AAT banner

Voices of the Global Community


Creating and Sustaining Assessment Through Teamwork

David von Miller, Texas State University-San Marcos

David von Miller.jpgAssessing academic advising is critical for any institution that wishes to improve advising services for students and create a culture that values academic advising (Cuseo, 2008). Institutions of higher education and advisors have a professional and ethical responsibility to determine if the services provided are effective in meeting the needs and goals of students and the institution (Troxel, 2008). To these ends, in May 2009 the professional advising community at Texas State University worked as a team to create an academic advising assessment plan. Advisors gathered for a two-day Academic Advising Summit to create and map student learning outcomes. Rich Robbins (2009), chair of the  NACADA Assessment Institute Advisory Board and our Summit facilitator, stated: "The most significant outcome of the two-day event was the building of a sense of teamwork, unity, and ownership of the process among the participants from the respective advising units. Assessment of academic advising efforts have put the institution “ahead of the curve” not only within the state but nationwide as well. The [Texas State] university can become a true model for assessment of academic advising for other higher education institutions."

During this same time period, Texas State University underwent reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Part of the reaffirmation process included development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Our QEP theme for this accreditation cycle is “Enhancing Student Success through Personalized Advising and Mentoring.”  Our academic advisors wanted to develop an assessment plan to support this QEP and to take ownership of the assessment of academic advising.

Assessment team leadership developed a structure for the Summit that allowed full participation of all professional advisors on campus. A pre-Summit meeting was held to educate advisors on the importance of assessment, student learning outcomes, and communication. The following ground rules were implemented to enhance teambuilding and ensure the full participation of everyone involved: respect others’ opinions, share and listen openly, share airtime, avoid side conversations, adhere to time frames, and take responsibility for your own learning. On the first day of the Summit, advisors formed small teams to develop learning outcomes for the following three advising goals derived from our QEP:

  1. Ease the transition to the university experience
  2. Encourage student engagement for intellectual and personal growth
  3. Teach students to use resources and relationships to maximize their educational and personal potential.

Each goal was shared by two teams. Following an initial brainstorming activity, teams with identical goals worked together to identify the top five student learning outcomes developed from each group’s initial work. Next, all teams came together and each advisor identified three preferred student learning outcomes for each goal. This resulted in a group consensus of three student learning outcomes for each advising goal. During the second day of the Summit, each group mapped out the student leaning outcomes and identified multiple measures for each outcome. This team approach helped advisors understand how assessment data is used and allowed advisors to be involved in the process from planning through implementation to data review. Importantly, the Summit and the resulting university-wide assessment plan connects to the institution’s strategic planning process with the goal of improving academic advising services.

The teamwork principles used in our summit can be applied to the development of an assessment plan on other campuses. Effective teamwork principles that increase productivity are well documented in business and higher education settings. Grant and Moore (2008) noted that characteristics of successful teams include: a clear elevating goal, a results driven structure, competent team members, a unified commitment, a collaborative climate, standards of excellence; external support and recognition, and principled leadership. Our shared goals guided us in the process, including our desire to claim ownership of the assessment of academic advising. Additionally, academic advising leaders at Texas State wanted to involve all advisors to create a sustainable assessment process that would support the QEP and SACS accreditation.

The Advising Summit provided a results-driven format that allowed each academic advisor to learn, participate, and provide input on how to assess and improve advising services. All advisors were able to participate in developing and mapping student learning outcomes for assessment. Texas State University has a diverse and committed group of professional advisors who are dedicated to providing excellent academic advising services to our students. The assessment plan created a framework for data-driven decisions for improving advising services. As advisors learned about the importance of assessment and began creating and mapping student learning outcomes, the level of commitment and collaboration increased significantly. The standards of excellence that guided this team process included a commitment to professional excellence and a desire to support both the QEP and the university’s reaffirmation of SACS accreditation. Upper level administrators provided leadership and support through this process.

The Advising Summit at Texas State resulted in a unique team approach involving an unusually large number of stakeholders. This arrangement allowed for the professional advising community to take ownership of the assessment process and create an effective, sustainable assessment plan. This accomplishment and the resulting sense of teamwork increased advisor enthusiasm for assessment. Engaging this large group of advisors increased the knowledge, experience, and idea sharing for improving the assessment process and advising services. Following the Summit, there was a significant increase in the number of advisors who wished to assist in planning, data collection and analysis, report writing, and the development of action plans for the improvement of advising services. The Texas State professional advising community hopes that the process we developed will be valuable for our colleagues.  Additional resources for developing and sustaining academic advising assessment are available in the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website.

David von Miller
Director, College of Science and Engineering Advising Center
Texas State University-San Marco
s[email protected]


Cuseo, J. (2008). Assessing advisor effectiveness. In Gordon, V.N, Habley, W.R. & Grites,T.J.(Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook, second edition. (pp. 369-385). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Grant, M. and Moore, M. (2008). Teambuilding. San Marcos, TX:  Texas State University. Unpublished.

Robbins, R. (2009). Conversations in advising: Creating an impact. San Marcos: TX: Texas State University. Unpublished.

Troxel, W.G. (2008). Assessing the effectiveness of the advising program. In Gordon, V.N, Habley, W.R. & Grites,T.J. (Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook, second edition. (pp. 386-395) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

From the President: We Were Nothing Daunted

Jennifer Joslin, NACADA President

Jennifer Joslin.jpgIt was wonderful to visit Denver on the heels of one of my summer books, Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.  Nothing Daunted tells the story of how, in 1916, Smith College graduates Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood left upstate New York to teach schoolchildren in rural Colorado for a year.  Arriving in Denver for a week's stay at the Brown Palace Hotel (still in business!)  before traveling northwest to Elkhead, CO, Rosamund wrote home that despite hearing many stories of the challenging life out West, “We were nothing daunted” and eager to begin their year of adventure. 

I thought of this wonderful phrase as I listened to the keynote presentations and sat in conference sessions. Despite the tumultuous times facing higher education in the United States, North America, and across the world, advisors and advising administrators provided example after example of innovative programs, models, theoretical approaches, and interventions.

Resourcefulness has never been more important.  The challenges we face in our day-to-day work is nothing compared to the cost of standing still, of failing to innovate. James Applegate, Vice President of the Lumina Foundation, provided a vivid argument for radically rethinking how and who we educate as a nation.  Applegate encourages us to 'design a 21st century advising program' in which a focus on adult learners, partnerships with K-12 schools, technology implementation, accelerated pathways to degrees, and data transparency translated into degree attainment for students.  As Applegate reminded us, this work is not optional.  With the research on salary differentials between high school and college graduates confirmed again this year (e.g., see Carnevale et al, 2009), Applegate exhorted us to remember that 'every student dropped out is condemned to a difficult life.".  

Colorado State-Colorado Springs Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak reinforced Applegate’s message by encouraging a similar paradigm shift. Shockley-Zalabak encouraged advisors and administrators to become “intentional interactions designers.” That is, in an age of “instant communication” and rapid technology innovation, advisors must be purposeful and intentional as they assist students in building competencies that lead to persistence in college as well as career success. Decision-making, conflict resolution, accountability, integrity, and an understanding of the role of work in relation to education are crucial skills advisors must model and instill in their students.  (View both keynote addresses.)

I echo these calls for creative responses to the difficult circumstances in which higher education and our advising units find themselves today. I encourage all of us to channel the spirit of Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood who, having heard the challenges facing them, remained determined and undaunted.

