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Voices of the Global Community


From the President: “Professionalism” in the Field of Academic Advising

Joshua S. Smith, NACADA President

I am delighted to report that the NACADA Annual Conference in Nashville, TN was a resounding success. Nearly 3,000 members sang, danced, and most importantly learned from one another. As is customary, the Board of Directors held its board meeting following the conference. I wanted to update you on our deliberations and continue to elaborate a bit more on my theme of “Professionalism” in the field of academic advising. 

NACADA President Josh Smith.jpg

Building on the excellent work of past NACADA leaders including former NACADA Vice President Glenn Kepic, Past President Kathy Stockwell, and others, the Board agreed with me that we should create a working group on global initiatives. Karen Sullivan-Vance of Western Oregon University and Penny Robinson of Leeds University have agreed to co-chair the work group. They will present the proposed charge and membership of the work group to the Board before the New Year.

Additionally, the Board agreed that we need to do better at helping members effectively communicate with their administrators following NACADA events, such as conferences, institutes, etc. Therefore, we will develop and disseminate some sample communication templates and recommendations for sharing information about academic advising and the impact of professional development experiences you attend. Keep an eye out for these helpful tips in the near future. 

Last, but certainly not least, we are creating a Task Force to develop resources and practices to foster leadership in NACADA. We are very proud of the success of the Emerging Leaders Program, but we recognized the need to support leaders when they transition into a role of Committee Chair, Commission Chair, Region Chair, and the many other opportunities to get involved in the leadership of the organization. Former Presidents Jayne Drake and Jennifer Joslin have graciously agreed to lead this effort. 

This approach is directly connected to the theme of Professionalism and the responsibility of each of us to champion the role of academic advising as central to student development and learning in higher education. As advisors, we know about student development, transitions, decision-making, and the power of promoting reflective practice in conversations with our students. Additionally, research supports the value of quality academic advising to a variety of college student learning outcomes. Most recently, a study out of the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association by Klepfler and Hull (2012) examining retention figures for over 9,000 students identified three important factors associated with one-year persistence. These included taking high-level math courses such as pre-calculus or calculus in high school, enrolling in AP/IB courses, and talking with academic advisors in college. The impact of advising was particularly salient for low-income students.

Advisors need not be shy about sharing what we know, communicating our stories of student success, presenting data on the impact of our programs, and taking a stand on practices and policies that run counter to what we know about student learning. Let me reiterate my call to action. Please commit to doing something different this year that demonstrates your professionalism within our profession. And then be sure that others know about it. Tell your Provost, Vice President of Enrollment, President, and for goodness’ sake, tweet about it, blog about it and after it is completed, write it up for Academic Advising TodayThe Mentor,NACADA Journal, or other professional outlets. 

Lastly, I want to give a Tweet Out! to the social media gurus of NACADA whom I met at the Tweet Up during the Nashville annual conference. They convinced me to sign up for Twitter. Consider following me @NACADAJosh.

Keep up the good work on behalf of our students and colleges/universities around the globe.  

Joshua S. Smith, President, 2012-2013
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Dean, School of Education, Loyola University Maryland

Cite this article using APA style as:

Smith, J.S. (2012, December). From the president: “Professionalism” in the field of academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

From the Executive Director: Changing the Profession and Higher Education

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

CharlieNutt.jpgAs we see tremendous change in higher education – ranging from extreme financial cuts and shifts in institutional mission and scope, to significant changes in funding formulas for public institutions and increasing student enrollments with even more diverse needs than ever before – there has never been a better time to be part of a profession and an organization focused on the success of students’ academic, career, and life goals.  It is exciting to see NACADA’s growth globally in numbers but, even more importantly, to see NACADA’s heightened reputation and stature as a major force in higher education. Not only have presidents, chancellors, provosts, and vice presidents begun to recognize the necessity of quality academic advising to student success, but also boards of trustees and regents, statewide coordinating boards, and legislative bodies have begun to turn to the work of our association as they focus on long-term significant changes in student success cultures on campuses around the world.

While we all know that much of the newly found emphasis on the importance of academic advising is due to changes in funding as well as accountability for graduation and job placement of college graduates, I feel strongly that the work of our leaders and members across the globe for the past 35 years has resulted in and will continue to enhance the central theme of academic advising as a key element in student success initiatives at all types and sizes of college institutions. But as with any passion we have, we must continue to nurture this passion and ensure that new professionals, administrators, and students see the value of quality academic advising experiences for all students. 

We recently hosted our annual conference in Nashville with just under 3,000 participants from across the world, but the future is now upon us. In 2013, we will host our annual Winter Institutes and Seminar in Savannah, Georgia in February, 10 Regional conferences in a variety of location across North America in the spring, our first fully NACADA-sponsored international conference at Maastricht University in June, two Summer Institutes in June and July, and then our annual conference in Salt Lake City in October. In addition to these “in person” events, NACADA will host a variety of webcasts and other electronic events as well as continue to be the leader in providing the highest quality publications in the field of academic advising and student success in all of higher education.

I am often asked why NACADA continues to grow in numbers and recognition during these difficult financial times and my answer is always the same: “our members.”  NACADA has the most diverse membership from across the globe: full-time academic advisors, faculty advisors, academic advising administrators, deans and directors of units such as university colleges or undergraduate studies, vice presidents for academic affairs and student affairs, presidents, chancellors and, of course, our next generation of academic advisors: our graduate student members. But not only are we diverse in our roles and responsibilities, we are diverse in that our members come from every type of post-secondary institution found across the world. Where else but at NACADA does each one of us have the opportunity to meet, network with, learn from, and debate issues with our colleagues from every part of higher education, and through it all each of us is focused on the same issue: student success! I hope we all never take for granted the opportunities NACADA has provided us to grow and learn or the opportunities professional development opportunities NACADA will provide us in the future. But most important, I hope we all never take for granted that the success of our students is at the core of NACADA’s mission and purpose. I look forward to seeing many of you in 2013, and anticipate meeting those of you have not yet met. I continue to be astounded by the breadth and depth of our members’ and our association’s impact on higher education, and on our colleges and universities of the future.

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

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Nutt, C. (2012, December). From the executive director: Changing the profession and higher education. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Developmental Insights to Enhance Advisor Communication with Students

Keith Gissubel, Red Bank Catholic High School
Janice C. Stapley, Monmouth University

Keith Gissuble.jpgBeing a student is a more complex job than it was in previous decades.  Since the flourishing of technology in education and the recent pushes towards national educational reform, students are expected to take a lot more responsibility for their lives and for their education.  At the same time, college advisors are still expected to create a deep connection with their students to guide them and to foster their academic experience even though most interactions occur via email.  If we don’t take a moment to remind ourselves of the developmental status of traditionally aged college students, we are at risk for dehumanizing them, not understanding their needs, and losing their trust in us at the very beginning of a long road together. 

