From Inaction to Action: Recognizing the Language of Procrastination
Ann Wheeler, Landmark College
Procrastination is a useful word choice to explain why something didn’t
get done because it incorporates a variety of reasons, from lack of
interest in the task to underestimating the time it would take. While
behavioral researchers have noted relationships between procrastination,
motivation, anxiety, and self-esteem (Owens & Newbegin,1997), some
definitions also include subtle judgmental language, implying character
flaws in those who procrastinate. Merriam-Webster (2006) defines
procrastination as “to put off intentionally and habitually the doing of
something that should be done.” Yes, those who procrastinate seem to
make a conscious choice when they delay action, and yes, some
procrastination becomes chronic; however, “should be done” subtly scolds
the procrastinator, as does Solomon and Rothblum’s (1984) definition, “the act of needlessly delaying tasks.” Beardsworth (1999)
also confirms this negative connotation by stating, “the deferral of
action is considered negatively…since procrastination implies…refusing
to act when action is called for.”
I was intrigued to find that when my advisees reflect on their academic
performance, those with academic difficulties use similar judgmental
language, often citing “procrastination” or “laziness” as the root issue
and the need to “work harder” as the solution. In 2007, I launched a
closer investigation into the concept of procrastination by noting
specifically the word choices used when advisees assessed timeliness of
coursework completion and course grades. Since that time, categories
have emerged that I have termed “procrastination language,” suggesting a
common language is present among those with chronic coursework
completion difficulties. The categories include:
- blaming oneself or others
- judgmental comments
- use of the word “procrastination”
- excessive agreeability
- exaggerated confidence
- excessive use of “I don’t know”
- excessive planning, not doing
- tentative comments (“will try to” rather than “will”)
- positive spin (highlights one positive in a majority of negatives)
I continue to find that those who use
procrastination language have less successful learning outcomes when
grades are used as the measure of success, and the academic advising
setting is ideal to promote student awareness of procrastination
behavior and the language that can maintain that behavior.I recommend that advisors first train themselves to note and place advisee comments into the categories above. Then, revisit these initial impressions to go beneath the apparent. For example, blaming oneself is easy to recognize in advisees who apologize for their poor grades
or openly rebuke themselves; however, advisees who vow to “work
harder” or “study more” sound like they have a plan of action when they
could actually be criticizing themselves for being lazy. Finally,
training advisees to recognize their individual procrastination language
can be a first step to move from academic inaction to action.
What purpose does procrastination language serve? “Procrastination may
become a coping mechanism for maintaining self-esteem” (Owens &
Newbegin,1997). I propose that procrastination language can shield the
self-esteem by lowering expectations, deflecting criticism, and
distracting from the inaction. Blaming oneself allows an advisee to
preempt the judgmental language of others. Replies of “I don’t know” or
“I will try to finish” actually give permission not to continue the
task. Disregarding the Academic Support Center because “at my last
college it didn’t help me at
all” or being satisfied with a poor exam grade because “we
only had three days to learn the material” deflect and distract by
blaming others. A more subtle example, “I’m just not into American
History…now Ancient History, I could get all A’s,” actually blames the
subject! Other ways for an advisee to deflect calls to action by the
persistent, questioning advisor are to distract with positive language.
Acknowledging the 15-page paper that is overdue by commenting, “I have
three pages almost done and I’m doing the rest tonight” is an example of
“Positive Spin” or focusing on one positive in a field of negatives, as
the comment draws attention to what is completed and away from the
possibly unrealistic plan to finish the paper.
Another example, “This is a lot better than my first exam,” attempts to
distract the advisor that neither exam is passing. Being excessively
agreeable to the advisor’s recommendations or an advisee commenting
extensively on what needs to be done could distract from the advisee’s
lack of confidence to carry out the planning and recommendations.
Procrastination language can be subtle, often masquerading as a plan of
action, and if unrecognized, can provide the struggling advisee with a
rationale for inaction, sometimes to the point of academic paralysis.
While procrastination language might help an advisee cope with the
stresses of post-secondary education, instead its chronic use can
preserve procrastination behavior as the shield becomes too durable and
the deflection and distraction too subtle to recognize. The academic
advisor can harness this language to find a positive pathway to successful academic outcomes and the academic advising setting is ideal
to promote awareness of the challenges of procrastination behavior and
the language that can maintain it.
Beardsworth, R. (1999). Practices of procrastination. Parallax, 5(1), 10. doi:10.1080/135346499249795
Mish, F. (Ed.) (2006). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (11th ed.) Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
Owens, A. M., & Newbegin, I. (1997). Procrastination in high school achievement: A causal structural model. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 12(4), 869-872.
Solomon, L., & Rothblum, E. (1984). Academic procrastination: Frequency and cognitive-behavioral correlates.
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31, 503.
From the President: Being Thankful
Jennifer Joslin, NACADA President
I've never forgotten a meaningful NACADA keynote from a 2005 Region 6 Conference in South Dakota. The speaker was V. J. Smith, an administrator at South Dakota State University, and the theme was “being thankful.” The keynote was outstanding not only because Smith spoke brilliantly but also because of the message: acknowledge your blessings and give thanks. I remember returning to campus and writing my director, Pat Folsom, to express my thanks for her support of my attendance at the conference. The keynote reminded me that saying “thank you” is important. I thought of that keynote as I returned from the 2012 NACADA midyear Board and Council meetings. This year our meetings provided many opportunities to demonstrate appreciation and thankfulness.
The Board of Directors and the NACADA Council are grateful for the support that Kansas State University College of Education Dean Michael C. Holen has provided since first inviting NACADA to make its home at K-State in 1990. Our partnership with K-State has greatly benefitted both organizations and, not incidentally, resulted in the savings of millions of dollars that could be focused on growing the field of advising. With Dean Holen’s retirement, the Board was interested in honoring his legacy to advising and to NACADA and voted to make a $15,000 contribution to the Dean Michael C. Holen Legacy Fund at Kansas State University. In addition, the Board voted to rename one of our highest awards, the Pacesetter Award, in honor of Dean Holen. The Michael C. Holen Pacesetter Award will continue to recognize the work of upper-level administrators across the world for their support and enhancement of the academic advising experiences of students, and it will do so in permanent commemoration of one of NACADA’s most pivotal champions.
The midyear meetings also mark the announcement of some of the winners of the 2012 NACADA awards. It is our pleasure as an organization to congratulate and acknowledge 2012 Leading Light Award honoree Jane Jacobson (Iowa State University), Service to NACADA Award honoree Terry Musser (Pennsylvania State University), and Virginia N. Gordon honoree Jayne Drake (Temple University). We thank them sincerely for their lifelong devotion to student success and the field of advising.
I have come full circle in this column to saying thank you to my friend, mentor, and fellow Board member, Pat Folsom (University of Iowa). Pat has decided to retire in early September 2012 and unfortunately will have to resign from her role on the Board (a position which must be held by someone working at a higher education institution). Pat is the author of one of NACADA’s best-selling monographs, The Guidebook for New Advisors: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising Through the First Year & Beyond (Monograph #16), and the recent author of “Space Design and Redesign,” one of the best articles on designing an advising center that exists in the field (in Academic Advising Administration: Essential Knowledge and Skills for the 21st Century, Monograph #22). The Board accepted Pat’s resignation with regret and with thanks for her years of service to NACADA. We wish her well in retirement!
With Pat’s resignation, the Board voted to offer Nathan Vickers (University of Texas at Austin) a seat on the Board to fill the remaining two years of Pat’s term. Nathan has provided outstanding service to NACADA as Administrative Division Representative to the Council, is the former Chair of the Emerging Leaders Program, and co-founded the New Advising Professionals Interest Group. Welcome Nathan and thank you for your service to NACADA!
I know that Charlie Nutt has written (in his column) to acknowledge the
outstanding conference chairs and committee members and region chairs
for their extraordinary work this spring! I want to add special thanks
on behalf of the Board to the conference chairs. You were all terrific
hosts! We are fortunate to work with you and the many hundreds of NACADA
volunteers who are committed to student success and the field of
Jennifer Joslin, President
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Director, Office of Academic Advising, University of Oregon
From the Executive Director: NACADA Continues to Grow and Impact Higher Education Globally
Nutt, NACADA Executive Director
What an outstanding spring it has been for NACADA and all of our members! Since the association’s beginnings, our annual spring Region Conferences have been outstanding opportunities for veteran members and new members to come together to learn from each other and to network with their colleagues in their regions. This year’s Region Conferences have continued this superb tradition but at record attendance! Six of the 10 Region Conferences this year had over 400 participants with another two having over 350 participants! Nearly 1,000 more academic advising professionals were touched by NACADA this spring than we have attend our Annual Conferences! What a great tribute to the outstanding work that NACADA is doing and the connection that institutions across the globe are recognizing between academic advising and student success!