This year NACADA will reach out to every member regularly through regional conferences, emails, newsletters, speakers, webinars, listservs, social media, and the learning network we are creating. When I get those emails and see the phrase 'NACADA Near You', I know from experience that it is more than a tagline. It is a promise of support, collegiality, and innovation. It also is each one of us!  We are the “NACADA Near You.” On our campuses, we may be the nearest thing to NACADA that some of our colleagues will experience this year. It is a great opportunity and a tremendous responsibility. It is an extended conversation.  It is a call to action.  Please join me and the Board of Directors as we go forth and do good things together this year.

Jennifer Joslin, President
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Director, Office of Academic Advising, University of Oregon
[email protected]


Carnevale, A.P., Strohl, J., & Melton, M. (2009). What’s it worth? Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce.  Retrieved from http://cew.georgetown.edu/whatsitworth/

From the Executive Director: Now Is The Time To Broadcast How We Help Students Succeed

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director


As I move close to my 10 year anniversary in the NACADA Executive Office, I know that “Time flies when you are having fun!”  I can honestly say that, in my more than 30 years in education, the last 10 years have been the highlight of my career. I feel fortunate to work with wonderful leaders, amazing Executive Office staff, and awesome NACADA members from across the world!  The work NACADA members do on a daily basis to ensure the success of students is amazing, as is your support of NACADA’s efforts. NACADA members truly inspire us all.

As we all know, this is a very trying yet exciting time in higher education. The global emphasis on student persistence and retention to graduation/completion continues to highlight the important role of academic advising in student success. We see institutions across the globe develop new initiatives for academic advising, direct funds to restructuring efforts and/or hire academic advisors, focus on the importance of comprehensive and continual professional development for academic advisors, and implement concrete assessment plans to determine the effectiveness and success of academic advising at our institutions.

As we experience this emphasis on quality academic advising, it is important that we communicate the importance of NACADA to our professional growth and to the success of our institutions. I strongly encourage all who have the opportunity to attend a NACADA conference or institute, view one of our web events, or utilize one of our myriad of resources to communicate to supervisors, chief academic officers, presidents, and chancellors the value of the NACADA experience and how this experience benefits our institutions and students.  Those in leadership positions need to hear from each of us how important NACADA is to our institutions’ work with students.

I even more strongly encourage each of us to let the NACADA community know the good work we are doing on our campuses. Submit an article to the NACADA electronic publication Academic Advising Today or to the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources; submit a proposal to present at one of NACADA’s 10 region conferences; submit a posting to the NACADA Blog. Now is the time for each of us to clearly broadcast the outstanding work we do in all areas of student success and academic advising!

I look forward to seeing all of you at one of our regional conferences next spring, or at the NACADA Administrators’ Institute, Assessment Institute, or Advising as Teaching Seminar in February 2012 in San Diego, or at one of our two Academic Advising Summer Institutes in Austin or Louisville next summer. Please do not hesitate to contact me ([email protected] or on Facebook at “Charlie Nutt” or on twitter @charlienutt) if I can help you or your campus.

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

Increasing First-Year Student Engagement through Mid-Year Self-Reflections

Holly Martin, Advising First-Year Students Interest Group Chair 

Holly Martin.gifFor many students, their first year of college is a time of significant transition and the beginning of self-direction. Students’ first semester is often devoted to the basics of the transition and needed academic and personal adjustments. After the experience of their initial term, first-year students are generally more open to actively engaging in their education and receiving advice that can help them reflect on their academic interests, growth, study strategies, and progress toward their developing goals.

One method for assisting students in self-reflection and significant conversation is to ask students to complete a short on-line questionnaire before their first advising session of the second semester. Results of this self-reflection can be used to help the student and advisor not only assess student progress towards goals, but to work together to revise and brainstorm strategies better tailored toward reaching those goals.

Having students fill out the questionnaire before an advising session and then reviewing it with them during the session is preferable to simply asking the questions during the session. With the students’ responses already before them, advisors and students can choose which responses merit more discussion or raise important questions. Student responses,  however lengthy or brief, often provide evidence of students’ early academic growth and successes including student developmental stage, study skills abilities, changes of interest, and referral needs.

Pre-submission of the questionnaire allows advisors and students to concentrate on those responses most pertinent to students at that point in their academic careers.

Presently, advisors within the First Year of Studies at the University of Notre Dame use an on-line 'Self-Reflection Questionnaire' to help expand second-semester advising discussions into areas that promote academic engagement. The questionnaire consists of short, plainly worded questions that mirror First Year of Studies' learning objectives. The on-line questions are sent to all first-year students immediately prior to their return to campus for the second semester. Students’ responses to the on-line questionnaire are automatically returned to advisors as they are completed. In its first year, voluntary student response to the First Year of Studies questionnaire was excellent with over 75 percent of first-year students participating.

First-year students are asked the following:

1. In what ways have you grown intellectually over the last four months?

This question helps students take note of their growing skills and interests. In advising sessions students and advisors identify and celebrate intellectual growth and build on that growth.

2. What are your academic strengths?

This question challenges students to think about their interests and strengths. Advisors find answers to this question helpful in discussing possible majors and programs. While concentrating on the positive, answers to this question also can lead to specific suggestions for improvement.

3. Which classes have you found most interesting and why?

It is important that we pay attention to why students find some courses more engrossing than others. These insights into students’ learning habits provide insight into their developing interests.

4. Which classes have been most challenging, and how did you handle those challenges?

This important question helps students and advisors explore how students rise to academic challenges. This is another opportunity to celebrate past achievements and brainstorm student-specific suggestions for further study skills development.

5. Are you comfortable sharing your thoughts and ideas with peers in class?

Advisors can assist less secure students in understanding that they will become more comfortable sharing their insights in class as they become more confident in their knowledge of their major subject area. Tips concerning how to be ready to join in discussions are a natural part of the conversation here as well.

6. Have you taken advantage of opportunities to learn outside of the classroom? Please give examples.

Students generally interpret this question to mean their use of professors' office hours and/or attending review sessions or tutoring. While that is encouraged, answers to this question also provide an opportunity to point out that attending campus art events, joining volunteer and club activities, and participating in other forms of on-campus engagement are at the heart of learning outside of the classroom. At this point in an advising session, the advisor should know the student well enough to suggest specific events or activities to the student.

7. Is there a topic on which you might like to do research?  How did you become interested in it?

Except in the physical and social sciences where students can join on-going research projects, few first-year students are ready to identify research topics. This question challenges students to think about areas they might find most interesting as they move forward in their education. In other words, to think of their education as more than fulfilling externally prescribed requirements.

8. Are you becoming the person you want to be?

This question is primarily asked to help students think about their educations in the context of the whole person, but it also provides students the opportunity to indicate pressing personal difficulties that may be affecting their academic work.

The value of the mid-year self-assessment questionnaire is that it helps students build upon an analysis of their own experiences. Many students have never been asked to think about these kinds of questions before; they have focused on grades and requirements, not on the larger picture. These questions challenge them to focus on what they have learned so far about their academic likes and dislikes, their strengths, their goals, and what strategies have been effective for reaching those goals. Their answers provide a place for advisors to start productive conversations.

In addition to the students' high school records and tests, first-semester grades, and impressions gathered from earlier conversations, this brief mid-year self-reflection exercise can help guide advising discussions. Answers to these questions provide insight into students' development levels so advisors can work with them more effectively. More specifically, pre-advising session questionnaires can assist advisors in identifying students who feel academic or personal anxiety, students who are academically advanced in their interests, and how well students’ academic strategies are serving their needs. While this tool focuses conversations on student appraisals of their academic lives, students' self-reflections can also help advisors note emerging trends among all of their first-year students.

