Team Up with Your Teaching and Learning Center to Restructure Faculty Advising
Todd Carter, Seward County Community College
Many advising programs strive to connect faculty, student advising, and learning in an effort to move from “advising as class scheduling” to “advising as teaching.” Likewise, many instructional development programs assist faculty with learner-centered instructional methods that better serve our under-prepared or under-served student populations. It would seem likely that the advising and teaching strategies that better serve these students would have significant overlap (Hemwall and Trachte, 2003).
The Seward County Community College restructuring project recently completed its first year. In evaluating our experiences, we found that there can be a disconnect between faculty approaches to student learning in the classroom and the approaches required to develop a learner-centered advising program. Therefore, steps should be taken early in any restructuring project to build the framework and common vocabulary needed for professional development activities that integrate learner-centered advising and teaching.
We recommend that a NACADA consultant evaluate what is happening to, and for, students. The unbiased nature of the evaluation process and resulting exit report helps establish an honest and open conversation between faculty, staff, administration, and students. After meeting separately with our Student Success Advisory Committee and Administrative Council, our NACADA consultant utilized the Miller (2004) restructuring format as a guide for framing recommendations. Based upon the mission of our college, the consultant recommended that we consider advising through the lens of “advising as teaching.”
It is important to note that our chief administrative officers have been involved from the project’s outset and support this advising restructure by including the project in the institution’s goals. In addition, our chief academic officer attended the NACADA Summer Institute with our Advising Team. As a result of our administration’s support of this faculty-driven effort, the first year of our restructuring project has been deeply reflective and rich in dialogue as we navigated an incredibly steep learning curve.
Our second recommendation: determine the state of teaching and learning at your institution. Your Teaching and Learning Center, Director of Instructional Development, or Professional Development Committee can assist in determining faculty location on a pedagogical continuum with “learner-centered” at one end and “information delivery” on the other. Sources of data can be surveys, course evaluations, faculty evaluations, and classroom observations. Many of the “Factors to Consider When Restructuring Academic Advising” (Miller, 2004) are readily applicable to classroom teaching. Appleby (2001), Davis (2003), and Lowenstein (2003) contend that an excellent teacher and an excellent advisor should be an engaging facilitator of learning. Thus our chief questions became: How could we expect a learner-centered approach to advising if learner-centered methodology is not practiced by faculty in their classrooms? What assumptions do faculty hold about learning behaviors and student capacities? How might these assumptions impact student learning from an advising AND teaching perspective?
As we move forward with our restructuring project we will continue to work with the staff of our Teaching and Learning Center to coordinate faculty development of learner-centered approaches to advising and teaching. Initial benefits of this collaboration include:
- modeling effective learner-centered teaching practices within our professional development workshops
- utilizing a faculty learning community to develop a core of advisors for exploratory and part-time students
- identifying central professional development themes, including diversity and critical thinking, that discuss issues in terms of both advising and teaching
- connecting advising and teaching at the level of practice
- modifying instructional development techniques, such as coaching and small group instructional feedback, to advising settings.
In the June issue of Academic Advising News,Maura Reynolds(2004) suggested that advising can assist students in becoming more complex in their view of the interaction between education and their lives. Clearly, faculty intend their courses to do the same. In order for this to occur, faculty must be involved in institutional efforts to prepare the environment and provide the opportunities necessary for students to develop into life long learners. As we move forward with this restructuring project, we will continue the integration of our advising and teaching professional development themes to better assist faculty in making the connection between effective advising and effective teaching.
Seward County Community College
Appleby, D. (2001). The Teaching - Advising Connection: Part II. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal. Retrieved 05/20/2004 from Center for Excellence in Academic Advising Web site: www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/appleby0.htm
Appleby, D. (2001). The Teaching - Advising Connection: Part IV. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal. Retrieved 05/20/2004 from Center for Excellence in Academic Advising Web site: www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/appleby0.htm
Davis, K.J. (2003). Advisor Training: Exemplary Practices in the Development of Advisor Skills. Monograph Series Number 9. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.
Hemwall, M.K. & Trachte, K.C. (2003). Advising and Learning: Academic Advising from the Perspective of Small Colleges and Universities. Monograph Series Number 8. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.