However, these Region Conferences and all they accomplish for the field and profession of academic advising and for the association would not happen without the herculean efforts and work of the Region Chairs, Region Conference Chairs, and hundreds of volunteers across the Regions. Just as our participation numbers have risen, the number of volunteers for each of our Region Conferences continues to grow. Just as we tell our students the more involved they are the more connected they are to the institution, our members continue to strengthen their connections to NACADA through volunteering at their Region Conferences in a multitude of ways. I want to publicly acknowledge and thank all of the volunteers for the outstanding work they did in making this spring’s conferences so successful. I also want to thank Diane Matteson in the NACADA Executive Office for all she does to make the conferences
so successful – Diane and all the EO staff are truly the unsung heroes
for all they do for our association and for all members! Kudos to
everyone involved in the 2012 Region Conferences!
One of the things that I feel has contributed to NACADA’s continued
growth and influence is that we are providing our members with multiple
ways to connect with the association throughout the entire year.
Attending an annual, regional, or state conference is just one way to
connect and learn from NACADA colleagues and feel connected. Through
our Summer Institutes, Administrators’ Institute, Assessment Institute,
Annual Seminar, Web Events, and publications, each member has the opportunity to benefit from their membership in multiple ways
during the year. Add to this the conversations being facilitated on
LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and it is very clear that NACADA
touches our members in ways that support their work on behalf of their
students, enhance the programs being developed and implemented on
campuses, and expand the influence of academic advising across higher
NACADA also continues to make powerful connections globally on behalf of the field of academic advising. In the past year, NACADA leaders and members have visited campuses in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, the UAE, and Qatar. Through these visits, NACADA has continued to strengthen its role as the Global Community for Academic Advising. In June 2013, we will be co-hosting an International Conference on Academic Advising and Personal Tutoring with the University of Maastricht in Maastricht, Netherlands, and
preliminary discussions have begun to co-host a conference in the
Middle East with Qatar University. Through our outreach to our global
colleagues, our members are able to learn from professionals across the
globe and build global networks to support the work we each do on our
individual campuses. What an exciting time this is for the association
as well as for our entire membership of over 10,800 members!
It was such a pleasure to see so many of you at the Region Conferences
this spring, and I look forward to seeing many more of you at our
Summer Institutes in Austin and Louisville this summer and at our
Annual Conference in Nashville in October! Please don’t hesitate to
contact me any time if you have any questions, issues, or concerns.
Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
This edition's International Vantage Point contributions come to us from Shehna Javeed (University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada) and Penny Robinson (University of Leeds, United Kingdom).
Student Motivation: How to Inspire and Sustain It
Shehna Javeed, University of Toronto Scarborough
Student motivation is a complicated concept, as students come to University with multiple motivations. Sometimes it is the genuine desire to acquire an education, but in many instances it is the desire for that return on investment – a fulfilling career and financial gain. Somewhere along the educational journey, students may experience periods of low motivation.
There are numerous possible causes of low motivation. Low motivation can
be related to poor study habits compounded by procrastination. Other
factors contributing to or exacerbating low motivation could be a lack
of connection to or engagement with the discipline being studied or the
methods used by instructors or advisors to engage the student.
Psychological experiences such as low academic commitment, mental health
issues, or perhaps a generational effect where students are of the
first generation in their families to attend University may also
contribute to low motivation.
How can advisors and instructors build greater engagement and improve motivation in their students? Jere Brophy’s (2010) Motivating Students to Learn addresses topics
related to motivation in a learning context. In his book, Brophy cites
some key points as reported by T. McIntyre on encouraging and inspiring
motivation. These suggestions are referenced below and adapted to a
University setting. Each advising strategy is coupled with a strategy
for the classroom. Both are important and can bridge the gap to
motivating students effectively.
Create assignments or activities that individualize meaning (Brophy, 2010)
- Teaching perspective. Papers
that have meaning and application to the student’s life are likely to be
completed with zeal. Meaning can also be created if it relates to
events in the world around the student, in their life, community, or the
world. Allowing some choice within the constraints of the assignment
can enable the student to tell his/her own “story” which provides a
- Advising perspective. In an advising dialogue, goal setting can be an important strategy for motivating students. Advisors can support students by utilizing the SMART goal method. Goals need to be SMART: S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=Achievable, R=Realistic, T=Timely. Goals that combine these five elements have the formula to be achievable. Here is an example of a SMART goal: “On Tuesdays from 10 to 11 a.m. I will visit the laboratory supervisor to discuss questions related to my weekly lab reports.” When the goal is realistic and meaningful it is more likely to be achieved.
Introducing gaming as a strategy for learning (Brophy, 2010)
- Teaching perspective. Gaming
encourages problem-solving and inquiry to arrive at the concepts or
apply the concepts to a problem. In some classrooms, instructors may
display a problem and then ask the class to ruminate on a solution.
Voting or class discussion can allow the interaction and element of
discovery in the contemplation of the material. Students can do this in
partners or through response to the instructor using electronic
clickers. Jane Caldwell (2007) cites that clicker responses not only engage the
student, but also provides feedback to the instructor on the
understanding of the topic. If more responses are incorrect this allows
the instructor to reframe the ideas so that they are better understood.
Clicker technology as a method of engagement is increasingly being used
in the sciences (Science Daily, 2008). It empowers the student to be an
active learner and to engage with the topic, communicate with his/her classmates, and offer feedback to the instructor.
- Advising perspective. Using
games can bring students to action. At the academic orientation, the
advising team at our University used a “Family Feud” game to creatively
discuss top time management challenges. Two teams were selected from the
audience to play. Teams worked together to identify the top answers,
which were revealed as the game continued. Students cheered for each
other while discovery and dialogue occurred within a play setting.
Students learned about the challenges of time management and discussed their own experiences while relating to others. Play engages the student which increases motivation to action.
Provide clear instructions, direction, and significance of tasks (Brophy, 2010)
- Teaching perspective. It is
suggested that the instructor give examples and demonstrate the thought
processes that may be required in the assignment. This provides the
student with a rubric to follow. However, the disadvantage of this in a
classroom setting is that students can then become fixated on the
demonstrated example and this may become a barrier to thinking
creatively about other methods to arrive at the completion of the task.
Allowing students to confer with fellow classmates or teaching
assistants on their understanding of the instructions may also be beneficial.
Clarity of expectations can allow the student to be successful and
maintain interest and motivation.
- Advising perspective. In
advising settings, it is important to be very clear on the consequence
of actions taken or lack thereof by the student. Advisors can explore
various options with the student and create a plan of action that can
lead to sound decision-making. This can include visiting the professor
to receive feedback on previous grades in the course along with some
introspection to reflect on the students’ confidence with the course
material. If the student is failing a course yet he/she is reluctant to drop it, the advisor can use
a grade point average (GPA) tool to demonstrate to the student the
impact of the failed grade on the sessional GPA and the cumulative GPA.
Training the student to use the GPA tool or a degree audit tool will
support the student’s independent thinking and decision-making.
Learning to self-regulate and receiving constructive feedback can help
the student maintain and sustain motivation. Creating activities and
assignments that engage the student in bringing personal meaning to
theoretical frameworks will engage and empower the student. Where there
is clarity of expectations and instructions along with play and
discovery in learning, motivation has a greater likelihood of being
inspired and sustained.
Academic Advising & Career Centre
University of Toronto Scarborough
Brophy, J. (2010). Motivating students to learn. New York: Routledge. 102, 166.
Caldwell, Jane E. (2007, Spring). Clickers in the large classroom: Current research and best-practice tips. CBE-Life Sciences Education 6.
Clark, M.H. & Schroth, Christopher A. (2010, February). Examining
relationships between academic motivation and personality among college
students. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(1).
Erwin, J. C. (2010). Inspiring the best in students. Alexandria,VA: ASCD.
Javeed, S. (2012, March). Motivation and how to maintain it. Retrieved from University of Toronto Parents and Families eNews http://family.utoronto.ca/Stories/Maintaining-motivation.htm.
Jessup-Anger, Jody E. (2011). What’s the point? An exploration of students’ motivation to learn in a first-year seminar. The Journal of General Education, 60(2).