Mid-year self-reflections can help students become more directly engaged in their own educations. When kept with students’ records or portfolios these self-reflections can offer insight as students look back on their first-year goals, strategies and experiences.

Holly E. Martin
Assistant Dean, First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame
[email protected]

Negotiating Civil Discourse in Academic Advising

Shannon Burton, Michigan State University

Shannon Burton.gifHigher education professionals have come to recognize that our students are an amalgamation of their family structures, race and ethnicity, gender, religions, and educational experiences. As students converge upon our campuses, they are challenged to confront their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in new ways through coursework, the people they meet, and the extra-curricular opportunities in which they engage. Advisors hope to create environments where students feel safe sharing their views on coursework and their activities, but we realize that the comments students make can be positive, negative, or sometimes even inappropriate.

How should advisors engage students in deeper discussions when we hear comments about an experience that borders on incivility? What can we do to help students begin to develop healthy means to discuss experiences?  Academic advisors can help students put their views and experiences into perspective when we teach students to maintain discussions that support, rather than undermine, societal good in the academic environment. While it may be difficult even for advisors to reflect upon controversial topics, there are strategies we can use to manage civil discourse. To facilitate appropriately, advisors must examine our perspectives on societal issues first.

Understanding Ourselves

  1. Advisors should have an understanding of our views on issues so that biases can be checked.  The key is to engage students and allow them to reflect upon what they are saying versus imposing our beliefs upon students.
  2. Advisors should be aware of the ways in which we may respond to comments we consider “uncivil” and determine how we may mitigate our initial reactions. Remember, students should continue to feel that advisors’ offices are safe and secure places to talk about themselves and issues that may affect their academic success. Reacting, however instinctively, in a negative way may have reverberating repercussions for continued relationships. Additionally, as professionals and as representatives of the institution, we are role models for appropriate behavior and how to express views within the institutional culture.
  3. Advisors should be aware of our communication styles and how these styles affect our interactions with students.  We may need to offer other means for communication or ask for space to reflect so that appropriate responses may be given.
  4. Advisors should encourage students to use the advising time to discuss ideas. We should let students know that regardless of their opinions, advisors will respect them and guide them towards academic success.

Once advisors set the above parameters, we can use the following strategies to help engage students.

Civil Discourse Strategies (Landis, 2008):

1. The Five Minute Rule (Landis, p. 109):

Ask students to consider opposing viewpoints for a few moments. Have them reflect on the following questions:

  • What is interesting or helpful about this view?
  • What are some intriguing features that others may not have noticed?
  • What would be different if they believed this view, if they accepted it as true?
  • In what sense and under what conditions might this idea be true?

Students should only think positively about the opposing viewpoint at this time.  This strategy allows students to try on a less popular view and entertain it respectfully for a short time.

 2. Reframe the Discussion (Landis, p. 154):

This strategy provides a means to uncover the hidden historical, social, and political aspects of a position.   Advisors should help students identify the experiences informing their perspective and help them reflect upon the following questions:

Option One:

  • From what discourse or discourse community does this view originate?
  • In what social or political structures is this view most at home?
  • How does this discourse relate to different power structures in which believers might find themselves?
  • What does holding and voicing this opinion do to shape individuals and their different roles or relationships?

Option Two:

  • What kind of cultural work does this view promote?  Are proponents trying to get individuals to believe in something, act in specific ways, or change their minds about something?
  • Who loses?  Who gains?  Which groups benefit and who is penalized?
  • What ideas gain traction because of this perspective, and which ideas are minimized?
  • What perspectives are mobilized if this view becomes accepted, and which are constrained, limited or eliminated?

3. Shared Writing (Landis, p. 199):

Personal journals are effective and safe spaces for students to consider and develop their ideas about controversial topics before engaging in dialogue with others.  Encourage students who have difficulty expressing themselves to write in their journals every day.  Ask students if they are willing to share their journals so we can help them think through issues in constructive ways.


These are three ways to engage students in deeper discussions about their thoughts. These strategies offer examples of how advisors can help students reframe discussions in healthy ways and engage in dialogues on controversial topics both inside and outside the classroom. Other strategies exist for classrooms and group environments.

Whichever strategies are used, advisors should make certain that we have prepared carefully. We should know what we think and why we think that way. We should be prepared for our instinctive reactions and know how to control for them. As advisors we must have the courage to make mistakes. We must be humble enough to stand corrected and apologize when necessary. Engaging students in deeper conversations is not easy, but our efforts can move students forward to lifelong learning.

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


Landis, K. (Ed.) (2008). Start talking: A handbook for engaging difficult dialogues in higher education.  Anchorage, AK: University Press.


Teaching Tolerance. Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation's children. www.tolerance.org

National Issues Forum. This non-partisan network of educational and community organizations promotes the debate of current issues. www.nifi.org

Choices for the 21st Century. Choices is a project of the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Institute for International Studies at Brown University that has created 15 units on contemporary and historical U.S. foreign policy issues.www.choices.edu

Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center. This center is dedicated to promoting civic engagement, academic freedom and pluralism in higher education. www.difficultdialogues.org

For Further Reading

Andrews, R. (1994). Democracy and the teaching of argument. The English Journal, 83,(6), 62-69.

Barber, B.R. (1989). Public talk and civic action: Education for participation in a strong democracy. Social Education, 53(6). 355-370.

Evans, R. W. and Saxe, D.W. (Eds.). (1996). On teaching social issues. National Council for the Social Studies Bulletin 93. Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social Studies.

Parker, W. C. (Ed.). (2002). Education for democracy, contexts, curricula, assessments. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Encouraging Study Abroad Sooner Than Later

Chris Cook, University of Central Florida

Chris Cook.gif

Adaptability, like most skills, is more beneficial the earlier it is learned. In the September 2010 issue of Academic Advising Today, Ian Keil (University of Southern California) described the importance of study abroad. In his article, Keil (2010) demonstrated how fundamental the development of “adaptability” is to a study abroad experience and to students’ academic careers. While Keil provided readers with an excellent argument for promoting and supporting study abroad, I would suggest that advisors should go a step further and encourage students to experience different cultures earlier in their academic careers.

Carlson, Burn, Useem and Yachomowicz (1990) noted that study abroad experiences promote higher educational attainment for participating students (p.92). In fact, Young (2004) found that students taking part in a study abroad at a particular liberal arts university were more likely to graduate in four years than those who chose not to do so (p. 20). Among the many studies on the benefits of study abroad, Milstein (2005) reported a 95.5 percent increase in perceived self-efficacy (p. 228), Twibell & Ryan (2000) describe a major impact of the experience being an increase in personal growth (p.421), and Juhasz and Walker (1988) argue that study abroad participants develop more realistic self-appraisals of self-confidence, self-reliance, maturity, and independence (p.336). In sum, Leslie and Sutton (2010) compiled evidence that the study abroad experience fosters growth in self-identity and the understanding of personal goals in a broad social and cultural context with impacts “far beyond language acquisition” (pp. 166-171). These are qualities most advisors would like to cultivate in our freshmen and sophomore advisees. Taken one step further, it is equally important that we consider how more exposure to global and cultural issues can increase our students’ chances for success in the future.

We might expect that study abroad participants increase their global knowledge and develop their cultural competencies so that they become more marketable in the professional world. This is indeed the case. Hovland (2009) reported on 2006 and 2007 surveys of business leaders conducted through the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Results showed that 72 percent believed that universities were “underemphasizing global issues” and almost half of respondents “did not think their recent college hires had the global knowledge necessary for advancement” (p.4). While study abroad is but one aspect within the development of cultural competency and global knowledge, it can provide student participants with a competitive edge in an increasingly global workforce. Students who begin this exposure to global issues and cultural awareness earlier in their academic careers have more opportunity to hone these needed skills.