Lowenstein, M. (2003). If Advising is Teaching, What do Advisors Teach? Outline for the presentation at the NACADA Regional Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved from www.dickinson.edu/ departments/advising/AdvisingAsTeaching.htm
Miller, M.A. (2003). A Guide to Restructuring Advising Services. Retrieved 4/05/2004 from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Restructure.htm
Miller, M.A. (2004). Factors to Consider when Restructuring Academic Advising. Retrieved 12/22/2004 from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/factors.htm
NACADA Consultants Bureau. Information retrieved 1/6/05 from www.nacada.ksu.edu/ConsultantsBureau/index.htm
Reynolds, M. (2004). Faculty Advising in a Learner-Centered Environment: A Small College Perspective. Academic Advising News. Volume 27, Number 2, www.nacada.ksu.edu/Newsletter/ NW27_2.htm. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.
From the President: Some Thoughts on Academic Advising and Technology
Eric White, NACADA President
A short while ago I was talking with a student about academic advising. I casually mentioned that it is important that students become familiar with the degree audit system at Penn State and use it often. The student first responded by agreeing that the Penn State system was good, but then said (much to my surprise and I paraphrase): But if we encourage students to use the degree audit, they won’t ever see their advisors. And then it hit me—how often advising is confused with scheduling and registration procedures and how easy it is to assume that some form of technology can replace human contact and interaction.
One of the consistent themes I hear from the advising community is how difficult it is to dispel the equation that advising is registration. Once, this was a very natural assumption as often advising occurred only as a prelude to the registration process. Knowles’ (1970) definition of advising makes this connection quite clear when he said that “the task of advising is concentrated in the opening days of registration and enrollment and consists of aiding students in the selection of courses.” For those working under this definition, once registration was over, there was no need to see an advisor again. Add the convenience of today’s technology that allows students to register using a computer in the advisor’s office, and one shouldn’t be too surprised that the impression of advising as a registration process has not totally disappeared from the advising landscape.
What can we do about this? We must educate students about academic advising. A large majority of new students don’t “have a clue” about academic advising. They typically come with notions based on their high school experiences and assume that academic advisors must be like guidance counselors, or social workers, or psychological therapists. The advising community must take the responsibility to help students understand who academic advisors are and what they do. Several institutions have addressed this challenge and the Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources provides links to advising Web sites that help introduce academic advising to students.
Academic advising should be mentioned in the recruitment literature of our schools, our catalogues should discuss advising, and our college Internet home pages should easily link to advising sites. When prospective students visit our campuses, both initially and once they have accepted an offer, one of the first persons they should meet is an academic advisor. Advisors should use this time to orient students to the roles and responsibilities of advisors and advisees. When that happens, then students will know that advising goes beyond registration and clearly see advising as education.We should use this time to encourage early contact with advisors and persuade students not to wait until the last minute to see an advisor to register.
If our institutional calendars are not conducive to such interactions, then we must work for change. In this new world of technology and registration, almost anything is possible. What we must ultimately “teach” students is that academic advising is an on-going relationship; that while scheduling courses is part of the total endeavor, it is not the entire picture. The richness of academic advising lies in helping students grow intellectually and personally, assisting students as they make positive decisions that help them move forward in their lives, challenging students to stretch their strengths and experience new things, and use their time in the college as a learning experience.
The best of degree audits, the most sophisticated of on-line registration programs, and the flashiest Web sites can’t do what a real live academic advisor can. If students only use a degree audit and nothing more as the full measure of their advising experience, then a great deal has been lost. There is much a student can learn from an academic advisor: about themselves, about the value of education, about taking advantage of all opportunities offered by the college, about the nuances of curriculum, and about all course choices—from general education to major selection to electives.
I have yet to see (and I doubt I will ever see) any computer that can have a relationship with a student. I have witnessed the power of successful advising that lead students to make innovative choices, weigh possibilities, take action, try something new academically, take the unfamiliar rather than the familiar, or allow themselves to open up to all the possibilities that higher education has to offer.