Nutrition for Educators (2011-2012). Monthly meetings conducted at the
Centre for Teaching and Learning Events, University of Toronto
Science Daily (2008, July 17). Students who use ‘clickers’ score better on physics tests. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717092033.htm.
Leeds for Life: Preparing Our Students for Their Future
Penny Robinson, University of Leeds, UK
“Well, once one has said, ‘How’s it going, old chap? OK? Jolly
good’, there’s not much more to do in a tutorial meeting, is there?”
Not a comment one would hear at the University of Leeds, and certainly
not since the advent of Leeds for Life, an interactive website which
aims to help our students to prepare for their future and to think
reflectively about their progress, right from their first moment in the
University. It is about inspiring them to get the most out of their
academic and co-curricular experiences, thinking of them in an holistic way. Many students
believe that employers are interested only in what they have done in
their academic studies, but we want them to be able to recognize the
value of everything they do and to identify and articulate their skills
and attributes; most of them seriously undervalue these.
At the heart of Leeds for Life is personal tutoring (what academic
advising is usually called in the UK). We have established a Leeds
model for this, providing students with structured one-to-one meetings
with their personal tutor. These focus on their academic, professional,
and personal development, helping them to become confident, articulate
individuals with strong analytical and critical abilities and a
reflective habit of mind.
Personal tutoring webforms constitute an integral part of the meetings.
They help students to prepare for each tutorial by means of a series of
reflective prompts, which ensure that both tutor and student have a
clear agenda for each meeting and help them to record outcomes and
objectives for the next one. The forms are saved to the student’s
dashboard, and only the student and his/her tutor have access to them.
They are progressive, with the prompts and agenda changing as the
student moves through the degree programme.
The form for the final meeting invites the student to reflect on the
year and to record anything significant which could be useful when
developing a CV or when the tutor is writing references.
Leeds for Life also allows the student to store and build up a Living
CV. The site provides them with practical advice and information on
how to do this; is a single point of access to the information they have
recorded from personal tutoring sessions, grades from each year of
study, etc.; and has the facility for the tutee to add links to other
websites, such as job advertisements.
When staff log in to the website, the information displayed on their
dashboard varies according to their role. Personal tutors (and
administrators/support staff responsible for personal tutoring) may
access the information provided by their tutees through the webforms and
personal statement. They also have online support such as guidance on
how to use the webforms, examples of school handbooks, and signposts to
other useful information which may be used in tutorials. Staff who are not involved in personal tutoring do not see students’ webforms, but
have access to general information about Leeds for Life and advice on
how they could use it in their interactions with students.
Tutors are finding Leeds for Life invaluable, not only in structuring
their tutorial meetings effectively, but in using it as a resource when
accessing information about their students’ co-curricular activities,
etc., enabling them, when writing references, to give an holistic
picture of the whole person, not just of his or her academic
performance. Details of volunteering activities, participation in
sports, organization of societies, etc. are there to be seen and used.
The Leeds for Life Foundation is a new venture to help students who have
ideas for projects and activities which are in the spirit of Leeds for
Life, but who need a cash grant to assist them to realize these ideas.
It helps to fund projects which reflect the enthusiasm, creativity,
initiative, and social awareness of our students. Some enthusiasms are
academic, but many reflect a wider desire to seek out new challenges,
visit new places, and make a positive and practical difference in the lives
of other people. In this way the Foundation supports the values which
underpin all the activities of the University. Some examples of recent
successful grant applications are:
- Study China programme
- Art workshops at St James’s Hospital
- Presenting at an international conference
- Action Easter holiday – for underprivileged children
- ‘No Frills’ – the Leeds Graduate Fashion Show
- Tip of the Tongue Theatre Company
We are already seeing how students who take advantage of what Leeds for
Life has to offer are more reflective, have a clearer idea of their
skills and objectives, and are better prepared for the future, able to
articulate to prospective employers all they have to offer. Second- and
third-year students have told us how much more structured their
personal tutorials have been since they began using the webforms, and
they are glad there is a scheme to help to improve their future
employability. They like the way the Leeds for Life website brings
information on varying activities into one place. A recent innovation is the employment of Student
Ambassadors, who work on cascading the message to the whole student
body. Alumni are also involved, posting comments about their careers
since graduation and giving advice to present students.
Of course, there have been challenges, not the least of which has been
engaging teaching staff in the project. However, initial fears that
Leeds for Life would just mean more work for already overstretched
faculty are gradually being overcome, as tutors see how it helps them to
support their students’ development more effectively.
And the story continues...
In response to feedback from staff and students, there
have been, and will be, many changes in, and additions to,
functionality. Here are just a few:
- Online personal tutorial booking system
Automatic email reminder to a student who does not attend a scheduled tutorial
- Departments may share opportunities with each other
- Lifelong Learning Centre students now have customized personal tutorial webforms
- Links provided on student dashboard to Ambassadors’ Facebook and Twitter accounts
- School, co-curricular, and saved opportunities are all grouped together
- An area where news and updates may be posted
We believe that Leeds for Life is transforming the way we support our
students, particularly in the areas of skills development and
employability. The project is ongoing; watch for updates! In the
meantime, do access the website at http://leedsforlife.leeds.ac.uk or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your comments and questions.
Senior Academic Liaison Adviser
Learning and Teaching Support Office
University of Leeds
Editor’s Note: The author wishes to thank David Gardner and Caroline Letherland at
the University of Leeds for the assistance they provided in the
development of this article.
15 Tips on the Basics of Advising Student Athletes
Holly Martin, Advising First-Year Students Interest Group Chair
Sherwin James, Advising Student-Athletes Commission Chair
Some first-year students are also student-athletes. All
student-athletes begin by also being first-year students. As the chairs
of the Advising First-Year Students Interest Group and the Advising
Student-Athletes Commission, we would like to offer some tips for
advisors who may be new to working with student-athletes.
From the perspective of the chair of the Advising First-Year Students Interest Group and a long-time advisor of student-athletes, Holly Martin:
- Advisors should be knowledgeable about basic NCAA regulations even if
NCAA compliance is not a part of their formal duties. The NCAA
regulations are complicated and far from intuitive. Advisors can help
their students by being aware of the essential rules. They can discover
the basics from their institution’s compliance officer.
- Remember that student-athletes are frequently making a huge transition
to the often extremely demanding world of college athletics as well as
to the challenging demands of college academics. They need
understanding and support during this difficult transition in order to
get off to a good start and not become discouraged or sell themselves
- To be credible, advisors need to know their campus and the demands and
pressures it places on student-athletes so that they can give advice
that makes sense in their students’ situation. On some campuses the
demands on student-athletes are minimal, and on others the demands, both
physically and emotionally, are tremendous. To be effective, advisors
need to know the details of their student-athletes’ typical day: when
does it begin, how much conditioning occurs and when, what kinds of
meetings and practices are part of a normal week? Are they hurt or
injured and how much time is rehab taking? When do they have time to do
their academic work, meet with professors, work in groups with other
students, etc.? Keeping up with this information is essential to being effective as an advisor.
- To be helpful in an immediate and practical way, advisors need to know
their students and their needs. In addition to being student-athletes,
advisees may be first-generation students, science intents with
complicated schedules, minority students on a majority campus, students
with disabilities, high achievers, etc. Get to know the students as
individuals and have ready access to the support systems all students
need and any special support systems created for student-athletes.
- Be respectful and help students to value both their athletic gifts and
efforts and their intellectual progress and opportunities. Take
students’ athletic hopes seriously, and take them seriously as people
with careers and lives beyond athletics. Help them think about and
prepare for their second career, their life, and plans outside of
- Advisors always need to keep in mind that they are working with young
people in transition. The students need patience and plenty of support
and encouragement as well as information, organization, and clear
From the perspective of a former Olympic athlete and the chair of the Advising Student-Athletes Commission, Sherwin James:
- Be patient with student-athletes. Advisors need to listen to what
they have to say and assist them to the best of their ability. Advisors
should make clear that they care about the student’s purpose for being
in college and that they are willing to help the student achieve their
- Help student-athletes identify their goals. Emphasize the importance of
academic success and what it can do to help student-athletes reach
beyond being viewed only as athletes. Suggest a GPA goal and have the
student-athlete go for it.
- Encourage student-athletes to make the right choice of friends.
Encourage them to spend time with students who are serious about their
academics and future plans and who set high goals on and off the field.
- Assess student-athletes based on their results. Ask questions about why a
student-athlete did poorly or well, and work with them on finding the
best ways to be successful. Help student-athletes avoid being
overwhelmed by the combined demands of academics and athletics.
- Inform student-athletes about essential techniques for juggling classes
and sports. Provide resources and insights on how to manage their time.