Janice Stapley.jpgDevelopmental research data can offer us a better understanding of our students' decision making processes; especially in terms of the risky behavior typically associated with late adolescence. In the high school where we are affiliated, students are well educated on the health risks involved in risky behaviors such as excessive drinking, driving while intoxicated, driving while texting, drug use, STIs, etc.  The older they get, the more they sound like well-educated adults on these topics (e.g. Lewis, 1981; Quadrel, Fischoff, and Davis, 1993).  However, there are still many Monday mornings when students' conversations about what they did over the weekend clearly indicate that they have thrown everything they’ve learned out the window for 48 hours.  Recent research on this suggests that even though adolescents become better at identifying risks and consequences (Lewis, 1981), they also become progressively more at risk for serious injury or death (NIMH, 2011).  If we just looked at these data alone, it would appear that the more we teach them about risky behavior, the more they will engage in it!  Luckily, this is not the whole story, since these statistics are correlated, but not causal.

Although adolescents and adults have nearly equal insight into the consequences of risky behavior, and will both actually overestimate the risk at times, the psychosocial demands of adolescents and adults are worlds apart, and they are more influential in the decision making process for an adolescent (Steinberg & Caufman, 1996).  According to Chick and Reyna’s work on “Fuzzy Trace Theory” (2012), part of good decision-making comes from the ability to first identify the moral value in the decision, and then be able to prevent any interference between the moral value and the behavior, such as seductive intuition, emotion, or an inappropriate representation of the task at hand.  Other ingredients, such as social norms, willingness, and intention, can also play a big role for adolescents in risky decision making (Gibbons, Gerrard, & Lane, 2003).

As the Fuzzy Trace Theory suggests, during adolescence moral thoughts are intercepted before they can become behavior.  Somewhere along the line between the ability to recognize the good decisions and the ability to perform said decisions, something goes awry.  Chick and Reyna’s research revealed that while adolescents could weigh the expected values of the risky behavior as adults do, they are more powerfully swayed by the potential rewards than the negative consequences.  Throughout adolescence and emerging adulthood, they are more sensitive to rewards than risks, and neuroimaging data supports this (Brey, 2011).  Chick and Reyna (2012) found that, when weighing decisions, there is more activity in the reward and emotion centers of the brain in adolescents than in adults.  The prefrontal cortex, which regulates the ability to control impulses, behavior, and consider consequences is not yet matured in adolescents, while the pleasure and emotion seeking/regulating centers are (Brey, 2011).  A longitudinal study (Giedd, 2008) showed that between childhood and adulthood there is a change in balance from the subcortical areas (emotion and reward centers) to the frontal lobe areas (reasoning and self-control centers).

When we are born, we rapidly develop neurons until early adolescence (Giedd, 2008).  From early adolescence into young adulthood there is an increase in 'pruning,' or the loss of neurons, that have not been used and exercised.  Thus, current data from the field of adolescent development accurately characterize this period with the popular 'use it or lose it' slogan. Although adolescents are still undergoing neurogenesis (developing new neurons), they will find it easier to learn new material that they can attach to already existing neural loops.  Thus, they may find it easier to take a higher-level course in a field with which they are familiar than a 100 level course in a field in which they have no background.  They should also plan for extra study time when taking the first course in a new discipline and seek academic support (e.g. peer tutoring) before they drop a course for fear that it is not something they are 'good at.” But will they internalize and act on the advice of their academic advisors?

Although college students may technically “know better,” this research suggests that they are much more fluent in making impulsive decisions based on what feels good.  Simply sharing information won't necessarily change their behavior.  Advisors need to get their points across in terms of goals or rewards that are salient for this age group.  Since different things act as reinforcers for different people, some of the early meetings should involve exploring this topic with their advisees while getting to know them as individuals.  Also, making it real with stories about student outcomes should make more of an emotional impact than rote advice.  For example, they will more likely be able to identify with a story about how a previously successful student had difficulty with an online course because she was not used to logging on to a course management system on a daily basis.  Since students are bombarded with information through all different types of media, it is important to repeat crucial information via as many sources as possible (in person, email, text messaging, Facebook pages, etc.), and then to personalize the information to make it salient.

Keith Gissubel
AP Psychology Teacher
Red Bank Catholic High School
Master’s in Education Leadership student at Seton Hall University

Janice C. Stapley
Associate Professor of Psychology
Monmouth University


Brey, R. L. (2011, December/January). The adolescent brain: What neurology can teach us about protecting teens. Neurology Now, 7(6), 9. 

Chick, C. F., & Reyna, V. F. (2012). A fuzzy trace theory of adolescent risk taking: Beyond self-control and sensation seeking. In V. F. Reyna, S. B. Chapman, M. R. Dougherty, & J.  Confrey (Eds.), The adolescent brain: Learning, reasoning, and decision making, (pp. 379-428). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13493-013

Gibbons, F. X., Gerrard, M., & Lane, D. J. (2003). A social reaction model of adolescent health risk. In J. Suls & K. A. Wallston (Eds.), Social psychological foundation of health and illness (pp. 107-136). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Giedd, J. (2008). The teen brain: Insights from neuroimaging. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 335-343. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.01.007

Lewis, C. G. (1981). How adolescents approach decisions: Changes over grades seven to twelve and policy implication. Child Development, 52, 538-554.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2011). The teen brain: Still under construction, 11-4929
Quadrel, M., Fischoff, B., & Davis, W. (1993). Adolescent (in)vulnerability. American Psychologist, 48(2), 102-116. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.48.2.102

Steinberg, L., & Cauffman, E. (1996). Maturity of judgment in adolescence: Psychosocial factors in adolescent decision making. Law and Human Behavior, 20, 249-272.


Cite this article using APA style as:

Gissubel, C., & Stapley, J.C. (2012, December). Developmental insights to enhance advisor communication with students. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

A New Attitude: Rethinking Advisor Interactions with Parents

Melissa Irvin, Tennessee Tech University–Cookeville

Melissa IrvinCollege students are adults.  It is a common refrain heard in Student Services and Academic Support offices at colleges and universities across the country.  However, the fact remains that the “traditional college student experience” – the one where 18-year-olds left their parents’ nest to claim independence – is becoming less and less common.  Instead, the traditional age college students are more and more reliant on support from their parents to attend college (Kepic, 2006).  This increased support means increased levels of parental involvement at all levels of the college experience: translating into more phone calls, more emails, and more office visits with postsecondary personnel (Kepic, 2006).    Academic planning and support is a primary area of interest which results in more frequent and more consistent parental involvement in advisement and career counseling (Grasgreen, 2012).