We talk about the power of computers and how technology can free us. This is true. What we must now do is take advantage of the freedom that technology provides and deliver on the promises that are inherent in sound academic advising.
Knowles, Asa S. (1970). Handbook of College and University Administration: Academic. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Student and Advisor Responsibilities in Advising. (2005). NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources. Retrieved January 13, 2005 from www.nacada.ksu.edu/ Clearinghouse/Links/student_responsibility.htm
From the Executive Director: Life in the NACADA Executive Office
Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, NACADA Executive Director
The reorganization of the Association in 2002 has led to a more efficient and dynamic governance structure which in turn is more quickly generating ideas and authorizing more projects in support of the members. Coupled with the premise that the volunteer leaders should be able to rely on the Executive Office staff to manage or implement projects, the day to day operations in the Executive Office have changed significantly. I thought it might be helpful for the members to read about what a typical day might entail.
When I arrive these days, Judy Weyrauch is already at her desk working on membership database issues. Judy oversees the students that enter the memberships, registrations, and member information changes; initiates the membership renewal notices, and is in charge of our upcoming computer program change that will lead to on-line access by members. Rhonda
Baker is usually in her office early, as well, and is busy managing the National Conference presentation proposal process or finalizing details of the Administrators’ Institute, Assessment Institute, or Engaging Faculty Seminar - hotel room block monitoring, arranging food events, preparing the programs for printing, corresponding with the faculty for each event, etc.
Nancy Barnes is next door to Rhonda attending to other details of the National Conferences - finalizing the Convention Center contract for Indianapolis for 2006, keeping up on anything that might impact our contracts (renovations, etc.) in Baltimore and Chicago for 2007 and 2008 respectively, preparing a request for proposals for 2009 to be sent to western locales, contacting suppliers for Las Vegas (exhibit booths, audio-visual equipment, banquet directors, entertainers, etc.), and preparing the Las Vegas conference brochure. Diane Matteson is working through similar details with each of the ten regional conference chairs for their Spring 2005 meetings while also beginning work with an additional ten chairs on site selection, hotel contracts, and budgets for 2006, and is liaison for the Regional Division. Between e-mails and phone calls, she is readying the content for this newsletter and answering questions about the Summer Institutes that she coordinates.
Marsha, Bev, and Bob reside in our “west wing”. Marsha Miller responds to numerous e-mails and phone calls from the members seeking specific advising information and/or resources. She uses these calls to gauge what the current hot issues are and to help us keep a pulse on what information needs to be addressed at NACADA events, added to the Clearinghouse, or be the basis of a publication. Marsha works closely with the Research Committee and the Journal Editors, too, in her comprehensive role of “advising content” authority. Beverly Martin is responsible for marketing membership, events and publications, so she is often preparing flyers, brochures, membership forms, etc. for the printer. Bev also maintains the inventory of our various “products” and assures that orders are filled and shipped in a timely manner. She has 10 boxes lined up outside her door collecting information to be sent to each of the regional conferences along with a display board for each and is always working on the next monthly NACADA “Highlights”. Bob Maddula offices next to Bev and as one might expect, is busy on his computer. Along with maintaining the network server, the NACADA web site, and providing desktop support to all staff, he programs all of our on-line services. Much like the on-line conference proposals and journal manuscript submission processes that he developed, he is finalizing the leadership reports program and the leadership elections/voting program. In addition, he is developing a “members only” section for our web site.
Cara Wohler is pleasantly answering your many phone calls, providing information, or routing them to the appropriate staff member. She is also opening the mail, providing clerical support, balancing the student work schedules, reconciling the bank statements, processing airline discount agreements, seeking state by state sales tax exemptions, and managing the overall operations of the office. Then, as I leave at the end of the day, Julia Wolf is still in her office busily writing checks to cover the $1.7+ million in annual expenses and accounting for an equal or greater amount of income. Julia is also guiding the 20 Commissions and 14 Interest Groups as liaison to the Commission and Interest Group Division, and logging in the annual Award nominations while preparing the announcement for the 2005 leadership elections.