Also advise them on when to rest as well as when to practice and study.
- Teach them how to communicate appropriately with the professors and
other staff members. To be successful, they must communicate effectively
with the right group of individuals.
- Be especially persistent with international student-athletes who need to
be reminded of additional NCAA policies and regulations such as the
signing of the I-20 form when traveling.
- Advisors have an opportunity to be a lifelong mentor as well as an
advisor. They should make certain their student-athletes know that they
care about them as people. Take time to talk with the student-athletes
about something of interest to them aside from academics and athletics,
and don’t focus solely on office meetings. Advisors should demonstrate
to student-athletes that they are an advisor outside of the office as
well as within it.
For more information on working with student-athletes and first-year students, see the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources and the Commission and Interest Group web pages.
College of Business
Clayton State University
First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame
Breaking the Bad News
Jason Barkemeyer, University of Utah
Competitive majors offer a lot of upsides: a bit of prestige, perhaps
smaller classes, students are among the best of the best. But there is
also a downside. There is always going to be a group of students who
just don’t make it into the competitive major. It is seen in
engineering, in nursing, and in my advising area, business.
While not as exclusive as some business schools across the country, the
David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah definitely has
a high bar set, requiring a better than average student to be admitted
to the school. As expected, it leads to students who have their sights
set on business sometimes receiving bad news along the way.
It is always a struggle for these students to hear that they didn’t make
it in. It is hard for those who barely miss making it into the major.
It is hard for those who realize that they don’t have a shot at making
it in…ever. And, it is hard for those with tunnel vision who can’t
accept not getting into the school.
Due to a curriculum change last year, the School of Business was left
with a defunct major status. The school had an intermediate level where
students progressed after completing an initial set of classes and
maintaining a 2.7 grade point average. Unfortunately, to fully enter the
major, a student would need to eventually raise that GPA to a range of
3.1-3.4 to be admitted to the school. For most students this wasn’t too
much of a problem as they were already above the GPA to get into the
business school. However, there was definitely a set of students who hit
that 2.7 GPA and were never able to improve on it, essentially blocking
them from moving up.
When the curriculum changed, this mid-level status was eliminated,
streamlining the path to becoming a full major. Due to policy, the
school could not forcibly remove students from intermediate status. A
sort of purgatory developed where students became stuck, unlikely to
make it to the business school, but also not able to continue with
business courses. Advisors began reaching out to their assigned
caseloads, taking a look at each student individually and making contact
to start a very difficult conversation: Namely, what are their current academic goals and what direction are they going?
There were a handful of students in this purgatory who actually were
candidates to enter the school. Those were the easy conversations.
However, the bulk of those in this population really had no shot at
making it into the business school, having an unfortunate combination of
low GPAs and a high number of credit hours. Herein lies the beginning
of breaking the bad news.
Breaking bad news is never easy for advisors or their students. It is
stressful and intense for both parties. Student reactions range from
acceptance to rage and rarely can be predicted. So how does an advisor
break bad news? What tools and tips does an advisor employ to minimize
the negative effects of the news? Here some tips on how to approach
these uncomfortable conversations.
The Decision Comes from the Student. We
have no limits in the David Eccles School of Business with regard to
how many times a student may repeat a course or how many times they may
apply to the school. Pursuing a business degree is only limited by the
student’s own time, money, and energy. It is not for the advisor to tell
students they can’t pursue a business degree or they have to change
their major; it is up to the student to decide if going down a
particular road is the best use of his or her time, money, and energy.
Hopefully in the end the student chooses what is best.
Know the Alternatives.
Experience has shown that most students who don’t get into the business
school wind up in economics and communications. It would have been easy
to refer these students to academic advisors in those majors. However,
the university has many more majors where students could achieve the
same career goals. We have invited representatives of those majors into
our staff meetings to better inform the staff of how business students
fit into their majors and how advisors can better refer students to
their majors. A handout was created that gives brief overviews of other
majors and contact information, along with a suggestion of minors to complete the “business experience.”
Value What They Have Completed. Another
positive alternative to a business major is a business minor that can
absorb the work students have already completed. Even if students cannot
quite make it into the business school, perhaps they can find an
alternative major and complement it with a business minor. By including
the minor with a new major they may not feel as though all their work was for naught.
Instead, it validates their work to date, even if they have to change
Be Empathetic.Breaking bad news
is never easy. It is almost as if the student needs to go through the
seven stages of grief before he or she can actually accept what is going
on. Advisors need to be a positive presence in the room even as bad
news is given. Advisors should avoid presenting false hope, but they do
need to have concern for what the student is currently going through. Perhaps advisors can draw on their
own past experience to create a bond and to show students how they are
not alone in the situation in which they find themselves.
Be Honest. No matter how bad
the news or how emotionally charged the conversation, an advisor must
always be honest with the student. Even if they don’t agree with what
they are being told, many students will respect the advisor’s honesty.
Sometimes the facts are hard and cold, but they demonstrate to students
why the situation has occurred. Creating false hope will only make the
situation worse later on.
Be Firm and Consistent.
When delivering bad news, academic advisors sometimes have to “just do
it.” There will always be the stories that tug at heartstrings or the
insistent student who keeps asking the same thing over and over hoping
for a different answer. But the advisor is having a conversation for a
reason. Don’t waver. Deliver the news and move on to the positive.
Be More Than Just a Face.
Advisors have large caseloads, some much larger than others. Breaking
bad news is always easier when there is a prior relationship with a
student. As cliché as it may sound, advisors should try and get to know
each student on a more personal level. While sometimes hard to avoid,
the first, and perhaps only, conversation with a student should not be
one in which an advisor is telling the student “no.”
Academic Advising Coordinator
David Eccles School of Business
University of Utah
Michelle Sotolongo, Texas State University-San Marcos
Undocumented students – many of whom did not make the choice to come to
the U.S. – are attending colleges and universities in increasing
numbers, and they are an under-recognized demographic. This article
identifies available resources for these students to assist advisors in producing educated members of society, regardless of legal status.
Students build relationships with their advisors, which puts us in a
special role that connects all aspects of higher education. While
advisors may not be experts in all areas of college life, it is often up
to us to guide students through the proper channels. When approached
with a situation as delicate as undocumented status, it is important for the advisor to
easily pinpoint resources that will enable the student to succeed. This
article should be interpreted as a template, more than a how-to manual,
for interacting with undocumented students. Since there are an infinite
number of variables to factor in for each situation, especially at the
levels of state legislature and individual campus policies, a great
first step is to find out if the university has written policies or
procedures regarding undocumented students. Based on the campus’ resources, students need to
be made aware of the academic options for their specific situations and
Every college student’s journey begins with the office of admissions,
and for undocumented students it is no different. In fact, contact with
this particular demographic should begin before they ever step foot on
campus. Recruiting trips to junior high and high schools are the best
occasions to remind potential students and their families that
accessibility of college does exist despite their immigration status. It
is extremely important to stress the fact that college is an option. Of
undocumented students ages 18-24, only 10% of males and 16% of females are enrolled in college (Fortuny, Capps, & Passel, 2007).
Overall, only 10%-20% of undocumented youth (an estimated 7,000-13,000)
who graduate from high school go on to college (Passel, 2003). There
have been experimental measures implemented by some states to increase
those numbers. For example, in the fall of 2005, nearly 5,100
undocumented students enrolled under a State of Texas law allowing
in-state tuition for undocumented students, up from 400 students during
the program’s first year. However, that still accounts for only a small portion of the state’s 1 million+ enrolled in higher education.
Another visible pattern is that nearly 80% of all undocumented students
who were enrolled in 2005 attended community colleges (Garza, 2006),
many of whom do so because of financial reasons.
High on the list of concerns undocumented students struggle with is
finances. Having to pay out-of-state tuition, which can cost almost
double the in-state rate, is a daunting task when the students are
unable to work legally to cover necessary expenses. Knowing what and how
to search for available aid that does not require a Social Security
number will be extremely helpful in lightening the load for a student who has to
balance one or more jobs in addition to his or her academic course load.
Some examples of financial aid resources that fall under three general
categories include National: Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, Latino
College Dollars, The East Los Angeles Community Union; State: TASFA,
TEXAS Grant, Texas Public Education Grant (Texas high school graduates
qualifying for state residency under Education Code Sections 54.052
& 54.053, formerly House Bill 1403/Senate Bill 1528, are eligible to apply for state financial aid as well as pay in-state tuition at
public colleges and universities); and finally, Private and
University/Departmental whose requirements vary from award to award. An
important note is that there are no legal ramifications for private
organizations or individuals who grant scholarships to undocumented
students ('Advising undocumented students:,' 2010). An economic impact
study conducted by the Texas Comptroller concluded that every dollar the state invested in higher education for undocumented students would yield
more than five dollars for the Texas economy in the long run
When discussing career plans with the student be wary of degree programs
in which background checks or internships may be required, such as K-12
education, the health professions, and social work, as well as graduate and doctoral programs that accept undocumented students.
