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Voices of the Global Community


From the Executive Director: From Manhattan NY to Manhattan KS

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Dedicated to Dean Debbie Mercer and Maxine Coffey

Charlie Nutt.jpgIn August 1992, I attended my first national conference on Retention and Student Success in New York City—one of my first times out of the state of Georgia! I went to this conference to get help and guidance in making changes to the faculty advising model at my college, Brunswick College. There I met Dr. Betty Siegle, then President of Kennesaw State College, and had to the chance to talk to her about how academic advising was organized at her institution. She encouraged me to contact Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Nancy King, as she was an expert in the field of academic advising. In November, I drove to Kennesaw to meet Dr. King to learn everything about academic advising in one day! Dr. King spent the day with me, and I learned for the first time about academic advising as a relationship between an advisor and student, not simply registration for classes. It was all a new world to me and opened my eyes to a student success, student retention, and student persistence that had little to do with registration, scheduling, and lines on registration day! Nancy, who has become a lifelong mentor and friend, also introduced me to a new association called NACADA: The National Academic Advising Association that I had never heard of. I quickly joined NACADA, which changed my future in higher education and my life.

In March 1993, I and seven of my colleagues from Brunswick College attended a NACADA Region IV conference in Birmingham. Since coming into higher education in 1987, I had attended many conferences and knew I learned a lot, but I wandered the conference hallways alone looking for rooms and sat in sessions never meeting other participants and at the end never returned home thinking of those conference participants as colleagues or friends. However, within the first 10 minutes of the Region NACADA IV conference, I immediately knew I had my higher education home. I had never been to a conference where people welcomed me and wanted to help me, and where my colleagues learned about academic advising but also genuinely wanted us to feel a part of NACADA and our Region IV. We left that meeting with new and fresh ideas to transform academic advising at our college and more importantly with new friends and colleagues across NACADA Region IV, and we each had a goal to become involved in this wonderful association.

For the next 10 years, I had the opportunity to read about academic advising, to meet my heroes in the field like Dr. Virginia Gordon and Dr. Eric White, to present about the work we were doing at our college, and to become involved in NACADA. I had the chance to serve as NACADA Region IV Chair, to serve as the Two-Year College Commission Chair, and to serve on the NACADA Board of Directors as well as numerous other opportunities. I learned that relationships in academic advising are key to student success, and that NACADA created a culture of networking and relationship building among our members.

In 2002 I had the opportunity to come to the NACADA Executive Office at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS as an Associate Director. I owe this life changing opportunity to NACADA’s Executive Director Emeritus Bobbie Flaherty and past Dean of the College of Education Dr. Michael Holen. I truly cannot thank Bobbie and Dean Holen enough for their belief in me and for the support they always provided me during my tenure with the Executive Office. It was exciting to join Marsha Miller as the first two content staff members in the Executive Office to work with our leaders and members to expand our publications as well as to create new professional development opportunities for our members.

Since being named NACADA’s Executive Director in 2007, I have had the chance to work with our members and leaders and the most amazing Executive Office staff to expand our association to become the primary association globally for academic advising and student success. With the work of the Board of Directors and NACADA President Casey Self, we changed to our name to NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, which has expanded our reach throughout the world.

What an amazing journey I have had, a journey which goes back to my visit with Nancy King in 1992—academic advising is about teaching and learning, which can only be accomplished when we as advisors build relationships with our students. We must focus on what students bring to their education, what they desire in their college career, and their goals for the future. But what I have learned even more in my journey is that NACADA is built upon the relationships we build with each other in our association—the friendships we have gained, the lessons we have learned from our NACADA mentors and leaders, the goals we have worked together on to make NACADA be the best association it can be, and the deep passion we have for NACADA and each other.

Thank you for this beautiful journey you have walked with me—I am forever appreciative for the ride.

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

From the President: At the Midpoint

Cecilia Olivares, NACADA President

Cecilia Olivares.jpgAs June starts, we are at the midpoint of 2021. We have surpassed the one-year mark of the abrupt shifts in teaching, learning, and service operations at most institutions around the world due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and many of our campuses are currently finalizing reopening plans for the next academic year. Similarly, NACADA has had a full year of only virtual professional development offerings and continues to gauge the public health guidelines in the locations of our planned in-person events this fall, including the annual conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The first half of 2021 has felt like a period of ongoing transition for NACADA and, like any other life transition, it has felt uncomfortable and stressful yet hopeful and exciting. This month we officially welcome Dr. Melinda Anderson into her new role as Executive Director of NACADA: The Global Association for Academic Advising, following the retirement announcement of Dr. Charlie Nutt. As we move into a new era of leadership in the NACADA Executive Office, I want to acknowledge and thank Dr. Debbie Mercer and Dr. Ken Hughey from the College of Education at Kansas State University for guiding the association through this transition. There are many benefits to NACADA’s partnership and memorandum of understanding with K-State, including the leadership of Dr. Mercer as Dean of the College of Education and Dr. Hughey as chair of the search committee for the new executive director. Our appreciation also extends to the members of the search committee for their time and energy to review applications, participate in interviews, and provide feedback in the hiring process: Brian Buckwald (CUNY Hunter College), Maxine Coffey (NACADA), JP Regalado (NACADA Past President), Dr. Lisa Rubin (Kansas State University), Jessica Staten (Indiana University Bloomington), Ashley Thomas (NACADA), Farrah Turner (NACADA), and Dr. Dana Zahorik (Fox Valley Technical College).

The middle part of the year is also the transition period between elections in February and the induction of new NACADA leadership at the annual conference in October. Thank you to all who nominated candidates, ran for an elected position, and voted in this year’s elections. In particular, I would like to congratulate incoming president Dr. Kyle Ross (Oregon State University) and incoming vice president Michelle Smith Ware (University of St. Thomas) and welcome the incoming members to the Board of Directors—Dr. Quentin Alexander (George Mason University), Dr. Zoranna Jones (Texas Christian University), Dr. Locksley Knibbs (Florida Atlantic University), and Dr. Kimberly Smith (Virginia Tech)—and the Council—Gavin Farber (Temple University), Dr. Leah Panganiban (University of Washington), and Dr. Cynthia Pascal (Northern Virginia Community College). As part of the onboarding process, all six participated in mid-year meetings with the current Board and Council members in April.

This year’s mid-year meetings find us in the continued development of the new mission, vision, and strategic goals for the association, which we hope to finalize by vote early this fall and prioritizing recommendations of the Region Review and Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion (REI) Working Group for implementation. Their reports indicated that our current structure may not fit the diverse needs of our global membership, as the last time NACADA underwent a restructure was in 2001 when we had 4000 members. Therefore, in our most recent meeting, the Board voted to approve one of the recommendations brought forward by both groups—a structural audit of the association by an external consultant. The Board will identify a working group to guide the consultant review and selection process, including a detailed charge for the consultant. This charge will include consideration for diversity, equity, and inclusion needs as shared by the Region Review team and REI Working Group. Having our newest Board and Council leaders involved in the current conversations, decisions, and action planning during the transition period is vital to the continuity and sustainability of work from one Board and Council to the next, and we are excited to have these wonderful leaders involved in this important work over the next four months.

Our association runs on the talent, passion, and energy of dedicated volunteers around the world, with the support of the NACADA Executive Office staff and the College of Education at Kansas State University. Despite uncertainty and challenges that we have experienced collectively and individually over the past year, I am inspired by and confident in the incredible colleagues who are leading us through significant changes within the association, and I am so excited to see how much further we progress over the next few months.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that that ever has.”  —Margaret Mead

Cecilia Olivares, President, 2020–2021
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Director of Transfer Center & First Generation Student Initiatives
Interim Director of Discovery Center
University of Missouri-Columbia


Finding Purpose during the Pandemic: Advising for the Common Good

James Creech, University of Notre Dame

James Creech.jpgIn the ten years I’ve worked as an advisor for first-year students at the University of Notre Dame, I’ve frequently questioned the purpose of advising. “Helping students” is the easy answer, irreproachable, vague, and not untrue. Advisors do help students, practically, personally, and intellectually. To what end, though?

The shrunken life of the Covid era has given me much time and occasion to consider this question. Suddenly in March 2020, my job was reduced to its essence. Gone were the commute, the office chit chat, the professional development goals. What remained was my relationship with my students, now scattered across the globe. I don’t know if I was a good advisor in the second half of the first Covid semester. I was used to guiding students through personal crises. I had no idea how to guide them through a global crisis. Panicked and confused, I stumbled to the end of the semester along with everyone else. Amidst the chaos of an epochal tragedy, however, I gained clarity about the purpose of my work. Advising is my contribution to the common good. Like wearing a mask or staying home, it is a small, individual act, essential yet meaningless without countless other small, individual acts.

Before the pandemic, I’m sure I would have said that advising served the common good, but this idea wasn’t truly part of how I conceived of my work. My official advising philosophy makes no mention of the world outside of a student’s own head. I write instead about cultivating critical faculties, opening minds, and teaching students how to make choices. Worthy goals all, but, as I now see, insufficient.

This time of isolation and loneliness has revealed humanity’s interconnectedness. We have only survived this pandemic because of the heroic labor and specialized knowledge of our neighbors—delivery drivers, warehouse workers, nurses, the list is endless. Advising does not directly support us during the pandemic in this way, but advisors have a part to play nonetheless. We wear masks, we stay home, we help the future health care workers and researchers get through chemistry so that they can cure the next pandemic.

I have long believed in the intrinsic and extrinsic value of higher education for society. This belief is one of the reasons why I chose a career in academia. I am proud to work for an institution with a strong commitment to improving the world. In the words of its mission statement, the University of Notre Dame (n.d.) seeks “to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.” Similarly, the mission of the College of Science, where I am embedded, is “to prepare tomorrow’s scientific leaders . . . to share their knowledge and discoveries in ways that encourage collaboration, advance learning, and contribute to the common good” (University of Notre Dame College of Science, n.d.). While I find these words inspiring, it can be difficult to see how advising is connected to this greater mission.