Charlie Nutt is nearby and is busy coordinating the work of all the staff while cultivating new relationships with other higher education associations, responding to member inquiries about advising issues, coordinating the curriculum and faculty of the January/February events, addressing the many demands that I place on him, fighting fires, conducting a search for a new staff member to focus on the development of distant learning programs for members, and leading those “beloved” staff meetings. Charlie has responsibility for the day to day operations of the office while I, Bobbie, focus on overall association management issues and work with the Board of Directors. That means I am currently filing our state sales tax report, preparing for our annual IRS report, reviewing our investments and searching for the best paying CDs, responding to Board requests for information to support decisions on future activities and policies, reviewing the association’s insurance coverage and debating on whether to purchase event cancellation insurance in case there were another major terrorist incident in the US that would preclude our having a conference, conveying issues of concern to the Board as expressed by members, and explaining association actions that raise concerns from members.
As our responsibilities increased, we had a need to reorganize the office into “units” and are pleased to announce that Julia Wolf will be Assistant Director, Administration and Operations; Marsha Miller will be Assistant Director, Research and Programs; and the three meeting planners (Nancy, Rhonda, and Diane) will work as a team. We will strive to continue to provide quality service to the members of NACADA!
Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, Executive Director
National Academic Advising Association
Issues Facing First Generation College Students
Ila Schauer, First Generation College Student Interest Group Chair
Embarking on a journey into the unknown... Boldly going where no relative has gone before... Blazing new trails. These are brave and exciting statements, but to any student who is first in the family to have the experience, it is an intimidating venture. First Generation College Students (First Gens) often receive mixed messages from their families—make us proud/don’t leave us. These students are “breaking,” not “keeping” the family tradition. Without guidance, First Gens often get lost in the maze of college life.
An academic advisor who seeks more information about this student population finds several contradictions. First, and foremost, there is no clear definition of the term ‘First Generation College Student.’ A commonly held definition for First Gen is that these students are the first in their immediate family to attend college—period. However, a literature review shows that this is not a universally held notion. The least restrictive definition is that of the federally funded TRIO program: neither of the student’s parents (guardians) earned a four-year college degree. The most restrictive definition is that used by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES): the student is the first in the family to pursue education beyond high school.
The second problem an advisor faces is how to identify this student population. If an advisor cannot obtain information from FAFSA forms, then First Gens must self-identify. Most current research uses the self-select method and, of course, most grant money is distributed to students through a volunteer process. A third hurdle is clarification of issues. Which concerns are specific to First Gens, and which are generally held by other students? Research continually suggests that First Generation College Students are at a definite disadvantage when compared to students from a family with previous college experience. In fact, Bolante (2002) points to the fact that First Gens are twice as likely to leave college before the 2nd year. Yet quantitative studies that indicate which interventions actually help are almost non-existent beyond those of TRIO sponsored programs.
D’Amico (1998) indicates that First Generation students are more likely to be: older than the typical 18 year old freshman, from lower income families, married (many with dependants), and ethnic minorities. Warburton, et al. (2001) found that First Gens are more likely to attend part-time, and to work full-time while in college. They are less likely to enroll in 4-year universities (and are even less likely to enroll in research universities), less likely to have taken college prep courses or advanced placement courses in high school, and less likely to have taken college entrance exams. Additionally, the Warburton study found that those who have taken college entrance exams generally score lower than those students whose parents have a college education. Bui (2002) points out that it is more likely that English is not the first language spoken in First Gen homes and Warburton finds that First Gens tend to have lower first year GPAs and take at least one remedial course.
Another concern for First Gens is ‘debt load’ (Somers, Woodhouse, & Cofer, 2004). Many First Gens come from lower income families and thus are more likely to end up accumulating large debt before they complete their program of study. One reason for this lack of financial support is their high school background and low college entrance scores often do not qualify them for scholarships. Warburton, et. al (2001) brought an interesting finding to the discussion when they found that when First Gen students complete a high school program with equally high level of rigor, they succeed at the same rate as their peers whose parents earned degrees. Indeed, if this is the case, then it would appear that more needs to be done to educate potential students, their parents, and high school counselors regarding how high school course choice affects college success. Research in this area is often limited to one campus or student population, and definitions appear to be conflicting. What is needed is research which covers a cross-section of the US including many types of institutions. It would seem that NACADA members may be in the best position to champion this research across campuses. As such, the First Generation College Student Advising Interest Group challenges you to look at these issues on your campus and welcomes discussion of possible research topics on our electronic list.
