AAT banner

Voices of the Global Community


Advising and Student Persistence: The Pressure Rises...


Brett McFarlane, Oregon State University


After speaking with many colleagues this year at the NACADA Annual Conference in Chicago, I found one common theme resonating: the continued pressure put on advising administrators to show a correlation between academic advising and student persistence. This age old issue has received heightened awareness in these difficult economic times. As always, the most significant challenge we face is that much of the available research shows that high-quality academic advising has an “indirect” rather than “direct” relationship with student persistence (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).

How do we “prove” that academic advising can increase student commitment to educational goals and to the institution? How do we “prove” that academic advising provides support services that aid students in negotiating higher education? How we do show that academic advising provides a holistic institutional map for students? More importantly, how do we connect all of these pieces to show our relationship with student persistence?

A 2004 ACT study found three interventions responsible for higher than average rates of student persistence: (A) academic advising, (B) first-year programs, and (C) learning support. Some practices cited as noteworthy were: integrating advising with first-year programs, intrusive interventions with high risk populations, comprehensive learning assistance centers, combined advising and career/life centers, summer bridge programs, recommended course placement testing, performance contracts for students in difficulty, joint residence hall advising programs, and extended first year orientation for credit.

Seidman (1991) randomly assigned State University of New York system students to either (A) a control group receiving a “regular” orientation process, or (B) a test group. The test group received pre- and post-admission advising, were advised on becoming more socially and academically involved on campus, and met with their assigned academic advisor an additional two times during the term to discuss overall progress and academic adjustment. At the conclusion of the term, the test group persisted at a rate 20 percentage points above that of their peers in the control group. This study, and several others reviewed by Pascarella and Terenzini (2005), indicate that participating in an advising program can have a statistically significant impact on student persistence.

Most of us have been unwilling to create such a test environment knowing the “control group” will suffer, but what if we considered our current practice to be the “control group”? We could then create a “test group” using statistically random selection criteria with a manageable number of students; design a higher-quality advising experience for this “test group”; and finally, assess the results with our administration and other policy stakeholders on campus.

At Oregon State University, inspired by work from Temple University, we have created a Student Success Module housed in Blackboard© that will be piloted in three of our academic Colleges for all first-year students placed on Academic Warning. Each student will begin the module with a “self-assessment” that will help the student, and that student’s advisor, understand what issues may have contributed to inadequate grades during the term. This self-assessment will then lead each student through a series of personalized, interactive modules directly applicable to the challenges identified through the self-assessment. At the completion of the series of modules, the student’s advisor will then receive a report with the self-assessment results and a notification of module completion for use in a follow-up advising appointment where appropriate campus referrals will be made. We will then compare student persistence of this Blackboard© success group to last year’s cohort who did not have this type of intervention. Although not a perfect test environment, we will be able to compare certain attributes that will help us assess the effectiveness of this program.

Pointing to research done at other institutions is certainly useful, but in my experience, funding primarily follows programs that have been successfully tested and proven “within” the institution. Completing research at our individual institutions allows us to provide irrefutable evidence; it allows us to combat the “our students are different” argument; it allows our administration to see the “value” of additional research at our institutions; and most importantly, it allows us to collaborate with faculty on a common cause.

As the nation continues down a turbulent financial path, we will undoubtedly be called upon to justify our advising programs and the impact our programs have on student success and student persistence. We have shown, and we can continue to show, the tremendous impact academic advising has on all aspects of the student experience. In fact, the more often we are able to present research indicating that what we do “matters,” the more valuable we become to the institution and to higher education as a whole.

Brett McFarlane
Director of Undergraduate Programs
College of Engineering
Oregon State University
[email protected]




ACT. (2004). The role of academic and non-academic factors in improving college retention. Iowa City: ACT. Retrieved November 18, 2008, from http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/college_retention.pdf.

Astin, A.W. (1993). What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pascarella, E. & Terenzini, P. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Seidman, A. (1991). The evaluation of a pre/post admissions/counseling process at a suburban community college: Impact on student satisfaction with the faculty and the institution, retention, and academic performance. College and University, 66, 223-232.

Tinto, V. (1993 ). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Upcraft, M.L., Gardener, J.N., & Associates (1989 ). The freshman year experience: Helping students survive and succeed in college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


ACT Research and Policy Reports http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/reports/index.html.

NACADA Clearinghouse Resources on Retention. Retrieved November 18, 2008, from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/advisingissues/retain.htm.

Nutt, C.L. (2003). Academic advising and student retention and persistence –Retrieved November 18, 2008, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/retention.htm.

From the President: Demonstrating Adaptability in a Challenging Economic Climate

Casey Self, NACADA President


As I write my comments for this column, I am feeling many emotions that I am sure are shared across institutions around the world. For many, the United States presidential inauguration of Barack Obama has created excitement, hope, and a renewed sense of energy. Yet as I write this on the day President Obama takes office, it is also a time when the economic climate of the world and questions about the financial welfare of our institutions are creating a great deal of anxiety and stress within academic advising communities. Many of us are hearing of impending cuts on our campuses which may directly affect academic advising services for our students. It is a time when we must be sensitive to the economic realities of our world and institutions and yet be there for students who are dealing with their own uncertain financial and educational circumstances.

Academic advisors have always helped with a variety of student issues; however, as budget cuts are considered, it may become even more important that we be aware of the wide variety of knowledge and assistance we, as academic advisors, provide on a day-to-day basis. If institution jobs are cut, advisors may have to pick up new duties, become more adaptable, and be even more sensitive to the various needs of our students. And we will, most likely, do this without pay increases, or even accustomed annual cost of living increases.

