-Grice
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
[email protected]

Adrienne Thunder
University of Wisconsin-Madison
[email protected]


AIHEC (2008). Tribal Colleges: An introduction. Retrieved September 16, 2008 fromwww.aihec.org

Benham, A. N. and Stein, W. J. (2003). The renaissance of American Indian higher education: Capturing the dream. Eric Document Reproduction Service No. 469366.

Bennett, C. and Okinaka, A. (1990). Factors relating to persistence among Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White undergraduates at a predominantly White university: Comparison between first and fourth year cohorts. Urban Review, 22, 33-60.

Boyer, P. (1997). First survey of Tribal College students reveals attitudes. Tribal College Journal, Fall, 36-41.

Clement, D. (2006). Growth by degrees. Fedgazette. Retrieved July 6, 2008 fromwww.minneapolisfed.org/pubs/fedgaz/06-03/degrees.cfm.

Crum, S. (1989). The idea of an Indian college or university in twentieth century America before the foundation of the Navajo community college in 1968. Tribal College Journal,Summer, 20-23.

Crum, S. (2007). Indian activism, the Great Society, Indian self-determination, and the drive for an Indian college or university, 1964-1971. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 31, 1-20.

Guillory, R. and Wolverton, M. (2008). It’s about family: Native American student persistence in higher education. Journal of Higher Education, 79, 58-87.

Huff, P. S. (1976). Educational colonialism: The American Indian experience. Harvard Graduate School of Education Association Bulletin, 20, 2-6.

Longwell-Grice, R., and Longwell-Grice, H. (2003). Chiefs, braves, and tomahawks: The use of American Indians as university mascots. NASPA Journal, 40, 1-12.

Mihesuah, Devon (2004). Academic Gatekeepers. In D.A. Mihesuah & A.C. Wilson (Eds.),Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities (p. 90). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.

Shanley, J. (2003). Limitations and alternatives to developing a Tribally-controlled College. In M. Bernham and W. Stein (Eds.), The Renaissance of American Indian Higher Education: Capturing the Dream (pp 61-72). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Velie, A. R. (1979 ). American Indian literature: An anthology. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Wright, B. (1995). The broken covenant: American Indian missions in the colonial colleges.Tribal College Journal, Summer, 28-33.

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If We Only Knew Then: Observations on Life as an Advising Administrator

Jayne Drake, NACADA Vice President 


We come at this business of being Advising Administrators from any number of backgrounds and levels of preparation. Some of us worked our way up the ranks from professional advisors to assistant or associate directors; some of us were faculty members with advising responsibilities who eventually moved into directorships or deanships; others of us were already academic administrators—Assistant, Associate, or Vice Deans—who were compelled to “fix” the center in our care. No matter what our titles, areas of responsibility, level of experience, or how we got there, chances are we were pretty well naïve about the challenges ahead of us. Sure, we all worked with students, and we understood that we are in the business of ensuring their success—both within and beyond the academy. We probably read the books on student development theory, leadership skills, organizational structures, motivation theory, and even the one on not sweating the small stuff. Yet chances are that no amount of books (self-help and otherwise) and no amount of years under our belts in working with students could have prepared us for the realities of life in the director’s or dean’s chair.

We walked in the door eyes shining with the promise of grand transformations, new initiatives undertaken, student services revamped, data collection and recordkeeping processes refined, professional development opportunities expanded, and a staff that lives in harmony and good will. What happened? It didn’t take long for our best laid intentions of transforming academic advising to be supplanted by realities, exigencies, and constraints.

The advising administrator’s life is one of long hours, lunches wolfed down at the desk, countless questions from advisors, phones jangling, students with issues, performance development plans, reports to write, staff to train, budget shortfalls— deans and provosts want it when? —all in a day’s work. I offer the following observations directly to new administrators who have stepped into the fray with heavy metal body armor adjusted, swords drawn, and olive branches waving.

Observation 1: You assumed that by sheer force of will and grinding hours you could single-handedly transform academic advising. This assumption is your first mistake.

Observation 2: Not everyone thinks your plans are as brilliant as you think they are. If you want to effect change, you have to mount your most compelling arguments, gather the most thorough data to underpin your plans, develop carefully crafted proposals, present your plans to your staff and relevant administrators, and then.... wait. (In some matters, especially those requiring a major institutional culture shift, change may not happen in your lifetime.)