Using the student population at Florida State University, Posey (2003) was able to show that 80.8 percent of study abroad participants tracked received a baccalaureate degree compared to 56.6 percent of non-study abroad participants (p. 59).  Additionally, participants often return to the home campus with stronger convictions regarding their major choice and more desire to further their education in graduate school (Dwyer and Peters, 2004, ¶14). Study abroad experiences are catalysts for increased maturity, cultural sensitivity, cultural interaction as well as career focus (Dwyer & Peters ¶3). These students persist at their institutions and graduate in a timely manner with higher GPAs (Posey p.63-66). In an ever increasing global economy, study abroad plays a crucial role in preparing these students to take their degrees out into the workforce (Carlson, et al., p.114). If study abroad facilitates the development of the type of student that both advisors and employers like to see, then why do many students wait until their junior or senior years to participate? If study abroad facilitates the type of student growth and development that research seems to suggest, then shouldn’t advisors reconsider the traditional notion that students need to “mature” before experiencing another society?  Every year more students matriculate directly from high school with earned higher education credits. Study abroad may be just the answer for eighteen or nineteen year old freshmen with large numbers of college credits earned in high school who need the emotional, personal, and professional growth a study abroad experience can bring.

Even more to the point, a student’s first study abroad experience simply makes more sense at an earlier stage in the academic career of a traditional student (Leslie & Sutton, p.171). During the first few terms, students focus on general education programs, lower level electives, and language courses. These early academic terms, before students settle into what can be a lock-step progression of upper divison courses, can be the perfect time for advisors to encourage study abroad explorations.

The question that may bother some academic advisors is ‘are freshmen and sophomores mature enough to go abroad?’ To this point advisors should ask themselves if juniors and seniors not exposed to cultural experiences that challenge assumptions, ideas, and beliefs are any better off? Study abroad programs that include interaction and guidance can be just what these students need. Guidance does not need to come solely from faculty members; Keil (2010) noted that “as academic advisors, it is our obligation to teach students the skills they need to succeed in school and in life” (¶5).

Advisors are some of the best candidates to develop and lead study abroad programs. When we encourage participation earlier in our students’ academic careers, we encourage the growth needed to give students a competitive edge in an increasingly global workforce.

Chris Cook
Coordinator of Academic Support Services and Director of the Sophomore Experience Abroad (S.E.A.)
College of Sciences
University of Central Florida
[email protected]


Carlson, J., Burn, B., Useem, J., & Yachimowicz, D. (1990). Study abroad: The experience of American undergraduates. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.

Dwyer, M. M., & Peters, C. K. (2004). The benefits of study abroad: New study confirms significant gains. Retrieved from www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0403/benefits_study_abroad.shtml

Hovland, K. (2009, Fall). Global learning: What is it? Who is responsible for it? Peer Review.

Juhasz, A., & Walker, A. (1988). The impact of study abroad on university students' self-esteem and self-efficacy. College Student Journal, 22, 329-341.

Keil, I. (2010, September). Raising the bar: Why is study abroad so fundamentally important. Academic Advising Today, 33(3).

Leslie, S. L., & Sutton, S. B. (2010). The potential of study abroad in the sophomore year. In Hunter, M.S., Tobolowsky, B.F., Gardner, J.N., Evenbeck, S.E., Patlengale, J.A., Schaller, M. & Schreiner, LA., Helping Sophomores Succeed: Understanding and Improving the Second-Year Experience (pp.163-176). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Milstein, T. (2005). Transformation abroad: Sojourning and the perceived enhancement of self-efficacy. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29, 217-238.

Posey, J. (2003). Study abroad: Educational and employment outcomes of participants versus non participants. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Publication number 3137474).

Twibell, R.S. & Ryan, M.E.  (2000). Concerns, values, stress, coping, health and educational outcomes of college students who studied abroad. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 24, 409-435.

Young, D. Y. (2004). Persistence at a Liberal Arts University and Participation in a Study-Abroad Program. Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research, Boston.

Anticipatory Guidance as an Advising Strategy for Pre-nursing Students

Cheryl L. Bosley, Susanne M. Miller, and Amy L. Novak, Youngstown State University

Cheryl Bosley.gif

Pre-nursing students envision the day when, as registered nurses, they will develop a care plan for an acutely ill newborn or advocate for a dying patient in a long-term care facility. The transition from student to professional involves a socialization process that can be extremely stressful for students in programs like nursing. Counseling students in the pre-program phase using a Amy Novak.jpgstrategy such as anticipatory guidance can help prepare students for expected stressors and provide them with needed time to develop healthy coping strategies before entering their major.

Stress and Socialization in Nursing Programs

ISusanne Miller.jpgn addition to the typical stressors college students experience, pre-nursing students are subjected to stress from many sources specifically related to their major (e.g., competitive admission process and trying to maintain high grades) (Goff, 2011; Jimenez, Navia-Osorio, & Diaz, 2010). Once admitted to a nursing program, students discover high levels of stress associated with clinical course experiences, caring for patients, and preparing for the nursing licensure exam (Goff, 2011; Jimenez, et al., 2010). These stressors are encountered by students as they transition or “socialize” into their new role as student nurse and experience what encompasses becoming a nurse.

Socialization is a term used in the nursing profession to describe the experience graduates encounter when first entering the workforce. It involves a process in which new nurses internalize and adapt to the norms and values within the organization (Mooney, 2007). Students entering the nursing major experience a similar socialization as they learn how to adapt to new rules and expectations. Formally, learning to be – to think and act – like a nurse, takes place during the clinical experience and in the classrooms and labs. Informally, this process occurs through interactions with faculty, advisors, and other students inside and outside the classroom. Regardless of the setting, students are likely to experience stress while adapting to their new role as a student nurse.

Nursing students often share with faculty and advisors the pressure and worry they have related to unclear clinical expectations, time-consuming clinical preparation, frustrating interactions with physicians, staff or patients, and fear of failing courses or making clinical errors. Students may be surprised to discover that not only is the grading scale higher in a nursing program, but exam questions may be different so they must learn new ways to prepare for classes and exams. Programs typically have strict policies for attendance, grading, and progression. A lack of flexibility in course and clinical scheduling means added stress for students who work or have children. Additionally, students may be unprepared for performance-type (skill proficiency) testing that requires very high or even 100 percent accuracy. Students may feel the stress of these overwhelming expectations and conforming to many inflexible rules; they may fear the consequences of nonconforming (Clark, 2008; Hall, 2004).

Anticipatory Guidance as an Advising Strategy

Anticipatory guidance is a nursing intervention used to prepare patients or family members for an anticipated developmental or situational crisis (Rakel, 1992; Thobaben, 1999). When patients know what to expect they can learn the healthy coping strategies needed to help them through a crisis. In a similar way, academic advisors can use anticipatory guidance to help pre-nursing students understand the socialization process and its associated stress. When advisors use anticipatory guidance, we allow students time to develop strategies for handing the stress in healthy ways prior to entering the major.

Anticipatory guidance involves providing realistic expectations and discussing what effect these expectations may have on students. Students may need additional time during their advising appointments or schedule additional appointments to allow time for these discussions. Resources available to students for dealing with stress should be explored during these visits.

Students may be hesitant to discuss their stress for fear that it could affect their progression. However, when students have advanced preparation and understand that stress is a common experience among nursing students, they may be more likely to engage in open communication with their advisors.