Being able to provide resources for the student while fostering
self-sufficient behavior and increasing self-esteem is vital when
establishing the necessary rapport with these students. It is equally
important to be honest about what happens after graduation and
facilitate an open dialogue with students, encouraging them to continue
one with their parents. De Leon’s (2005) qualitative study of 10
undocumented male Mexican college students revealed they felt relationships with
school counselors and teachers as being particularly important sources
of information and guidance. In fact, the study argued most of the
information students receive about applying to college comes from other
adults in the community, as opposed to school agents (De Leon, 2005).
Finally, advisors should feel comfortable offering guidance and support
to their students, referring to campus counseling services if needed.
Prospective Students and the Community
Provide information on the DREAM Act. Students should be made aware of
their eligibility to apply to college, especially once the DREAM Act
passes ('Basic information about,' 2010). Holding informational
workshops in the community during orientations or campus visitation days is a great way to reach out to new prospective students. Sourcing a
student support group on campus, developing one, or hosting an
off-campus group are also ways of connecting with students.
Academic advisors have the incredible duty to aid their students in
whatever way they can. Due to the sensitive nature of this issue, it is
impossible to have all the answers, especially when the reality is that
most doors are closed to these students, which is news nobody wants to
hear or give. The best that can be done is to be as informed as
possible, and perhaps eventually become proactive members of a support network.
University College Advising Center
Texas State University-San Marcos
Advising undocumented students: Higher education obstacles and possibilities (2010). Retrieved from http://professionals.collegeboard.com/guidance/financial-aid/undocumented-students.
Basic information about the dream act legislation (2010, July 16). Retrieved from http://dreamact.info/students.
De Leon, S. (2005). Assimilation and ambiguous
experience of the resilient male Mexican immigrants that successfully
navigate American higher education. Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
University of Texas,
Fortuny, K., Capps, R., & Passel, J.S. (2007). The characteristics
of unauthorized immigrants in California, Los Angeles County, and the
United States. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
Garza, C.L. (2006, April 6). Immigrant students seek path to a dream. Houston Chronicle, pp. A1, A3.
Passel, J. S. (2003). Further demographic information relating to the
DREAM act. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute. Retrieved from www.nilc.org/immlawpolicy/DREAM/DREAM_Demographics.pdf.
Strayhorn, C. K. Office of the Texas State Comptroller, Office of the
Texas State Comptroller (2006). Special report: undocumented immigrants
in texas. Austin: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Advising for Activism: Encouraging Teacher Candidates to Establish Parent and Community Relationships
Travis Nakayama, University of Hawaii at Hilo
Advising teacher education students can be a challenging task, as there are many requirements to be aware of. First, advisors should be
familiar with (1) academic policies within their respective
institutions, (2) teacher licensure requirements for their respective
states, and (3) national teacher accreditation requirements.Collectively, these policies and requirements mandate that teacher
education programs place a strong emphasis on content knowledge and
refining pedagogy. Lost within the bureaucratic requirements of teacher
education is the need for teachers to become in touch with parents and
the community. As students frequently visit their advisors for
guidance, advisors should recommend to their students that they take an active
role in establishing relationships with parents and the surrounding
Where Do Parent and Community Relationships Rank?
At the end of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Teacher Education
Program, mentor teachers are asked to appraise the teacher candidates’
performance to the Hawaii Teacher Performance Standards. Each teacher
candidate is assessed on a scale of 1-3, with 3 being “exemplary,” 2
being “proficient”,”and 1 being “functional.” Based on the results, teacher candidates received near exemplary scores on the
Teacher Performance Standards that relate to pedagogy, classroom
management, professionalism, and content knowledge. Contrastingly,
teacher candidates received proficient scores for TPS 10, which focuses
on establishing relationships with parents and the community.
How Important Are Parent and Community Relationships?
Beginning teachers must work toward establishing a
professional rapport with parents. Jeanne E. Ormrod (2011) in
Educational Psychology: Developing Learners suggests “students whose
parents are more
involved in school activities have better attendance records, higher
achievement, and more positive attitudes toward school” (p. 482). She
also indicates that “parents are apt to become involved in school
activities when they have a specific invitation to do so, and when they
know that school personnel genuinely want them to be involved” (p. 483).
Another integral part of teaching entails working with the community at
large. Many students usually participate in activities outside of
school, which may include sports teams and church groups. Teachers are
most effective when they understand the environments of their students
(Ormrod, 2011). By taking part in local community events, teachers will
educate themselves regarding the various cultural backgrounds found
within their communities, which can lay the groundwork for establishing
positive relationships with the institutions and people that play a
major role in the lives of students (Epstein, 1996).
What Can Advisors Do?
In order to successfully advise teacher candidates about
the importance of establishing these relationships, advisors need to
understand each student’s needs, as well as the various groups that
influence a particular community. Since every student is different and
has various strengths and interests, recommendation to a particular
community group needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. Here are some
tools advisors need to have to better assist students in developing parent and community relationships:
- Identify Various Groups Within Each Community. In order to
successfully recommend a community group to a teacher candidate, an
advisor must understand the various groups within their communities.
Certain groups focus on particular interests, and therefore not every
group will match the interests of each student. Developing a list of the various community groups and the interests they
serve can help an advisor locate and recommend community groups to
- Identify Interests and Strengths of Every Student. Advisors
should identify the strengths and interests of every student and match
each with a particular community group. Students that enter teacher
education programs choose different licensure routes and have diverse
interests and backgrounds. The community group advisors recommend to
the student should match their particular interests.
Where to Start?
As advisors are often visited for input and guidance,
prospective teacher candidates must be reminded that parent and
community involvement are key aspects to becoming a holistic teacher.
Often, establishing these relationships requires time and perseverance, especially for
candidates who are not familiar with a particular culture or community.
Below are three general resources for prospective teacher
candidates to help them become acquainted with the people and culture
within a particular community.
- Local Affiliates of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
Becoming involved with a local affiliate of the National PTA is an easy
way to connect with students, teachers, administrators, and other
stakeholders who share interest in a particular school and community.
PTAs are often used as a resource for parents to keep abreast of the progress of their children.
- Local Chapters of the National Education Association (NEA). Involvement
with local chapters of the NEA is a great way for prospective teacher
candidates to meet new and veteran teachers from various schools within
their community. NEA involvement also provides an opportunity to learn
about new legislation and laws affecting the public education landscape.
- Academic and Social School Events. Within
every community, there is a plethora of events dedicated to showcasing
the academic and athletic talents of the youth. Participating, whether
by being a spectator, official, or mentor, can be very beneficial for
the growth of prospective teacher candidates. Through these
interactions, they can better understand that personal and social
development is equally important for children and adolescents.
Even as we advise our teacher candidates on the numerous
topics and hurdles that they need to understand, we as advisors should
not overlook the standards that are similar to Hawaii’s TPS 10. We must
remind our teacher candidates that establishing and cultivating
relationships with parents and communities is a personal and positive
step to ensuring a better future for education as a whole.
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Epstein, J. L. (1996). Perspectives and previews on research and policy
for school, family, and community partnerships. In A. Booth & J.F.
Dunn (Eds.), Family-school links: How do they affect educational outcomes? Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Educational psychology: Developing learners. (7th ed.) Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Peer Advising: Bridging the Gap Between Professional Advisor and Student
Lynn Zabel and Sara Rothberger, Academic Advising Interns, Edgewood College
Due to increasing student populations and the constantly evolving nature
of student needs, more and more institutions are establishing peer
advising programs. Edgewood College, a small liberal arts college in
Madison, WI, has created and cultivated a successful and effective peer
academic advising program that has brought numerous new opportunities to
professional advisors which we believe will benefit any advising
program looking to create or improve their peer program. Edgewood
College has found that peer advisors provide professional advisors with assistance in managing their caseloads so the professional
advisors are able to spend more time with certain populations of
The Peer Advising Program at Edgewood College began as a work study
opportunity for students in 2003. Since then, it has evolved into a full
internship program for undergraduate students with increased pay and
opportunities to attend professional conferences. The program was
developed in order to utilize the benefits of peer to peer mentoring
relationships with advisees, allow professional advisors to incorporate
students into their work, and educate peer advisors about the concepts
and opportunities of a career in academic advising. Peer advisors work
directly with the Director of Undergraduate Advising, with the
professional advising staff, and with students.