Observation 3: You must, nevertheless, embrace change. Even if, for some remote reason, you signed on to your position to maintain the status quo, the fact is that—hide from it as you might—change finds you. Allow yourself to be swept along and transformed by it.

Observation 4: The ground beneath the feet of advising administrators is always moving, shifting, and rattling the walls. You have to be steady enough to maintain equilibrium through the vagaries of your work day. No matter what plans you may have as you walk in the door, they are out the window within ten minutes of sitting at your desk.

Observation 5: Faculty governance is a wonderful thing. The very moment you, the staff, and students manage to get the curriculum straight—the majors, minors, and program requirements—faculty tweak them, and, in extreme cases, throw them out altogether. Refer to Observation 4.

Observation 6: A fire extinguisher is your best fashion forward accessory. Wear it daily, ideally attached to your belt for easy accessibility. You will need it to snuff out fires of all descriptions and in all corners of your center. In fact, you may also want to keep a supply of extinguishers handy in the bottom drawer of your desk since annoying moments of spontaneous combustion can occur at any moment and disrupt the general hum.

Observation 7: Always wear your belt loose because a state legislator or college president or provost may demand that you tighten it. Your operating budget will frequently be vulnerable to such demands, so you will need to make sure you are prepared to adjust.

Observation 8: Avoid wearing rose-colored glasses. Most likely they will not match your outfit, and they most assuredly will distort the reality around you, the most pernicious of which is office intrigue. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into it or to be lulled into believing that you have the most compatible staff this side of Oz.

Observation 9: Always play by the institutional work rules. Get to know them and apply them equitably across the board. Parents learn early on to treat all of their children the same without favoritism or preferential treatment. Anything less than this and you run the risk of your staff sinking into division, discord, and disarray. Opportunities for harmony evaporate because you’re too busy using your fire extinguisher to put out fires related to personnel issues. Refer to Observation 6.

Observation 10: “No” is not a four-letter word, and, although others may dispute this fact, especially students, you simply must learn to say it with conviction and sincerity. You may want to practice saying it at the bathroom mirror until you are comfortable with how it sounds and looks coming out of your mouth.

Observation 11: Work on building upper body strength. You will need it to push mountains of paper, including such weighty matters as yearly reports, job descriptions, assessment plans, policies and procedures, forms for everything, not to mention the emails that press upon you every day. Therefore, including special exercises to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is also advisable.

Observation 12: Love your IT people and learn to exploit their vulnerabilities, examples of which frequently include dark chocolate and pizza, and even homemade brownies with walnuts when things become particularly dire.

Observation 13: When academic advising works well, the rest of the college works well. Let it be the toughest job you have ever loved.

Observation 14: If you do not now have a sense of humor, buy/bye now.

Jayne K. Drake
Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
Director of the Master of Liberal Arts Program
College of Liberal Arts
Temple University
[email protected]

True Adventures of a Master Faculty Advisor

Tamra Ortgies Young and Cynthia A. Walker, Georgia Perimeter College 

Editor’s Note: This article was developed from a presentation Cynthia and Tamra gave at the NACADA Spring 2008 Region IV Conference in Mobile, Alabama.



Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) is a two-year unit of the University System of Georgia. GPC serves 23,000 students through four traditional campuses, a site campus, and a new on-line campus in the metropolitan Atlanta area. While most GPC programs have been designed to transfer students seamlessly to the state’s four-year public institutions, GPC also has a number of top notch career programs in several fields including nursing and dental hygiene. The geographic spread between GPC campuses is as wide as 60 miles in the tough Atlanta transportation environment.

Direct intervention to increase the rates of graduation, retention and transfer within the University System of Georgia Institutions has been mandated by the system’s Board of Regents. In addition, advisor training programs have been required. How then should GPC offer uniform and effective advising services to all students in such varied locations?

The GPC institutional response to this dilemma was to design a Cohort Advising Program where all full-time faculty members are required to advise students in the first-time, full-time entering freshman cohort. The program included a user-friendly student information system interface called eSAMs and a Web-based database that can take data from ten different screens and place it in a single page, user-friendly, format for faculty use while interacting with advisees.

Why Faculty Advisors? GPC has been responding to data that shows that faculty interaction with students can have a positive impact on their graduation, retention, and transfer rates. Students bond with faculty during the 16-week semester. Efforts are made to assign advisees to a faculty member teaching one of their fall term classes.