While studying First Gens can be discouraging, working with them is not. Typically these students blossom under the care and attention of advisors, mentors and peer counselors. Effective academic advising of First Gens is of utmost importance as are programs that assist students to achieve more social input, educate parents, and provide earlier interventions. We must foster students’ sense of belonging on campus and facilitate healthy relationships with faculty, staff, and other students, both in and out of the classroom. Advising, tutoring, and mentoring are necessary to help these students succeed. More research must be done to determine which interventions are successful in retaining First Gens to the second year.
Prairie View A&M University
Bolante, Ronna (2002). First generation students: Higher education is foreign territory for students whose parents never attended college, Malamalama, The magazine of the University of Hawaii System, Retrieved on September 22, 2004, from www.hawaii.edu/malamalama/2002/07/FirstGen.html
Bui, Khanh Van T. (March, 2002). First-generation college students at a four-year university: Background characteristics, reasons for pursuing higher education, and first-year experiences-Statistical Data Included. College Student Journal. Retrieved September 21, 2004, from www.findarticles.com/p/ articles/mi_m0FCR/is_1_36/si
D’Amico, Aurora (June 1998) Statistical Analysis Report: First- Generation Students: Undergraduates Whose Parents Never Enrolled in Postsecondary Education), National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Retrieved November 3, 2004 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/web/98082.asp
Somers, Patricia, Woodhouse, Shawn, & Cofer, Jim (2004). Pushing the boulder uphill: The persistence of first-generation college students, NASPA Journal, Vol.41, no.3, Spring 2004.
Warburton, E.C., Bugarin, R., and Nuñez, A.-M. (2001). Bridging the gap: Academic preparation and postsecondary success of first-generation students. Educational Statistics Quarterly, 3(3). Retrieved October 27, 2004 from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/ quarterly/vol_3/3_3/q4-2.asp
Diversity in Transfer
Troy Holaday, Advising Transfer Students Commission Chair
Without fail, institutions claim to value diversity. Yet institutions often limit their understanding of diversity to the inclusion of individuals from racial or cultural minorities. While seeking out under-represented individuals is an admirable response to a symptomatic lack of diversity, real enrichment is achieved not by counting heads, but rather through learning to prize individuals whose origins, viewpoints, values, and traditions may not be consistent with those of the campus majority. In this sense, transfer students are one of the most commonly encountered yet frequently overlooked sources of diversity.
By definition, a transfer student’s prior education is the product of teaching methods, institutional conventions, physical environments, educational philosophies, and even geographical experiences that are not native to the receiving institution. If advisors learn to understand and appreciate the inherent diversity in transfer students, both the institution and the student will benefit.
The first step in embracing transfer diversity involves taking time to assess a student’s prior non-academic experiences. In assessing the needs of transfer students, advisors sometimes forget to look beyond the student’s coursework. However, awkward and unsuccessful transfer experiences may be expected when we fail to identify dramatic contrasts between the student’s prior institution and his or her new one. When transfer students are unsuccessful, administrators and faculty may too quickly suppose inadequate academic preparation and ignore factors such as a move from a non-residential campus to a residential one, or from small classrooms to larger ones.
Minimizing these contrasting factors may take extra effort that will assuredly pay off in increased student success. One response is a post-orientation program, such as an interest group, or for credit course, specifically designed to help transfer students adapt to their new environment. Many campuses already have postorientation programs that aid freshman in forging connections to their new campus home, but do not supply these same services to transfer students.
Accepting the diversity of transfer students also influences how institutions manage the credit evaluation process. Barriers to effective evaluation may include inertia, rigidity, or simply the lack of a regularized process. Understanding that rejecting credits or shunting them into ineffective electives is a process of discrediting a transfer student’s previous academic experiences may change the demeanor in which we approach such an activity. We should not assume that students expect to lose credits in the transition from one institution to another, and a casual devaluation of a student’s prior coursework can taint the student’s relationship with the institution before he or she even enters a classroom. While this understanding may not actually change the decisions made, it will surely temper the manner in which we communicate the evaluations to the student.