Developing Healthy Coping Strategies

In addition to facilitating student understanding of stress sources in a nursing program, it is important to help students identify healthy coping strategies. Murdock, Naber, and Perlow (2010) noted that of the 95 nursing students surveyed, more than 90 percent wanted to develop better coping skills and thought that stress management should be taught upon admission into a nursing program. Almost half of surveyed students did not feel they used good stress management skills. Students reported using exercise, socializing, listening to music, eating, meditation/deep breathing, smoking, and drinking alcohol to relieve their stress (p.8). Additionally, Jimenez,et al. (2010) observed that students’ inability to cope with the stressors associated with their academic program could affect their mental and/or physical health and academic performance (p. 453).

Offering opportunities for pre-nursing students to interact with each other can reinforce anticipatory guidance and help students identify successful coping strategies. Peers can share stressful experiences and how they coped in healthy ways. Advisors should explore creative ways pre-nursing students can make these connections with current students. Pre-nursing student organizations and student mentoring programs provide opportunities for student interaction. Peer mentors in the major also can help advise pre-nursing students on non-academic issues.

When advisors use anticipatory guidance as an advising strategy, we can help pre-nursing students understand the stressors they will encounter and learn healthy coping strategies that can be used when they enter the nursing major. Advisors working with students in other majors are encouraged to adopt anticipatory guidance techniques to help their students.

Cheryl L. Bosley
Associate Professor, Department of Nursing
Youngstown State University
[email protected]

Susanne M. Miller
Senior Academic Advisor
The Bitonte College of Health and Human Services
Youngstown State University
[email protected]

Amy L. Novak
Student Nurse
Department of Nursing
Youngstown State University
[email protected]


Clark, C. M. (2008). Student voices on faculty incivility in nursing education: A conceptual model. Nursing Education Perspectives, 29(5), 284-289.

Goff, A. (2011). Stressors, academic performance, and learned resourcefulness in baccalaureate nursing students. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 8(1), 1-20.

Hall, J. M. (2004). Dispelling desperation in nursing education. Nursing Outlook, 52 (3), 147-154.

Jimenez, C., Navia-Osorio, P. M., & Diaz, C. V. (2010). Stress and health in novice and experienced nursing students. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(2), 442-455.

Mooney, M. (2007). Professional socialization: The key to survival as a newly qualified nurse. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 13, 75-80.

Murdock, C., Naber, J., & Perlow, M. (2010), Stress level and stress management skills of admitted baccalaureate nursing students. Kentucky Nurse, April/May, 8.

Rakel, B. A. (1992). Interventions related to patient teaching. Nursing Clinics of North America, 27(2), 397-424.

Thobaben, M. (1999). Anticipatory guidance for family caregivers. Home Health Care Management & Practice, 11(4), 8-14.

Make a Difference: Six Things Undergraduate Advisors Should Know About Graduate School

Jennifer L. Bloom, University of South Carolina
Stephanie Uiga
, University of California-Irvine

Stephanie Uiga.jpg

Jennifer Bloom.jpg

This is the time of year when graduating students begin to give serious thought to their post-graduation options.  Given the competitiveness of today’s job market, more and more students are considering graduate school.  The undergraduate academic advising office may be one of the first places students contact for information on the application process. Undergraduate advisors can best assist students considering graduate school, no matter the discipline, when they do six things.

1. Encourage students to reflect on their rationale for pursuing a graduate degree. Students should think carefully about their motivation and what they want to study before applying to graduate school. Faculty serving on admissions committees can sense when students’ motivation stems from parental pressure or uncertainty about what to do after college. Master’s and doctoral programs that require a thesis expect students to have at least a general idea of the research topics they are interested in pursuing.  A student who pursues a graduate degree with a sense of purpose and a keen interest in the discipline is not only more likely to be admitted, but also is more likely to succeed in the face of the tremendous academic, social, and sometimes financial pressures of life as a graduate student.

2. Encourage students to do their research on graduate school options. In choosing a graduate program, the subject/concentration and the type of degree are not the only factors that should be considered. Prior to applying, students should also consider location, quality of the program, faculty, financial aid, the availability of resources and benefits (e.g., health insurance). Students should be encouraged to move beyond their comfort zone and consider schools that are out of state or in a different setting than their undergraduate school. An educational background that includes diverse experiences increases networking opportunities and makes students more attractive to potential employers. Admission into research-based programs is often tied to a particular faculty member’s willingness to serve as a mentor and/or how the student’s interests and abilities could be useful to the faculty member’s research. In these cases, it’s important that the applicant identify and contact faculty members with similar research interests.

3. Encourage students to call graduate program directors and/or admissions officers on the phone. Departmental websites are typically rich resources for information about a degree program; students should be encouraged to read these sites thoroughly. After students conduct their initial research online they should be encouraged to contact the program director with specific questions. This will give applicants the opportunity to ask about assistantship opportunities, experiences of students in the program, and what qualities the program selection committee seeks in candidates for admission.  Academic advisors can help students develop a list of questions to ask program officials.

4. Help students by editing their personal statements for graduate school. One concrete way that academic advisors can help students in the graduate school application process is to offer to read and edit their personal statements. The personal statement should reflect students’ individual stories and aspirations for their futures. Students should also individualize their personal statements for each program/school to which they apply. They should share why they are interested in that school’s program and, especially for doctoral programs, mention specific faculty members whose work interests them. Poor grades or red flags in their records should be addressed in the personal statement, but such remarks should be kept brief and focus on what students learned by overcoming these obstacles.

5. Encourage students to get involved in undergraduate research. There are multiple benefits associated with students developing relationships with faculty members. One of the best ways to develop substantive relationships with faculty is for students to conduct undergraduate research. The benefits for students include one-on-one interaction with faculty outside the classroom, active opportunities to apply what is learned in classes, and the opportunity to see first-hand the work faculty do in addition to teaching (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Doctoral programs will expect applicants to have research experience, more so in the sciences than in humanities, social sciences, and professional programs. Given the positive outcomes associated with undergraduate research, academic advisors should make all students aware of opportunities to become involved in undergraduate research.

6. Help students realize that there may be additional funding sources for graduate education.  At many institutions there are opportunities for students to secure funding to help pay for their graduate degrees and/or living expenses. Many students do not realize that there are graduate assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships available to prospective graduate students that can, if secured, help cover  tuition. Assistantships may include a small stipend over and above the cost of tuition. Applicants should be encouraged to turn in their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by the deadline just as they did for their undergraduate degrees. The FAFSA may be required by the school in order for students to receive federal or departmental aid.


Applying to graduate school can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience for undergraduate students. Academic advisors can help ease that stress by demystifying the application process and by suggesting steps students can take to get started. With help from advisors, students can successfully prepare for the next step in their educations.

Jennifer L. Bloom
Clinical Professor and Director
Higher Education & Student Affairs Program
Department of Educational Leadership & Policies
University of South Carolina
[email protected]

Stephanie Uiga
Graduate Student Affairs Officer
Program in Public Health
University of California-Irvine
[email protected]


Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: a third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

'I Had a C-Section' Replaces 'My Grandmother Died' as Today's Excuse for Missing Class

Patrick E. Jackson, Kent State University
Virginia D. Jackson and Al lyson Himmelright, University of Akron

Editor’s Note:  The following article was developed from a presentation given at the NACADA Annual Conference in Orlando, October 2010.

Patrick Jackson.jpg

A freshman arrives in the advising office to plan courses for the next semester. Before the usual business of advisingcommences, she compliments the cute baby picture on the advisor’s desk and then blurts out that she is pregnant. Allyson Himmelright.jpgShe has only told one other person. Her due date is a month into the next semester. What is the advisor’s response? What resources are available on campus that may be of use to this student? What advice can an advisor give to increase this pregnant student’s chance of success?