In January 2007, the Master Faculty Advisor Program was implemented. Each campus, depending on size, was assigned one to three Master Faculty Advisors to develop training programs including a Web site. These Master Faculty Advisors provide campus and college-wide leadership on advising issues. The advantages of the Master Faculty Advisors Program include local campus access to training and troubleshooting, a more favorable response from faculty as they are trained and assisted by peers with similar class loads and responsibilities, and the opportunity for Master Advisors to lead and serve the college on a number of college-wide committees.

How has this new venture fared? With change always comes conflict as people with varying visions compete for leaders’ attention for their agendas. At times, particularly in the first phase, the Master Faculty Advisors spent an inordinate amount of time conducting eSAMS and other technology workshops. There were also times when it seemed the Master Advisors represented the administration in the eyes of faculty not comfortable with change. Slowly, because the Master Faculty Advisors have assisted their peers and moved the training vehicle forward, more faculty are embracing the idea that faculty advising is here to stay.

Challenges to program start-up were of the expected nature. Some faculty did not actively advise before the new program and did not accept advising as part of their job responsibilities. These faculty were still focused on a time when faculty advising was neither required nor rewarded. In addition, the mandate for faculty participation came before the training mechanisms were fully developed. Some faculty wanted to advise but felt that their skill levels were such that it might lead to mistakes that would cause harm to student outcomes. Other faculty members did not feel comfortable advising outside their own disciplines. These issues have been largely addressed with workshops, Web resources, and quick reference guides. A comprehensive training program was implemented in fall 2008 to help build the confidence and competency level of faculty engaged in advising activities critical to the college’s mission to promote student success.

Training modules have emphasized:

  • helping faculty learn how to connect with their advisees as mentors,
  • learning how to make effective referrals to internal student services,
  • teaching faculty institutional policies and procedures,
  • helping students successfully navigate institutional bureaucracy, and
  • teaching skills that will help students be successful in college, e.g., time management and effective study skills.

Overall, the message has been that advising and teaching go hand-in-hand. Since teaching is faculty’s primary focus, it is appropriate to approach this new responsibility in a language that speaks to faculty culture. Advising is Teaching!

Institutional support has been evident in program funding and the inclusion of Master Faculty Advisors in leadership decisions on advising issues and training program design. The Master Advisors have built traditional classroom workshops and Web-based training applications as well as quick reference desktop training resources to serve GPC ’s diverse workforce. This three-tiered advisor training vehicle was launched fall 2008 with great excitement about the varied modes of content delivery as well as the enhanced reinforcements in message and methodology for effective advising.

Most importantly, GPC ’s leadership has made a major commitment to student success on all campuses and in all classroom formats, no matter how geographic distances challenge this notion. Vincent Tinto, the nationally respected authority on student retention, argues that access without proper support is not opportunity. At GPC, we are determined to provide access AND opportunity with all the support we can muster! The Master Faculty Advisors at GPC will continue to be on the frontlines to deliver support to our hard-working faculty advisors in their efforts to build success for all our students and thereby better serve our community.

We look forward to your comments and inquiries.

Cynthia A. Walker
Assistant Professor, ESL & Foreign Language Department
Master Faculty Advisor
Georgia Perimeter College
Dunwoody Campus
[email protected]

Tamra Ortgies Young
Instructor, Social Science Department
Master Faculty Advisor
Georgia Perimeter College
Dunwoody Campus
[email protected]

Embracing Life's Unexpected Journeys

Donna E. Ekal, The University of Texas at El Paso


As a big believer in planning ahead, I love crossing things off lists, inserting those little check boxes in a document, and creating tables or charts of programs and policies. But – and this is an important but – my delight in planning and organizing must be balanced by being open to what life puts in my path.

While I was planning and organizing my academic career, life unexpectedly tossed academic advising in my path, and I haven’t looked back since. As the Program Coordinator of the Medical Professions Institute at the University of Texas at El Paso, academic advising was certainly a piece of my duties. It was a piece that I did well, enjoyed, and through which we were able to create some successes in our program. In fact, due in large part to improved advising methods, we were able to double the number of UTEP students who were accepted to post graduate medical professions (medical, dental, and vet) schools in just one year.