In the midst of this turmoil will be the students who show up every day on our doorsteps, who e-mail us, or who call in a panic with their emergency situations. As professionals, we must never forget that our students’ needs must come first, even when our lives are altered. The economic situation requires that many students, and especially adult students who must reconsider their professional options, are facing new financial situations. For our traditional-aged students, Mom or Dad may have just lost their jobs or institutional financial aid may have decreased. Returning adult students who have lost their jobs may require remedial assistance which they may not understand, appreciate, or want to pay for. Our skills and knowledge as professionals will certainly be tested with new student situations; all at a time when we are also dealing with potential personal losses or stressful situations resulting from the current economy.

Economic challenges may affect our ability to participate in academic advising professional development activities at the same levels as the past, e.g., conference or institute attendance. I encourage my administrator counterparts to do their best to avoid the total elimination of travel-related professional development opportunities. If cuts are required, consider setting priorities on who should attend events, i.e., send one or two new advisors who have not had previous NACADA experiences in cases where larger numbers of staff have attended in the past. Utilize budgets creatively, such as paying for some expenses, e.g., airfare or conference registration, for the fall annual conference in San Antonio out of year-end funds; then pay for hotel and meals out of next year’s budget. Ask staff to share hotel rooms. Require those who are fortunate enough to attend a conference to come back and share highlights with the staff who were unable to attend. These types of strategies may help to keep NACADA event participation a possibility.

It is times like these when our academic advising community across the world can be most beneficial in helping us address the tough issues. We should pay close attention to maintaining our professional relationships whether those are on campus or at other institutions. These relationships can be critical when we are in the job market, when we must deal with new issues on our campuses, when we are the administrator making very tough decisions relating to the loss of jobs, or if we are the one in charge of maintaining high academic advising standards with less financial support. Network with others in the Association: join at least one NACADA Commission or Interest Group, participate in a listserv or have an online conversation with others with similar interests or values. Now is the time to make this happen! Let NACADA be the gateway to the professional communities that benefit members in the good times as well as these more challenging ones. NACADA members often tell me how important these connections are and how nice it is to know that they are not the only ones facing these challenges.

The NACADA Board of Directors encourages suggestions and comments on how they or the NACADA Executive Office can assist members with the challenges they are facing. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Casey Self, President
National Academic Advising Association
[email protected]


From the Executive Director: Celebrating NACADA's 30th Anniversary

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Charlie Nutt.jpgThirty years ago, in 1979, a small group of professionals made a bold step for the future of student success and academic advising by chartering a new higher education association, the National Academic Advising Association. In the past 30 years, NACADA has grown substantially to nearly 11,000 members internationally and has become one of the key associations in all of higher education. Our members, consisting of college and university Presidents, Chancellors, Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans, professional advisors and counselors, faculty advisors, and graduate students, touch every aspect of our colleges and universities and our students’ lives.

As we move into our 30th year, a year of financial challenges in higher education, what are the ways in which we can celebrate this important milestone in our association’s history? How can we benefit the most from our membership in NACADA and become part of NACADA’s history in the next 30 years?

First, how can each of us celebrate NACADA’s 30th year?

  • Share a NACADA publication (monograph, Academic Advising Today issue, Journal issue, or Clearinghouse article) with a key campus administrator to celebrate NACADA’s 30 years of focusing on student success and academic advising. What a great way to inform a decision maker of the value of NACADA and its connection to the success of students!
  • Invite a colleague to join NACADA! Share the NACADA resources and benefits you have found so helpful to your advising practice.
  • Host a campus brown-bag workshop for the academic advising community to celebrate NACADA’s 30th anniversary.

And, how can you benefit the most from your NACADA membership during this 30th Anniversary year?

  • Attend one of the outstanding professional development events that the Association will offer this year, including one of the ten Regional Conferences, one of the two Summer Institutes, and our Annual Conference in San Antonio this fall.
  • Utilize a NACADA Webcast, CD recording of a Webcast, or the professional development DVD for a campus, college, or department-wide professional development workshop.
  • Initiate an Institutional Common Reading program utilizing an article from the NACADA Journal, Academic Advising Today, or the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources.
  • Subscribe to the NACADA Podcast series to grow professionally in your own knowledge and skills.

And, last, how can you work during the 30th Anniversary year to become part of NACADA’s history for the next 30 years?

  • Write an article for the NACADA Journal, Academic Advising Today, or the NACADA Clearinghous e – become part of the literature in our profession.
    Run or volunteer for a leadership position in the Association – become a part of our association’s future leadership.
  • Mentor a new advising professional or graduate student as he or she moves into our profession – become a part of the development of our future advisors.
  • Apply for a NACADA research grant, graduate scholarship, or institute scholarship – become a part of insuring your own professional growth for your future.

For some of us, remembering being 30 years old is a distant memory; for some of us imagining being 30 years old is a nightmare! But for all of us – NACADA’s 30th anniversary is an awesome opportunity to celebrate, grow, and prepare for our next 30 years.

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


The Role of Advisors in Recruiting


Darcie Peterson, Advising Education Majors Commission Member
Lee Kem, Advising Education Majors Commission Past Chair

Editor's Note: The information provided here is drawn from a presentation and brainstorming session that occurred at the2008 NACADA Annual Conference in Chicago.


Recruiting is a vital component within any college or university interested in attracting students. Everyone at the institution is


involved with recruitment, including students, faculty,administration, and especially, academic advisors. Without recruitment, and the subsequent retention of students, an institution will perish! Nonetheless, in today’s competitive college market, which is compounded by current economic issues, recruitment requires more than a single informational letter from an academic advisor to potential students.

There are several issues and barriers which are unique to recruiting students to enter teacher training programs. What strategies can be implemented to address these issues and barriers?


There are many barriers in recruiting education majors, including false perceptions, lack of diversity, and differences in state standards. One false perception is that anyone can teach, an idea that can result in students with higher GPAs gravitating toward other majors. Although there are teacher shortages in math, science, special education, early childhood, and middle school, the overabundance of elementary education majors in some parts of the nation may discourage students from entering the field of education. Other perceptional barriers are that teachers are underpaid and that the field is dominated by females.