For academic advisors, many of whom believe that the advisement process is essential to successful student development, the presence of parents at advisement meetings or during registration sessions is often seen as obtrusive and disruptive (Kepic, 2006).  But this is the new reality. The patterns of parental involvement in higher education are apt to continue along a similar path.  How can academic advisors adapt to these changing dynamics?  K-12 education has long since discovered that parent–school partnerships can be harnessed as a tool to improve student achievement, reduce truancy, and prevent behavioral problems in school (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005).  What lessons can be learned from their strategies that can be beneficial to academic support personnel in higher education?  Primarily, it is long overdue that academic advisors recognize the value of parents as a resource to contribute to student growth and achievement while balancing the desire to cultivate students’ adult development.

Flipping A Switch: Parental Involvement in K-12 Education

Unlike postsecondary education, there is a wealth of research supporting the positive impact of parental involvement in K-12 schools and even more studies offering suggestions to best establish effective parent-school relationships.  Perhaps some of the suggestions for elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators can help academic advisors and student support personnel reframe their negative opinions on parental involvement.  After all, for parents who are accustomed to schools that covet their opinions and beg for their participation, it can be just as shocking to transition to higher education where they are told to leave it to the experts and let their children handle it themselves.

Hoover-Dempsey et al.(2005) compiled a number of studies investigating why parents get involved and providing suggestions for facilitating effective involvement.  They categorize their suggestions into two categories: improving the institution’s capacity and the parents’ ability to be involved (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005).  Examples of suggestions from Hoover-Dempsey and others (2005) include:

  • Create a climate where parents and families feel welcome;
  • Provide resources to teach school personnel effective strategies for school-family relationships;
  • Increase awareness of parents’ perspectives on education and goals for learning;
  • Learn about a student’s culture and family circumstances;
  • Use the school’s existing structure to enhance opportunities for parental involvement;
  • Clearly communicate school events where parental involvement is welcomed and encouraged;
  • Define effective parental involvement;
  • Recognize parents have an important role to play in the educational process;
  • Provide parents with specific guidance on how to be involved and what the positive effects can be from effective involvement.

Not surprisingly, many of the suggestions above are similar to ones offered to academic advisors and institutions when working to deal with parents, particularly the importance of establishing guidelines for parents to govern their involvement in advisement sessions (Kepic, 2006).  However the tenor of many of the articles on this topic as it relates to higher education is more like offering damage control than teaching advisors to develop an asset.

Parents: A Resource Not a Roadblock

Using the general suggestions from Hoover-Dempsey and others (2005) as a framework, there are three factors that can be essential in reshaping the attitudes of academic advisors about parental involvement:

  • Recognize ways that parental involvement in postsecondary education can be beneficial;
  • Advisors must be more attuned to family culture and circumstances as well as how that can impact higher education choices and views on learning;
  • Clearly communicate areas where parental involvement is welcome and appreciated.

Instead of focusing on the incidents when parents may cross the line to become “over-involved,” such as filling out admissions applications or calling offices pretending to be their child (Kepic, 2006), advisors must examine the students they serve, the resources of the advising department, and their institution as a whole to start to identify how parents can benefit areas of student success.  Recent research by NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education begins to reveal that “closeness is not necessarily dependence” when examining relationships between college students and their parents (Grasgreen, 2012).  In fact, both male and female students with involved parents were shown to be more autonomous and engaged in more career planning than other students (Grasgreen, 2012).

In addition, as more colleges and universities enroll more students from underserved populations, the dynamic between parents and students could be an effective vehicle for improving student outcomes.  Students from different cultural backgrounds can benefit from increased contact with their families, especially if they are part of a minority population on campus (Herndon & Hirt, 2004). For example, families of Black students may feel that the college experience is a collective one; the degree earned is an achievement that benefits the entire family (Herndon & Hirt, 2004).  Another issue could be that minority parents are likely to be more concerned about their child’s ability to receive equal support and resources (Herndon & Hirt, 2004).  Advisors must recognize that the same cultural differences that govern interactions with students should inform interactions with their parents.

By embracing a new perspective that acknowledges parents’ role in postsecondary education in a positive way, academic advisors may discover new methods to improve student success outcomes like course completion, retention and graduation rates.

Melissa Irvin
Academic Advisor/Counselor
College of Education
Tennessee Tech University – Cookeville, TN


Grasgreen, A. (2012, March 28). Parents: Help or hindrance?. Retrieved from 

Herndon, M. K., & Hirt, J. B. (2004). Black students and their families: What leads to success in college. Journal of Black Studies, 34(4), 489-513.

Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., Walker, J. M., Sandler, H. M., Whetsel, D., Green, C. L., Wilkins, A. S., &  Closson, K. (2005). Why do parents become involved? Research findings and implications.The Elementary School Journal, 106(2), 105-130.

Kepic, G. (2006). Causes and Implications of Parental Involvement in the Advising Process. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Parental-Involvement.htm


Cite this article using APA style as:

Irvin, M. (2012, December). A new attitude: Rethinking advisor interactions with parents.Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Serving High Achieving Students Through ‘Honors Tracks’

Haley Holmes, Portland State University

HaleyHolmes.jpgOther than patting a student on the back for a job well done or the occasional smiley face next to a student’s GPA on a transcript, how can advisors and faculty best compliment and serve our high achieving students? There are meaningful ways to help engage, challenge, and prepare our students for what lies beyond the college classroom. Light (2001) tells us that one of the most important things advisors can do is encourage students to participate in activities outside of the classroom. What would it look like if advisors took it a step further and organized some of these activities designed specifically for high achieving students?

Portland State University’s (PSU) School of Business Administration (SBA) has developed an Honors Track for high achieving business students. This advisor-facilitated program could easily be adapted to any population of high achieving students. 

There could be many definitions of a high achieving student. Certainly one could argue that a student with a 3.5 or higher grade point average (GPA) could qualify as a high achieving student. In addition, a student with a full time job, a family, and a 3.2 GPA could also be considered part of this population. Grade point average is the most commonly looked at characteristic, but often high achieving students are also very driven, intelligent, and have an excitement for learning. These students enjoy the prospect of gaining new skills and flourish in a college environment that allows them to partake in new experiences. Each advisor or department would have to consider, based on its students and program details, what a high achieving student would mean to them.  

In the SBA Honors Track at PSU, we have a limited amount of space in the workshops offered so we have a competitive admission process. The student is admitted to the program approximately two years before the student is set to graduate. For admission, we look at a combination of factors, including grade point average. Students who have around a 3.5 GPA or higher are in the ideal range to be considered for the SBA Honors Track. We also look at a recommendation letter that is submitted from one of the student’s college instructors. Lastly, we evaluate the answers to three essay questions outlining what the student is hoping to get out of the program, how this can help the student achieve future career and life goals, and how he or she plans to give back to fellow Honors Track peers. 