Our improved advising program consisted of:

  • providing complete, consistent information spread across the conceptual, informational, and relational frameworks;
  • creating hands on programming for career enhancing skills such as writing a personal statement and interviewing; and
  • working with students to enhance their out of classroom experiences through relevant work, volunteering, shadowing, and mentoring with professionals in their fields of interest.

We celebrated student successes, worked through difficult times, and became a strong and focused group with a sense of purpose. The Medical Professions Institute office became the champion for these students, and they reveled in the feeling of having an advocate on campus who was taking care of and telling people about them.

UTEP’s leaders are always looking for ways to improve the undergraduate experience. Our vision of access and excellence is more than just a link on our Web page; it is absolutely a guide for constant tinkering. They noticed our success and gave me the chance to co-chair an Advising Task Force to examine the state of academic advising on campus and identify areas where we could improve. My year co-chairing the Advising Task Force was tremendous. I was able to meet and work with a wide variety of people on campus – faculty, staff, students, and administrators – who all had stories to tell about advising. We organized conferences, held Task Force meetings, divided into subcommittees, sent out tons of e-mails, met with student focus groups, wrote reports, held a final retreat, and came up with a product that included the voices of over 300 stakeholders across campus. That product, our Advising Task Force final report, became the framework of our Action Plan to revitalize academic advising on our campus.


Now, when I was first asked to co-chair this Task Force, I was certainly delighted to be acknowledged for the work at the Medical Professions Institute, but a little worried that I did not know enough about the field of academic advising to lead this effort. So, I did what we all do when we need to see what’s out there – I turned to Google. It didn’t take long for Google to lead me to NACADA, and I felt like I had found the Mother Lode. My first action was to sign up for the appropriately timed NACADA 2007 Summer Institute held in Salt Lake City. Charlie Nutt was my small group facilitator and the rest, as they say, is history.

NACADA opened my eyes to the network of academic advising resources available and provided me the opportunity to develop an Action Plan (complete with a chart and check off boxes) for leading the Advising Task Force. It was a tremendous preparation for the year and served us well.

During that working year, I was able to attend the NACADA Administrators and Assessment Institutes in San Diego. Again, these were experiences where I learned a great deal about academic advising, extended my resource base, and came home with a plethora of ideas to incorporate into our academic advising structure. Toward the end of our year with the Advising Task Force, I was invited to accept a new position within the university as Associate Provost of Undergraduate Studies. I know that there were several factors that came together at the right time for this opportunity to happen; but I also know that academic advising was one of them.

I am fortunate to work at a university that values academic advising as a key component of student success and has put energy and resources into creating an advising environment that is positive, coordinated, and all about the student. I am also fortunate to have found NACADA, which has given me opportunities to learn about academic advising in a way that has translated into a better advising environment for our students as well as an incredibly satisfying component of my career for which I can plan, make lists, and coordinate to my heart’s content.

Donna E. Ekal
Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies
The University of Texas at El Paso
[email protected]

Optimizing the NACADA Webcast Experience

Karen Thurmond, Webinar Advisory Board Chair
Melissa Lantta, Webinar Advisory Board Member



NACADA Webcasts are popular with NACADA members. Academic advisors have fun when they gather, and we often find great resources in discussing issues and ideas with each other. The Webinar Advisory Board has been discussing how we have “consumed” Webinars. Here are some examples of how campuses are organizing to make the most of Webinar participation.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh advising center became very interested in the Webinar series in Fall 2007. At first, our office did not set expectations for the Webinars. Advisors did not share what they learned with their colleagues, and the experience was clearly not being maximized. In order to make the Webinars more successful, our professional workgroup assigned an advisor to facilitate each session. The role of the facilitator consisted of reading the objectives of the Webinar and inviting not only the advisors from our office but those individuals around campus who would benefit from the Webinar (i.e. faculty advisors, graduate students, administrators). Participants were asked to save an extra hour of their time after the Webinar to address discussion questions the facilitator had created. These Webinars will become a part of the training process for faculty advisors to obtain their Master Advisor certification. The environment surrounding the Webinars has changed; there is a spirit of learning, collaboration, and enjoyment as the participants enhance their professional development.