Though our skill in advising transfer students has certainly improved as the phenomenon of transferring students has increased, in the busy rush to get the student started advisors sometimes give in to inertia and choose not to pursue the evaluation of credits they perceive to be inconsequential to the student’s educational goals. Though we may understand that finalizing certain evaluations will not advance a student toward graduation, the students will not understand why so little regard is being given to their hard-earned coursework.
Rigidity, too, can obstruct effective evaluation when matching the content of transfer courses to those from an institution’s own catalog is completed with excessively narrow margins of error. A bias toward one’s own institutional programs may impede a more reasonable comparison of learning outcomes and credit experiences. The best results often are achieved when credit evaluators lay aside the “that’s not the way we do it here” attitude, and instead seek to assess whether the student is academically and socially prepared for the next level of coursework.
Understanding that transfer students foster campus diversity can empower relationships, increase success, and mark an institution as transfer-friendly. A charitable assessment of transfer student experiences and robust program of orientation built upon this understanding will lead to more transfer recruits who, in turn, will provide experienced, yet fresh, viewpoints on campus services and broaden the experiences of their peers and instructors.
Ball State University
Some Thoughts on Diversity in NACADA
Karen Gould, NACADA Diversity Committee Member
I am a new member of NACADA as my initial experience with this association began in February 2004 at the Advising Administrators Institute. While the quality of the information was certainly first rate, what became immediately apparent to me was the lack of color that I saw around me, not a void—just low numbers. What seemed most glaring to me was the lack of diversity among the people who were teaching and organizing the Institute. As a newcomer to NACADA I did not know what to make of this—I remained relatively silent about my concerns and focused on soaking up the information I had come to learn.
Midway through the course of the Institute, Charlie Nutt, Associate Director from the NACADA Executive Office, approached a group of five of us (all people of color) seated in the hotel lobby at the end of the day. “Just what can we do to get more people of color involved in NADADA?” was Charlie’s friendly greeting of inquiry. While his unsolicited question felt a bit awkward and jarring, it was also an acknowledgement of his awareness that NACADA still had some work to do. He was willing to ask the hard questions. Moreover, Charlie seemed truly interested and engaged in the feedback we had to offer.
Shortly thereafter, Charlie summoned Ruth Darling (then president of NACADA) to join our conversation. Both she and Charlie articulated their clear understanding regarding the importance of diversity to higher education institutions. They were well aware that increased participation from people of diverse backgrounds would be beneficial to the association, but admitted that doing so had been an ongoing struggle.
I left the Institute slightly intrigued yet cautiously pessimistic— other organizations had dashed my hopes with their promises of commitments to diversity. I had no expectations that NACADA would be any different. Following my experience last year, I have had the opportunity to come to know NACADA much better. It will come as no surprise to some folks that one consequence of my outspoken character was an invitation to serve NACADA in several capacities, including an invitation to serve on the NACADA Diversity Committee. In fact, I share my story as a member of this committee in hopes of addressing the doubts of those who might question NACADA’s willingness to be open, honest, and proactive in confronting diversity issues.
This committee meets fairly regularly via phone or contacts each other via listserve primarily to discuss what we can do to improve the diversity of NACADA membership. (NACADA defines diversity as being all inclusive as it references ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, institutional type and size, and employment position.) Clearly, NACADA is by no means perfect in this regard, but we are making concerted efforts to bring about change.
One part of this change process is the writing of this article. Our hope is that it will encourage you to discuss issues that the diversity committee visits about all the time—why the leadership of NACADA isn’t more diverse. Within NACADA, 19.5% of the nearly 8,000 members are Hispanic, African American, Native American or Asian American. Yet, within the elected leadership of the Organization, only five of the 57 individuals (8.8%) hail from these groups. Over the past five years, whites have held about 88% of the leadership. These figures are a problem and we believe that they need to improve. (At this time, NACADA does not collect demographic data with regard to identification of its GLBT members. It is our hope that subsequent diversity issue papers will address more nuanced topics such as how to balance right to privacy issues with issues of inclusion and representation.)