Demographic changes can create barriers for recruiting. As the ethnic demographics of the nation change, recruitment of under-represented student populations is essential. However, the geographic location of an institution can result in an unintentional lack of diversity within the locally available student pool. Additionally, students with degrees from other countries may encounter barriers that prevent or slow their paths toward teacher certification in the U.S.

Other barriers are found in the differing state requirements for certification and licensure. Furthermore, potential candidates may be discouraged by the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, the increased number of students within the K-12 system with difficult behavioral and learning issues, and the paperwork requirements of the job. The potential for lawsuits is also a consideration for those seeking to enter the education field.


How can we address these barriers and recruit more students into education programs? The first line of recruitment is to connect potential students with someone at the institution who can highlight the benefits of a teaching career. Advisors can partner with student recruiters and become involved in programs at middle and high schools where they can discuss the teaching profession or the transition to college.

Additionally, advisors can assist with concurrent enrollment courses where students earn college credit while still in high school. One college offers a concurrent enrollment course where high school students serve as peer tutors for students with disabilities. The high school students keep journals, as well as research and write papers regarding their experiences. They also learn basic teaching and behavior management skills.

On-campus advisors can become involved in campus visits by Future Educators of America, honors academies, and high school groups; participate in area recruitment activities; and meet with prospective students and their parents. Current students can meet with the advisor and prospective students and can establish another link for recruitment, particularly when contact is maintained with the prospective education major. In addition, students like SWAG (Stuff We All Get – and give away). SWAG that students will use (e.g., lanyards, magnets, and bags) serve as reminders of their visit. Campus visits can include lunch with advisors and faculty to learn about opportunities for careers in teaching. Students can also tour current research projects, participate in classes, or visit practicum settings.

A recruitment video can be easy to produce. Interview a program graduate, take pictures, add some music, and send it out to potential students or post it on a department Web site.

Many federal and state grants have requirements for recruitment of under-represented student populations. Institutions who receive such funding can use these resources to fund many of the above ideas.

The experiences of those attending the conference presentation confirm that students tend to choose institutions where they have had interactions with academic advisors. Advisors can be part of the orientation process and can follow-up with a card or email that will lay the foundation for continued contact when students arrive on campus. Education advisors can visit introductory courses and discuss opportunities in the education field. College of Education student ambassadors can be utilized as small group leaders or peer mentors in freshman orientation courses and be used to provide alternative scheduling options and interactions with non-traditional students.

The following is a list of strategies developed in the brainstorming activity done with conference session participants:

  • Promote the positives of teaching, such as a good job market, early retirement after 30 years, comprehensive benefits and retirement packages, and the great return on investment in the life of others.
  • Utilize current technology tools such as the Internet and user-friendly Web sites. Have current students email potential students. Keep a current blog for potential students and provide a student hotline.
  • Offer a credit course for education ambassadors which includes publishing a video on YouTube™ focused on their enthusiasm for the teaching profession.
  • Send an email to students with high GPAs in other departments or with undeclared majors inquiring whether they have thought about teaching as a career.
  • Attract under-represented populations. Advisors can recruit in ESL classes. School districts and community colleges can team to identify potential education majors. Institutions can provide these students with tuition support, mentoring, and tutoring. Advisors can help newcomers from other countries make the transition to the United States. The Troops to Teachers program (www.proudtoserveagain.com) is another recruitment opportunity.
  • Keep secondary education advisors up-to-date about advising information in high need areas.
  • Provide resources and training sessions for high school guidance counselors.
  • Relate positively to parents and include them in the recruiting/information process.

These ideas showcase the variety of tools available to advisors interested in recruitment. Academic advisors should play a major role in the recruitment process for education programs.

Darcie Peterson
Advisor/Student Teaching Coordinator
Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation
Utah State University
[email protected]

Lee Kem
Associate Professor
College of Education
Murray State University
[email protected]

Promoting and Practicing Diversity in Advising: Rationales and Approaches

Wei-Chien Lee, San Jose State University


What should “diversity” mean to advisors? The core values of diversity are effective practice, ethical responsibility, validity, equality, and greater good. Moreover, diversity needs to be practiced and promoted. This article is an invitation to advisors to further explore the meaning and approaches to diversity.

Ethical and Professional Responsibility

Using effective and valid practices to facilitate students’ learning and development is the ethical and professional responsibility of advisors. Therefore, promoting and practicing diversity is part of advisor practice for several reasons. First, diversity experiences have been found to improve various learning outcomes, thinking skills, student retention, and self-concept (Antonio, et al., 2004; Gurin, et al, 2002) as well as boost flexibility and creativity (Mannix & Neale, 2006). Second, practicing diversity equips advisors with the knowledge, skills, and awareness that are necessary to examine the validity and applicability of existing theories, interventions, and research based on specific groups within current diverse student populations and multicultural contexts. Third, promoting and practicing diversity better equips advisors to recognize and address inequity and prejudice. Finally, promoting and practicing diversity supports advisors’ commitments to providing quality advising as well as asserts advisors’ leadership in improving student learning and wellbeing.

Two Pragmatic Approaches

Making lasting and meaningful changes requires commitment and effort. Advisors have been long committed to promoting and practicing diversity; the following approaches offer advisors down-to-earth ways to make the most of their efforts.