The University of Memphis began participating in Webinars at the very beginning. Each Webinar attracts a different group of advisors. In general, the Webinars have been an opportunity for UofM advisors to gather informally and learn together. For each Webinar, snacks and water are provided, and we draw for door prizes (usually a NACADA publication). Over time we learned that we wanted to engage discussion after the Webinar, so we boldly began “turning off” the sound when the Webinar formal presentation ended to begin our own discussion. Various task forces and work teams have emerged from these discussions.

Two significant developments at UofM have been highlights of our involvement with Webinars. First, we invited our community college advisor partners to attend with us. We had just initiated an “in residence” advising presence at the community college. Once a week, a UofM advisor is available by appointment at the community college campus. This initiative responded to an interest in “seamless transfer” in our state and introduced advisors at both community college and university campus to new colleagues. Getting together for Webinars has enhanced relationships and made for smoother communication between campuses. Second, we have been able to springboard initiatives from Webinar content. Jayne Drake’s Webinar, Components of a Successful Faculty Advising Program: Institutional Commitment, Professional Development, Incentives, and Recognition, attracted our largest group of faculty to date. Discussion following Jayne’s presentation was lively. The faculty members present were excited about the NACADA Seminar, Effectively Engaging Faculty in Academic Advising, which was scheduled to take place during the next summer in Portsmouth, VA. In subsequent discussions, the faculty requested that representatives be funded to attend the Seminar and get more perspective on faculty advising, on the role of faculty, and about how our campus might proceed to enhance faculty advising. As a result of that group’s attendance at the seminar, our campus made some significant decisions about advising, including the appointment of a Director of Academic Advising.

Albert Matheny, Director of the Academic Advising Center in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida, tells us that his institution has used Webinars to increase professional awareness for advisors campus-wide, and specifically uses Webinars and brown bag luncheons for professional development. “Each year for the past three years,” Albert said, “we have had an all-campus advisor workshop that pulls together advisors and related personnel (with panels not unlike those at NACADA conferences). We have not used Webinars in that venue yet, but we see possibilities for a greatly increased role for Webinar-recordings (on CD) in the future, as conferences get harder to attend.”

The Webinar Advisory Board is wondering how you “consume” Webcasts at your institution. What have you done that has increased group attendance? For those participating alone, what have you done to make Webinars useful and meaningful? Have you gotten great results because of something started by a Webinar? Tell us about it! Send your comments and suggestions to the Webinar Advisory Board Chair Karen Thurmond. Your ideas will be added to the NACADA Web site for the benefit of others.

Karen Thurmond
University of Memphis
[email protected]

Melissa Lantta
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
[email protected]




Annual Conference a Resounding Success


Over 3500 colleagues came to Chicago October 1-4 to share information on current advising topics. As one attendee noted, “We are a diverse group of people from diverse institutions and this conference offered something for everyone.”

The 2008 NACADA Award recipients were honored at a special Awards Ceremony and Reception. Virginia N. Gordon Award for Excellence in the Field of Academic Advising winner Gary Padak (Kent State University) is pictured at left with President Bloom. Pictures of all recipients are available in the Awards section of the NACADA Web site.


Lots of questions were asked and answered, and new affiliations created, at the Commission and Interest Group Fair on Thursday morning.

The Common Reading Discussion, which focused on issues of diversity presented in Estela Bensimon’s (2007) article, The Underestimated Significance of Practitioner Knowledge in the Scholarship of Student Advising, was a highlight of the Conference for many. One attendee explained, ”I had great conversations with people I otherwise wouldn't have interacted with and learned a great deal from them.”

Authors were on hand Friday morning to autograph copies of the eagerly anticipated, newly released 2nd edition of Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook.

Participants exchanged ideas and shared their thoughts with the NACADA Leadership in small groups during the Town Hall Meeting on Friday afternoon.

EmergingLeaders.jpgThe 2008-2010 Class of Emerging Leaders and Mentors came together for the first time on Wednesday for Orientation to the program, and then joined with members of the 2007-2009 Class in a variety of venues throughout the Conference. Emerging Leaders Brian Hinterscher and Todd Taylor shared their ideas at the Town Hall Meeting.

Of course, the real heart of the Conference, as always, was the professional development available through more than 350 workshops, individual concurrent and panel sessions and poster presentations on relevant topics, as well as the additional networking opportunities available in Region meetings, Hot Topic discussions, and other small group venues.

Many thanks to the Conference Committee, the Executive Office staff, the many volunteers, and all of the presenters and facilitators who so graciously shared their knowledge and experience with us!


Join the Discussion! The NACADA Common Reading Program

Janet K. Schulenberg, Penn State University

Janet Schulenberg.jpg

Remember the classic commercial where a guy eating chocolate bumped into a guy eating peanut butter and together they discovered a new and wonderful thing? Something like that happened in Pittsburgh, PA at the NACADA Region 2 Conference last April. A discussion about race and a discussion of scholarly reading came together to inspire the NACADA Common Reading Program. The Common Reading Program was launched with a discussion at the Annual Conference in Chicago and will continue with additional readings and discussions in the future.

A Lucky Combination

At the Region 2 meeting, Carlton Scott, Jen Stapel, and Carla Cummings (all academic advisors from the University of Pittsburgh) hosted a lively discussion about race that left participants wanting more time for discussion. Maren Larson and Gabriela Bermudez (both academic advisors at Penn State who presented a session about shared readings among colleagues) suggested that the discussion continue during a cancelled session later in the conference. This new session was based a discussion of race upon Sharon Fries-Britt and Kimberly Griffin’s article, “The Black Box: How High Achieving Blacks Resist Stereotypes About Black Americans.” Copies of the article were made available and the session was advertised via word of mouth and quickly-made fliers.


NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt, (then) Vice President-elect Jayne Drake, and I were three of the 62 individuals who attended this impromptu session. We were excited by the vigorous, honest, and stimulating conversations generated by participants. Engaging in discussions about race in higher education, although critical, can be emotionally charged and fraught with discomfort. Centering the discussion on an article created a scholarly environment where it was safe to discuss topics that might otherwise be considered too controversial or personal.

Thanks to Charlie and Jayne’s communication of this idea to NACADA leadership, the Pitt and Penn State presenters and I were asked to organize a similar event at the October 2008 Annual Conference in Chicago, to be sponsored by the Research and Diversity Committees. With support from the Research Committee and the Infusing Research Task Force, we have created a year-round program to help all advisors continuously improve their practice through engagement with scholarly literature and discussion among colleagues.

The Mission of the Common Reading Program

The NACADA Common Reading Program is designed to engage the NACADA membership in reading and discussing scholarly literature related to academic advising. Scholarly engagement is a significant way that advisors can continuously improve their practice, build their knowledge, and contribute to the field of academic advising. When they engage with literature and discuss with colleagues, advising practitioners can better recognize their own theoretical perspectives, apply concepts from research to their advising practice, and recognize gaps in their knowledge and the existing literature. As a result of active engagement with scholarly literature, advisors will be better equipped to develop and conduct their own inquiry projects and improve their work with students.

Chicago: The First Common Reading Event

CommonReading.jpgMore than 70 people gathered on Thursday evening of the Annual Conference to engage in a discussion of Estella Bensimon’s (2007) article, “The Underestimated Significance of Practitioner Knowledge in the Scholarship of Student Success.” Bensimon’s article challenges the implicitly race-based assumptions underlying some canons of student development theory, and challenges practitioners to consider their own gaps in understanding the behavior patterns of underrepresented students.

We have learned to view inequality in educational outcomes as a problem of student underpreparedness, not a problem of practitioner knowledge, pedagogical approaches, or ‘culturally held’ ideas about minority students (Bensimon, 2007, p. 456).

Bensimon argues that practitioners are important agents of individual student success and encourages those who work directly with students to investigate their impact.

In small groups facilitated by members of the sponsoring committees, participants discussed their reactions to Bensimon’s argument. Participants were asked to consider their gaps in understanding the behavior patterns of students from racial and ethnic groups other than their own, explore ways to increase their multicultural awareness, and to discuss how the significance and impact of academic advising relate to issues of racial equity in higher education.

Each group approached the discussion differently. Groups addressed topics such as:


  • the nature of self-authorship for multicultural students;
  • how advisors could facilitate connection-making for students from underrepresented populations;
  • the shared responsibility for student success among students, institutions, and those who work with students;
  • the importance of equipping students to meet the expectations of the mainstream while honoring students’ cultural values;
  • the role of the academic advisor in challenging individual students to expand their personal definition of success; and
  • the importance of engaging genuinely with each student and recognizing each student’s individual experience.

CommonReading2.jpgAs a result of reading this article and discussing it with colleagues, participants indicated that they recognized new challenges and opportunities for helping students, became more interested in engaging in scholarly inquiry, and were inspired to effect change on their own campuses. One participant responded, “I gained insight into the gaps at my own institution and the courage to start conversations and suggest readings when I return after the conference.” Another remarked that the most valuable message gained from the session was the “reminder that many students from underrepresented groups view the world differently from me (i.e. they may interpret my behavior, attitudes in ways I did not intend).”

The experience generated a, “Hey, you got scholarship in my practice!” “You got practice in my scholarship!” conversation for many participants. Just like chocolate and peanut butter, putting the two together created something new: ideas for practice, topics for further discussion, and questions for inquiry that will ultimately benefit our students, advisors, institutions, and the advising profession.


Please join your colleagues in sharing readings and discussions, both within your own institution and with the larger NACADA community. Look for NACADA Common Reading events at future conferences and add your voice to the discussion. Please join the conversation!


Janet K. Schulenberg
Senior Undergraduate Studies Adviser & Coordinator of FTCAP Programming
Division of Undergraduate Studies
Penn State University
[email protected]



Fries-Britt, S., & Griffin, K. A. (2007). The black box: How high achieving blacks resist stereotypes about black Americans. Journal of College Student Development, 48 (5), 509-524.


Bensimon, E.M. (2007). The underestimated significance of practitioner knowledge in the scholarship on student success. The Review of Higher Education, 30 (4), 441-469.


When and How to Ask for a Raise


Because of recent events and the arrival of the holiday season, money may be at the forefront of your mind. You might be thinking, “Will I have enough money this month to pay my bills, buy gas, keep my family afloat, and survive the expense of the holiday season?” You might also be thinking about how great it would be to have a higher salary, but asking for a raise may not seem appropriate with the current state of the American economy. But don’t be discouraged – Be PREPARED! Begin your homework now so you are prepared to determine when and how to ask for a raise in the future.

  • Find out if your institution has a policy or procedures in place regarding raises. Read your institution’s handbook or contact your campus human resources office. Note: If your institution has a yearly, campus-wide or state-wide pay increase, you may not be able to get a pay raise during other times of the year. In that case, you may only be able to approach the subject during your yearly performance evaluation.
  • Arrange a meeting with your supervisor at a time of day when s/he is at her/his best. Take note of your supervisor’s habits and schedule or approach her/him when s/he is most receptive or responsive to the conversation. Suggestion: If your immediate supervisor doesn’t have the ability to give raises, work on a plan together of how to present documentation or justification to her/his supervisor.
  • Have confidence! Be prepared to talk about specific reasons you are worthy of a raise – provide examples or use numbers to quantify your contributions, accomplishments, additional duties, etc. If you have difficulty remembering your contributions over the last year(s), pull out your yearly performance evaluation to use as a guide. Plan to present this information in a format that will be best received by your supervisor. Suggestions: Remember the above tip on time of day? Take note of how your supervisor prefers to receive information in addition to when s/he’s most receptive to requests. Also, check out the Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources to compare your student-advisor ratio to that of advisors across the country.
  • Practice!  Just as you might practice with someone else to prepare for a job interview, practice your “speech” with a trusted colleague, friend, or family member. This can help build your confidence and your colleague may be able to provide some feedback on your approach, choice of words, and even body language (if practicing in-person).
  • Stay positive! Don’t discuss how you need the money because of the outrageous cost of gas, your grandmother’s gambling problem, or your child’s need for braces. Make sure to focus on what you have accomplished and what you will continue to contribute to your department, students, and institution.
  • Set a goal. It’s helpful to come into the conversation with an idea of what you would like to earn, but be flexible, reasonable, and realistic. Research what others are making in the same or similar position. Check out salary information on Web sites such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook (Bureau of Labor Statistics), www.payscale.com, www.salary.com, or the Economic Research Institute. Some public institutions are required to post yearly salaries on their Web site or in the library. NACADA’s Web site also has recent information on salaries in the Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources . Suggestion: If your union or state determines the pay range, you may need to work with your supervisor to request reclassification (which would mean your job duties are slightly different, a.k.a. more responsibility, than others in the same band or level). 
  • On the downside…If your request for a raise is turned down, ask your supervisor for specific examples of what you can do in the next six months to a year to be in a better position to receive a raise in the future. To help you maintain your focus, consider typing up your six to 12-month goals based on those examples provided by your supervisor.

While this may not be the best time to ask for a raise, start building your case and your confidence in the meantime. Continue to help your students and institution, keep track of your accomplishments, and look for ways to go above and beyond!


Alison Hoff
NACADA Member Career Services Committee Chair
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW)
[email protected]


Meredith Gerber
NACADA Member Career Services Committee Member
Career Counselor, College of Charleston
[email protected]


SparklerBanner.jpgIt 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] 

SPARKLERs for this edition come to us from Georgia Highlands College and Fitchburg State College.


Georgia Highlands College is a two-year unit of the University System of Georgia with multiple instructional sites. Laura Ralston tells us that Georgia Highlands employs a decentralized model of academic advising and does not currently assign students to a specific academic advisor; however, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an academic advisor prior to registration. “As enrollment increases and resources decrease,” Laura says, 'we have had to become creative and innovative in our approach to academic advising.” As a result, Early Bird Advising was implemented in Spring semester 2005. Each semester, faculty advisors conduct walk-in Early Bird Advising in a high traffic central location, such as the Student Center, on each of the campuses, usually one week prior to the start of registration. Counseling and Career Services staff are also available to assist students, as well as a financial aid representative. Student participation is encouraged through posters, e-mail announcements, and classroom announcements by faculty. The Office of Student Life provides food as an incentive for participation. Early Bird Advising gives students the opportunity to discuss one-on-one with a faculty advisor the coursework already taken and plan coursework needed to complete the program of study. The faculty advisor may recommend beneficial courses related to the program of study, offer advice regarding the sequencing of coursework, or refer to other services like Financial Aid or Counseling and Career Services as needed. Georgia Highlands developed several in-house surveys to assess the process of Early Bird Advising from both the student and faculty perspectives. Results were used to better plan the next session of Early Bird Advising. An outcomes based assessment was employed in Spring semester 2008 and showed that “students do use the information provided by advisors to develop their immediate schedules.” For more information, contact Laura at [email protected].

FirchburgLogo.jpgLisa Moison, GCE Program Advisor/Retention Specialist at Fitchburg State College, tells us that “education students are working professionals who do not have a lot of time to research degree programs or figure out admissions and registration policies. Because they attend college in the evening these students can feel disconnected from the day school culture because their course work occurs at night when campus is primarily closed down.” Recognition of this obstacle caused Fitchburg State College’s Graduate and Continuing Education Office to think resourcefully about how to reconnect with these students and about how best to provide advising services to them. One solution they devised is an e-advising Web site for evening students called the GCE Virtual Advisor. Lisa explains that “brief videotaped segments were uploaded onto our Web site, which communicated information regarding admissions, financial aid, registration, distance learning, transfer credits and additional topics that a student needs to know. In addition to the FAQs piece, the site also showcases GCE program chairs and managers talking about their specific degree programs. This not only assists currently enrolled students, but also helps prospective students to find out about our degrees directly from the experts. Students can also instantly e-mail an advisor via the Web site who will then get back in touch with them within 24 hours. Nothing can replace a face-to-face advising session, but this site does help to get information to students 24/7 and show our students who we are, so when they arrive on campus they will have a sense of familiarity with our staff and faculty already.” This project has allowed Fitchburg State College’s Graduate and Continuing Education Office to provide a contemporary approach to advising, 24/7 accurate advising information to students, a feeling that prospective students “go to Fitchburg State” versus just taking classes, information in a format that is accessible to multiple kinds of learners, and instant answers to some of the students’ most FAQs. Lisa notes that one prospective student stated, “I’ve never seen anything like this….the site is very user friendly,” while another student remarked that he would be using the site frequently. A graduate program chair at a recent meeting said, “Kudos to GCE for doing this.” Lisa says, “We will be using student feedback to improve the site as we move forward. One of the additions will be an instructional video that explains how the site works. Not all of our evening adult learners are confident in their technological abilities, so an instructional video could prove helpful to this population. We currently have twenty-five video clips on our Web site and hope to add more within the next year. To view our site, go to: www.fsc.edu/gce/virtualadvisor. Take our Web site feedback survey. We’d love to hear from all of you too.” For more information, contact Lisa at [email protected].


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