One purpose of this paper is to bring these figures out to the forefront and to get people talking about them. We plan to lead constructive, non-judgmental conversations at each of the regional conferences about what these figures mean and what each of us can do about them.
As a committee, we believe that it is important to have leadership reflect at minimum the membership of our organization. The face of higher education should be representative of the face of the people that we advise. We also believe that a more diverse representation within our leadership will contribute to enhanced decision making within all facets of NACADA, and enhance our creativity and problem-solving approaches. Increased diversity within organizations facilitates different outcomes for different individuals and groups who participate (Smith & Schonfeld, 2000). For those who are underrepresented, diversity promotes an increased willingness to become more involved. For those in the majority, diversity offers an exposure to a wider variety of perspectives. We are excited about achieving such outcomes for our members and for our association at large.
Discussions around the significance of member diversity have a long, but sporadic, history in NACADA. In The National Academic Advising Association: A Brief Narrative History, J. D. Beatty (1991) reports that the 1979 national conference in Omaha was alive with debate over whether to mandate that a certain percentage of NACADA leadership include members from under represented groups. While such a mandate was never enacted, by 1983 the association had established its first minority affairs committee, reflective, perhaps of the growing presence of diversity within the association. In 1993 the national conference in Detroit had as its theme: Using Resources Creatively to Serve Diverse Populations.
We think that by (1) putting forth this article, (2) continuing its discussion at regional conferences and (3) encouraging themes of diversity in academic advising for the 2006 national conference, we will not only improve on the legacy of diversity at NACADA, but also work to lessen the sporadic cycle of attention that diversity issues receive at NACADA. We hope that by putting forth this article and convening sessions at the regional conferences, we will help to put issues of diversity at the forefront of our membership concerns. We want to create the opportunity to engage in fruitful dialogue about how to insure that change occurs; one that is guided by a commitment to strengthening our association overall. While engaged in this process we will come to see the variation of opinion and ideas that exists within diverse groups and move away from any tendency to generalize and stereotype. The process itself will be part of our change.
We know that the most worthwhile discussions about diversity can be filled with disagreement and contradiction. Yet, we believe that as representatives of higher education institutions, we must model behavior where issues of diversity are discussed frequently and with increased ease. In turn, practicing such behavior is certain to inform our work as advisors and administrators, giving us something truly powerful to take away from NACADA and bring back to our campuses.
Leaving the U for Avenue Q
Cynthia Sarver, Michigan State University
Like many academic advisors, I occasionally receive email messages from former students who are somewhat disillusioned by their first post-graduation jobs and speak with some nostalgia about their alma mater. After all, finding a job, meeting workplace expectations, relocating, seeking new friends, and planting roots are all hard work. This unsettling life transition is the theme of the Broadway musical, Avenue Q (Lopez, Marx, and Whitty, 2003), which was written for the twenties generation finding their way in an uncertain world. Avenue Q can be fictitiously found in the furthest and least expensive borough of New York City.
The Avenue Q song that captures the essence of this transition poses the question:
What do you do with a BA in English? What is my life going to be? Four years of college and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useless degree. I can’t pay the bills yet ‘cause I have no skills yet. The world is a big, scary place... But somehow I can’t shake the feeling I might make a difference to the human race (Lopez, et al., 2003).
Amid the confusion and the search for personal meaning, this character (this generation?) is optimistic, confident, and willing to serve for the greater good [“When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself” (Lopez, et al., 2003).]
Reassuringly, Avenue Q credits academic advisors with making a difference in a small way in the lives of students. In the nostalgic song, “I Wish I Could Go Back To College,” a character wistfully sings, “I wish I could just drop a class or get into a play or change my major. I need an academic advisor to point the way” (Lopez, et al., 2003). I’d like to think that we do point the way for many students in both small and significant ways. As students leave the U for Avenue Q and other destinations, academic advisors must be sensitive to the reservations, the anticipatory jitters, and even the sense of denial that some graduating seniors feel and, if appropriate, invite them to share those feelings.