Virginia Jackson.jpgBrening, Dalve-Endres, and Patrick (2003) reported that the highest rate of unintended pregnancies were among college-age (18 to 25 year old) women. Among 20 to 24 year olds, 58.5 percent of pregnancies were reported as unintentional; among 18 and 19 year olds the unintended pregnancy spiked to 75 percent (Brening et al., 2003, p. 449). Parenting at an early age creates many barriers to educational attainment and typically leads to a future of devastating economic insecurity (Ward & Wolf-Wendel, 2004; Wright & Davis, 2008).

There is little research within the literature on the traditional college-aged student (18 to 24 year olds) who unintentionally becomes pregnant while in college. Traditional College-Aged Parenting Students (TCAPS) have gone unexamined and unnamed until recently. Conceivably, to be successful in college, TCAPS may require a high level of developmental guidance. Despite TCAPS’ increased need and heightened risk of educational failure, most institutions reclassify TCAPS as adult learners or non-traditional students because they have a dependent child. Developmentally, TCAPS are no more adult than other campus eighteen year olds who struggle to manage emotions, work through autonomy, develop purpose, and establish their identities.

For an advising guide developed at the University of Akron, academic advisors drew upon the research and programming focused on assisting adolescent parents in completing high school as well as accounts of older, parenting students attending college. Here we draw from that guide that focuses on creating a warm environment, provides a list of reliable campus resources, and makes recommendations for academic planning for TCAPS.

Tips for advising TCAPS:

Provide a Warm Welcome. Creating a welcoming environment is something that most advisors do naturally to build rapport and trust so that students feel comfortable disclosing information. A warm welcome starts with a firm handshake and eye contact. It may be helpful to have a “kid-friendly” office and reception area. Photos of children or artwork from children who have visited the advising office with their parents show a positive attitude toward parenting and children. A comfortable and “kid-friendly” environment may lead students to disclose a pregnancy or parenting responsibilities. Once information is shared advisors can assist with planning and highlight resource.

An advisor may be the first person to whom a student discloses her pregnancy. It is important that we prepare a response to such a disclosure before the situation arises. This can be a surprising announcement and preparation is helpful to avoid negative reactions. One approach may be to proclaim confidence that the student can still be successful and acknowledge that while the pregnancy is a challenge, the advisor and student can work through several issues together.

Make a Resource Guide. Advising offices are encouraged to develop a list of campus resources tailored to the needs of pregnant and parenting students that includes dependable, supportive, and thoughtful academic planning information. Advisors can begin developing a guide by contacting the departments most likely to have this information (e.g., counseling services, Women’s Studies, accessibility services, facilities operations/management for restroom accommodations, legal services, and campus daycare centers). Initial outreach inevitably leads to contact information for like-minded individuals. Organize resources and provide contact information in a user-friendly format that can be handed to

students during advising appointments.

Share academic planning recommendations.

  • Doctor’s orders first.Encourage students to keep their doctor’s orders as their top priority. For example, bed rest can alter the most carefully laid plans, but health and safety come first.
  • Promote early and continual contact with instructors. Students should create an email contact group of instructors, the advisor, and other frequent contacts to keep everyone up-to-date.
  • Map out the semester. It’s important that pregnant and parenting students map out a plan for the academic term after they received their syllabi. This will help pregnant students plan around their due dates.
  • Time management is crucial. Talk to pregnant and parenting students about making the most of even small amounts of time spread throughout the day.
  • Think through course selection. Consider the appropriateness of courses suggested to pregnant students.  Consult academic departments regarding any concerns with coursework expectations (e.g., physical education classes or chemistry labs). Attendance and credit load can affect access to health insurance.
  • Back-up plan, back-up plan, back-up plan. Help students think through back-up transportation and childcare options before classes start. Assist students with anticipating and preparing for the many challenges that may arise during the semester.
  • Complete extra credit as soon as possible. Encourage students who are pregnant to complete extra credit opportunities before the baby is born. This can give a cushion to parenting students when unexpected events arise.

Advisors have an opportunity to dramatically increase pregnant and parenting students’ chances of academic success, retention, and persistence. Disclosure can be a chance to think through academic options, plan success strategies, and help connect students to available resources. Preparation for advising a pregnant or parenting student will help advisors respond supportively and provide needed tools to help parenting students successfully navigate the dual roles of being a student and parent.

Patrick E. Jackson
Kent State University
[email protected]

Virginia D. Jackson
University of Akron
[email protected]

Allyson Himmelright
University of Akron
[email protected]


Brening, R. K., Dalve-Endres, A. M., & Patrick, K. (2003). Emergency contraception pills (ECPs): current trends in United States college health centers. Contraception, 67, 449–456.

National Center for Education Statistics (2002). Nontraditional students. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002025?Analysis.pdf

Ward, K. and Wolf-Wendel, L. (2004). Academic motherhood: Managing complex roles in research Universities. The Review of Higher Education, 27(2), 233–257.

Wright, P. A. and Davis, A. A. (2008). Adolescent parenthood through educators’ eyes: Perceptions of worries and provision of support. Urban Education, 43(6), 671-695.

Advising Students in Recovery from Addiction

Elizabeth Lang, Kennesaw State University

Elizabeth Lang.jpg

Today’s college culture includes a diverse group of students who bring with them unique talents and needs. Whether a student is non-traditional, international, or has a disability, there are resources on our campuses ready to provide assistance and support. Academic advisors routinely direct students to such resources as needed, yet I believe one student group may go largely overlooked: students in recovery from addiction.

 Students in recovery are more likely to seek needed support when they feel welcomed by college personnel and peers. Students in recovery need resources and opportunities on their campus to assist their academic success. When we create a place where students in recovery feel safe, these students feel welcomed in our offices and are more open to any needed academic assistance.

Addiction can best be understood as a disease that progressively makes a life unmanageable. The students in recovery who I advise have found a new life in sobriety. Their addictions include drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and gambling. When these students come to see me, they bring with them their skills and abilities as well as any barriers to academic success. My conversations with these students bring deeper understanding of their academic strengths and weaknesses and help us discuss ways in which they can succeed. I work in a collegiate department structured to provide academic assistance and peer support to students in recovery. Because of the support I provide, I am a trusted source to many of these students. I believe other academic advisors can become trusted campus sources for students in recovery as well.

There are some things advisors must do if we are to be prepared to make the most of an opportunity to assist students in recovery. These actions include:

