posted on May 25, 2017 01:01
Dana Zahorik, NACADA President
You may have heard the quote by Carl W. Buehner, “They may forget what you said, but they will not forget how you made them feel” (Evans, 1971, p. 244). How fitting this is for the advising profession. Think back to the moment when you began college. Moving away from home, finding new friends, and acclimating to a new culture were just a few of the transitions you might have encountered. Are you able to recall what it was during those tough moments that made you feel as though you were valued or that you mattered to that particular community? You most likely can still recall how you felt as a result of those experiences. For me, the person that helped me feel as though I mattered and belonged was my advisor, Dr. Mark Plonsky, from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Dr. Plonsky took the time to recognize I was a first generation college student, terribly home sick, and feeling like a little fish in a big bowl. He assisted me in getting engaged at the college, helped me get connected on campus based on my interests, took the time to help me through my separation anxiety, and recognized I needed to adjust my study skills to be successful. He took the time to help me feel as though I mattered to him as well as the campus community. That particular interaction with my advisor has had a lifelong impact on me, especially as an advising professional. Because I felt as though I mattered on that campus, I persisted and had a positive experience.
Some of you may be familiar with the Theory of Marginality and Mattering (Schlossberg 1989). The premise behind the theory focuses on those who are experiencing transitions and whether they feel they can depend on and feel important to somebody during that transition. Understanding these aspects can assist us as advisors to guide our actions in how we help students fit into our individual college cultures and feel as though they are an important individual within our institutions.
From an institutional standpoint, it can be a reminder to evaluate the messages we send to our students as we meet with them, see them in the halls, and follow up with them during some of the tough transition points throughout their college experience. Using NACADA professional development opportunities can help reinforce effective ways of interacting with students in an advising capacity in order to retain students, enhance their feelings of mattering, and assist them in determining their strengths as well as their areas for growth. Whether you are attending a state, regional, annual, or international conference; participating in summer or winter institute; engaging in a webinar; participating in e-tutorials; or simply reaching out to a fellow NACADA professional for advice, we as advisors are actively making the choice to help our students feel as though they matter and they are important individuals to our campus community by enhancing our ability to advise and support.
Whether you are a new or continuing NACADA member, it is important to this association that you feel as though your contributions make this association what it is. Your feedback, engagement, and leadership contribution are the voice of the decisions being made. After all, it is member contributions, in collaboration with the Executive Office, that create our outstanding professional publications; deliver our webinars; lead our association in a variety of elected, appointed, and volunteer positions; deliver our conference presentations; coordinate our global professional development activities and partnerships; and create scholarly research. Our member engagement is at an all-time high and continues to grow as our membership grows. As members, we need to think about how we can continue to help our fellow members feel as though they matter.
Similar to our interactions with students as advisors, we as NACADA leaders want to ensure all members feel as though they matter within the NACADA culture. As the Board of Directors continues their work on creating measures and benchmarks for the strategic goals, we will keep the idea of mattering in mind as we think of creative ways to utilize technology, expand and communicate the scholarship of academic advising, provide professional development opportunities, promote the role of effective advising to college and university decision makers, develop and sustain a diverse association leadership, and continually assess all facets of the association to engage members and help members feel that they matter. This is all done while looking through the lens of diversity and inclusivity to ensure all members of the association feel as though they matter and are an important piece of keeping our association effective and responsive to member needs.
It is the goal of this association to help each and every one of our members feel that they belong in this association, let them know that their contributions are invaluable, and communicate that ultimately, they matter. Collectively as members, we make this association what it is and continue to help this association earn its name, the Global Community for Academic Advising.
Dana Zahorik, President, 2016-2017
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Counselor/Academic Advising Council Chair/Peer Advising Co-Chair
Counseling and Advising Services
Fox Valley Technical College
Evans, R. L. (1971). Richard Evan’s quote book. Salt Lake City, UT: Publishers Press.
Schlossberg, N. K. (1989). Marginality and mattering: Key issues in building community. In D.C. Roberts (Ed.), Designing campus activities to foster a sense of community (pp. 5–15). New Directions for Student Services, no. 48. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Cite this article using APA style as: Zahorik, D. (2017, June). From the president: Mattering makes a difference. Academic Advising Today, 40(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]