Advising is a wonderful job. Advisors have the privilege of accompanying students as they pursue profound intellectual and personal journeys. Advising can also be monotonous, frustrating, and mired in detail. Some days, you feel like your job is to drop the marble into the Rube Goldberg machine of bureaucracy. Other days, you feel like your job is to keep everybody (students, parents, professors, administrators) happy. But then, just as you’re dusting off your resume so that you can find a less aggravating job, you have a luminous moment. A student marvels at what she’s learning in her theoretical math course or beams with pride when he finally passes a chemistry exam. You put your resume away and recommit yourself to serving the students.

These moments, while invigorating, are personal, and their connection to the common good isn’t immediately apparent. Advising is by design focused on the individual. Nearly all my meetings with students are one-on-one. Our conversations are about their experiences, needs, and wants. The effectiveness of advising is judged (perhaps wrongly) by quantifiable individual achievements such as grades, persistence, and graduation. Unquestionably, all students deserve personal attention as they try to understand themselves and their education, yet a conception of advising limited to individual student success undervalues the work of advising and the project of higher education.

Advising can feel like working underground. Our labor as advisors is often unseen, and its fruits may take years to grow and ripen. This invisibility is especially true if you evaluate advising for its long-term social value rather than its effect on individual success in college. Nevertheless, I am confident that advisors prepare students to contribute to the common good in numerous ways. We guide students as they discern the best program for their interests and abilities. We connect them to resources when they encounter academic and personal challenges. We help them find purpose and meaning in their education. We give them pep talks, listen to their hopes and fears, and cheer their successes. All of this work is in service to learning, and we hope that students choose to use this learning to make the world a better place.

Bernie Sanders famously used the slogan “Not me, us” in his most recent presidential campaign. If I didn’t think I would get some disgruntled emails from parents, I would tell my students “Not you, them.” I’m not advising just for your benefit, I’m advising for them, for everyone you can help with your intelligence, knowledge, and hard work. I’m advising for the common good.

James Creech
Associate Advising Professor
Center for University Advising
University of Notre Dame


University of Notre Dame. (n.d.). Mission Statement. https://www.nd.edu/about/mission/

University of Notre Dame College of Science. (n.d.). About. https://science.nd.edu/about/

Vectors of Competence and Purpose: Transmission of Knowledge to Prepare for an Uncertain Present and Future

Ellyn R. Mulcahy, Kansas State University

Ellen Mulcahy.jpgIn a theory of psychosocial development to explain contributing factors to self-identity, Chickering (1969) introduced the term “vectors of development.” Chickering and Reisser (1993, 2005) further explained these seven vectors or tasks in terms of where a student may be coming from or going to in order to help explain the direction a student may take in their development. These vectors occur theoretically in order; however, in practice, these vectors occur as dynamic and fluid entities that are not static and may overlap or occur simultaneously. Students may not move through them in order, or at similar rates, no matter their age or stage in the college process.

These vectors of development are the conduit through which students develop their identity. Each stage or task is significant, but as a group they are vital. In biology, a vector is a structure that carries genetic information, such as a plasmid, or an agent that carries disease, such as a tick or mosquito. In mathematics, a vector is an object that has a magnitude and a direction, such as a directed line segment. The use of vector to explain a structure that carries, delivers, or directs us to information (of any type) is especially suitable to advising during a time of uncertainty that requires adaptability and the ability to both anticipate and manage change. In fact, it is during such a time that we should be particularly focused on transmitting information accurately and effectively. Fink and Firestein (2020) explain clearly that advising must change as our students change; I propose so too must we change how we interpret the theory we apply in our practice.

How can advisors specifically address and utilize these vectors of development in academic and career advising? And how can we do this when academic and career paths for our students are unclear and changing?

The vector of developing competence includes intellectual competence, physical and manual skills, and interpersonal competence. This vector, as with most skills, progresses along a continuum, from a low level of competence and a lack of confidence in one’s own abilities, to a high level and sense of competence (Chickering & Reisser, 2005). These three types of competence emerge and are enhanced as one feels more confident in one’s knowledge and abilities. In addition, integration of all of these enhanced skills further aids to bolster one’s confidence over time, which then serves to drive the level of competence from lower to higher. This process would increase students’ self-esteem and ability to make decisions and give them confidence before moving on to the more multifaceted vector of developing purpose.

The vector of developing purpose, which includes the tasks of education, career plans, and planning a mature lifestyle, is of interesting relevance to advising students. This vector also progresses along a continuum, from developing and setting goals, making decisions intentionally, and establishing meaningful relationships integral to life’s purpose (Evans et al., 2010). Gordon (2006) makes several practical suggestions for integrating purpose into advising. Advisors can help students develop their purpose and be more aware of the process of career planning. Advisors can assist with the process of setting goals, both short term and long term. Advisors can also help students to understand that their values and goals are important to the actual decision-making process itself (Gordon, 2006, pp. 29–30).

Integrating competence and purpose into advising in our current environment must consider where our students are developmentally. Some students, given the right support prior to college education, can develop competence and purpose earlier or independently and be self-reliant in the absence of regular feedback or validation from other people. This is not, however, where many of our students find themselves presently, particularly our undecided students. Integrating purpose into advising sessions will be helpful for somewhat undecided students including unstable and tentatively undecided students (Buyarski, 2009). Very undecided students who are developmentally and seriously undecided may not be ready for developing their purpose and would likely benefit more from their advisors integrating development of competence into advising sessions (Chickering & Reisser, 1993, 2005).

Chickering and Reisser (1993) describe the third component of purpose as establishing strong interpersonal commitments and preparing for the purpose of life and development of one’s identity. This vector is idealistic however, particularly the third component, exhibiting a level of assurance of how the educational system operates that may not be possible for most students. This mismatch between reality and theory is likely founded in many reasons. The vector of developing purpose cannot be applied wholesale in the absence of robust support (Chickering & Reisser, 1993). Support is the scaffold upon which we continually must remind ourselves to hoist up our students’ and our own competencies.

Chickering and Reisser described key influential environments and their influences on student development (Evans et al., 2010). A mechanism of support is very important for students in the development of their competence and purpose. Major influences likely will arrive in the support and encouragement from teachers, advisors, mentors, and other support structures in a student’s life. Competence and purpose can be increased through meaningful relationships with mentors who will be instrumental in this level of support. Mentors can model and share their skills directly and nurture growth of skills and competencies for students, especially for those who may not possess the knowledge or self-actualization to take these steps by themselves. Advisors can operate as a key support structure, inside and outside of the classroom, particularly in a changing educational landscape with an uncertain future for students and advisors (Mulcahy, 2019). Development of purpose during students’ years in college can help prepare for decision making about choosing a career pathway, but also for the third component of purpose which is planning for a mature lifestyle (Gordon, 2006, pp. 29–30).

So how do we as advisors bridge practice with theory? We can use theory to inform our practice to help better prepare our students. We can learn from our colleagues, through this forum and others, how to better integrate theory into our practice.  We can encourage student-faculty relationships to offer students another mechanism to identifying mentors. We can partner with structured career-informed advising that exists on many of our campuses to assist with goal setting for future career planning. We can establish effective partnerships with potential employers through on campus programs, and we can help students with career planning and set them on a path to realize their goals.

Ultimately, we can look at theory with a new lens that allows us to refocus our efforts. The process of sharing information with students in an effective way is always foremost in my practice, so renewing my understanding of vectors of development has proved both instructive and intriguing. Doing so has provided another means through which I can support my students in this time of uncertainty.

Ellyn R. Mulcahy (she/her/hers)
Graduate Student, Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising
Director, Master of Public Health Program
Associate Professor, Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology
Kansas State University


Buyarski, C. A., (2019). Career advising with undecided students. In K. F. Hughey, D. Burton Nelson, J. K. Damminger, B. McCalla-Wriggins, & Associates (Eds.), The handbook of career advising (pp. 217–239). NACADA: The Global Community of Academic Advising.

Chickering, A. W. (1969). Education and identity (1st ed.) Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (2005). The seven vectors. In M. E. Wilson & L. E. Wolf-Wendel (Eds), ASHE reader on college student development theory (pp. 181–189). Pearson Learning Solutions.

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., Quaye, S. J., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed., pp. 296–302). Jossey-Bass.

Fink, N., & Firestein, C. (2020, December). Advising generation z students during COVID19 and beyond. Academic Advising Today, 43(4). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-Generation-Z-Students-During-COVID19-and-Beyond.aspx

Gordon, V. N. (2006). Career advising: An academic advisor’s guide. NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Mulcahy, E. R. (2020, September). Timing is everything: Coronavirus and the chronosystem. Academic Advising Today, 43(3). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Timing-is-Everything-Coronavirus-and-the-Chronosystem.aspx

PERMA as a Model for Student Success

Shahid Bux, American University of Sharjah

Shahid Bux.jpgAlthough the PERMA model has been promoted as a model for student wellbeing, particularly in more vulnerable groups (e.g. Kern et al., 2015; Tansey et al., 2017; Umucu et al., 2020), and as a valid tool across cultures (Lambert D’raven & Pasha-Zaidi, 2015), few authors have spoken about the model and its relevance to student success. The PERMA model was developed by psychologist Martin Seligman (2011). This theory, based on the canons of positive psychology, is about understanding the conditions under which people thrive and is based on five dimensions: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. Current uses of the model, in the student context at least, contradict the very principles of positive psychology on which the model was founded—namely, that rather than looking at what is wrong with people, which is the focus of traditional psychology, we ought to look at what is right with people. So, although the PERMA model may provide a useful lens through which to view the challenges faced by student veterans or students with mental health concerns for example, it is equally if not more effective as a tool in understanding why students succeed. The presence of the five dimensions outlined by Seligman then ought to be examined more carefully in students who succeed academically in order to help other students striving for success. What do the five dimensions of the PERMA model actually mean and why are they relevant to student success?