Edgewood College has seven professional advisors on staff, with four
currently employing peer advisors. As peer advisors, students perform a
variety of duties including assisting the professional advising staff in
preparing and facilitating student meetings, connecting students to the
appropriate campus resources, providing a student perspective among the
professional advising staff, carrying out research projects, and
presenting at statewide and national conferences. The cooperating
professional advisors have indicated there are numerous benefits to
working with a peer advisor, such as serving as a mentor for the peer advisor by educating peers about advising concepts and having increased time to spend meeting with individual students.
Being a peer advisor has numerous benefits for the students as well. The
peer advising program allows interns the opportunity to establish a
professional skill set, including improved interpersonal communication,
professional etiquette, working with a diverse population of students,
and developing and presenting research at professional conferences. Lynn
Zabel and Sara Rothberger, two current peer advisors at Edgewood
College, share personal testimony to the experiences and strengths they
have gained throughout their time as a peer advisor.
Lynn Zabel, a junior at Edgewood College, comments on the personal growth she has experienced being a peer advisor:
Becoming a Peer Advisor has changed my life and my sense of community
so greatly, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. When I
was referred to apply by my advisor at the time, I had no idea what a
peer advisor did, let alone the vast life lessons I would learn. I have
spent almost two years learning everything from meeting with students,
to communicating effectively with faculty, to developing a strong professional base. It takes time and great patience to learn new
concepts and adjust to working with new people, but overall I think it
has made me a much better advisor, student, and member of the college
community. I believe that the most rewarding aspect of my position is
that I get to sit down with students and have a close conversation with
them that they feel comfortable with. They get to have a
student-to-student interaction, which can give them many new advantages.
I truly enjoy listening to a student describe what their dreams are,
and then sitting down and making a plan to make those dreams come true.
It is not every day or in every profession that you get to do this, and I
have the honor of doing it as an undergraduate student. My time as peer
advisor has been so enriching, and I look forward to the many
opportunities and lessons that are still in my future.
Sara Rothberger, a senior at Edgewood College, illustrates the knowledge and skills she gained through her time as a peer advisor:
Edgewood College prides itself on making academic advising an
essential part of each student’s academic plan. As a peer advisor, I
feel it is my responsibility to be an accurate and reliable resource for
students, not only as a reference guide but also someone to confide in as well.
I try to connect on a personal level with each student I advise in an
attempt to make their experience at Edgewood College both memorable and valuable with an aim to prepare the student for his or her next
step in life. As a peer advisor, I feel I am able to relate to students
in a way the professional staff may not be able to as I am a student myself and have had experiences similar to those of my
advisees. Being able to help students solve problems and grow as
individuals is a very rewarding feeling and has become an integral part
of my approach to peer advising. I feel there is mutual growth in an
advising relationship as I am able to help the student feel more
confident about his or her academic plan or college life and the student
in turn helps me to gain interpersonal skills and a sense of
professionalism. The opportunity to be a peer advisor has been both a challenge and an opportunity
for me to grow on both professional and individual levels. I hope to
continue my current techniques but also continuously strive for
improvement in the future.
The addition of a peer advising program can be an asset to any academic
advising program. Peer advisors allow for multidimensional advising
relationships and the opportunity to utilize a student perspective, and
provide professional growth opportunities for undergraduate students
serving as peer advisors. The countless benefits experienced by both
the professional advising staff and peer advisors demonstrate the
effectiveness of the program. Taking small steps toward implementing a peer advising program makes a huge difference. Students are the future; let their voices be heard.
Senior Academic Advising Intern
Senior Academic Advising Intern
Supporting an Out-of-State Student Population through Living-Learning Communities
Jenna Nobili and Emily Jensen, University of Central Florida
Colleges and universities across the nation are expanding their programs to include living-learning communities.The growth of living-learning communities (LLC) has focused on serving special student populations, many structured around majors or areas of interests (McClean, Lackey, Hennessey, & Payne, 2011). In an effort to improve the retention rate of out-of-state students, the University of Central Florida (UCF) launched a living-learning community for out-of-state, first year students. The program includes residential and curricular components as well as support from advising and peer mentors.
The out-of-state student population at UCF
The University of Central Florida is located in Orlando, FL, one of
the tourist meccas of the world. Theme parks, beaches, and gorgeous
weather make the university’s location a huge sell for out-of-state
students. UCF has a student population of over 58,000, making it the
second-largest university in the United States with over 90
undergraduate majors. Additionally, many out-of-state students are
attracted to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management which offers
three hospitality degrees, with Orlando serving as the landscape for
Building an out-of-state living-learning community
Yet with all these positive factors, the university noticed that the
retention rates for the out-of-state freshman population were not as
high as the Florida residents. The office of First Year Experience
launched the Out-of-State Student Mentoring (OSSM, pronounced “awesome”)
program in 2005 as a way to match out-of-state freshmen with peer
mentors. Qualitative feedback from these students indicated that first year, out-of-state students were feeling isolated, as their in-state
roommates frequently went home or were well-connected to other students
at the institution. With the first year, out-of-state population
averaging less than 5% of the approximate 6,500 freshman class at UCF,
one could understand how an out-of-state student may feel out of place.
In 2008, the OSSM program quickly expanded its support structures and
was redesigned as a living-learning community, accommodating 56
students. Coordinated primarily by the offices of First Year Experience
and Housing and Residence Life, the program was supported by two
out-of-state resident assistants, six peer mentors, and a reserved
section of English Composition 1. Because students become more engaged
in learning programs and academic resources when involved in
living-learning partnership programs (Elkins Nesheim, McDonald,
Guentzel, Wells, Kellogg, & Whitt, 2007), First Year Advising and
Exploration joined the OSSM team in 2009 to provide students with the
added benefit of an assigned academic advisor, additional course
options, and enhanced academic programming. With social, residential,
and academic components now in place, the professional staff working
with the program could provide a more consistent level of support to
these students. Currently, for the 2011-2012 OSSM cohort, there are 112 student
participants, 13 peer mentors, four resident assistants, and one
Advising and academic support
In response to the growth of the program, the OSSM academic
advisor expanded the reserved courses for students to now include nine
options throughout the academic year, including a freshman success seminar
course and General Education Program course options such as English and
Psychology. OSSM students have indicated in surveys that the reserved
courses have enhanced the overall quality of the class and provided them
with the opportunity to make friends and study with an instant network
Most recently, the OSSM academic advisor has implemented an advising
intake form that students fill out online prior to their appointment.
The survey asks students questions regarding their transition to and
satisfaction with the university and their purpose for making the
appointment. It also addresses concerns in their current courses, satisfaction with choice of major, and goal GPA. This tool has made the
advising sessions with out-of-state students more targeted and
thorough. Students are often more open about issues when they have
identified these concerns ahead of time and the survey helps to guide
Additionally, OSSM students benefit from a wide array of academic
programming that is facilitated by the academic advisor, peer mentors,
resident assistants and graduate assistant. Workshops focus on topics
such as time management, GPA calculation, retaining scholarships, and
taking summer courses at other institutions through the transient
process. These workshops are typically facilitated in the residence halls,
bringing an academic focus to the students’ living environment.
Out-of-state student retention
Since the start of the OSSM LLC in 2008, first year students in the
program consistently achieve an average GPA of 3.18, which is higher
than the average GPA of 2.9-3.0 for the overall first year student
population. Over the past three years, the average first year retention
rate has been 87%. In comparison, first year students who participate
in OSSM are retained at similar rates and have significantly higher retention rates than their first year, out-of-state peers:
OSSM Retention Rate
Out-of-State First Year Retention Rate
Difference in Retention Rate
In developing the OSSM LLC, key partnerships were formed between the offices of First Year Experience, First Year Advising and Exploration,
and Housing and Residence Life, in order to ensure consistent
interventions were put in place to help students be academically and
socially successful. These offices have since become advocates for the
common needs and issues of out-of-state students. The program has
demonstrated success and increased retention by connecting students who
share the experience of being out of state and encounter unique transition issues. As one student observed, living with OSSM “is a great
way to establish a community with other students who are going through
the same transition as you.”
As advisors, it is important to consider the culture of the out-of-state
student population at our institutions. Are out-of-state students a
minority population? What are the retention rates of these students?
Are there any current programs or initiatives that exist to support
out-of-state students? By answering these questions, advisors can
determine if this
programming model can be adapted to fit the needs of their institution.
First Year Advising and Exploration
University of Central Florida
First Year Experience
University of Central Florida
Elkins Nesheim, B., McDonald, W. M., Guentzel, M. J., Wells, C. A.,
Kellogg, A. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2007). Outcomes for students of
student affairs -- Academic affairs partnership programs. Journal of College Student Development, 48 (4), 435-454.
McLean, L., Lackey, K., Hennessey, P. & Payne, R. (2011). Advising
in learning communities: A collaborative approach. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/learning_communities.htm
Mentoring: Personal Thoughts on the Value of Advance Preparation
Johnika Dreher, NACADA Emerging Leader
Gayle Juneau , NACADA Mentor
Mentoring is a unique, intentional relationship between two individuals.
It can be informal or formal, but it will probably work best if the
relationship contains elements of both. It can be hit or miss. Mentoring
requires dedication and fortitude to persist and can be a rewarding
experience for all involved. There is not just one person learning in a
mentoring relationship—both individuals learn and grow. Yet, mentoring
is something most people do not intentionally seek out, as it requires
timeand focus. And, if the relationship is not formalized, there is the
possibility of engaging blindly without accomplishing professional
progress. No one should have just one mentor in life. If we recognize
that we are multifaceted individuals, we should seek mentors that can
help us grow in each area of our lives—physically, mentally,
spiritually, socially, educationally and professionally.
The NACADA ELP Matching of Johnika Dreher and Gayle Juneau
From Johnika’s point of view. While I have many mentors in my life, my first intentional mentoring opportunity came throughNACADA’s Emerging Leaders Program(ELP). ELP offered both informal and formal engagement opportunities over three months before we actually met our mentors. To say the “round robin” or “speed
mentoring” component was easy would be a lie. I never imagined that
speed dating to obtain a mentor could be beneficial, but it was. In less
than an hour, I met 10 fantastic academic advising professionals from a
myriad of institutions representing the diversity of NACADA. While I
had some idea of whom I liked initially--from the informal writings posted
on our ELP website--nothing prepared me for the one on one engagement
with each selected ELP mentor.
In each 10-minute conversation with the mentors, I asked questions to
truly gauge their backgrounds, trying to seek knowledge and
understanding of their personality, academic pursuits, and interests and
contrasting their responses with my pursuits. I shared my goals and
interests in ELP, including that I want to study abroad and complete my
dissertation on technology in advising. Additionally, I thought it was
important to disclose that I am interested in progressing in the field
of academic advising; and I’m unconventional in all senses of the word.
Because I like to live outside of the box, I needed a mentor who could
guide me through the unknowns of higher education while being 100
percent authentic and relatable. I found that person in Gayle Juneau,
Director of Academic Advising at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
From the moment I sat down, it was like we were destined to be together.
Her presence preceded herself. Her demeanor is calm, yet she matched every ounce of excitement I exuded. While she did not have a background
in study abroad or advising technology, she was aware and fluent
regarding both and had plenty of contacts, Additionally, she had her
doctoral degree. Instantly, I felt a connection with her unlike any
other mentor I had previously interviewed. I was and still am
enthusiastic about working with her, being a protégé and reaching each
of our five agreed upon goals. Until the next edition, I look forward to
sharing more about our developing relationship. In the interim, get yourself a mentor!
From Gayle’s point of view. I
whole-heartedly agree with Johnika. Our connection to each other was
immediate and it happened as soon as a couple of words had been
exchanged – even before we genuinely “knew” anything about each other.
So, there is definitely something to be said for the organic element of matching
mentor to mentee by way of the ethereal qualities of human connections.
In extending beyond this aspect, our collective sense is that a certain
level of formalized preparedness on the part of the individual mentors
and mentees might build a foundation from which to make it easier to select a mentor/mentee within and outside of
the NACADA ELP Program. We recommend the following advance preparation
for seeking out a mentor or a mentee relationship in your professional
- Do you possess a solid career of leadership positions in the field of
academic advising? If so, is it time to consider giving back to the
community and being a mentor?
- Do you participate in conversations with advisors about their career
goals? Ask about their dreams and think through formal and informal
ways in which you can assist them in accomplishing them?
- How much time and in what capacity can you work with academic advisors
on conversations about goals? On mentoring them to develop their
strengths and accomplish new skills?
- Create a list of your strengths, interests, and skills for a conversation about finding a mentee.
- Create a list of characteristics you hope a mentee will possess.
- What are your short-term and long-term goals in the field of academic advising?
- What are your professional strengths?
- What are professional skills you hope to gain?
- Create a list of your strengths, interests, and skills for a conversation about finding a mentor.
- Create a list of characteristics you hope a mentor will possess.
- How much time and in what capacity can you work with a mentor on a conversation about your goals?
Learn more about the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program.
Prince George’s Community College
Executive Director of Academic Advising
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
NACADA Summer Institute: The Best Professional Development Experience
David W. Streicher II, NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient
In Spring 2011, I started a new position as the Academic Advisor Trainer
in the new Center for Academic Advising at the University of Saint
Francis. The university had been awarded a federal Title III grant to
work on two initiatives directed to increase retention and graduation
rates, with one of them being the new Advising Center. The grant
proposal committee laid out plans for implementation and a general
direction, but as my co-workers and I got started in our new roles, we
quickly realized we needed to get connected with the National Academic
Advising Association (NACADA). We read many articles, attended a couple
of webinars, purchased some resources and materials, and attended the Region 5 Conference. We enjoyed each of these experiences and found great value in all of them.
That’s where the Summer Institute
came into play. Shortly after attending our Region 5 Conference, I was
looking at an email from NACADA and then went to the website to learn
more about the Summer Institute. Instantly, I was interested. We had
learned so much and so enjoyed each of our previous experiences with
NACADA that I knew attending a week-long intensive workshop would allow
for us to accomplish some of our goals before the upcoming Fall
semester. I then realized that there were scholarships I could apply
for to cover my registration fee. We quickly put together a budget to cover the other costs and asked our
leaders if this would be possible. They also agreed that this would be a
great opportunity, so I submitted my scholarship application that week.
I received word at the end of May that I was awarded one of the
scholarships to attend the Summer Institute and was extremely excited! I
couldn’t wait to spend the week working with the experts on projects
that we were implementing on our campus. Because we had the extra money
from the scholarship, we were approved by our school to send a
co-worker to the conference along with me. If it is feasible, I
encourage all attendees to bring a team. This helped to bounce ideas
off one another and to work on multiple projects, and also allowed us to
attend more of the sessions if there were any time conflicts.
We arrived in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO at the end of June and had a
wonderful week. The first day started with a great welcome session
that set the foundation and theme for the entire week. After that, we
met in our small groups that were assembled by institution type so we
could be with others dealing with similar school issues (size,
public/private school constraints, etc.). I was lucky to have Rich Robbins
as our Institute Faculty Member. He was a very calm and supportive
group leader and definitely brought his experience and expertise to the
table when giving us all suggestions and feedback. Dinner and a mixer
were next and that allowed for us to create relationships with the other participants.
Overall the schedule was great. Each day there was a foundation session
with other topicals or workshops throughout the day. Of course, we
also had time to work in our small groups and our institution teams on
our action plans. My institution team chose to create an advising
syllabus that our faculty advisors and students could use this year as
well as work on our undecided student advising plan. We were able to
complete both projects and have used both of them this academic year.
We were very grateful to have a dedicated week to spend focused on these
I strongly encourage everyone to attend a NACADA Summer Institute.
Don’t be afraid to apply for a scholarship that can help with some of
the cost. With or without the scholarship funds, it is not difficult to
explain the benefits of attending to campus constituents. I know my
co-worker and I left feeling much more confident about the field of
academic advising, having explored areas for us to continue to grow and
focus on in the future, and we felt a greater connection with the
leaders in the field. It has been great to be able to reach out for
guidance and support throughout the year, and we have enjoyed catching
up with the faculty and participants at the other events since the Summer Institute. We will
not forget the lessons we learned while at the institute and hope to be
able to attend again in the near future!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with any questions or for more insight about my experience.
David W. Streicher II
Center for Academic Advising
University of Saint Francis
Use of NACADA Webinars for Professional Development
Adam Duberstein, NACADA Webinar Advisory Board Member
The National Academic Advising Association’s webinars exemplify a
cost-effective professional development opportunity in which presenters
explore some of the most pressing contemporary concerns in our field.
Additionally, these webinars can build community among diverse
constituencies across a college campus. At Ohio Dominican University in
Columbus, Ohio, the Academic Advising Center opens the NACADA webinars to all interested university community members. Not only does
this inclusiveness foster better partnerships with other staff, faculty,
and students, it also allows professional advisors to showcase the
links between advising and other areas of higher education.
Recent webinars have included discussions of advising and the law,
working with students who come from China, and conducting assessment of
academic advising programs. These topics deal with advising while
involving other units on campus. For example, employees of the admissions and study abroad offices attended the webinar which discussed
Chinese students’ culturally-unique advising needs, so that they could
better recruit and retain Chinese students on campus; members of the
tutorial services staff came to the webinar on assessment so that they
could translate the assessment skills learned in the webinar into
self-study projects regarding their own office.
Webinars make our work as advisors more visible and more understandable
to those campus community partners who neither advise students nor
recognize how to define academic advising. According to Habley (2009):
“Beginning…in 1979, the call for quality research to support the field
[of advising] has been unrelenting and has taken on increasing urgency
now that academic advising is far more visible on the higher education
scene” (p. 82). The fact that NACADA’s webinars are grounded in strong
research attracts faculty attendance. Faculty attendees at Ohio
Dominican webinars comment that they find the presenters’ research both relatable and understandable, and the faculty
members add that they can better conceptualize how to advise students
because of the webinars’ strong base in research.
While the webinars’ presenters demonstrate expertise as researchers and
practitioners in their respective areas of advising, many of the
professionals tasked with hosting the webinars possess two central
worries. Technology setup proves itself one major concern; NACADA
easily rectifies this problem by explaining how to connect to the
webinar. If one visits http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Connect/participants.htm
prior to the webinar, any technology issues can easily be resolved by
the webinar hosts or by an information technologist on campus before the
webinar begins. Advisors and other professionals need not feel
dissuaded by technical difficulties, as Riddle (2010) reminds readers: “[b]ecause
meetings can be recorded, those who miss training sessions can view them
in segments or in their entirety at a later date” (p. 28). Thus,
webinar attendees can receive the information asynchronously if a
technological issue exists or if a job-related problem arises and they
need to leave the session.
By the very nature of their jobs, advising administrators find
themselves dealing with budgetary matters, which could pose a problem
for those who advocate webinars. Realistically, it makes sense that
some administrators could approach webinars with cost-related
trepidation. However, by inviting many campus constituents, and by
holding a discussion afterwards, the fees prove quite minimal.
Additionally, each webinar presenter prepares handouts prior to the
session. These documents need not be printed, and instead can be downloaded, so even
printing costs decrease. Administrators’ staffs have different learning
styles, and webinar presenters demonstrate a deep respect for a variety
of learning modalities, as PowerPoint, hyperlinks, and even a chat box
exist in the webinars’ presentation room. Those advisors inclined to
use Twitter often “tweet” comments to the presenters and other
participants as they follow the webinar, which allows them a unique way
to engage the higher education technology community with the material
presented. Riddle (2010) opines: “All in all, [webinars are] a
convenient, efficient—and comfortable—way to receive and deliver
information” (p. 28). At Ohio Dominican, the advising staff reserves a
large computer classroom, and those who feel inclined can use Twitter or
send their questions to the webinar presenters via the on-screen chat box. This
informal atmosphere saves the institution money and allows for
international interactions, as other institutions simultaneously
participate in the webinar.
If advising professionals utilize these webinars creatively, they can
introduce non-advisors to advising practice and theory while learning
how to improve their own advising practice. Carr (2010) points out that
“Online [professional development] may offer a solution to heightening
skills, enhancing strategies, and expanding upon theory to inform
practice better” (p. 13). With the opportunity to integrate social
media into webinars and the chance to explain how advising affects all
campus professionals – faculty and staff alike – institutions would do well to
invest in these efficient and effective professional development
opportunities for their employees. To use webinar technology to teach
advising not only connects advisors to new ideas, it networks campus
partners to one another.
Bowling Green State University
Editor’s note: Formerly of Ohio Dominican University, Adam Duberstein begins a doctoral program this month at Bowling Green State University.
Carr, V. B. (2010). The viability of online education for professional development. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 7, 6-14.
Habley, W. R. (2009). Academic advising as a field of inquiry. NACADA Journal, 29, 76-83.
Riddle, J. (2010). Through the computer screen: On the other side of the webinar. MultiMedia Internet at Schools, 17, 28-31.
Why a Theory of Advising?
NACADA Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission
Many advisors are so busy with their day to day responsibilities that
thinking about something as abstract as “theory” seems a luxury they
can’t afford. They may be inclined to say, “If it doesn’t make me a
better advisor I don’t have time for it.”
Can theory make you a better advisor? Arguably yes. But here’s a prior question: How do we know what we mean by “a better advisor?” If those words have meaning, it’s because we
have some idea of what excellence in advising is, which in turn
probably depends on a notion of what advising is all about. And that,
in turn, is the beginning of a theory.
“Theory” gets used sloppily sometimes, for example to mean an opinion
that isn’t fact, but that is not an accurate definition. Here is a
working definition that will suffice as the start of explaining why
advisors should care about theory: A theory of advising is (1) a
statement of the essential nature and purpose of advising, which (2)
says what advising ideally should be, not necessarily what it actually
is in all cases. There is a formal name for theories that say what ought to be rather than explaining what is: “normative.” Normative theories are different in this regard from
scientific theories, which most of us are more familiar with. They are
common for example in ethics, a field that explores how we ought to
behave, not how we do behave.
So a theory of advising will present for us a statement of what
advising is for, and why it is important, a vision of what it ideally
would be. Why is that valuable? First, for an individual advisor it
provides a measuring stick to evaluate one’s own work – but more
important, a goal to strive for even if it seems unattainable, a
picture of what that “better advisor” would be.
Second, as members of the profession advisors should look to a theory
to provide unity of purpose and an explanation for our institutions as
to why our work is vital to their missions. At a time when budgets are
tight, accountability is in the air, and some administrators are
focused more on degree completion than on learning, that could be
critical. And it will help students, everywhere, to know what to
expect and what to seek from their advisors.
There are straightforward practical consequences too. A theory of
advising will imply answers to how advisors should be educated,
selected, and evaluated, and guidance on choosing administrative
models. It will also help us know what to look for in advising
Any advisor can devise for himself or herself a statement of what
advising is for, and what an ideal advisor would be like. But to
fulfill the potential described here, a theory needs to be the product
of vigorous debate, oral and in print, among the advising community.
The Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission invites you to participate in that debate at our conference sessions and through our listserv.
Chair, NACADA Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission
Director of Administration
Department of the History of Science
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Michigan State University
Office of the University Ombudsperson
It takes but one SPARK to ignite the flame for an idea. Does your campus have an unusual or exceptional process or program that could spark an idea on another campus? If so, tell us about it in 350 words or less. Send your 'Sparkler' to Leigh@ksu.edu
This edition’s SPARKLER comes from Monica Roca and April Lewis (Florida International University).
Monica Roca, Assistant Director, and April Lewis,
Senior Academic Advisor in the Academic Advising Center at Florida
International University in Miami, Florida have responded to a need in
the institution for training and professional development of academic advisors across campus. In 2010, they created an online
training course for advisors that is user-friendly, specifically
designed for the FIU community, and easily updated as policies and
procedures continue to evolve. In Phase 1 of the course development, they united with their in-house technology department to
create the overall appearance, structure, and materials for the course.
Monica and April wanted the specific look of the online course to be
colorful and welcoming with a lot of easily maneuvered bells and whistles. To accomplish this task, the main
organization of the course was based on NACADA’s three major components
of quality advising, which are Informational, Relational, and Conceptual.
Those three areas were then restructured to include specific
information and practices related to FIU and were renamed Basics, Facts,
and Connections. The bulk of the material included in the course had to either be modified from existing
documentations or designed from scratch. Some of the parts that were
created included a course map to assist in the navigation of the course,
a glossary with key terms, interactive case studies, screencasts with
technical information, video vignettes of testimonials and policies, a
discussion board, and quizzes that would lead to an official
certification by the Dean of Undergraduate Education. Phase 2 of the
online training course is now being developed. Among other things, the
course will soon offer more detailed information about different majors
and requirements and a better understanding of some of the most common
concerns among students, along with possible recommendations and information
about the new technological tools that are being implemented at FIU.
Some of the same mechanisms that were used in Phase 1 will be
implemented in the development of content for Phase 2. Project
completion is slated for Fall 2012. For more information, please
contact April Lewis at email@example.com.