Recognizing and Reducing Micro-inequalities. To promote and practice diversity, advisors must recognize and reduce the micro-inequalities that affect diverse individuals. Micro-inequalities (Rowe, 1990), also known as micro-aggressions (Sue, et al., 2007), are seemingly trivial, unrelated, ambiguous, or frequent behaviors and events that are oppressive, insulting, or hostile to victims. Micro-inequalities increase inequality and segregation (Rowe, 1990). Micro-inequalities are more taxing to cope with cognitively (Salvatore & Shelton, 2007) than blunt discrimination, because they are frequent, unpredictable (from whom, where, and about what), confusing, and thus make reacting difficult. For example, at professional conferences visible minorities have been mistakenly asked to perform hotel-employee tasks by other conference participants. This has occurred no matter how they were dressed or if they wore their conference name tags and “presenter” ribbons. Many diverse individuals have received comments similar to, “You are doing very well for a Black/Latino/first-generation person.” In response to these kinds of remarks, colleagues and students have asked, “Do you think that person would say, ‘You are doing very well for a White male’ to a White male?” Many minority colleagues find themselves asking “How much more do I need to do to prove myself?”

Micro-inequalities erode individuals’ self-efficacy, effectiveness, and sense of safety. Micro-inequalities make it hard to feel supported, validated, respected, or trusted. Micro-inequalities, according to one student, can “feel like ‘death by a thousand cuts;’ you don’t know when, who, or what” to expect. Advisors have the opportunities and power to reduce or prevent the effects of micro-inequalities on diverse individuals through education, training, and advising. When advisors recognize, understand, and reduce micro-inequalities, they demonstrate their intentions accurately and clearly, avoid discriminating against others, work with students and colleagues effectively, and foster supportive and trusting relationships that enable learning and growth.

Appreciating the Deep Meaning of Diversity. Promoting and practicing diversity is often challenging, but “meaning” inspires and motivates people. For example, people volunteer or sacrifice for the causes they support. Similarly, advisors may be motivated by exploring and realizing the deep (personal, social, and ethical) meanings of diversity.

Advisors may start such exploration by “walking in others’ shoes.” For example, pondering what “being a minority” (race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, body type, language, etc.) means. Too often being a minority means being oppressed, distrusted, rejected, teased, put down, ignored, disadvantaged, humiliated, and expected to fail – all of which require extra emotional and cognitive strengths and efforts to cope. It also means that theories and approaches for education, health practice, and learning based on the “norm” or the “majority” may not be applicable. Moreover, it means having fewer opportunities and more obstacles. From this perspective, the meaning of diversity is actively reducing human suffering, increasing equality, and preventing future oppression. Adoption of this perspective moves advisors away from the “diversity is for and about minorities only” attitude that has caused tensions and misunderstandings in issues related to diversity.

My Experiences

By 1998, I had become an extremely quiet and reserved international student who had been laughed at, used, and excluded by classmates for two years. I had even been told by fellow students that I was “very lucky” to be accepted by my program, because “they [the program] wanted an Asian.” I hid to reduce the chances of being hurt. Then I met my mentors. These two mentors used their power to shield me from micro-aggressions, encouraged and taught me skills to deal with inequalities, empowered me, and earned my trust by appreciating me, being fair, and acknowledging their privileges and limits. With their assistance I grew; I started on the path to becoming who I am today. In 1998, my deep connection with NACADA started because one of my mentors made NACADA a recharging center and safe place for me.


Human beings are fallible, yet they also have the power to heal, support, and protect. Promoting and practicing diversity is an effective way advisors can help heal, support, and protect students, colleagues, and society. Most of all, promoting and practicing diversity can start with practical, “small” steps. That was what my mentors did, and ten years later, I still draw strength and wisdom from their mentoring and teaching.

Wei-Chien Lee
Psychologist, Counseling Services
San Jose State University
[email protected]


Antonio, A. L., Chang, M. J., Hakuta, K., Kenny, D. A., Levin, S., & Milen, J. F. (2004). Effects of racial diversity on complex thinking in college students. Psychological Science, 15, 507-510.

Gruin, P., Dey, E. L., Hurtado, S., & Gruin, G. (2002). Diversity in higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72, 330-366.

Mannix, E., & Neale, M. A. (August/September, 2006). Diversity at work. Scientific American Mind, 17 (4), 32-39.

Rowe, M. P. (1990). Barriers to equality: The power of subtle discrimination to maintain unequal opportunity. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 3 (2), 153-163.

Salvatore, J., & Shelton, N. (2007). Cognitive costs of exposure to racial prejudice. Psychological Science, 18, 810-815.

Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggression in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 271-286.


Building Student-Faculty Relationships

Adam Duberstein, Ohio Dominican University


'Have you talked with your professor yet?' is a favorite question academic advisors ask their students. More often than not, students tell their advisors that they have not engaged their teachers in meaningful conversations outside the classroom. Research (Campbell & Campbell, 1997; Kuh & Hu, 1991) shows that student-faculty relationships are the most crucial connection within a collegiate community. Like any relationship, those between faculty members and students require nurturing. Advisors who know their students' talents and understand their faculty colleagues' gifts for helping the student grow occupy an unique position where they can facilitate strong relationships between advisees and their professors.

When advisors help facilitate conversations between students and faculty members, they help the institution as a whole. When students feel connected to the campus community, they are more often retained and excel academically, creating a winning situation for everyone. Nagda, Gregerman, Jonides, von Hippel, and Lerner (1998) point out that: 'Lack of integration, or isolation of the student within the institution, has been identified as an important factor in contributing to student departure. The effects of weak...student-with-faculty contact [has] been cited repeatedly as a [cause] of student withdrawal from college' (p. 57).

A sense of connection with teachers helps students feel like they belong at the institution. Advisors can aid in building this connection by helping students understand that they should get to know their professors, if only so that faculty can teach them better. Faculty members who understand the learning needs and interests of their students can appropriately tailor assignments, expectations, and conversations.

Advisors who work with distance-learners can help their advisees build relationships with faculty, even if those relationships must take place over a physical distance. Morris and Finneagan (2008) report that: '[a] faculty presence online and faculty participation [are] important to online students' (p. 60). Regardless of the environment in which learning takes place, students feel more satisfied when faculty members function as an active part of their lives (Morris & Finnegan, 2008; Nagda, et al, 1998).

Advisors can facilitate conversations between students and faculty members by reminding students that their teachers were once students themselves. Encouraging students to share their concerns with faculty members can give students a different 'take' on a problem. For example, because faculty must balance teaching, research, service, and busy personal lives, they are well-equipped to work with students on time management issues. Faculty also can suggest a host of effective study strategies ranging from note-taking skills to the best ways to critically read a particular text. Often students do not take advantage of faculty knowledge of study skills, even though faculty have studied long hours in their fields in order to get the positions they currently hold.

Not only should students be encouraged to ask faculty for general scholastic advice, but they also should learn how faculty became invested in their particular areas of expertise. Such conversations are helpful for students searching for their academic passions. These conversations can also be helpful to students who believe they have solidified their academic interests, as role modeling, references, and research opportunities can arise from these relationships. Kuh and Hu (1991) tell us that 'student-faculty interaction encourages students to devote greater effort to other educationally purposeful activities during college' (p. 329). Through these educational conversations, faculty can challenge students to excel academically and help students reach their potentials.

Advisors can help these conversations occur not only by pointing out their tangible benefits, but also by explaining that most faculty members enjoy working one-on-one with students. Parr and Valerius (1991) noted that faculty found student office visits among the most positive student behaviors. This finding underscores that faculty want to get to know their students. Schreiber (2004), himself a professor, says, 'Most...faculty members actually like talking with students – that's why we became professors – and will happily do so when the opportunity comes up.” Therefore, students should be proactive in approaching faculty. Advisors can remind students who feel negatively towards interacting with a particular teacher that people behave differently in groups than in one-on-one situations. A clear explanation that relationships start as one-on-one efforts can help students see that faculty are approachable and often are willing mentors in the learning process.

Advisors should tell students that the most fruitful conversations with faculty center on learning, rather than grades. To build a good relationship with a faculty member, a student should demonstrate that learning, rather than arguing for a better grade, is central to the discussion. In addition, students who have educational conversations with faculty tend to reap the most benefit from the interaction. Kuh and Hu (1991) explain that 'both the frequency and the nature of student-faculty interaction combined have the greatest impact, such as when interactions have an intellectual or substantive focus' (p. 310). When they help their students ask faculty well crafted questions, advisors can help faculty and students connect.

Good faculty-student relationships begin with conversations. There are several conversation starters that advisors can use in order to ease the student into making a connection with faculty members. Students who ask faculty such open-ended questions as: 'How did you choose your undergraduate major?' or 'What study methods should I use for this class in order to learn the most from it?' set the tone for productive educational relationships. Campbell and Campbell (1997) noted that students who receive faculty mentoring have higher grades.

Advisors better prepare students for the workforce when they encourage their advisees to see their professors as supervisors who evaluate their work rather than someone responsible for student performance on assignments. All workers need to converse with supervisors; thus students who learn to effectively converse with their educational supervisors will do better in the workplace. Thus, students who hone their professional communication skills in a learning environment learn skills they need to succeed in their careers.

Advisors can help students and faculty invest in each other for both student and institutional success. Faculty members want to teach. Academic advisors can help students learn strategies to better access faculty knowledge.

Adam Duberstein
Academic Advisor
Ohio Dominican University
[email protected]

Discussion Question Guide

  • How can advisors help students have educationally purposeful conversations with faculty?
  • What can an advisor do to encourage students to get to know their professors?
  • How can advisors help students prepare for interactions with faculty?
  • How can advisors challenge students’ assumptions of faculty roles?
  • How can advisors support successful conversations between students and faculty members?

Find the Reference List and an Annotated Bibliography of resources dealing with this topic in the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources.

One More Draft: How the Writing Process Shapes the Academic Advising Session

Jessica Newcomb, Texas A&M University


During advisor training, I read many articles that positioned advisors as teachers, and as a former lecturer in the department of English, I instantly felt connected and encouraged by that comparison. Advising aligns with teaching on several points, using “instructional methodologies in a disciplined fashion, as is done in the classroom setting, to help students make and execute plans to achieve their educational and life goals” (Creamer, 2000, p. 19). My teaching style, and what has developed as my advising style, aims for a one-on-one mentor style relationship, seeks self-directedness for the student, and supports an organic interaction that requires participation from the student and me. I mention the familiar comparison only as a starting point that lays the foundation for t he intersection between the two disciplines in which I am most interested: How the rejection of mastery and the focus on practice and revision in the writing process applies to academic advising.

Traditionally, teachers have instructed and modeled good writing, and students have practiced to achieve mastery (at least in the context of one classroom), but contemporary composition pedagogues and theorists now suggest that “modeling certain conventions will not ensure that writers learn all they need to know” (Kastman Breuch, 2003, p. 104). So, what is missing from a process that favors mastery? These writers might be effective imitators of accepted practice(s), but they do not know how to express themselves or move beyond a set structure or framework. Similarly, certain skills or information can be taught and understood in an advising session, but this acquisition does not guarantee that a student will be able to navigate the collegiate or professional world effectively. Instead, demonstrated learning and a useful application of that knowledge takes place in a series of moments as a student develops in the collegiate environment, and in order to respect all types of learning and knowing, advisors need to view the advising process as one full of revision at a pace that is influenced by a student’s unique background and learning style.

Advising is often described as a process by theorists, advisors, and writers like NACADA Past-President Nancy King, who stated in a NACADA Webinar that advising assists “students in a continual monitoring and evaluation of their educational progress” (King, 2006). An advisor could take this idea one step further by acknowledging that there are many processes happening simultaneously, i.e., revision, as discussions from previous meetings are questioned, supported, or altered. What results from this proposal is an increased emphasis on the communicative interaction between advisors and students and a reexamination of how progress is monitored while revision is taking place.

In the classroom, students compose essays in stages that include several drafts that are edited by peers and the instructor. Following steps enables students to see how the parts create and relate to the finished essay and requires writing with direction and purpose. When I look at these steps as an advisor, I see how they could occur on a smaller scale in one session, or how they may occur before, during, or over multiple sessions with one or more advisor(s). Here is a scenario that describes how revision in the writing process relates to the structure of advising:

  • Brainstorming ideas: A student has a problem or question and asks friends about their experiences. She first tries to find an answer (which hopefully is the correct answer) online. She may doubt the answers she receives or follow one that seems credible, only to find out that the information was incorrect or incomplete. Finally, she decides to speak with an academic advisor.
  • Shaping an introduction to support and present the thesis statement: The advisor and student talk about the student’s background and academic and/or career objectives to contextualize the problem or question.
  • Drafting/Revising a thesis statement: The advisor and student identify the main problem or question which could concern graduating, dropping a class, or learning more about a particular major.
  • Drafting/Revising topic sentences: The advisor and student identify sub-goals or additional problems that impact the student’s situation. The advisor might identify problems of which the student was not aware or prompt additional questions.
  • Drafting/Revising body paragraphs: The advisor and student compose a plan for action that could include consulting other departments or using campus resources. The advisor may call several advisors, employees, or faculty or consult multiple departmental Web sites before finding a definitive answer.
  • Shaping a conclusion to unify ideas and emphasize the thesis statement: The advisor and student compose a plan for follow-up which could involve staying in touch via email or another meeting, scheduling an appointment with an advisor in a different department, taking an inventory or interest tests, etc. These activities may prompt more questions and lead back to a previous step but will ultimately clarify problems for the student.

Questions are focused, ideas enlightened,and answers refined in each step. Although one or even a few advising sessions will not likely transform a developing student into a master of institutional regulations and departmental policies, the advising process can still be viewed as successful. Advising is most beneficial when mastery is not the goal and advisors acknowledge and support a process that revises how students approach challenges, gather and apply information, and assess goals and progress.

Jessica Newcomb
General Academic Programs
Texas A&M University
[email protected]


Creamer, D. G. (2000). Use of Theory in Academic Advising. In V. N. Gordon and W. R. Habley (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. (pp. 18-34). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kastman Breuch, L. M. (2003). Post-process 'pedagogy': A philosophical exercise. In V. Villanueva (Ed.), Cross-talk in comp theory: A reader. (pp. 97-125). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

King, N. S. (September 26, 2006). Advising as Teaching. [NACADA Webinar 1].



Utilizing a Framework for Peer Advising Program Development


Dana Zahorik, Peer Advising & Mentoring Commission Chair


Budgets of higher education institutions have reflected a decline in available dollars, which has led to a decrease in services in areas such as advising (Reinarz, 2005). NACADA members, in various articles, monograph chapters, and presentations, have educated advisors on alternative methods of delivering advising services when available dollars decrease. Habley (2004) found that 42% of colleges and universities utilized peer advising services.

Koring and Campbell (2005) noted that development and implementation of a peer advising program can create an additional resource for students and assist staff in meeting advising needs more efficiently. However, many staff and faculty are unsure how or where to begin in developing a peer advising program. A framework that helps ensure that crucial information is available can be helpful in beginning the development process. Advisors who follow the steps below will have documents that can turn ideas into institutional action.


The first step in the process is to declare a goal. Identification of goals for a peer advising project will assist in achieving the desired results. An example of a goal would be to better leverage resources or to reduce advisor/student ratio.

The second step is to define how the goal(s) align with current college strategic directions, goals, mission and/or vision. Tying the project to college initiatives creates an opportunity for administrator support of the project.

Third, identify the campus leaders who will manage the project. These leaders should then name a committee responsible for the creation of the peer advising program. This committee can identify training and supervision needs and other necessary program components. The committee should also list project sponsors, informally known as cheerleaders, who are the student leaders, faculty, staff, and administrators who take interest in the project and will advocate for the creation of the program.

Fourth, the committee members should identify the rationale for the project. Similar to goal identification, in this step the committee must explain in detail how this project will enhance existing advising services. For example, recent results of an institutional student satisfaction survey might suggest a need for assistance in understanding and navigating instructional programs or that the expansion of support services is a student priority. Peer advising would directly address these needs.

Fifth, create a realistic implementation timeline that includes a pilot program. These activities will vary based on the program design, who supervises, etc. A sample timeline could be:

October – Identify coordinator/supervisor of peer advisors

November – Begin work on pilot

December – Identify peer advisor competencies and ways to recruit potential peer advisors

January – Develop curriculum for training peer advisors

February – Conduct interviews with applicants for peer advising positions

March – Train peer advisors

April – Begin peer advising activities

June – Evaluation of pilot program

August – Implement peer advising program department-wide

Sixth, identify the scope of the project. Decide if a department-wide peer advising program will be implemented or if the intentions are to develop the program college wide. The committee may decide to pilot the program in one department with the intention of implementing a college-wide program based on evaluation of the pilot program. Utilize peer advisors and advisees as part of the initial evaluation. The use of surveys and focus groups can provide valuable information on the effectiveness of a pilot.

Seventh, identify the support and resources necessary to the success of the program. Use the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources and NACADA monographs for research and information on existing peer advising programs. Seek institutional, state, or regional grants such as faculty development or technology grants (Fox Valley Technical College staff utilized a Wisconsin Technical College System faculty development grant to develop the curriculum for peer advisor training and a technology grant to expand the training on-line). Look for new and creative ways to expand services rather than just relying on the year-to-year operational budget.

Eighth, identify measurable outcomes. For example, one desired outcome might be to increase student knowledge gained from academic advising. Measurable outcomes are necessary to program evaluation and are helpful in creating a case for keeping or continuing programs.

Ninth, determine how administrators will know change or improvement occurred. Look at data to see if retention rates have increased, examine the results of student focus groups, or compare results of pre/post student satisfaction surveys and student learning outcomes.

Lastly, develop an “issues bin.” When Fox Valley Technical College developed this framework, the issues focused around payment of peer advisors and continuous communication between academic and peer advisors. These became the issues that needed to be addressed if the program was to succeed. Every institution has a different set of issues; therefore it is helpful if an “issues bin” is created specific to each institution’s concerns.


Whether an institution has a student population of 2,000 or 30,000, the framework shared above can provide a starting point for staff interested in utilizing peer advisors. Placing all the issues on paper creates a “big picture” perspective and helps identify the barriers that may be encountered prior to program development. For additional resources on best practices in peer advising, visit the NACADA Clearinghouse.

Dana Zahorik
Academic Counselor
Fox Valley Technical College
[email protected]


Habley, W.R. (2004). The status of academic advising: Findings from the ACT Sixth National Survey (NACADA Monograph No. 10). Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.

Koring, H., & Campbell, S. (2005). Peer-advising: Intentional connections to support student learning (NACADA Monograph No. 13). Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.

NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources, (2009). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/index.htm

Reinarz, A. (2005). Advising administrators’ tips for dealing with funding reductions. Retrieved December 3, 2008, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/admintips.html.


What Advisors Can Do to Help Curtain Plagiarism Among International Students

Leslie Staggers, ESL / International Student Advising Commission Chair

The Problem

LeslieStaggers.jpgOver the past several years, plagiarism incidents have been reported on many campuses. These stories highlight that this problem plagues both our domestic and international student populations. Regardless of innocence or guilt, we cannot assume any group of students, and especially not our international students, understands the mechanics of college level writing in the United States. Advisors can help provide students with the tools they need to research, analyze, and write in manners aligned with our campus honesty codes.

Why Students Plagiarize

Plagiarism.org (2008) notes that plagiarism can be defined as any of the following:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own;
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit;
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks;
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation;
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit; and
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.

As most advisors understand, not all students set out to intentionally plagiarize. Students may not fully understand references and citations or they may not realize that they have copied another’s ideas. Plagiarism comes in many forms: blatant copying, unreferenced quotations, or missing citations. As such it can become increasingly difficult for students to recognize plagiarism in their work if they are not familiar with the concept.

On the other hand, some students intentionally copy the works of others and offer a myriad of reasons why. Keenan and Jemmeson (2006) note a number of these justifications: “I couldn’t keep up with the work. The lecturer doesn’t care, why should I? Everyone expects to see me succeed. Paraphrasing would be disrespectful. I got desperate at the last moment” (p.1 ).

Cultural Influences on Plagiarism

These problems also can be compounded by an international student’s cultural influences. Few understand that plagiarism is mostly a Western concept; students from other countries may not be familiar with this idea.

Juwah, Lal and Belouci (2008 ), in a plagiarism project report, noted that Confucian based societies in Asia view individual analysis of a work as egoistic and impolite. They also state that some African and Arabian cultures teach largely through memorization. In those cultures, exact quotations are a sign of respect to teachers. Consequently, students from these countries may not be aware of our cultural idea of ownership and plagiarism and could easily plagiarize in their own works.

Tips for Advisors to Help Students Avoid Plagiarism

All students, whether intentional or not, are subject to their school’s plagiarism policies. As advisors, we can work to curtail the proliferation of plagiarism on our own campuses and help students succeed. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Educate students
    • Guide students to campus resources, such as writing labs or skills advancement courses, that can work one-on-one with students to help them comprehend plagiarism and its many forms.
    • Refer students to online plagiarism detecting sites such as turnitin.com or other free sites where students can upload their work and have it checked against a database.
    • Highlight campus policies regarding plagiarism to students during advising appointments.
  • Advocate for students
    • Advisors can advocate for students by bringing attention to plagiarism prevention on campus.
    • Students must understand both the concepts and implications of plagiarism.
  • Educate faculty
    • There are many online resources to help guide faculty in dealing with international student issues.
    • Defining the relationship between faculty and international students can help open communication so that students can ask questions about their writing.
    • Ask faculty to discuss plagiarism with their students and highlight it in their syllabi.

Plagiarism is a broad, sweeping problem within higher education. This, by no means, is a detailed resource report. However, I hope that this article will help focus advisor attention on the topic and lead to a better understanding of the cultural issues involved.

There are many great books, articles, and bibliographies highlighted on the ESL & International student advising Web site. Find out more on our Commission Web site

Leslie Staggers
Indiana University-Southeast
[email protected]


International Student and Scholar Services Offices (2006). Tips for faculty working with international students in the classroom. University of Denver. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from www.du.edu/intl/isss/tips_faculty.pdf.

Juwah, C., Lal, D., and Belouci, A. (2008). Overcoming the cultural issues associated with plagiarism for international students. Retrieved November 18, 2008, from The Plagiarism Project, The Robert Gordon University, www.rgu.ac.uk/celt/learning/page.cfm?pge=31100.

Keenan, C. and Jemmeson, P. (2006). International students and plagiarism: A review of the literature. UK: Bournemouth University Centre for Academic Practice.

Plagarism.org. (2008). What is plagiarism? Retrieved November 13, 2008, from www.plagiarism.org/learning_center/what_is_plagiarism.html.