Positive emotion is about nurturing hope and optimism and allows people to find fulfillment in daily tasks and persevere with difficult challenges. An address by David Throgmorton at a NACADA Regional Conference in 2009 sums up the importance of advisors in nurturing this quality in students: “never forget that as an academic advisor, you are the front lines of hope for your advisees…They are looking to you. They are investing their hope in your ability to understand their plight and to suggest a path out of the darkness.” In times of great uncertainty, one could argue that advising has never been more important as a platform to help students clarify educational choices, navigate the academic quagmire of academic policies, and to keep students engaged with their programs and university. As Miller and Murray (2005) observe, when students are “supported by positive institutional experiences that strengthen their self-esteem and self-efficacy, these students overcome the negative effects attributed to at-risk factors.” Using a strengths-based approach, advisors are also uniquely positioned to affirm strengths and talents by helping students connect their hobbies and interests to courses and career-paths (Ward, 2008).  

The second dimension—engagement—is about finding psychological presence or flow in a particular activity that deploys a person’s skills, strengths, and attention. As Kuh (2006) explains, advisors’ intimate familiarity with their students tied to the emphasis on shared responsibility, meaningful interactions, and academic and social success allows advisors to encourage students to engage in meaningful and relevant activities inside and outside the classroom. Advisors can also help students identify interests through activities that ask them to identify favorite assignments, projects they completed which they felt proud of, when they lost a sense of time while studying, their favorite classes, and abilities they would like to develop (Wilcox, 2016).

The third dimension—relationships—is critical to wellbeing and infuses life with meaning and purpose. Feelings of joy, belonging, and pride are amplified through strong relationships and speak to the human need for connection. Advisors not only connect students to others resources, but are themselves a resource as coaches, mentors, and counselors for students as they navigate their way through academic terrain (Gordon-Starks, 2015). Not only can this relationship strengthen student engagement, but it may also develop long after college-life into a much closer relationship (Gordon-Starks, 2015). Advisors can help connect students to other people and opportunities with projects that explore their use of campus resources, extracurricular activities they are involved with on or outside campus, or independent studies they would like to engage in (Wilcox, 2016).

A sense of meaning and purpose is the idea of serving something bigger than one’s own individual needs, such as that offered through religion, family, the community, or societal causes. One way that advisors can nurture this quality is through an exploratory process that allows students to select majors matching their interests and strengths. This can include reflection exercises on learning and skill development through the academic journey, pictures of learning experiences, projects completed, poetry, art, and the connection between extra-curricular activities and courses revealing skills and career interests that the advisor and student can discuss (Ward, 2008). E-portfolios can also be structured to meet the dynamic needs of  undecided students, utilizing the “flipped advising” approach described by Steele (2016), in which the traditional instructional approach is flipped so that students complete assigned exercises (organized as modules or uploaded as dynamic templates) prior to the advising session for students to access at any point of their educational journey (Wilson & Gerson, 2011). 

The final component of the PERMA model relates to accomplishment, which is the feeling gained through meeting goals and ambitions that may be pursued for its own sake in a variety of contexts.

Through the use of appreciative advising, advisors can discover strengths using discussions about past achievements, design educational plans with students to help turn dreams into a reality, and encourage students to raise their ambitions instead of being content with the status-quo (Pulcini, 2016). Advisors can also help students find a medium to showcase achievement in the form of awards, certificates, trainings, internships, and competitions.

The benefits of the PERMA model are that it provides a framework for advisors to intentionally cultivate these qualities through different mediums such as e-portfolios, students’ projects, self-reflection exercises, and self-assessments. It can be tied to existing syllabi used by academic advising departments (Ward, 2008), but more significantly looks at the student as a whole individual, facilitating both wellbeing and academic success. 

Shahid Bux
Academic Advisor
Academic Support Center
American University of Sharjah


Gordon-Starks, D. (2015, September). Academic advising is relationship building. Academic Advising Today, 38(3). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Academic-Advising-is-Relationship-Building.aspx

Kern, M. L., Waters, L. E., Adler, A., & White, M. A. (2015) A multidimensional approach to measuring well-being in students: Application of the PERMA framework. The Journal of Positive Psychology10(3), 262–271. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.936962

Kuh, G. D. (2006, June). Thinking DEEPly about academic advising and student engagement. Academic Advising Today, 36(2). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Thinking-DEEPly-about-Academic-Advising-and-Student-Engagement.aspx

Lambert D’raven, L., Pasha-Zaidi, N. (2016). Using the PERMA Model in the United Arab Emirates. Soc Indic Res, 125, 905–933. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-015-0866-0

Miller, M. A., & Murray, C. (2005). Advising academically underprepared students. NACADA Clearinghouse. http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Academically-underprepared-students.aspx

Pulcini, B. (2016). Appreciative advising to promote degree completion by Appalachian women. NACADA Journal, 36(2), 47–53. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-15-016

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Free Press.

Steele, G. E. (2016). Creating a flipped advising approach. NACADA Clearinghouse. https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Creating-a-Flipped-Advising-Approach.aspx

Tansey, T. N., Smedema, S., Umucu, E., Iwanaga, K., Wu, J. R., Cardoso, E. D. S., &  Strauser, D. (2017). Assessing college life adjustment of students with disabilities: Application of the PERMA framework. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 61(3), 131–142. 

Throgmorton, D. (2009, September). The front lines of hope: Helping students connect to themselves for a brighter future. Academic Advising Today, 32(3). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/The-Front-Lines-of-Hope-Helping-Students-Connect-to-Themselves-for-a-Brighter-Future.aspx

Umucu, E., Wu, J. R., Sanchez, J., Brooks, J. M., Chiu, C. Y., Tu, W. M., & Chan, F. (2020). Psychometric validation of the PERMA-profiler as a well-being measure for student veterans. Journal of American College Health68(3), 271–277. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1546182

Ward, K. (2008, June). From first year to career: Connecting advising syllabi to electronic portfolios. Academic Advising Today, 31(2). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-First-Year-to-Career-Connecting-Advising-Syllabi-to-Electronic-Portfolios.aspx

Wilcox, E. (2016). An end to checklist thinking: Learning-centered advising in practice. NACADA Clearinghouse. http://nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/6101/article.aspx

Wilson, C. A., & Gerson, T. (2011). Advisee e-Folio: Measurable effects on persistence, retention, and graduation rates. NACADA Clearinghouse. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/e-folio.aspx

Policy Like a Pro: How to Develop Sensible Policy in Academic Advising

Jesse Poole, Nevada State College

Jesse Poole.jpgInstitutional policy acts as a deliberate system of principles, serving as a compass that aids us in making rational decisions and achieving certain outcomes. These policies can provide rules, regulations, guidelines, directions, and/or principles for how to fairly and consistently make decisions (Welsh & Harris, 2015). Simply put, policies help students, parents, faculty, and staff understand the institution’s values and how those principles are employed in everyday operations. While there is a significant amount of literature that discusses higher education policy (Kaiser et al., 2014; Richardson & Martinez, 2009; St. John et al., 2018), an exhaustive search (including Academic Advising Today) yielded no literature on the topic of policy development in the context of academic advising. As a result, this article will discuss the fundamentals of policy development as described by the Wayne Welsh and Phillip Harris Model, why the model was chosen for this article, and how the model can be used when developing policies in academic advising and student success.

When it comes to policy development models, there are plenty to choose from, spanning various disciplines. However, the author of this article has extensive experience in drafting and implementing policy and programs while utilizing the Welsh and Harris Model. Interestingly, this particular model is derived from the field of criminal justice. When viewed from the surface, this might appear to be an unlikely candidate for student success and academic advising policy and program development. However, it is common practice for policy developers and program managers to utilize interdisciplinary models, including those from fields outside of their own. 

Why This Model

In this case, Welsh and Harris’ Model is more congruent with the field of academic advising and student success than one might think. The simplest way to explain the commonalities is by noting some of the key goals, outcomes, and functions of a student success and/or advising office and a criminal justice policy or program. The clearest connection between the two is that they both serve at-risk populations.

Many models, including Welsh and Harris, overlap policy development and program planning, and rightfully so as new advising policy tends to spark changes in process or require the creation of a new program that should be evaluated. While you may notice elements that apply to program planning, this article will focus on the development and implementation of policy. 

Fundamentals of Policy Development

The Welsh and Harris model involves seven phases:

  • analyze the problem
  • set goals and/or objectives
  • design the policy
  • create an action plan
  • implement the policy
  • evaluate the outcomes
  • reassess and review

While the above noted concepts appear simple, each phase has sub-phases or steps within them—totaling over forty steps to the process. Don’t worry, while each phase of the process is important to consider, not every step will be utilized when developing and implementing policy. Additionally, not every sub-phase or step will be discussed in this article. Similar to others, this model begins with analyzing the problem. 

Analyzing the Problem. As higher education professionals and administrators, it is commonplace to be engaged in analyzing and assessing issues and programs, either at the institution or department level. Yet, often we find that the group of individuals who are pushing for the need for change are doing so based on anecdotal or empirical evidence. When this occurs, it is often easy to drive the need for change. But, what if this scenario isn’t part of your reality? What if you aren’t in such a position of power where you can simply make a decision to change something that isn’t working? What if others don’t quite see the problem that you do? This is also a common situation to be in. When this occurs, often the best course of action is to consider the following:

  • document the need for change
  • describe the history of the problem
  • examine and identify (if possible) the potential causes
  • consider any previous interventions
  • identify barriers to change and supports for change

Set Goals and Objectives. Similar to constructing a college course, it is important to identify goals and objectives of the change. Drafting institutional policy that will [likely] require the signature of the provost and president is no joking matter. Depending on the institution, your policy initiative may pass through the eyes of over a dozen people, multiple committees, and be the conversation over several meetings. Throughout the policy process you can expect these participates to ask, “What do you plan to get out of these changes?” Having clear and concise goals and objectives provide a clear understanding to those who might not have context to the problem.