Over the years, we have interviewed and surveyed Honors Track students and found three common themes in what the students hope to gain from the program. Upon graduation, when asked what the best experiences were, these same three themes emerged again. 

The first theme is building community
. This helps students feel more connected and gives them a positive group to belong to. It also increases confidence to be a part of such a special group. It can be very refreshing for high achieving students to have activities with other high achieving students because they share so many of the same interests and values. Working together in groups and fostering these positive relationships is very rewarding. It also encourages them to continue doing well in their classes so that they can continue to be a part of this group. In the SBA Honors Track, this goal is achieved through the two year cohort or ‘track’ style. The students are admitted at the same time and move through the program together, participating in classes, workshops, and other activities as a group. There is a shared responsibility among the students to learn from and teach each other. Each student has different cultural and life experiences that they bring to the table. Advisors should determine which courses and workshops would best create this atmosphere and implement them as core elements of the program. 

The second theme is skill building. High achieving students often love learning in general, especially when they can put their learning into immediate practice. The SBA Honors Track students participate in workshops to prepare for the professional world beyond college. The goal of these workshops is to help them gain the necessary skills to be successful in a professional setting. Some of the topics of the workshops have included the following: Improvisation, Networking, Etiquette, Selling through Storytelling, Advanced Business Communication and Advanced Microsoft Excel. Advisors can tap into resources at their university and in their community for professionals to conduct the workshops. 

The final theme is making connections.
 This includes connecting classroom learning to the realities of life outside of the classroom. In addition, it includes networking with each other as well as professionals and faculty in the student’s chosen field. This is very beneficial for all students but often high achieving students have very clear professional goals and are ambitious enough to get there. By bringing in community leaders, faculty, deans, and outside speakers as workshop facilitators, the advisors can ensure that students will have the opportunity to learn from others with different experiences and points of view. 

The above themes directly coincide with what Astin (1993) tells us positively affect satisfaction with the college environment. This type of program for high achieving students is not meant to exclude other populations from receiving these great experiences. These activities would undoubtedly benefit all students and in many cases it is possible to expand these activities to include all students. It is meant, rather, to build a community for high achieving students where hard work, academic achievement, and the drive to learn is rewarded with additional opportunities for growth and accomplishment. 

We have found that our students are more engaged with the local business community and benefit from working with a close group of peers. Together, they are able to gain valuable skills, meet business professionals, and work closely with advisors, faculty, and deans. With this sense of community, they feel more connected to the SBA and the people in it. Because these students have these relationships and opportunities as well as a clear end goal, they have a sense of responsibility to each other and themselves to finish the program and do their finest work in the process. 

Haley Holmes
Academic Advisor
Director of the SBA Honors Track
School of Business
Portland State University


Light, Richard J. (2001). Making the most of college: Students speak their minds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Astin, Alexander W. (1993). What Matters in College? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Cite this article using APA style as:

Holmes, H. (2012, December). Serving high achieving students through ‘honors tracks’.Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Perception is Key to Overcoming Academic Probation

Loretta Zost, Peru State College

Loretta Zost.jpgMost people would assume that academic probation would have a negative impact on college students’ sense of self. However, in a recently conducted qualitative study, some students who were formerly on academic probation reported it had a positive impact on their self-concept (Zost, 2009).  These same participants also tended to recall their academic performance as more positive than it actually was. One might correctly assume it has something to do with their perception. The concept of resiliency has gained increasing attention as researchers ponder why some individuals exceeded developmental expectations despite unfavorable conditions (Roosa, 2000).  Advisors may be able utilize this character trait to their advisees’ advantage in overcoming academic probation.


During the interview process, all participants came across as remarkably self-assured.  Excerpts from the interview transcripts revealed the positive way these individuals interpreted the probationary experience.  “Amy” stated, “I don’t think I would have had the passion that I have now. I think that the academic probation woke me up.” Perhaps the one who attributed the most personal gains to the experience was “Derek.” According to him, he “grew from the experience,” learned “how to adapt,” “matured a lot,” and gained “discipline.” “Marc” described the impact like this: “I feel more involved and active and even important, you know, within my department.” For “Shane,” it “just made me realize I’m capable of doing better and just putting forth more effort and seeing the results.” 

Study participants also tended to view themselves as works in progress.  All reported growth as a result of dealing with difficult situations.  They reportedly gained maturity, self-awareness, a renewed sense of purpose, and often a new career direction. It seems, for these participants, that resiliency was not something they were born with. It was something they developed over time as a by-product of facing challenges and overcoming them. 

Academic Perspective

As stated earlier, during the interviews all participants came across as self-assured. In an effort to determine the origins of the students’ academic difficulties, the researcher turned to their transcripts. Surprisingly, all expressed a more positive view of their educational experience than their grades would indicate. Consider the following examples.

“Amy” recalled her high school grades as “probably above average” and “mostly As, some Bs up until my senior year.” In actuality, she had a total of 16 As, 27 Bs, three Cs, one D, and six Ls (withdrawal for lack of attendance).

“Derek” described his high school grades in the following manner. “I wasn’t the smartest, but I guess I wasn’t the dumbest either. I didn’t have no, you know, all As or all Bs, but I maintained Cs.” He described his grades as average. In actuality his GPA was close to what he remembered. It was 1.90, but his transcripts contained 19 Ds and three Fs.

“Jared” recalled his grades during his first semester of college as being two Ds and a C. Actually; he had two Bs, a W, and a F. His second semester he thought he had a B, two Ds and a F. Instead he had two Ds and 2 Ws. 

“Marc” admitted that he didn’t remember much about his senior year, but he believed his GPA was around 3.5 or 3.6.  His high school transcripts revealed that it was 2.24.

Discrepancy Between Perception and Performance

Why did such a discrepancy exist between the participants’ stated and actual academic achievement? Although this was not evident in the initial review of literature, the researcher found confirmation of this phenomenon in a book about human behavior in which Bandura contributed a section about self-efficacy.  Bandura revealed that “When people err in their self-appraisal they tend to overestimate their capabilities. This is a benefit rather than a cognitive failing to be eradicated” (1994, p. 6). 

To understand why the participants remember their achievements as much better than they actually were it was necessary to turn again to Bandura. He stated, “Realists may adapt well to existing realities. But those with a tenacious self-efficacy are likely to change those realities” (Bandura, 1994, p. 7). Based on this explanation, it appears the participants believed that they were accurately describing their educational achievements. This reconstruction of reality apparently helped them maintain a belief in their ability to succeed. 

Advisor Intervention

While it appears to be beneficial for students to err on the positive side when recalling academic achievement and ability, they may overestimate their ability to the point where their problems engulf them. Difficulties need to be brought to the advisees’ attention when they reach this critical point. This can require some persistence on the part of the advisor. Students in the study tended to ignore early warning notices. Regular “reality checks” will help keep advisees focused on being successful.