  •  Prepare. When we have a basic understanding of addiction and knowledge of our campus resources, we are better prepared to assist students in recovery. Many stigmas have been associated with addiction (e.g., belief that it is moral failure or something to be outgrown after graduation). Students in recovery may have experienced effects of these misconceptions first hand or felt judged by others and themselves. The college campus can be an intimidating place. These students may feel alone in their recovery, have financial needs after funds have been exhausted on treatment, or have anxiety about school since their drug of choice helped them focus on assignments. Advisors who are understanding and know resources show students that they care about their needs.
  • Listen. It is important that we listen if we are to have a personal understanding of the students we advise. When students disclose that they are in recovery, we both have a certain advantage. Advisors can connect these students to the campus support system. Connecting to campus resources and receiving support improves the likelihood that these students will not only remain in school but succeed.
  • Encourage.  Even when students have struggled in school, we should find out where they have succeeded and encourage them to continue to grow. A history of substance abuse may be reflected in previous grades, but this does not necessarily mean that they are incapable of academic success. Find out what classes they enjoy, what they like to do, and what they are good at doing. When advisors point out students’ strengths we show them that we see their potential to succeed and not just any weaknesses. Building confidence helps students overcome the negative, self-deprecating thoughts (e.g., “I am a failure”) many students in recovery make.
  • Reflect. Advisors can help students learn how to balance their lives by working with them on time management. Because addiction interrupts personal development, individuals in recovery have a tendency toward impulsivity and poor boundaries. They may take on too much only to become discouraged and overwhelmed. Poor time and relationship management can lead to over-scheduling with friends and underestimating how much time it takes to complete homework. It is helpful if students can visualize how time is spent. Providing a calendar to mark down time spent on various tasks is a powerful tool to illustrate time management issues and teach balance, a valuable lesson they can use in college and beyond.
  • Teach. Help students learn to recognize the stumbling blocks to their success. Sometimes students in recovery give up before they even try; their lack of confidence and their impulsivity can lead them to this point. Students cannot learn how to correct problems without being aware of issues. For example, a student who fails a class may tell his advisor that he stopped going to class a few weeks into the semester after he perceived the teacher grading him unfairly. In this situation, we can point out the student’s incorrect assumption and how it led to a behavior which eventually led to his failing the course. Encourage the student to be aware of his thoughts and behaviors and to accept the consequences of his actions so he can be better prepared next time. Small teaching moments such as this one can generate large changes in growth, development, and outcomes.
  • Refer. This may be the most important step advisors can take with students in recovery. When students have issues beyond our professional areas of expertise we must refer students to the resources provided by our campuses and local communities. We are not expected to be students’ counselors, sponsors, or friends. When we know local resources and refer students for recovery meetings (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous), peer support, and counseling we help these students.


We do not need to memorize the 12 steps or be in recovery in order to help students in recovery. As academic advisors we should be aware of what students in recovery are facing and know how to help them succeed.

Elizabeth Lang
Kennesaw State University
Collegiate Recovery Community Assistant Coordinator
Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery
[email protected]


Advising as Teaching: Putting Theory into Practice

Mark Vegter, Illinois State University

Mark Vegter.jpg

Developing a one credit hour course that teaches students to take ownership of their professional/career goals and develop academic plans of study to meet those goals seems like a dream. This is a dream which can be made real by taking the practice of “advising as teaching and learning” directly into the classroom to establish a foundation for subsequent advising sessions after students have completed the course.

Such a dream is reality in the English department at Illinois State University where in fall 2008 a course was developed, primarily by English department advisors with the guidance and support of the department’s undergraduate curriculum committee. The course is called English 102, Introduction to English Studies Proseminar. This course is the companion to the introduction course to the discipline called English 100, Introduction to English Studies. Taken concurrently with English 100, students are introduced to the complex intellectual and professional aspects of the degree in English Studies and its ensuant careers. Students explore how the English major develops a content base of knowledge and practical skill sets that can be applied to a myriad of occupations. They research and develop personal and career goals, elucidate their plan of study to incorporate their newly developed career goals, and learn how to synthesize their goals, plan of study, and major skill sets to achieve their post graduate objectives.

This structured proseminar is a blend of a freshman year experience course, transfer year experience course, career exploration course, and academic advising. All newly admitted students, regardless of class, are required to take this course which is also a pre-requisite for most upper division major classes. The course is divided into four primary units which start with academic success strategies. Students work on success plans which detail how they intend to achieve success by balancingcoursework, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and free time.

The second unit focuses on learning about themselves through a series of personal inventory instruments which help delineate their strengths, interests, and work values. Students then connect inventory results to the skill sets they will learn by completing a degree in English as outlined in the Department of English Goals Statement. They then engage in several career research activities to work through which jobs meet the desired criteria for English majors while also matching their own work values and personal interests to those careers. The culminating assignment for this unit is crafting a professional goal statement which details their post graduate goals and how they came about establishing those goals through their research.

In the third unit students create a comprehensive plan of study which details everything they need to do to complete their Bachelor of Arts degree in English and the order in which they will take the classes.  Students also research the English department’s faculty and course offerings to ensure the major electives they choose, roughly half the hours in the major, are appropriate courses to help them achieve their professional goals. For example, students going into law may include English 283, Rhetorical Theory and Applications in their plan. This course helps students learn the art of persuasion, constructing arguments, and how to apply rhetorical theory to contemporary culture and media, all important skills for lawyers. The beauty of this assignment is that the focus is on the process of developing a plan, which advisors know will change as students proceed through their program, and not on the end result of the plan itself. Students learn how to substitute courses to meet both degree requirements and their overall professional/career goals without panicking when a course in the original plan does not work out.

The fourth and last unit includes three components focused on developing a positive online presence.  First, students learn to write effective cover letters and resumes. Second, students investigate their chosen profession by interviewing professionals in the field, learn about professional organizations, or job shadow in careers they described in their professional goal statements. Third, students learn how to use online utilities (e.g., blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter©, Facebook©) that can enhance or harm their online presence. After conversing with professionals in the field, they revisit their professional goals to make sure their interests, work values, and skill sets are a match for what employers want and need. If necessary, they revise their plans of study to match their updated goals. The culminating assignment for this unit asks students to develop action plans for developing a positive professional online presence.

Since all enrolled students are English majors, once class is complete, English department advisors continue to work with them through graduation. The English 102 course has directly affected advising services activities within the department. Student traffic the first two weeks of each term has dropped 75 percent from the pre-English 102 time period. Pre-English 102, most student traffic dealt with adding and changing courses, skills students have learned to do in an informed way through the course. Advising appointments throughout the year are much more fruitful as the focus is elaborating upon students’ professional/career goals and discussing academic success strategies rather than on the rudimentary practice of advisors as course schedulers. Even so, students still come to us with the idea that advising is course selection. In fact, some are annoyed when we teach them how to develop a plan of study as opposed to doing it for them. A key element to a course like English 102 is that we teach students to become a community of diverse learners in an advising/career context. This course counters the notion that students are consumers and advisors are customer service agents who only do what is necessary to make their clients happy, in this case pick classes for them.

As we live this dream in advising practices, the time before we taught English 102 seems like a distant nightmare.

Mark Vegter
Assistant to the Chair
Department of English
Illinois State University
[email protected]

NACADA Emerging Leaders Program: This is Just the Beginning

Cecilia Olivares, NACADA Emerging Leader and Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Member
Sandy Waters, NACADA Mentor and Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Member

Sandy Waters.jpg

Cecilia Olivares.jpg

During the 2011 NACADA Annual Conference in Denver, CO in October, the third cohort of Emerging Leaders and Mentors “graduated” from NACADA’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).  Ten Emerging Leaders and ten Mentors received Certificates of Achievement for their participation in the program during the Awards Ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of the professional goals set forth two years ago in San Antonio, TX when the partnerships were launched.

As one of the pairs in the 2009-2011 cohort, we may have officially finished our commitment to the ELP, but in many ways, we realize this is just the beginning.  The ELP was developed to encourage members from diverse groups to get involved in leadership opportunities within the organization and to outfit participants with the skills and tools necessary to pursue elected and appointed leadership positions in the association.

In San Antonio, we set goals together, brainstorming the idea to offer fellow NACADA members a session on how to find work/life balance.  At the 2010 Annual Conference in Orlando, we hosted the first “Women Thriving: Not Just Surviving a Career in Higher Education/Advising” panel.  The session was so empowering to us and those in the audience that we were able to put together a second panel for this year’s conference in Denver.  We hope to continue this series at the Annual Conference and to debut it at some regional conferences in the future.

Others in our cohort have supported each other through first-time regional and annual conference presentations, nominations and elections, and publications.  In Denver, we cheered on NACADA Award winners, grant recipients, and newly elected and appointed leaders from our “ELPer” crew. The ELP was designed to increase the number of leaders from diverse groups within NACADA, and a review of the accomplishments of the three completed classes and the class halfway through the program is impressive.  The momentum continues as the 2011-2013 cohort began their leadership development journey during this year’s Annual Conference in Denver.

The leadership development of the program may be focused on the Emerging Leaders, but the program benefits Mentors as well.  There are opportunities to collaborate with a wide range of NACADA members, to give back to the association, to enrich mentoring skills, to assist colleagues in meeting their professional goals, and to set the stage for the next generation of leaders in the association.  All of these things have enriched the work lives of the mentors involved in the program.  So, if you have held ANY type of leadership position in NACADA and are interested in getting involved in a different way, please apply to be a Mentor.

Being an Emerging Leader obviously has many benefits.  If you are wanting to move your advising career forward, but don’t know where to start; need assistance and guidance in shaping your professional goals; and are ready to take on challenges that you might not think that you’re ready for, the time is now to have a network of NACADA colleagues available to support you.  Diversity in NACADA is defined in a very broad sense, so consider applying as an Emerging Leader if you answered “yes” to these statements.  It will be well worth your time and effort.

As we move forward into 2012, please take the time to consider joining this exciting diversity initiative as an Emerging Leader or as a Mentor.  Information about program benefits and application requirements is available on the Emerging Leader Program website. The Selection Committee for the 2012-2014 Class will begin accepting applications on January 1, 2012.

Olivares and Waters.jpgIf you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact either of us.  We will be very happy to help!

Cecilia Olivares
Heartland Community College
[email protected]

Sandy Waters
Old Dominion University
[email protected]


Requesting Funding for Professional Development

As I write this, I am just coming down from the “high” of attending the 2011 NACADA Annual Conference in Denver and thus am acutely aware of the importance of attending such amazing professional development events. Therefore, this seemed like a perfect time to discuss funding requests for professional development, specifically for attending NACADA events!  Many of us are experiencing the hard times of this down economy and some of our institutions are doing some serious “soul searching” regarding their priorities. I am not sure about many of you, but right now I am grateful to have a job!

Despite these difficult times, we know it is crucial for our institutions to continue to support the professional development of their advising personnel. We know that NACADA supports our desire and path to becoming increasingly mature professionals, and we need to communicate this knowledge widely on our campuses. The growth we achieve while attending conferences, institutes, and seminars not only supports our development personally as advisors, but supports what we do in our position within our individual units and institutions at large.  Here is a tip about how I have been able to creatively advocate for the importance of institutional support.

Writing a letter to our administrators asking for their support of our conference attendance can let them know how important our professional development is to us and the value it adds to performance.  Here is a brief example of what might be included in such a letter requesting financial support. Don’t forget to add an itemized budget!

Here are a few ways I believe that financially supporting my attendance at the NACADA Annual Conference (or regional conference, institute, seminar, etc.) would benefit the (advising unit), the (department or college), and the greater advising community here at (institution).

  1. Presenting about (topic) will not only showcase our best practices for the use of other advising professionals, but will highlight our institution at the (international/regional) level. (Submit proposals for regional and annual conferences!)
  2. I would be happy to make an informal presentation or do a “de-brief” of what I learned to the (unit) staff or the greater advising community here at (institution).
  3. The more I attend these conferences and sessions the more ideas I can bring back to our community to add to the development of advising at (institution).
  4. Networking with other institutions and/or programs gives us the opportunity to reach out for support with our advising practices.
  5. Realizing we are doing more with less money, the support given to attend NACADA events will support our advisors since I will bring back valuable ideas we can use to be more efficient with what we have.
  6. The literature in advising highlights the significance of professional development.

Any financial support you can provide is greatly appreciated. I realize and acknowledge the extremely difficult financial situation we are in, but I ask that you take my requests under serious consideration. I thank you very much for your thought and time in considering this request.

Sincerely in service,


 It is not too early to start working on your plan for next year’s annual conference in Nashville or your regional conference this spring. Good luck with seeking support, and we will see you in Nashville!

Lisa Laughter
Member Career Services Committee Chair
Washington State University

 Sparkler.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]

This edition’s SPARKLERs come from Lisa Moison (Fitchburg State University) and Candice van Loveren Geis (Northern Kentucky University).

Lisa Moison.jpgWhy don’t adult learners stop in and see me at night for advising?  This was the question Lisa Moison , Program Advisor/Retention Specialist in Graduate and Continuing Education at Fitchburg State University, asked herself one “lonely night” in her office as she was waiting for students to drop-in with questions.  “What I realized,” Lisa explains, “was that they were on campus, but that because of my office location it was not convenient for them to stop by with a quick question.”  She began to scout out other evening locations on campus where she could advise and decided to create a satellite evening advising office one night a week. Lisa says, “I chose an academic building where most of our adult learners were taking their courses. This way they couldn’t miss me! I piloted the satellite advising project throughout the summer of 2011.  To entice students to find me in the building, I sent out an email introducing myself. The email let them know that if they came to the satellite advising office that they would receive a free gift. I had university pens for them and reusable grocery bags with the university logo on them. Sometimes they just got their free gift and left, but other times they stayed and asked questions.  During the summer, I had 33 students stop into the satellite office for advising or just to say hello. Several professors also stopped by to offer a word of encouragement or to bring a student by with a question. They found me!  The pilot was so successful that I will be permanently holding advising hours one night a week at this new location. What I learned from this project is to trust my ‘advising gut’. I knew that we had lots of students coming to campus at night and that they had questions. What I had to figure out was how to make asking an advising question convenient for them. The answer was location, location, location!” For more information, please contact Lisa at [email protected]. 

Candice van Loveren Geis.jpgCandice van Loveren Geis, Lecturer/Retention Specialist in Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Visual Arts, found that as a faculty advisor it was often difficult to split her time and decide where to place her focus.  However, over time, she tells us, “it became clear that teaching and advising are one and the same and by getting tools into the hands of all the advisors and students in the the department, I was able to more effectively transform my role in advising into a learning process and engage students fully in academic decisions.”  Facilitated by an internal grant from Strategic Enrollment Management and additional funds from the Department of Visual Arts, Candice and her colleagues instituted a pilot program providing 101 first-time freshmen with an individualized advising portfolio.  The portfolios were given to students during an altered two-day orientation experience that included tours of studios, a new student meeting, student organization sign-ups, and discussions and viewing of art with current students majoring in visual arts.  Each student was given the portfolio in a hard-copy binder, as well as a 1-GB hard drive.  Both contained the following sections:  (a) an introduction to explain how to utilize the portfolio in the advising process, (b) an advising syllabus and contract, (c) 2-year advising calendar, (d) individualized major and general education checklists, (e) advising and registration step-by-step instructions and preparation forms, (f) success tips, (g) university forms, and (h) university catalog.  During orientation students were educated on how to use the portfolio in digital/paper formats to help them cooperatively plan a personalized education and make smooth progress towards graduation. All faculty advisors in the department participated in two training sessions in order to fully incorporate the advising portfolios into the hybrid-advising model where the students gain a mentor advisor for sophomore through senior year.  “With practical degree information and university regulations now available in each student’s advising portfolio,” Candice says, “faculty members spend more time connecting with students instead of time spent deciding a class schedule.  The students bring their advising portfolios with them to all advising appointments and complete an advising preparation form giving shared responsibility in the experience.”  For more information, please contact Candice at [email protected].


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

Post Comment

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