Design the Policy. Equally important is how the policy is designed and structured. When developing such important rules, be sure to ask yourself:

  • Who will be affected? 
  • Who will be responsible for carrying out the policy once it is in place? 
  • What student population will the policy impact, and what procedures need to be specified?

In advising, policies can have detrimental and long-lasting effects on students. Thus, understanding who will be impacted and how is critical. While colleges and universities often work well beyond the recommended advisor to advisee caseload, it is crucial to determine who will be responsible for managing the new policy.

As part of the policy development process, you will need to determine if the office responsible for executing the changes has the capacity to do so. Do not, however, let this question discourage you from moving forward in the policy process. There has been more than one occasion where this author developed and sought approval of a policy knowing that the resources to employ the changes would not be available for some time.

Create an Action Plan. Action planning is similar to an implementation timeline, but it also includes the directions of how the policy changes are going to be carried out. While there are many different ways to outline what actions should be taken, and in what order, consider utilizing a Gantt chart in your project. Gantt charts are horizontal graphical depictions of a project schedule in which the x axis variable is determined by the creator (typically measured in weeks or months). Simply put, what are you going to do, when are you going to do it, and how long will each step take? When designing your action plan, be sure to include the policy proposal process, as this is something that project and program managers often exclude. As part of this step, be sure to identify the resources needed, how you plan to acquire or reallocate resources, and consider mechanisms for self-regulation if applicable.

Policy Implementation & Monitoring. After developing an action plan for your policy, you are all set, right? Not so fast. In higher education, we love data. One of the first questions your boss will likely ask is “What mechanisms are you going to use to measure its impact?” Keep in mind, this is not the same as evaluating the actual incomes—it is the design and creation of the instruments that will be used to collect data (observation, surveys, interviews, etc.). These instruments will vary depending on the policy; however, in academic advising we often like to use survey data to measure learning outcomes and student satisfaction. Whatever the tool, be sure the data it produces passes muster and is consistent with research standards in which the information can be quantified in a meaningful way. 

Outcome Evaluation. Over the last five years, student learning outcomes have gained more and more traction, and for good reason, as they help us determine a student’s skills and abilities based on what they have learned. Policy outcome evaluation in academic advising is just as important. After all, advising is teaching (Lance, 2009). Before implementing your policy, consider what type of evaluation best fits the changes you plan to make. The three common types include impact evaluation, performance evaluation, and efficiency evaluation. An important piece to remember here, you don’t have to fully develop your measurement tools before submitting your policy. While some would argue it is ideal, others would say it is not necessary at this stage.

Reassess and Review. There are many reasons why a policy initiative can fail. Some of the more common reasons include:

  • conflicting or overly ambitious goals
  • poor design
  • poor implementation
  • failing to maintain the support of key stakeholders (in many cases, the front line advising staff)

As you draft your policy and construct your implementation plan, be sure to consider the above. At this phase, you should be ready to implement your policy. Keep in mind, policy implementation is a continuous practice of adaption, negotiation, and communication (Welsh & Harris, 2015). As incoming data is analyzed and procedural issues are identified, remember that the assessment wheel is simply that—a cyclical process that places the values, vision, and mission of the institution at its core. From there, identify the outcomes, gather your information and evidence, interpret the evidence, implement change, and reassess (Maki, 2002). 

Final Thoughts & Tools

There is a plethora of very useful tools that can aid you in your journey. Below you will find links to documents, templates, and examples that may help you get started. Whatever your policy or program idea, don’t be discouraged by barriers, as they are all too common in the world of higher education. If you take anything from this article, remember that ideas can create momentum, even a policy proposal.

Jesse Poole
Associate Director of Academic Advising and Student Success Initiatives
Academic Advising Center
Nevada State College

Tools to Consider when Drafting Policy

Needs assessment: https://www.extension.uidaho.edu/publishing/pdf/BUL/BUL0870.pdf

Cost analysis: https://www.smartsheet.com/free-cost-benefit-analysis-templates

Impact model: https://www.wordtemplatesonline.net/impact-analysis-template/

Logic model: https://ed.sc.gov/finance/grants/scde-grants-program/program-planning-tools-templates-and-samples/logic-model-templates/


Kaiser, F., Maassen, P., Meek, L., Vught, F. V., Weert, E. D., & Goedegebuure, L. (2014). Higher education policy: An international comparative perspective. Elsevier Science.

Lance, A. (2009, June). Advising is teaching: Advisors take it to the classroom. Academic Advising Today, 32(2). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-IS-Teaching-Advisors-Take-it-to-the-Classroom.aspx

Richardson, R. C., & Martinez, M. (2009). Policy and performance in American higher education: An examination of cases across state systems. Johns Hopkins University Press.

St. John, P. E., Daun-Barnett, N., & Moronski-Chapman, K. M. (2018). Public policy and higher education: Reframing strategies for preparation, access, and college success. Routledge.

Trowler, P. (2014). Higher education policy & institutional change: intentions and outcomes in turbulent environments. CreateSpace.

Welsh, W. N., & Harris, P. W. (2015). Criminal justice policy and planning (4th ed.). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


Creating an Onboarding Program for Newly Hired Advisors

Andrea Miller, Chair, NACADA Small Colleges and Universities Advising Community

AndreaMiller.jpgIn preparation to welcome three new advisors the advising leadership team at a small, private, liberal arts college was charged with acclimating and sharing important resources and information while simultaneously opening a new academic advising center and transitioning from one academic advising model to another. Despite the department and university changes, they knew they had to find a means of providing the new hires with the time to learn, meet with key people on campus, submit new hire paperwork, gain technology access, and obtain specific trainings to be fully prepared for the roles. In addition to the charge, there was not a lot of time to acclimate the new hires as they started one week before the spring semester began. 

Onboarding is an opportunity for employers to teach skills, share information, and outline behaviors that will set the new hire on a path toward job success (Bannon & Brewer, 2019). In this stage, hiring managers need to be intentional about sharing specific knowledge to ensure the employee feels part of the team and valued (Gallup, n.d.). From the new hire perspective, this stage is where they decide if the first day’s experiences match the hiring process. The onboarding experience impacts how the employee performs, how they feel about working at the organization, and how long they remain with the organization (Gallup, n.d.). Losing a new hire is costly in both time and money. “SHRM estimates that it will cost a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to identify and onboard a replacement” (Ratanjee, 2016).

Taking an opportunity to refer back to my own recent onboarding experiences with the university, leadership had an opportunity to improve future experiences, beginning with providing a smoother transition. Current team members were asked for feedback regarding the onboarding experience and areas they would like improved (Bannon & Brewer, 2019). Some recommendations noted were time to complete human resource paperwork and ask questions, identify correct people to gain access to technology systems prior to meeting with students, and have a training schedule that includes locations of meetings.

In addition to interviewing current team members, leadership listened to feedback with the goal of applying and changing prior experiences and researched best practices and guidelines. The research findings were then tailored to the culture, values, and mission of the university and the newly created advising center (Bannon & Brewer, 2019). Findings included identifying key people the new hire needs to meet with to begin establishing good working relationships (Association of Talent Development, 2019, p. 2). In addition, it is valuable to note people who are transitioning out of a role with the goal of transferring knowledge and skills. Another consideration is timing and when the new hire begins in relation to the academic calendar to train for what is most applicable to keep the learning relevant. Also, note the current university environment, challenges, and initiatives taking place. Including the new hire immediately in the happenings of the department or university is an opportunity to seek feedback and expertise of the new hire and give the new hire a chance to make an impact and feel valued right away.

Areas with similar themes were bundled and lists were made to show specifically what and who needed to be included in the onboarding, as follows:

  • Prior to the first day
    • Initial contact: hiring manager contacts new hires to confirm the start date, share the expected time of arrival, give directions to specific location, provide parking information, give specific transportation options available such as a campus shuttle, note the office attire, and share a schedule for the first day including any provided meals and scheduled meetings.
    • Welcome items: leadership purchases and gathers small desk plants, snack items, water, and university swag. Ensures a clean office space with proper furniture and office equipment.
  • First week (and ongoing) priorities
    • Human resources materials: new hire completes forms, meets with HR, acquires a campus ID card and parking permit, signs up for new employee orientation, etc.
    • Office: new hire obtains office keys, a name tag, a name plate, and office area and campus tours provided.
    • Teambuilding: leadership provides a welcome breakfast, lunch on first day, etc.
    • Meetings with key people: new hire supervisor schedules meetings with deans, managers, department chairs, administrative staff, etc.
    • Technology access: new hire supervisor collaborates with IT for access to shared drives, systems, computer, laptops, phone, etc.
    • Student services/campus offices: new hire supervisor provides opportunities for the new hire to establish contacts in each office and learn about the services provided.
    • Meeting with hiring manager: new hire meets with the hiring manager to learn unit history, culture, performance expectations, dress code, office hours, details of regular meetings and committees, current retention goals, etc.
    • Training: new hire supervisor schedules training on the center’s processes and policies, events, caseload management, technology, systems, advising theory/techniques, student populations specific to the institution, etc.
    • Documents to read: new hire reads materials provided by their supervisor, including the university catalog, degree plans, student handbooks, training manuals, university website, portals, etc.
    • Establishing regular 1:1 check-ins: new hire supervisor sets weekly meetings with each new hire to discuss professional goals, review materials, answer questions, etc.

The next step was to prioritize each area based on human resource deadlines, determine what is relevant based on the academic calendar, evaluate the skill level and skill set of each new hire to adjust training needs, and determine the upcoming priorities and deadlines for the center. As time was a factor, considerations regarding the best use of time in which to learn specific information was necessary to best prepare new hires for initial performance expectations.

Once areas were prioritized, the preparation duties were divided by department and role (Association for Talent Development, 2019, pp 7-8). For example, the hiring manager completed forms to authorize access to university systems and scheduled trainings with campus offices. The administrative assistant ordered name plates, coordinated the welcome breakfast, and put supplies in the offices. In addition, working as a team and establishing deadlines kept the tasks on schedule and made for an organized onboarding.

Finally, schedules were created, and copies were distributed to each new hire, the managers, and the administrative assistant. When a revision was made, revised copies were provided to all. The schedules included group trainings with campus offices. Individual meetings were scheduled for each new hire and specific key stakeholders. Information technology was scheduled to work with each new hire to set up computers, phones, and grant access to systems. Regular staff check-ins were established from day one. At the end of the first day, new hires met as a group with the managers. This was a time for questions from the new hires and an opportunity for the managers to gauge levels of energy and connectedness. The managers took this time to assess the day and make necessary adjustments for the next days. These check-ins continued once a week for the first six months.

New hire success can stem from a thorough onboarding program that meets the new hires expectations and achieves the learning outcomes of the center. Creating and revamping onboarding programs as each new hire is welcomed ensures the relevancy of the information provided. An established onboarding program improves the likelihood of new hires remaining with the organization and being successful, which reduces employee turnover and improves employee retention and productivity for the organization (Association of Talent Development, 2019, p. 11).  

Andrea Miller, M.A.  


Association for Talent Development. (2019) OrgDev New Employee Onboarding Guidebook. https://d22bbllmj4tvv8.cloudfront.net/4c/2e/3986f6cd4247b99db0f4b9f95de4/onboarding-ebook-v5.pdf

Bannon, K., & Brewer, J. (2019, September). Setting the stage: Onboarding using NACADA’s core competencies. Academic Advising Today, 42(3). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Setting-the-Stage-Onboarding-Using-NACADAs-Core-Competencies.aspx

Gallup. (n.d.). Designing the employee experience to improve workplace culture and drive performance. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/323573/employee-experience-and-workplace-culture.aspx#ite-323588

Ratanjee, V.  (2016). Why the onboarding experience is key for retention. Gallup Blog. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/235121/why-onboarding-experience-key-retention.aspx

Website Redesign: Adding Curb Appeal and Engagement

Randa Alvord, Brigham Young University

RandaAlford.jpgThe World Wide Web became publicly available in the early 1990s. Since then, technology has grown at an accelerated pace and has affected every aspect of the college experience. It changed how students attain information and build connections. Over the last decade, much of the technology focus in higher education has been on new technology tools (e.g., social media, student success platforms, apps, video conferencing), nonetheless websites still play a critical role in the college experience. Beyond serving as the virtual front door to campus, websites provide support to students throughout their entire academic journey. Today 9 in 10 American adults use the internet (Pew, 2021), and over 60 percent of the global population are active users (Kemp, 2020).

With rising fiscal strains, the rapid expansion of online usage, and increased demands on advisors, higher education administrators are reassessing the effectiveness and limitations of technology tools for students, including websites. The questions abound:

  • Are there ways to leverage websites to ease pressure on resources?
  • What information is essential for students to understand?
  • How can students be encouraged to engage with available information?
  • Do websites motivate students to be self-sufficient?
  • Have websites been overlooked as an effective tool for helping students and enhancing the advisor/student relationship?
  • How can advisors be more aware of website best practices beyond seeking help from copyright, universal experience design, or inclusion offices?

A focused needs assessment can be extremely valuable to determine the answers to these questions. According to Musser et al. (2008), “a needs assessment is a systematic way of determining the current state of an organization before developing solutions or programming.” Surveys, data analytics, focus groups, interviews, comparison of other advising websites, reviewing institution guidelines and policies, or other methods of assessment create a framework for evaluating the quality and effectiveness of a website. Both anecdotal feedback and qualitative survey responses are beneficial; therefore, the process can be formal or informal. Advisors do not need to be website development experts to evaluate the potential improvements of an advisement website’s purpose and functions.

Garett et al. (2016) identified the most common elements mentioned in research on effective website design as purpose, navigation, simplicity, readability, organization, content utility, and graphical representation. Advisors should consider these elements in connection to a needs assessment to evaluate and restructure an advising website.


In Crookston’s (1972/2009) classic article he brought to the forefront the importance of advising as teaching and having confidence in students’ responsibility in the relationship. One purpose of advising is to facilitate a student’s rational processes, problem-solving, decision-making, and evaluation skills. In providing prescriptive information such as frequently asked questions, essential links, upcoming deadlines, handouts, forms, and ways to connect, students have access to resources to make informed decisions. When students and advisors then interact, it enhances the relationship as the appointment time can be spent with the advisor and student collaborating on developmental tasks. Although this purpose does not need to be clearly stated on a website, advisors can encourage students to use the website for this reason and even demo it during appointments.

Navigation ­­­­­­­

No matter the content, if students cannot easily locate information, it is not useful. One of the greatest benefits of a website is search features to quickly find material, both through search engines and a search field. To aid in this, add keyword tags at the bottom of the page for terms students may use. Additionally, create a sticky menu (consistently stays on every page) that includes a search feature to help students know where to locate information and what to expect every time they use the site. If the website serves a variety of audiences, such as faculty or other advisors, advisors can dedicate a page on the menu for each population.

Simplicity, Organization, and Readability

Along with facilitating ways to navigate a website, the information needs to be presented in a way that enhances understanding and is user-friendly. Some ways of doing this are:

  • Minimize the content and highlight important elements through using different size fonts, creating sections, or using multiple pages.
  • Create clear subject headings that identify the focus.
  • List information in numbered lists or bullet points rather than large paragraphs. 
  • Include student-friendly language instead of internal university verbiage and text at an appropriate reading level.
  • Provide descriptive hyperlinks (links which state what the link is instead of click here) for lengthy information or information found on other pages or sites.
  • Consider cross-platform compatibility to allow viewing from mobile devices and numerous web browsers.
  • Implement recommended accessibility elements such as automatic captions, proper color contrast, text size, and avoiding color references in the text (i.e., click green button) (World Wide Web Consortium, 2020).

Content Utility

The content on a website needs to be useful and relevant. One complication of academia is changes occur continually. As information is in a constant influx, advisors must adapt. New content is to be added or current content needs updating to not stay stagnant. To help with this, advisors can create an internal list to track information on the site that requires frequent updating, dedicate a spot on the homepage for timely information, do a scan periodically to check for updates, especially looking for broken links.

Graphical Representation  

Incorporating icons and different types of media improve user engagement and are aesthetically pleasing. However, complex issues and opinions surround how different groups are included in media and representation can easily become distorted, especially within higher education. Overrepresentation, misrepresentation, and underrepresentation all need to be considered both in the images and language used.

NACADA's core value of inclusivity urges academic advisors to “value a supportive culture for diverse populations” and “to create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students” (NACADA, 2017). To promote a spirit of belonging for all students, images that reflect the student body, first-person language, and gender accommodating pronouns must be done with intentionality and not as an add-on. Although representation is not always easily understood, it is worth taking the time to be more conscious of it. Simple techniques such as using real images instead of stock photography can be employed.

­­­It is also important to acknowledge representation does not happen with images or language alone. Other forms of support need to be advocated for to serve underrepresented groups as well. Posting information or links to safe spaces, scholarships, or other services for all students shows a commitment to foster genuine inclusivity.


These techniques offer a guide and starting point for evaluation. As advisors examine websites, it is important to keep in mind the insight from Garett et al. (2016), “different disciplines and industries have different objectives.” Websites for each advisement office will have different components to be highlighted. However, the value of implementing a well-thought-out website is universal. Not only will it provide information available at any time, create expectations for students, alleviate pressure on resources, foster a developmental approach, increase belonging, and offer insights into the culture of a university, a good website will, more importantly, be a part of students’ support system.  

Randa Alvord
Academic Advisor
College of Fine Arts and Communications
Brigham Young University


Crookston, B. B. (2009). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. NACADA Journal, 29(1), 78–82. (Reprinted from “A developmental view of academic advising as teaching,” 1972, Journal of College Student Personnel, 13, 12–17; “A developmental view of academic advising as teaching,” 1994, NACADA Journal, 14[2], 5–9)

Garett, R., Chiu, J., Zhang, L., & Young, S. D. (2016). A literature review: Website design and user engagement. Online journal of communication and media technologies6(3), 1–14.

Kemp, S. (2020, January 30). Digital trends 2020: Every single stat you need to know about the internet. https://thenextweb.com/growth-quarters/2020/01/30/digital-trends-2020-every-single-stat-you-need-to-know-about-the-internet/

Musser, T., Hoover, T., & Fernandez, M. (2008). Get the horse before the cart: Conducting assessment of advisor development needs. NACADA Clearinghouse. http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/622/article.aspx

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

Pew Research Center. (2021, April 7). Internet/broadband fact sheet. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). (2018, June 05). Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. https://www.w3.org/TR/2018/REC-WCAG21-20180605/

Educational Disparities Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mehvash Ali, American University of Sharjah

MehvashAli,jpgEducation systems are traditionally designed for in-person teaching and learning. Everything from curriculum design to instructor training, lab delivery, support services, and technological usage was all geared towards predominantly an in-person education system. This meant that educational institutions had to scramble to accommodate virtual teaching and learning in early 2020. Since then, we have seen significant improvements across higher education institutions in technology used to deliver course content, assess learning, and provide support services for students.

The year 2020 was challenging world over in many ways. Institutes of higher education had to very quickly respond to an escalating situation in a fast-evolving landscape as they moved to virtual/hybrid/blended teaching models. While there was increased social isolation and mental distress, institutions also made improvements in content and service delivery. Advancements in technologies were made for virtual teaching, assessment, and service delivery in addition to increased proficiency of staff and faculty in utilizing the available technologies in an intentional manner.

The scenario in developing countries, however, was not the same. According to Clement (2020a), there were 4.13 billion internet users worldwide. With the world population standing at about 7 billion, this means that more than half of the global population has internet access. The current global internet usage rate stands at 51.4% and global penetration at 59% (Clement, 2020a). But this differs significantly depending on the region. Just before the start of the pandemic in January 2020 (Clement, 2020b), the global internet penetration was more than 90% for Northern and western European countries. North America was at 88%. However, countries in southern and central Asia and northern Africa are much lower at 48%, 54%, and 53% respectively. Countries in eastern and middle Africa are lower still at 23% and 22% respectively. According to the International Telecommunications Union Data reported by the World Bank (2020), close to 100% of individuals in high income middle eastern countries such as UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait have access to the internet while less than 20% of individuals in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Angola, Zambia, Bangladesh, Chad, Niger, and others have internet access. These data provide a clear picture of differential access to virtual learning opportunities worldwide. Even within each country, access to virtual learning is significantly impacted by race and socio-economic status. 

Even before COVID-19, racial and ethnic disparities in education are well documented in the United States from academic achievement in elementary school to graduation rates in college. According to Quintana and Mahgoub (2016), ethnic and racial disparities are associated with “limited access to educational and social capital resources, differential treatment of ethnic and racial minority students by educators, and to differential responses to educational practices” (p. 100). Underrepresented communities such as Hispanic, Latinx, African American, and Native American communities had fewer economic resources compared to their white peers before the pandemic. With pandemic related job losses, ethnic and racial disparities in education are on the rise as students from these communities are more likely to drop out of college than their white counterparts.

Families who are were disadvantaged to begin with experienced more significant economic hardship globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research by Brookings institute (Despard, et al, 2020), 29% of respondents from low income bracket reported job/income loss as compared to 19% of respondents from middle income bracket and 20% from high income bracket. Countries with larger gaps in socioeconomic status, such as those seen in India, Pakistan, and several African countries will experience increasing disparities in educational achievement. Students from low socio-economic statuses are experiencing unprecedented barriers to educational access due to virtual teaching. When students don’t have enough food or proper healthcare and are living in very small multigenerational homes, it is not easy to make space for a proper learning environment and have the internet connection and electronics needed to access course content. Advisors and higher education personnel from these regions are reporting that high achieving students from lower income households who are attending college on scholarships are suddenly having to scramble to find funding for computer and internet and other educational equipment. Even in working class or middle-class families, there is often only one computer at home for everyone to share, multiple siblings may be sharing a room or desk. Students may be responsible for teaching younger siblings studying from home. These pressures are differentially experienced by students from different economic backgrounds.

Homelessness, food insecurity, job loss, reduced childcare options, and lack of healthcare have all contributed to barriers to remote learning thereby further increasing educational disparities within communities. This will increasingly diverge educational attainment of students from different economic backgrounds for years to come. This in turn will reduce the opportunities for upward economic mobility in the future leading to increasing economic gaps.

Even within the same economic band, family differences impacted educational attainment more in 2020 than in previous years. Family factors such as number of children, education level of parents, technical resources available for all children at home, ability of parent to work from home, size of the house have all impacted educational attainment more than ever before. Students from large families need more computers and study space at home than families with fewer students. If parents are educated, they are better able to supervise their kids’ education. If not, this role often falls to the college students in the house who find themselves responsible not just for their own education, but also that of their younger siblings. Similarly, if a parent is not able to work from home, the college student in the house would be responsible for caretaking of the younger siblings studying from home. All are added pressures that are impacting the educational attainment of certain groups more than others.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also severely limited the opportunities for students to seek higher education in different countries. Due to limited travel, visa issues, and virtual education, many international students have had to return to their home countries. Such students are particularly at risk of falling behind other students in their universities. These students who are studying from a different country are dealing with time zone differences and accessing synchronous material at very odd hours. If their home country is currently at war or experiencing civil unrest, they are likely dealing with regular power outages, safety issues, lack of internet access, etc.

Inequities in education were exacerbated through the year 2020 and this trend continues in 2021. Global disparities in internet access and availability of electronic equipment needed for virtual education are escalating the existing racial disparities in education that are compounded by economic and regional pressures and family obligations. It is imperative that institutions and communities look for solutions to reduce these emergent disparities created over the last year and a half to find solutions and provide targeted support for diverse students.

Mehvash Ali, Ph.D.
Academic Support Center and First Year Experience
American University of Sharjah


Clement, J. (2020a). Internet usage worldwide – statistics & facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/1145/internet-usage-worldwide/#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20the%20number%20of,currently%20connected%20to%20the%20internet

Clement, J. (2020b). Internet penetration rate worldwide, 2020 by region. https://www.statista.com/statistics/269329/penetration-rate-of-the-internet-by-region/

Despard, M., Grinstein-Weiss, M., Chun, Y., & Roll, S. (2020). COVID-19 job and income loss leading to more hunger and financial hardship. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/07/13/covid-19-job-and-income-loss-leading-to-more-hunger-and-financial-hardship/

The World Bank. (2020). Individuals using the internet (% of population). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS?most_recent_value_desc=false

Quintana, S., & Mahgoub, L. (2016). Ethnic and racial disparities in education: Psychology's role in understanding and reducing disparities. Theory Into Practice, 55(2), 94–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2016.1148985

VantagePointBanner.jpgSupporting Students Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic and Remote Learning: Lessons Learned from Brown University's Coaching Program

Carol Shi, Kevin Chen, & Julie Lee, Brown University

KevinChen.jpgCarolShi.jpgEffective student support at undergraduate institutions requires multidisciplinary personnel, expansive resources, an accurate understanding of students’ academic needs, and a holistic approach to student wellness. In the past decade, near-peer mentoring has been increasingly recognized as a useful modality of supporting students (Akinla et al., 2018; Tenenbaum et al., 2014; Zaniewski & Reinholz, 2016). Grounded in the near-peer model, Academic Coaching at Brown is supervised by the Associate Dean of the College for Academic Support and provides individual guidance to undergraduate students through peer leaders—referred to as coaches—JulieLee.jpgthrough a comprehensive, student-centered approach  (Brown University, 2020). Each student is paired with a coach who is a junior, senior, or graduate student at Brown and at least one year more advanced in their education. Pairings are made between students and coaches who pursue similar fields of study, as prior research demonstrates that this strategy increases the effectiveness of the dyad (Zaniewski & Reinholz, 2016). Coaches and students schedule mutually convenient times to meet and discuss students’ goals for the semester, strategies to improve academic performance and overall well-being, and any concerns students may have about campus life. Traditionally, coaches meet with students in person, as frequently as weekly, to talk about progress with time management and organizational skills, work-life balance, mental health, and career development.

Benefits of Academic Coaching include:

  • Relatability: Coaches can relate to students’ academic experiences and challenges, as they themselves are students. Students often feel more comfortable confiding in near-peer coaches than in professional staff about their questions and concerns.
  • Consistent support and follow-up: Coaches and students agree to meet during mutually convenient times, as often as once a week and for as long as consecutive semesters. Students benefit from consistent and long-term mentoring relationships with their coaches.
  • Meaningful referral to academic resources: Coaches work with the Associate Dean of the College for Academic Support to identify other campus resources that may benefit their students, including the Writing Center and Academic Tutoring.
  • Promoting student wellness and mental health: Coaches advocate for the mental health and well-being of their students and frequently refer students to wellness resources both on and off campus.

Academic Coaching has been an effective modality of student support at Brown University during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its adaptability and integration of individualized, near-peer mentoring and student wellness. With the advent of remote learning in spring 2020, undergraduate students throughout the country have experienced significant disruptions to their academic, social, and overall collegiate experiences. The pandemic has likely contributed to high rates of reported stress, anxiety, and depression among college students (Gonzales et al., 2020; Kecojevic et al., 2020; Son et al., 2020). Furthermore, political and social crises perpetuating systemic racism and violence against Black Americans have placed substantial burden on the mental health of students, especially those who identify as people of color and underrepresented minorities. Students continue to face a myriad of challenges, including loss of in-person academic and social engagement that had previously been a cornerstone of the residential college experience.

Academic Coaching’s Response to COVID-19 and Remote Learning

When Brown University transitioned to remote learning in March 2020, Academic Coaching continued to support students individually by holding meetings via Zoom. Overall, coaches focused on helping students balance academic responsibilities with wellness and reflect on the meaning and purpose of their collegiate experiences. Coaches routinely conducted remote drop-in sessions, during which interested students could ask specific questions about their academic plans and critically evaluate their study habits and organizational skills as needed. These drop-in sessions also offered students the opportunity to try out individualized coaching, and if students determined the session was beneficial, they could initiate a longitudinal mentoring relationship with their coach. These sessions improved outreach to the student body and increased accessibility to and awareness of Academic Coaching initiatives. Additionally, coaches hosted novel “study with me” sessions to provide students with a supportive, motivating, and quiet remote environment to work on individual tasks and to help students feel more connected to each other.

At the end of the spring 2020 semester, coaches recognized the complex academic, social, and personal challenges students faced. The Academic Coaching program decided to continue offering support over the summer to help students tackle incomplete assignments in order to finish their spring courses. Throughout a four-week period, students who were referred by academic deans and advisors worked intensively with coaches to create study schedules, further hone their study skills, and connect with teaching assistants, academic tutors, and writing associates for additional support.

Lessons Learned

Since its conception, Academic Coaching at Brown University has strived to incorporate constructive feedback from students. This has been more important than ever, given the monumental changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing remote learning practices. There is a broad spectrum of students who utilize Academic Coaching support services, including freshmen acclimating to the college environment, sophomores and juniors who have specific career goals, and students on academic probation who need to complete outstanding courses. The Academic Coaching team implements surveys at the beginning and end of each semester to gather student feedback. In fall 2020, students described challenges that would have been present during any given semester, such as confronting issues of time management, burnout, and mental illness. However, they also described obstacles specific to or exacerbated by remote learning, such as “time zone problems,” “difficulty [seeking] individual help from professors and TAs,” and “feeling disconnected to peers and the overall community.” By the end of the semester, students reported positive feedback about Academic Coaching. Students described our coaching program as “well-organized and effective,” noted that the “sign-up process at the beginning . . . to indicate information about our learning styles or what we're looking for” facilitated a pairing process that addressed specific needs, and shared that they had good experiences with coaches’ “flexibility and willingness to adjust.”

The switch to remote coaching presented some significant challenges. First, students had varying degrees of schedule availability and access to stable internet connectivity, depending on their time zones and living arrangements. Coaches strove to be as flexible as possible, mindful of disparities in students’ remote learning environments. Furthermore, virtual meetings could not fully replicate the interpersonal dynamics of in-person meetings, and coaches encountered more difficulty with building rapport with students. Finally, as the pandemic persisted, coaches noticed the impact of Zoom fatigue on their students and themselves because it was in such ubiquitous use, from classes and coaching to social gatherings and mental health counseling. For some students, the barriers of remote meetings were too great to overcome and led to increased attrition and less follow-up.

Although the shift to remote learning was largely disruptive, there were a few benefits to remote coaching. Since coaches themselves were college students navigating the new learning environment, they were able to share personal experiences and advice with their students as the semester progressed. Additionally, remote coaching allowed for more flexibility by simplifying the logistics of coordinating in-person meeting locations and times. The virtual format also allowed coaching pairs to explore alternative methods of communication. As long as both parties were explicitly comfortable doing so, coaches shared advice with and received updates from their students via text messaging or other apps, which meant coaches could have a better sense of how their students were doing in real-time, and students could engage in continued practices of accountability.


Academic Coaching at Brown successfully adapted to various challenges imposed on the traditional collegiate experience by the COVID-19 pandemic and met the evolving needs of Brown undergraduate students in search of individual guidance. The near-peer mentoring program was adjusted to be more accessible to students by offering virtual meetings and implementing drop-in coaching sessions during midterm and finals periods so students could utilize coaches at critical times to meet their most pressing academic needs. We strove to support students holistically by emphasizing the importance of mental health and making referrals to campus resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services and Student Accessibility Services.

The Academic Coaching team has identified specific and actionable ways through which to improve our student support services during the ongoing pandemic. Even in the post-remote learning era, we will continue to offer virtual coaching meetings and drop-in sessions to students to provide as much flexibility as possible for meeting times. Routinely solicited feedback indicated that students appreciated the convenience of virtual meetings, especially while they managed responsibilities like jobs that required working during typical business hours. We believe flexibility and accessibility are core tenets of student support programs that can potentially help address disparities in academic performance and overall well-being among students. Academic Coaching at Brown will continue to be innovative in both adapting current practices and designing new initiatives to ensure all students have opportunities to maximize educational engagement and achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals.

Carol Shi
Academic Coach
Medical Student
Brown University

Kevin Chen
Academic Coach
Medical Student
Brown University

Julie Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of College for Academic Support and Transfer
Brown University


Akinla, O., Hagan, P., & Atiomo, W. (2018). A systematic review of the literature describing the outcomes of near-peer mentoring programs for first year medical students. BMC medical education, 18(1), 98.

Brown University. (2020) Academic coaching. https://www.brown.edu/academics/college/support/academic/

Gonzales, G., de Mola, E. L., Gavulic, K. A., McKay, T., & Purcell, C. (2020). Mental health needs among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(5), 645–648.

Kecojevic, A., Basch, C. H., Sullivan, M., & Davi, N. K. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on mental health of undergraduate students in New Jersey, cross-sectional study. PloS one, 15(9), e0239696.

Son, C., Hegde, S., Smith, A., Wang, X., & Sasangohar, F. (2020). Effects of COVID-19 on college students’ mental health in the United States: Interview survey study. Journal of medical internet research, 22(9), e21279.

Tenenbaum, L. S., Anderson, M. K., Jett, M., & Yourick, D. L. (2014). An innovative near-peer mentoring model for undergraduate and secondary students: STEM focus. Innovative Higher Education, 39(5), 375–385.

Zaniewski, A. M., & Reinholz, D. (2016). Increasing STEM success: A near-peer mentoring program in the physical sciences. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(1), 1–12.

The Role of Academic Advisors in Helping Students Overcome the Five Fs of Study Abroad

Allison Ewing-Cooper and Mariah A Nunes, University of Arizona

MariahNunes.jpgAllisonEwingCooper.jpgStudying abroad correlates with many indicators of student success, including higher graduation rates, more job opportunities, and diverse skill sets. One study reported 90% of graduates who studied abroad landed a job within six months of graduation, almost double the average of college graduates (IES Abroad, 2016). Another study found 84% of study abroad alumni reported their experience abroad taught them valuable workplace skills (AIFS, 2013).  

There is also widespread interest in studying abroad among students. The American Council on Education found that 75% of surveyed students believed that college students should study abroad. Another study found that 48% of high school seniors reported they wanted to study abroad (cited by Malmgren & Galvin, 2008). However, the actual number of students who study abroad is much smaller. NASFA (2019) reported that in the 2016–17 school year, 332,727 American college students studied abroad (about 1.6% of all U.S. college students). 

While many organizations like the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) and universities push for increases in studying abroad, the factors why students do and do not study abroad have not been widely studied, especially with regard to the impact of academic advisors. Malmgren and Galvin (2006) described five obstacles that students must overcome to study abroad, which they call the Five Fs of Study Abroad (finances, academic fit, faculty/advisor support, friends/family, and fear). They argue that universities need to acknowledge each of these obstacles and work with students to overcome them if they want to increase study abroad participation. Raby and Valeau (2005) cited a study where students revealed the main barriers to studying abroad to be inadequate program offerings, inadequate information provided, and lack of advising. Brux and Fry (2010) noted that often students do not study abroad due to institutional factors, including lack of program offerings and encouragement by advisors. Academic advisors play a unique and critical role in students’ academic journeys, and therefore have the important job of promoting study abroad programs (Stockwell & Zahorik, 2006). 

This article has two goals. The first goal is to analyze the results of a survey on why students choose to, or choose not to, study abroad, using Malmgren and Galvin’s (2006) Five Fs of Study Abroad. The second goal is to share stories and recommendations for how advisors can help students overcome the five barriers.    

Survey Results

Sixty-eight graduating seniors completed a survey (53 females, 14 males, 1 other) approved by the University of Arizona’s IRB. The survey was emailed to 600 students who had applied to graduate in the upcoming spring, summer, and fall semesters. Since all participants were graduating seniors, the decision of whether to study abroad or not had already been made. The respondents’ average age was 22.3 years old (range: 21–35). Sixty-three percent identified themselves as Caucasian; 24% as Latinx; 6.3% as Black/African-American; 2.5% as Asian; and 1.3% as Pacific Islander. Seventy-one percent of respondents were in-state students, and 29% were out-of-state students. Ten percent of respondents were transfer students, and 22% reported being first generation college students. 

Thirty-one students studied abroad, and 37 did not study abroad. All students studied abroad (or decided not to) pre-COVID-19 pandemic (Fall 2019 or earlier). Students studied abroad in 19 countries, with the most popular being Italy (7 students), the United Kingdom (4), and Guatemala (4). The majority (51%) studied abroad in Summer with 30% in Spring and 18% in Fall. The majority (55%) studied abroad in their junior year.

If students indicated they studied abroad, they selected which factors influenced their decision and chose the number one factor. If they did not study abroad, they checked the factors that influenced their decision not to go abroad and the number one factor. The tables below display their answers.    

Table 1
Why did you study abroad? 


Table 2
Why did you not study abroad? 


Recommendations for Advisors

Universities and advisors cannot eliminate all barriers for all students, but they can help students overcome their individual concerns. In the survey, 78 percent of students who did not study abroad reported they would have if the factors that prevented them were removed. So, how can advisors support students’ study abroad decisions?  

Finances. Finances played a big role in why students decided to and especially decided not to study abroad. While advisors cannot directly impact a student’s financial situation, advisors can provide clear information about financial aid and scholarships during advising appointments and on departmental websites. At many institutions, there are study abroad sites where students pay their regular tuition and that accept all university scholarships. This information needs to be apparent to students on all marketing materials and should be regularly communicated by advisors when discussing abroad options. 

When Student A (who did study abroad) met with her academic advisor about studying abroad, her advisor provided encouragement and resources that led her to discover a $500 university sponsored travel grant. The advisor introduced Student A to a study abroad coordinator who provided more information about eligibility requirements, application deadlines, and the difference between grants and scholarships. Student A applied for and earned the $500 travel grant which she used to purchase her flight.  

Academic fit. Academic fit was the second most selected reason why students studied abroad, after wanting to live and travel internationally. Advisors can play a significant role in showing students how study abroad classes fit into their graduation plans, by building a study abroad semester into a student’s individual plan. Websites can also provide clear examples of student schedules and how abroad classes fulfill specific degree requirements. Additionally, they can work closely with faculty to facilitate study abroad transfer credit articulation agreements.  

Student A, like many students, changed her major during her first year. While waiting for an advising appointment for a new potential major, she found materials about a department-led study abroad program, including information on courses she could take and how they applied to that major. She declared that major and studied abroad through the program she learned about on that first day of major exploration. The study abroad program made the major more attractive because information was clearly advertised and the advisor assured the student she could still graduate in four years as the study abroad classes would fulfill degree requirements.  

Meanwhile, Student B (who did not study abroad) was a transfer student and was concerned about graduating in a timely manner. Student B never spoke to anyone about studying abroad nor did anyone speak to her about going abroad. She was convinced it would delay her graduation (this was not necessarily true) as she assumed the classes would not fit into her academic plan. However, had an academic advisor or faculty member presented on a study abroad program for her major or sent her a major-specific email, she would have immediately called her mom, checked her savings account, and made plans. 

Family/Friends. Advisors should not discount the impact of those closest to students. Thirty percent of students who studied abroad reported that another student encouraged them to go abroad. Advisors can ask students to tell their stories on websites or organize study abroad alumni panels. Advisors could also work with study abroad offices to create family Q&A pages on their websites. To address concerns of work and family obligations, advisors can promote shorter programs, like summer, winter, or alternative spring break programs. 

Student A’s older sister studied abroad and had a fantastic experience. In her case, the barrier of getting support from her parents had already been overcome. Not only were Student A’s parents familiar with the university’s support systems and processes, they also understood their daughter would grow in cultural competency and gain important career skills. Meanwhile, Student B did not have any family members who studied abroad while at college, nor had her friends studied abroad. 

Faculty/Advisor Support. When asked if anyone at the university encouraged them to study abroad, 28% said a professor or instructor and 25% said an academic advisor. Since students often have more regular contact with advisors than faculty members or study abroad employees, advisors can be the biggest advocates for programs. Advisors can ask about study abroad routinely in their appointments and follow up with recommended programs of study.  

Student A’s academic advisor and faculty supported her. While enrolled in an introductory major class, she received emails promoting a specific study abroad program. Her instructor led that program abroad the following summer and was active in recruiting students. In her major’s department, faculty members and advisors invited students to discuss the study abroad process with them.

However, this is not the case for all students. One survey respondent wrote, “The entire process seemed time consuming and overwhelming.” Another said, “I wanted to, but I just kinda didn't. Never got around to making the plans for it.” If these students had faculty or academic advisors who actively brought up and encouraged studying abroad, this barrier might have been overcome. Exposure to study abroad information and welcoming invitations to reach out for support are things academic advisors can easily provide. 

Fear. As with all unfamiliar experiences, advisors can help allay student fears. Advisors can ask students about their concerns and validate their feelings while providing facts. Departmental websites can also provide student testimonials where students share their worries and how the department/school addressed their concerns. 

Fears can vary based on current events. When Student A was exploring studying abroad, Europe had experienced several high-profile terrorist attacks. She met with a study abroad coordinator at the advice of her academic advisor and learned how to use resources such as the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory website, which helped her overcome her apprehension. Student B’s main fear was not graduating on time, which may have been alleviated by an informative advisor.  

Current events often show negative images and events in foreign locations so it is crucial for academic advisors to show empathy towards students’ fear. One survey respondent even wrote that the media discouraged them from studying abroad. Encouraging students to do research, such as in the case of Student A, not only helps students become more informed global citizens, but could also be the difference between a student going abroad or not.  

It is critical to mention that all data were collected pre-COVID-19, so it is unknown how students’ decisions about studying abroad may be impacted by the pandemic. It is possible that in future terms students may have increased concerns (fear) about global public health issues and international travel. 

Additional Barriers. Survey results uncovered two additional barriers. One student wrote, “GPA wasn’t high enough,” when asked why they did not study abroad (“failing to meet eligibility”). Program eligibility is a built-in barrier. Academic advisors could work with students proactively to avoid this barrier. Asking students if they are interested in studying abroad early and discussing program requirements could motivate students to maintain appropriate GPAs and give them time to raise their GPAs if necessary.

Another student wrote, “would not have time to enjoy being abroad if I studied at the same time.” This example illustrates that not all students understand the purpose of studying abroad (“fundamental understanding”). Most programs limit the number of credits students take so as to not overwhelm them with coursework while experiencing a new culture. This student might have felt that studying abroad would set them up to fail, whereas an academic advisor could have intervened and informed them that programs are designed to support them and help them grow academically while also experiencing what their host country has to offer. The advisor could share research that shows students who study abroad have higher graduation rates and post college career outcomes (IES Abroad, 2016) and could also connect the student with others who have studied abroad previously so they can share their experiences. 

Student A and B are this paper’s authors, so we can personally testify to how the Five Fs impacted our study abroad decisions. We later both worked as academic advisors and encountered students asking questions about each of these barriers. Academic advisors have the institutional knowledge, connections, and compassion to help students address all Five Fs of study abroad and can proactively work with students to inform and motivate them to meet specific program eligibility requirements. Students need advisor approval and support; without it, they are unlikely to study abroad.  

Allison Ewing-Cooper
Director of Academic Advisor and Student Services
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
University of Arizona

Mariah A Nunes
Curriculum Integration Manager, Arizona Abroad Locations
Arizona Global
University of Arizona


AIFS. (2013). Study abroad outcomes. www.aifsabroad.com

Brux, J. M., & Fry, B. (2010). Multicultural students in study abroad: Their interests, their issues, and their constraints. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(5), 508–527. 

Malmgren, J., & Galvin, J. (2006, September). Effective advising for study abroad. Academic Advising Today, 29(3). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Effective-Advising-for-Study-Abroad.aspx

IES Abroad. (2016). Career outcomes of study abroad students. https://www.iesabroad.org/study-abroad/benefits

NASFA. (2019). Trends in U.S. study abroad. https://www.nafsa.org/Policy_and_Advocacy/Policy_Resources/Policy_Trends_and_Data/Trends_in_U_S__Study_Abroad/

Raby, R. L., & Valeau, E. J. (2005). Community college international education: Looking back to forecast the future. New Directions for Community Colleges, 138, 5–14.

Stockwell, K., & Zahorik, D. (2006, February). Continuous improvement and advising. Academic Advising Today, 29(1). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Continuous-Improvement-and-Advising.aspx


Advising in the New World: The Importance of Work-Life Balance in a Changing Educational Climate

Jessica Pfeiffer, Wayne State University

JessicaPfeiffer.jpgAs the world turned inside out, new ways of living, working, teaching, and learning were forced to emerge. Although academia has slowly progressed toward online education for some time, the Covid-19 pandemic pushed many to take the plunge without a parachute. This has left students worried about their coursework, instructors struggling to create engaging online environments, and advisors reimagining how to stay connected to students and their colleagues. Additionally, the line between work and home has become blurred giving new meaning to work-life integration. I find myself scrolling through emails from my couch well into the evening, as well as enjoying the ability to have breakfast with my son when he wakes in the morning.

Despite any challenges, the pandemic has bulldozed a path for innovative practices that has shaped the future of advising and has changed the way we work for the foreseeable future. Students are now being advised through video conferencing and screen sharing, and although technology-enabled advising is not a new concept, the pandemic advanced the agenda based on necessity. The immediate move to a virtual world provided a broad range of new and innovative tools, as well as an unexpected pilot program to prove advising could be offered successfully online.

Life after the pandemic will undoubtedly take new forms and involve the continued use of educational technology. This means faculty and staff will need to stay current on trends and best practices for student success in a more permanent hybrid environment. Although the current generation grew up in the digital age, education and advising primarily remained face-to-face prior to the pandemic. Students were compelled to evolve their perception of learning and interaction, just as instructors adapted their content delivery and advisors their appointment format. However, institutions of higher education will not only need to continue to understand digital learning environments in this new era; the need to engage students immersed in educational technology at a younger age will greatly impact recruitment and advising practices.

These changes will ultimately affect how administrators view office policies for increased flexibility and accessibility that benefit both students and advisors. The advising community should prepare for a continued shift in appointment hours and format to accommodate busy students accustomed to virtual platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. This could either create advisor burnout or encourage work-family enrichment depending on the administration and expectations.

As a mom of a toddler working remotely full-time, finding work-life balance has often been difficult. At first I thought drawing clear lines would make it easier: don’t answer emails before 8:30am, maintain the evenings for family time only, limit work to my home office. I quickly realized these boundaries were stressing me out more than alleviating my anxiety. For me, embracing the marriage of work and family proved to bring the balance and enrichment needed in my life. I may be certifying degrees at 9pm or checking emails from my phone all day, but it’s well-worth it to be able to make dinner at 5pm rather than rush to pick my son up from daycare and spend 2 hours with him before bedtime.

This may not work for everyone though, so administrators will need to understand the needs of their advisors on a continuous basis. Some policies and procedures to consider include:

Flexible Work Arrangements. This aspect is crucial to the development of a supportive culture that offers flexible work schedules, compressed workweeks, and telework that can foster work-family enrichment for parents and caregivers. Collins (2019) found that many women, in particular, expressed a desire for more work flexibility because the lack of flexibility created significant work-family conflict.

Early Release Incentives. This option consists of allowing advisors to leave early on select Fridays or the day before holiday closures. Leaving at 4:00pm or 4:30pm instead of 5pm may seem slight, but can mean a great deal to staff and emphasize the value of work-life balance. McClellan (2014) explained leaders can promote a culture of trust by establishing a shared purpose, vision, and value system for the organization. This transformational approach to leadership allows administrators to build a connection that results in increased motivation and morality (Amanchukwu et al., 2015).

Regular Wellness Checks. This is simple. Administrators should check-in with staff to ensure everything is going well. This provides an opportunity for administrators to connect with their team and make adjustments to suit both office and advisor needs, such as workload and flexible arrangements. According to Amanchukwu et al. (2015), one of the key principles of leadership is to “know your employees and look out for their well-being” (p. 9). A similar concept known as personal management interviews (PMIs) consist of discussions that range in focus from professional goals to time management and personal concerns (McClellan, 2014). McClellan (2014) stated “these interviews significantly contribute to performance as well as improved morale, trust, and engagement” (para. 8).

The Covid-19 pandemic has shined a light on the ongoing struggle for work-life balance and the successful implementation of remote work in higher education. This is the opportune time for organizations to revise policies accordingly based on adapted workplace practices and advanced technological resources.

Jessica Pfeiffer
Academic Services Officer III
Office of Student Affairs
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Wayne State University


Amanchukwu, R. N., Stanley, G. J., & Ololube, N. P. (2015). A review of leadership theories, principles and styles and their relevance to educational management. Management, 5(1), 6–14.

Collins, C. (2019). Making motherhood work: How women manage careers and caregiving. Princeton University Press.

McClellan, J. L. (2014). Promoting trust through effective advising administration. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 16. https://doi.org/10.26209/mj1661261

Posted in: 2021 June 44:2


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