Additionally, advisors may find it difficult to work with advisees who perceive their abilities as being greater than they are in reality. That is why it is important for probationary students to be made aware of the gap between their perception and reality. This “dose of reality” will let students know that they need to make changes in order to be successful. 


There were many factors that contributed to the study participants’ earning academic probation. The way they dealt with the crisis or obstacle allowed each of the participants to grow from the experience, thereby building resilience. As they continued to strive toward their goals the participants reframed their reality in a way that made sense to them. It provided them with an outlook that was bold in the face of adversity. Their increased self-awareness and ability to effect change on their environment gave them a sense of power. 

As stated in the movie The Substitute, “Power perceived is power achieved” (Cutler-Rubenstin, Bakalar, Eisenman, Steele, and Mandel, 1996). This is especially true when one is working with advisees trying to overcome academic probation.  Advisors play a key role in helping advisees with high self-efficacy build resilience and harness their potential for success.

Loretta Zost
Assistant Professor/Faculty Advisor
School of Education
Peru State College

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior. (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.],Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic press, 1998). Retrieved fromhttp://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/BanEncy.html

Cutler-Rubenstin, D., Bakalar II, S., Eisenman, M., Steele II, S., and Mandel, R. (1996). The Substitute. Motion Picture. United States: LIVE Entertainment, Inc., Dinamo/H2 Productions.

Roosa, M. W. (2000). Some thoughts about resilience versus positive development, main effects versus interactions, and the values of resilience. Child Development, 71(3), 567-569. Retrieved from the EBSCO Database.

Zost, L. A. (2009). Academic probation: A detour on the road to college success. (Doctoral dissertation), Available from ProQuest/UMI. (10889).

No More Missed Opportunities: Using the Foreclosure Model to Advise Pre-Nursing and Nursing Students

Janis S. Albright, Karen M. Martel, and Brenda D. Webster, University of Southern Maine 

Albright, Martel, Webster.jpgIntroduction

Like many professional-track careers, nursing is one which often attracts foreclosure students. This may have both long- and short-term implications for the student. Understanding the characteristics of foreclosure students can help advisors identify them and develop strategies to guide these students through the decision-making process as they choose a major and career. According to Shaffer and Zalewski (2011), foreclosure means students that have “prematurely committed themselves to academic majors and future careers, but present themselves…as very decided” and “refers to students with unexplored yet confident and committed future plans…”(p. 62).  

According to Erickson’s theory of personality development across the lifespan, young adults question and struggle to develop their sense of personal identity. This is defined as their “identity crisis.”  In psychologist James Marcia’s research on identity development, individuals were classified as vocational foreclosures if they have not experienced a crisis but were still committed to one occupational choice (Shaffer & Zalewski, 2011).

Nursing and the Foreclosure Student

The competitive nature of nursing programs may cause foreclosure students to ‘put on blinders’ as they pursue acceptance to a school, while overlooking the rigors of a nursing program and the realities of a career in nursing. In the short term, this can cause problems for students as they pursue admission to a nursing program. Some students perceive themselves as being good ‘hands-on,’ but fail academically.  If they are accepted to a nursing program, they will encounter much stress as they socialize into the nursing role (Bosley, Miller, and Novak, 2011). Developing critical thinking skills, adapting to multiple clinical settings, and taking responsibility for patient care all require self-confidence, self-awareness, and flexibility. These skills are especially challenging for foreclosure students, who may function well in controlled situations, but who have difficulty making independent decisions (Shaffer & Zalewski, 2011). Sometimes an identity crisis develops during the first lab or clinical experience. The student may suddenly realize that ‘my heart isn’t in it.’ They may dread going to, or be overwhelmed in clinical experiences. In the long term, the foreclosure student may become a nurse, but discover that the reality is not as satisfying as anticipated. At that point, they may stay in the field, or they may find themselves ‘starting over’ in another career.

Identifying the Foreclosure Nursing Student

Applicants to nursing programs may have made firm career decisions as young children. They may have been attracted by portrayals of medical professionals in the media or by their own experiences in a health care setting. There may be a number of nurses in the family. Parental pressure, because of perceived financial and job stability, may result in an early decision. When pre-nursing students at the University of Southern Maine (USM) were asked in a recent survey why they chose nursing, many students didn’t have a clear answer (Albright, Martel, and Webster, 2012). They replied that they ‘always wanted to be a nurse,’ or they ‘wanted to help people,’ or they ‘want to give back to society.’ This type of answer can alert an advisor to probe the decision more deeply. These students may have been denied admission to multiple programs but keep reapplying, persistently clinging to their goal, rather than looking at alternatives. They may do poorly in science courses, but excel in the humanities. When denied admission to a nursing program, they may become angry about the requirements or the perceived ‘unfairness’ of the admissions process.

Advising the Foreclosure Nursing Student

How can we as advisors help these students? Advisors might initiate an identity crisis with foreclosure students, because students who have taken the time to explore vocations outperform foreclosures academically (Shaffer & Zalewski, 2011).  Specifically, through thoughtful questions, we can try to help students explore missed opportunities. Here are two scenarios, with possible questions that could be asked by advisors for each situation. (Students’ names are fictitious.) 

Scenario One. Susan, a transfer student in her late 30s, is denied several times to nursing programs. She says that she only wants to be a nurse. Susan has failed multiple nursing entrance exams.  She is a poor science student, but does well in the humanities, which raises her GPA to the minimum to be considered in these programs.  It is unlikely that she will ever be admitted to nursing, but she doesn’t want to give up “her dream.”  She and her advisor explore her motivation for wanting to become a nurse, which is to “help people.”  They discuss what this means to Susan, and if there are other ways for Susan to feel fulfilled in other careers that may be more suited to her skill set.  The advisor is careful to not pull Susan away from her original career choice until she is ready.  The advisor also speaks from her own college experience when she had given up some of her own career “dreams.”  In addition, she helps Susan recognize that she may find herself going through a grieving process and offers a counseling referral (Bosley, Miller, & Novak, 2011). Over time, when Susan begins to accept the idea that nursing isn’t going to work out, the advisor introduces her to students from other majors to talk about why they chose their pathway. 

Possible questions/statements:

  1. How can you feel in control here?  How long are you comfortable waiting?
  2. Let’s look at the classes that you’ve taken where you have been more successful.
  3. For now, let’s hold onto the idea of you “wanting” to become a nurse, but let’s also look at other options.

Scenario Two. Hassan, an international first year student in his early 20s, states that his family wants him to be a nurse, because they say that it provides prestige and future earning power.  He confides that he doubts his direction, but is afraid to challenge his parents. Through several meetings the advisor helps Hassan explore his interests and skills, connecting them with career alternatives. Together they research careers, including salary ranges and outlook data. After a role-playing exercise, the student gains enough confidence to present his findings to his family. In time, he dispels the “myth” that nursing is the only option to consider (J. Kerrigan and R. Mondor, personal interview, July 20, 2012, University of Southern Maine).

Possible questions:

  1. What can you do to discover what a typical day would look like If you were a nurse, or if you were pursuing another career?
  2. Who in your family would be disappointed if you didn’t become a nurse?
  3. How can we find out what other jobs would bring in a good living wage?


Recognizing nursing foreclosure students can help us identify effective strategies in advising them. We cannot change people’s feelings about a choice, but we can challenge what they think and why. We can help these students explore the opportunities that they may be missing in their single-minded pursuit of nursing as a career choice. Individual or group advising sessions, career fairs, community service learning, peer advising, and web-based career tools can guide them as they identify other options.  By applying the foreclosure lens to our practice, we can help these students explore and develop fulfilling career pathways that they may not have previously considered.

Janis S. Albright
Student Success Advisor, Office of Student Success
University of Southern Maine

Karen M. Martel
Academic Advisor, School of Nursing
University of Southern Maine

Brenda D. Webster
Coordinator of Nursing Student Services, School of Nursing
University of Southern Maine


Albright, J., Martel, K., & Webster, B. “Pre-Nursing Survey.” Unpublished Survey (2012), University of Southern Maine.

Bosley, C., Miller, S, & Novak, A.  (2011, December). Anticipatory guidance as an advising strategy for pre-nursing students. Academic Advising Today, 34(4).  Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/ePub/AAT34-4.htm#7. 

Farrell, M. (2008). When students get bad news: How understanding the grieving process can help advisors handle difficult situations. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal.  Retrieved from http://dus.psu.edu/mentor/old/articles/010806mf.htm.

Shaffer, L., and Zalewski, J. (2011). It’s what I have always wanted to do. Advising the foreclosure student. The NACADA Journal, 31 (2), 62-77.


Cite this article using APA style as:

Albright, J.S, Martel, K.M., & Webster, B.D. (2012, December). No more missed opportunities: Using the foreclosure model to advise pre-nursing and nursing students. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Academic Advisors and The Wizard of Oz

Jim Peacock, Kennebec Valley Community College

Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma.   -Wizard of Oz to the Scarecrow

Jim Peacock.jpgWhile watching The Wizard of Oz the other night for possibly the 100th time, I realized I had the same power as the Wizard. I often “give” something to a person they already possess, but don’t know it at the time.

Students come to us looking for advice because they often feel lost on their own yellow brick road to somewhere. They’ve chosen a direction to go, for some reason(s), and they meet all kinds of scarecrows, tin men, lions, and witches (both good and bad) along their yellow brick road. These could be staff or faculty at an institution, or friends, family, and strangers whose serendipitous paths have crossed theirs.

Scarecrows, lions, tin men, or witches can be found on many campuses. Someone who tries to help but doesn’t know how? (scarecrow). Someone who scares people but really doesn’t mean to? (lion). Maybe a person who tries too hard to care? (tin man). Or worse, a wicked witch?! Yikes!

As in so much of life, we cannot control what other people do, or how they act, or how they appear to others. We can control how we act. As academic advisors, just like the Wizard, we give people advice and direction. And like the ‘All Powerful Oz’ in the movie, remember the impact that words have and use that power wisely. The gift we can give people is indeed our advice, but we can also give them the confidence to move on with a simple “you can do this!”

Remember as advisors, we may be the first person to ever tell students these words.

“I know you have the ability to pass this class” (giving them a brain).
“You are obviously a good person trying to do good things on campus” (giving them a heart).
“I know this looks scary to you, living in the residence halls can be difficult, but remember, they are all people like you, trying to figure this out, just like you” (giving them courage).

Most of us have made statements like these to students and we often can “see” the student believe our words and gain confidence in their step. I remember the look on the Scarecrow’s face when he was told he had a brain. I know I have seen that same look with some of the students I have worked with!

As we think about the many students we have interacted with over the years, we can remember those that had organizational skills, time management skills, ability to create activities or projects, visionary ideas or whatever, but did NOT recognize these traits as unique work skills. We are the Wizard at this point in time in their lives. And it is often simply WORDS that we say. 

'Why don't you get involved with the Campus Activities Board and explore using your creative skills?'
'What could you do to put your organizational skills to good use?'
'Have you ever thought about writing an article?'

We have the opportunity to recognize skills and gifts of students which in turn gives them confidence to develop a positive attitude about themselves. Many students already possess basic communication skills and organizational skills. We can “give” them the needed confidence by urging them to get more involved, take on more responsibilities, make mature decisions, and deal with a variety of people in a positive manner.

Our profession does not work by magic yet we can “give” students confidence in areas that will assist them. We have a “Wizard of Oz” role at times and the simplest of words and actions can help a student through a problem. Like the Wizard, we can show them a path or challenge them to develop skills. By giving them the confidence and directing them to the path we can help students realize a new potential.

At times our curtains will be drawn by a Toto (the dog who pulls the curtain back in the movie), revealing our weaknesses that we are only human too, like the Wizard. But when we act and speak from kindness, good things will happen. And it is often the simplest words of encouragement that can turn students from apathy and lethargy to productive bright motivated citizens on our campus and greater community.

When we have the chance to give a “Tin Man” a heart or a student praise for strengths they possess but undervalue, do not hesitate to be the Wizard of Oz and give them confidence as they move through this confusing world of Oz.

The movie ends with the Wizard giving the Tin Man a heart, the Scare Crow a brain, and the Lion courage. The moral being throughout the entire ordeal the individuals had always possessed these traits. It was only a matter of the Wizard recognizing them by awarding them a piece of paper or object and suddenly each was transformed into a person with a heart, brain, and courage. Can academic advisors be the “Wizard of Oz?”

How do we want our movie to end?

Jim Peacock
Former Director of Advising, Career, and Transfer Center
Currently Adjunct Faculty member teaching First Year Seminar and Career Decision Making classes
Kennebec Valley Community College 
Part time Career Counselor, Bates College.
Owner, Peak-Careers Consulting

Cite this article using APA style as:

Peacock, J. (2012, December). Academic advisors and the wizard of oz. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Emerging Leaders Program – Past, Present, and Future

Chrissy Renfro, NACADA Emerging Leader, ELP 2011-2013 Class

With 12,000-plus members, NACADA is a huge organization.  Many of us have wondered, “How in the world do I find my place in a group the size of a small town?”  One answer is theEmerging Leaders Program (ELP).  Started as an initiative to expand diversity of representation within the organization, the ELP has completed its fifth year of existence, and NACADA leaders consider it to be a resounding success.