The Michigan State University (MSU) Alumni Association, in conjunction with the Senior Class Council, sponsors a series of seminars called “Getting Your Career Game Together. “ When they register for MSU’s eNews for Graduating Students, seniors can explore the Career Game Web site and choose to attend sessions that focus on pragmatic topics, such as "Relocating to a New Job and a New City," "Portfolio Development/Brag Book," "Managing Personal Finances," and "Consolidation of Student Loans" (www.msualum.com/careers/career-events.cfm).
Another MSU Alumni Association Web page, Preparation for Life After College, features thought-provoking passages from essays that offer encouragement, reassurance, and practical advice to the soon-to-be graduates. Examples include: "Attitude is Everything," "Instructions for Life," "No Excuses," "Your Power Grid," and "Mentors Play an Important Role on Your Road to Success" (www.msualum.com/careers/lifeafter.cfm).
My personal send-off to graduating advisees is brief and simple: “For those of you ready to start careers or graduate school, best of luck. For those of you searching for a job or a direction in life, don’t get discouraged; you’ll find your niche in the world. And as a small gift from me...here is a getting-through-your-twenties suggested reading list. [Editor’s note: see appendix at end of article for reading list.] Best wishes in your quest for personal and professional growth and satisfaction.”
Avenue Q ends on a positive note, as characters sing, “Don’t stress, relax, let life roll off your backs! Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now. Each time you smile, it’ll only last awhile. Life may be scary, but it’s only temporary. Everything in life is only for now” (Lopez, et al., 2003).
Michigan State University
Lopez, Robert (music and lyrics), Marx, Jeff (music and lyrics),& Whitty, Jeff (book). (2003). Avenue Q. Information available at www.avenueq.com/index.php.
Getting-through-your-twenties suggested reading list:
Michael Ball. (2003). @the Entry Level: On Survival, Success,&Your Calling as a Young Professional. Los Angeles: Pure Play Press.
Sasha Cagen. (2004). Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. San Francisco: Harper.
Rebecca Knight. (2003). A Car, Some Cash and a Place to Crash: The Only Post-College Survival Guide You’ll Ever Need. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Alexandria Robbins, and Abby Wilner. (2001). Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. New York: Penguin Putnam.
Jeff Taylor, Doug Hardy. (2004). Monster Careers: How to Land the Job of Your Life. New York: Penguin USA.
Ethan Watters. (2003). Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment. New York: Bloomsbury USA.
Negotiating Salary and Benefits
Dear Career Corner: I have just been offered a new position. How should I approach negotiating a salary and other benefits?
Signed, Apprehensive about Negotiating
Dear Apprehensive: Congratulations on being offered this position! Although I know that you are apprehensive about this process, it is important to re-frame this problem into an opportunity. The negotiation process should be positive and allows you to affirm that this opportunity is a good match for both you and the institution.
Begin the negotiations by focusing on what you need to be successful in your new position. In other words, take time and work with your future employer to devise a written plan that spells out mutually agreed upon goals and objectives, and establishes a performance review process. This is also an excellent opportunity to delineate your professional development needs. The initial focus of the negotiations should be on the institution and what you need to maximize your contributions to your new employer. Martin and Bloom (2003) suggest that “focusing on the institution positions you as a person who puts the substance of what you do above the salary you earn, and shows your commitment to making real and substantive contributions to the institution in your new role. Your prospective employer will be impressed by your focus on substance and be more readily adaptable and generous as you negotiate the rest of the package” (p. 83-84).
A few of the items that comprise the rest of the package include: salary, insurance, retirement plan, vacation, holidays, computer needs, etc. If you must move to another city, you should include relocation expenses and housing on the negotiating list. On the personal side, you may want to ask about assistance with helping your spouse find a position in the area, tuition remission, and childcare options.
Take time to negotiate a thorough, fair, and equitable package. For complete details on how to approach the negotiation process and a thorough negotiation check list, refer to the book Career Aspirations and Expeditions: Advancing Your Career in Higher Education Administration (2003).
Chair, NACADA Member Career Services Committee
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
Martin, N.A. & Bloom, J.L. (2003). Career Aspirations & Expeditions: Advancing Your Career in Higher Education Administration. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing.