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Voices of the Global Community


From Inaction to Action: Recognizing the Language of Procrastination

Ann Wheeler, Landmark College

AnnWheeler.jpgProcrastination 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.

Ann Wheeler
Academic Advisor
Landmark College
[email protected]


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

Jennifer Joslin.jpg

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 NACADA!

Jennifer Joslin, President
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Director, Office of Academic Advising, University of Oregon
[email protected]

From the Executive Director: NACADA Continues to Grow and Impact Higher Education Globally

Charlie 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 education.

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.

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

International Vantage Point.gif

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 personal connection.
  • 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.

Shehna Javeed
Academic Advisor
Academic Advising & Career Centre
University of Toronto Scarborough
[email protected]


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 Scarborough. 2011-2012.

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

Penny Robinson.jpg “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 [email protected]. I’d love to hear your comments and questions.

Penny Robinson
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 HollyMartin.jpgStudents 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 short.
  • 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 athletics.
  • 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 directions.

SherwinJames.jpgFrom 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 goals.
  • 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.

Sherwin James
College of Business
Clayton State University
[email protected]

Holly Martin
First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame
[email protected]

Breaking the Bad News

 Jason Barkemeyer, University of Utah

Jason Barkemeyer.jpg

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 direction.

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.”

Jason Barkemeyer
Academic Advising Coordinator
David Eccles School of Business
University of Utah
[email protected]

In Limbo: Challenges Faced by Undocumented Students in Higher Education

Michelle Sotolongo, Texas State University-San Marcos

Michelle Sotolongo.jpgUndocumented 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 goals.


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.

Financial Aid

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 (Strayhorn, 2006).

Academic Advisors

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.

Michelle Sotolongo
Academic Advisor
University College Advising Center
Texas State University-San Marcos
[email protected]


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, Austin.

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

Travis Nakayama.jpgAdvising 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 community.

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 their students.
  • 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.

Travis Nakayama
Jr. Specialist/Advisor
Education Department
University of Hawaii at Hilo
[email protected]


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 students.

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 AdvisLynn Zabel.jpgor 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:

Sara Rothberger.jpgEdgewood 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.

Sara Rothberger
Senior Academic Advising Intern
Edgewood College    
[email protected]

Lynn Zabel
Senior Academic Advising Intern
Edgewood College
[email protected]

Supporting an Out-of-State Student Population through Living-Learning Communities

Emily Jensen.jpg

Jenna Nobili and Emily Jensen, University of Central Florida

Jenna Nobili.jpg

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 experiential learning.

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 graduate assistant.

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 of students.

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 the appointment.

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.

Jenna Nobili
First Year Advising and Exploration
University of Central Florida
[email protected]

Emily Jensen
First Year Experience
University of Central Florida
[email protected]


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

FroJohnika Dreher.jpgm 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!

Gayle Juneau.jpgFrom 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 career:


  • 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.

Johnika Dreher
Retention Advisor
Prince George’s Community College
[email protected]

Gayle Juneau
Executive Director of Academic Advising
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
[email protected]

NACADA Summer Institute: The Best Professional Development Experience

David W. Streicher II, NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient

David Streicher.jpgIn 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 projects.

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
Advisor Trainer
Center for Academic Advising
University of Saint Francis
[email protected]

Use of NACADA Webinars for Professional Development

Adam Duberstein, NACADA Webinar Advisory Board Member

Adam Duberstein.jpgThe 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.

Adam Duberstein
Bowling Green State University
[email protected]

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 scholarship.

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.

Sarah Champlin-Scharff
Chair, NACADA Theory and Philosophy of Advising Commission
Director of Administration
Department of the History of Science
Harvard University
[email protected]

Marc Lowenstein
Associate Provost
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
[email protected]

Shannon Burton
Michigan State University
Office of the University Ombudsperson
Assistant Ombudsperson
[email protected]

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  [email protected]

This edition’s SPARKLER comes from Monica Roca and April Lewis (Florida International University).

Monica Roca.jpgApril Lewis.jpgMonica 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 protected].

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Posted in: 2012 June 35:2


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