Ross Hawkins.jpgThe ELP provides a vehicle for NACADA members who show leadership potential and are interested in advancing under-represented populations to be paired in a mentoring relationship with experienced leaders.  The mentors help the Emerging Leaders set goals for involvement in NACADA at all levels.  While the goal of the program is to identify and groom new leadership that represents the many faces of NACADA, both mentors and mentees say they find the benefits of the program are more than “just business.”  Ross Hawkins (Missouri State University, pictured left), an Emerging Leader in his second year of the program, said “It allowed me to have a professional contact who quickly became a mentor and friend – we built our professional relationship first, but it has become friendship.”  He adds that encouragement and professional input go both ways between himself and his mentor, Art Farlowe (University of South Carolina-Columbia), as the two have bounced ideas off each other.  Other pairs in the history of the program have also found this to be the case, supporting each other through job changes, the births of children, health issues, and more.  Leigh Cunningham, ELP liaison from the NACADA Executive Office, echoes, “All of the mentors I’ve talked to have said they have gotten more out of the relationship than they expected.”

Back in the mid-2000s, leaders in NACADA were seeing that the same people were “recycling” through top positions, and they were concerned that the leadership (as well as general membership) was not very diverse in terms of backgrounds.  Terry Musser (Pennsylvania State University), a longtime member who has held numerous leadership positions, was part of a group that was tasked with building diversity.  A mentoring program was something she’d seen in other organizations and thought it might work for NACADA.  “If you just look at the diversity of the leadership and how many more people are able to be involved in leadership roles in Lisa Peck & Rodney Mondor.jpgNACADA, I think the successes are obvious,” she says of the program now. Rodney Mondor (University of Southern Maine, pictured right), a current mentor who is also a graduate of the 2008-2010 class, agrees.  “It has opened the conversation around diversity – by doing this, it opened the door that diversity is not always race, nationality, sexual orientation, et cetera.  It’s also about things like community colleges, private colleges, religion-affiliated colleges and universities.  That’s diversity, too.  It has opened the eyes of members to the spectrum of diversity.” According to the ELP section of the NACADA website, some of the under-represented populations ELP leaders have asked to represent include race/ethnicity, international, LGBTA, those with disabilities, veterans, 2-year institutions, proprietary colleges, private colleges, religious colleges, faculty, and specialty advising fields.

Each year, there are many more applications to be Emerging Leaders than there are slots available.  While the ELP Advisory Board is happy with the number of applicants, they would like to see the number of people volunteering to be mentors increase.  The hesitation seems to come from the concern that people aren’t qualified, says Cunningham.  “We’ve heard a number of potential mentors express their perception that mentors need to be the people they’ve seen on the stage at the annual conference – the president and members of the board of directors.  But a mentor simply needs to be a step ahead of the person he or she will mentor,” she says.  And mentors needn’t have gone through the program as mentees, either; what is needed are people with leadership experience in NACADA and the ability to network effectively within the organization.  Cunningham and two ELP Advisory Board members, Carol Pollard (University of North Texas) and Yvonne Halden (University of Manitoba), are excited that this is the first year that all mentors are new to the program.

Gehrke & Frega.jpgAt the recent annual conference in Nashville, the incoming class of Emerging Leaders and mentors followed up a series of summer “get-acquainted” assignments with an orientation session that included a version of speed-dating -- each mentor and mentee had five minutes together to compare interests and experiences.  At the end of the day, mentees rank the mentors in terms of with whom they’d most like to work. Only mentees get to make these rankings; Cunningham says mentors need to be open to working with anyone.  Cunningham, Pollard, and Halden got together the next day to review the ranking sheets and make pairing decisions.  This part of the program is more art than science; there is no rubric for matching, but rather more of an intuitive decision of who might work well together.  The three said they look for complementary types in a match, which sometimes results in very different personalities being paired.  Sometimes that yin-yang energy works even better than two people who are very similar.  Of one potential pair during the matching process, Cunningham noted, “that would not be a good match….they’d struggle to get anything done!”  They even paid close attention to body language observed during the speed-dating process, watching for pairs that seemed to “click.”  

Once the pairs are set, they are all contacted and given each other’s information so that they can get together during the conference and start the bonding process.  Mentors help mentees set personal goals for the first year, which range widely and may include involvement at both the regional and national levels.  For the 2011-2013 class, several set a goal to become chairs of Interest Groups or Commissions, while others were interested in participating on the Awards Committee, publishing, Regional Conference chair work, or presenting at an annual conference.  When the class met in Nashville and shared their progress, those goals had been met, and more – several mentees said they discovered interests or were presented with opportunities that they hadn’t anticipated.

As a group, ELP graduates have demonstrated success in their goal areas – the vast majority (45 people) have gone on to run for and be elected to chairperson positions, followed by 44 people who were involved in publications of some kind.  Others have presented in webinars, been involved in research grants, and, like Mondor, gone on to be ELP mentors themselves.  

Program leaders want to extend the reach of the program even further.  One suggestion was to have ELPers (both mentors and mentees) present at each regional conference on the program, so that members can get a more personal interaction with someone in the program.  Another outreach effort was the creation of a video with comments from mentors and mentees, and from others who have seen the growth and benefits of the program.  The hope is that this video can be shown during the presentations at conferences, or simply viewed off the website by anyone interested in the program.

So can the program ever be considered to be done?  “I hope the program will never go away, because it has clearly been so tremendously successful in encouraging leadership development,” said Cunningham.  “And we will always want to promote diversity in the leadership, so while the make-up of the classes may change over time as people articulate differently how/why they feel they are under-represented at that time in our leadership, I think it will always be beneficial to be mindful of and intentionally promoting that diversity.”

And at the very least, mentees like Angie Walston (Barton College) have seen the benefit of not remaining one of the crowd.  “It gave me a group of people within the 3,000 people at a conference that I know – a network of colleagues I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

Renfro & Fread.jpgChrissy Renfro
Director, Advising and Career Services
Laramie County Community College


Applications for the 2013-2015 ELP Class will be accepted beginning January 1, 2013.  Visit the Emerging Leaders Program section of the NACADA website to learn more about the program and find application materials.

What makes for an effective ELP application?

Here are a few tips:

  • Be sure to answer each question fully and with as much detail as possible.  
  • Do some research before filling out the application – know what the goals and objectives of the program are and give some thought to what you would bring to the table in representing a group.
  • Talk with current and past Emerging Leaders and Mentors, as well as current Leaders in areas of interest.  
  • Check out the website and/or attend a conference to attain an understanding of what the leadership structure is, what the publication opportunities are, or whatever your area of interest is, so that you can make your goals as specific as possible.  
  • Make sure that the people you ask to provide letters of support will be willing to include all the information that is requested in their letter.
  • Have someone read your application before you send it, to catch any mistakes.
  • Much of the selection process is objective, but there is certainly a more subjective component such as writing ability and depth of thought.  Because the process is so competitive, EVERYTHING must be considered, and the difference between a selection and a 'not now' can be quite small.

Cite this article using APA style as:

Renfro, C. (2012, December). Emerging Leaders Program – Past, Present, and Future.Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]

NACADA Common Reading - Annual Conference 2012

Luiza Dreasher, Iowa State University

During the 2012 Annual Conference in Nashville, more than 50 individuals gathered for a very stimulating discussion on Jane Pizzolato’s article Complex Partnerships: Self-Authorship and Provocative Academic-Advising Practices (2006).  Luiza Dreasher (Iowa State University) andSarah Champlin-Scharff (Harvard University) led the discussion, while members of the Research Committee supported the event by serving as table facilitators.  NACADA members received an electronic copy of the article prior to the conference.  A handout including a summary of the article, main findings, and potential discussion topics was available to all who attended the Common Reading.  The article was carefully selected by members of the Research Committee because it supported research done by Marcia Baxter Magolda, who was a keynote speaker at the 36th Annual Conference.

2012 Common Reading.jpg

Summary of the Article

In the article, Pizzolato discusses the concept of self-authorship as well as strategies advisors can use to help students develop skills for solving problems and making purposeful decisions.  Self-authorship focuses on careful consideration of external factors with internally defined beliefs, goals, and sense of self.  According to Pizzolato, self-authored students will not follow parental expectations uncritically; they don’t expect advisors to tell them what to do, and their decisions are not based on instinct or passion.  Instead, she found that students who exhibited self-authorship qualities made their decisions after carefully considering multiple perspectives – from advisors, family, and other authority figures.  They also took into consideration their own academic, career, and personal goals.  Self-authored students also considered their short- and long-term goals, as well as the constraints of their particular situation (i.e., financial limitations, requirements, etc.).  In other words, self-authored students considered multiple perspectives before making a decision and balanced their goals with the advice of others.  

Self-authorship is facilitated through the Learning Partnership Model for student development.  As advisors, we should encourage our students to reflect on their goals from a number of different perspectives and devise a plan to achieve them.  Students need to consider potential pitfalls, how they will cope with those obstacles as well as consider the implications of their choices.  Advising practices that encourage the development of self-authorship and support the development of decision-making skills include:

  • Having students make lists of pros and cons or lists of talents and weaknesses with regard to a certain major
  • Pushing students to think about the life they want
  • Helping them cope with family expectations
  • Helping them find an alternative route to meet their goals, and consider multiple perspectives
  • Encouraging students beyond wallowing in their disappointment; it is essential to help them reframe the situation so they can move forward
  • Engaging students in reflective conversations to help them clarify obstacles and learn how to address those difficulties
  • Most of all, asking a lot of open-ended questions and listening.

Some of the topics that were discussed during the Common Reading included:

  • The methodology used in the article
  • The need for training so advisors can feel more comfortable with students’ discomfort
  • The need to ask provocative questions and to listen attentively to the students’ voices and stories
  • The need for advisors to be self-authored themselves, and
  • The importance of measuring self-authorship as it relates to student retention

Participants also discussed the fact that self-authorship is a U.S.-based concept.  When working with an international student population advisors must rely on their cultural competence skills in order to advise effectively across cultures.  Another interesting discussion centered on the idea that self-authorship is much like planting a seed; with the proper care, students will develop it.

The Mission of the Common Reading Program

The NACADA Common Reading Program was designed to engage the membership with research and literature related to academic advising and other advising issues.  Grounding our practice on scholarly work strengthens our knowledge base and, ultimately, our profession.  More importantly, it can also serve as a springboard for us to launch our own inquiries.  

Because many of our colleagues are not able to join us at the annual  conference, the Research Committee challenges regional conference chairs to make the Common Reading a regular event at regional conferences – whether discussing work related to a conference speaker, conference theme, or even an article produced by a regional colleague.  This way, a larger constituency will have the opportunity to engage in stimulating conversation with other colleagues, hopefully leave feeling they learned something, contributed to the discussion, and feel empowered they too can ground their practices in scholarship.  

Luiza Dreasher
Multicultural Liaison Officer/Academic Adviser 
Iowa State University 
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 
Multicultural Student Services


Pizzolato, J, E.  (2006) Complex partnerships: Self-authorship and provocative advising practices. NACADA Journal, 26(1).


Cite this article using APA style as:

Dreasher, L. (2012, December). NACADA common reading – Annual Conference 2012.Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here] 

Career Corner banner.jpg

What is the Member Career Services Committee?

Dear Career Corner –
I just attended the Annual NACADA conference and enjoyed networking with colleagues from across the country. I am not new to advising, but I am new to getting involved with NACADA and am looking for ways to be of service to the organization. I have experience in career services and was wondering how I might be able to help out with the Member Career Services Committee. What is your committee about anyway?
Iwanna Serve

Iwanna –
Thank you for your question! The Member Career Services (MCS) Committee is an easy way to get involved with your global advising association. The MCS is charged with facilitating career-related services for NACADA members. We do this in several ways, by hosting position announcements on the NACADA website; presenting career-related topics at the annual and regional conferences; providing career-related services at the annual conference (i.e. resume/cover letter critiques, on-site job interviews); and supporting up-to-date and easily accessible career-related information. We also look to answer advising career-related questions posted on sites like LinkedIn, maintain sample advising resumes, CV’s and cover letters on the NACADA Member Career Services site, and any other career-related resources.
We like to make sure that there are members on the committee who represent each of the 10 regions of NACADA. We welcome anyone who is interested in supporting their fellow advising professionals with their career pursuits to join this committee. The time commitment is minimal, but MCS is a wonderful way to support your fellow advisors or professionals looking to get into the advising field. 
So how can you help out? Let us know if you would like to participate by letting the MCS ChairLisa Laughter know you are interested. There are ways to get engaged even if you cannot attend regional or annual conferences. We will be asking members of the committee to be “on call” resume critics throughout the year and we are always looking for great article ideas for the Career Corner in Academic Advising Today. We encourage members to present advising career related topics at their regional conferences. And if you plan on attending the annual conference we are always looking for help to do on-site resume critiques and will be hosting mock interviews at next year’s annual conference. 
And remember, NACADA is a member-driven organization! So if you have any additional ideas or suggestions please feel free to send them to Lisa Laughter or Maxine Coffey at the Executive Office. We are always looking for ways to better serve our members so we can continue to make this a strong and valuable Lisa Laughter.jpgorganization. 
Lisa Laughter, Chair
NACADA Member Career Services Committee


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.


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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.

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