Advising Lessons From My Garden

Linda Johnson, Baylor University 

LindaJohnson.jpgIn recent years, there have been many references to “Advising as Teaching” in the academic advising professional literature. I am certainly in agreement that teaching is a very important part of what we academic advisors do. A NACADA bumper sticker proclaiming “Advising is Teaching!” is firmly affixed to my office bulletin board and an advising syllabus appears on my campus’ academic advising Web site. However, from my perspective as one who has spent almost 23 years plowing the fields as an academic advisor, and almost that much time growing roses as a hobby, I believe that a strong argument also can be made for using another metaphor, that of “Advising as Gardening!”

In the garden of a student’s life, advisors are NOT the sun, or the rain, or even the manure. I believe that faculty in the classroom would happily claim those roles for themselves, and we will gladly let them! I believe that advisors do, however, play a part in the lives of students that is not unlike the function of a gardener. And, since many commonalities exist between advising and gardening, advisors can learn many wonderful lessons about advising students by looking no farther than their own gardens.

I have developed a series of “Advising Lessons from My Garden” on a variety of topics. Space constraints, however, only allow for the inclusion here of one example of these lessons, “To Everything There is a Season,” which follows:

“To everything there is a season…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” (Proverbs 3).

In nature, the best time to plant seeds is usually in the springtime after the danger of frost has passed. After several months of growing, harvest time follows, and then plants often go dormant during the winter…only to awaken again the following spring and start growing again. Hal Borland once explained the constancy of the recurring seasons in these words: “No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn. April is a promise that May is bound to come…and we know it.” Barbara Winkler once described this phenomenon as: “Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle.”

Just as the seasons in a garden are predictable, so, too, are most schools’ calendars for advising activities. On most campuses, about the same time each spring, advisors are busy in their respective fields preparing the ground for the incoming shipment of new seedlings (also known as new freshmen and transfer students). When they arrive in June for summer orientation, advisors are ready for them and their task is to help “plant” them in just the right spot so they will thrive and, ultimately, “bloom.”

During the course of the year, both gardeners and advisors alike nurture their young charges; providing support when needed; and using their tools, resources, and knowledge of solutions to common problems to help them deal with issues that might impede their growth. In the case of the gardener, their plants’ problems show up in the form of diseases, insects, and weeds, or maybe a lack of enough sun or water to suit their needs.

In the case of the advisor, their students’ problems come in a variety of forms, too. Homesickness is one example of new student problems. More commonly, these problems result from a student’s LACK of things, i.e., the lack of a sense of direction, motivation to study, academic preparation, good study skills, knowledge of academic programs, or policies and requirements. Many times, the problem involves a combination of several of these issues. The gardener and advisor alike stand ready to help remedy these situations with the appropriate treatment. They both draw upon a wealth of knowledge, useful tools, and access to a wide array of resources.

At the end of the year, if they have done their jobs well, the gardener and the advisor both are rewarded with the harvest of the fruits of their labor. The gardener, depending upon the kind of seedlings planted, may be the recipient of a bounty of beautiful and fragrant flowers or luscious tomatoes or green beans. In the case of advisors, their reward at the end of the year is seeing students who have grown in a variety of ways; they have learned their way around campus, explored various academic options, learned much about themselves and their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. “Flowering” students have gained some ideas about where they might best use their unique gifts, and have learned to use campus resources to help them succeed in reaching the goals they set for themselves. In essence, the advisor sees the student begin to “blossom.” Thus, successful gardeners and advisors see both flowers and students, respectively, eventually bloom. As Margaret Elizabeth Sanger puts it, “Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.”

After enjoying flowers for awhile, advisors and gardeners begin to plow the field again in preparation for the next year’s crop and another season. As this process is repeated year after year, an AMAZING thing happens with each passing year: both the gardener and the advisor gain increasing knowledge about the needs of their charges; they acquire more experience in dealing with the kind of problems which are likely to hamper the growth of their young seedlings. As the garden grows, so too grows the gardener ! Such are the seasons in the worlds of both gardening and advising.

Best wishes for a fruitful upcoming advising season filled with beautiful bouquets and much growth!

Linda Johnson
Associate Director, Academic Advisement
Baylor University
[email protected]



Emerging Leaders Program: Second Year, Full Throttle!

Carol Pollard, NACADA Emerging Leader
Jo Anne Huber, NACADA Mentor

In March 2007 at the NACADA Region VII Conference, we listened with interest as Charlie Nutt gave a short talk about a new NACADA program initiative. He described the Emerging Leaders Program as “exciting and innovative” – a great way to for individuals to spread their wings within NACADA. The NACADA Diversity Committee was already accepting both Emerging Leader and Mentor applications for the inaugural 2007-2009 Class, and we both immediately decided to apply.


Carol’s Perspective

The Emerging Leader application was rather involved and reminded me that I was signing up for more work – work that I would be doing in addition to my busy job and hectic life! But the process of applying also made me realize that I had goals and plans I would like to pursue through NACADA involvement; I was eager to see if I might be accepted.

The summer day when e-mail arrived saying that I had been chosen was a very happy one! It was, however, followed almost immediately by our pre-conference assignments. If I had any doubts about the rigor of the Program, they were immediately erased – clearly I would be kept busy until our group came together at the Annual Conference!

At the Annual Conference in Baltimore, we came together for our first meeting and spent a morning talking about NACADA – its past, present, and future – and shared how we wanted to be a part of that important development. There were many laughs, a few tears, and lots of great stories. I was inspired to hear the different ideas program participants had about their goals and dreams. I said that I was interested in learning and helping in any way I could with the regional, national, and even international conferences. I truly believe in NACADA events, and I love organizing things (some people might say I am bossy; I prefer to think that I have a ‘take charge personality!’).

The most exciting moment of our orientation was when we were partnered with our Mentors! This pairing of Emerging Leader and Mentor is the single most important portion of the program; the Mentor connection is invaluable. I was honored to be paired with NACADA Past President Jo Anne Huber from the University of Texas at Austin, who also happens to be the Chair for the upcoming 2009 Annual Conference in San Antonio. Clearly, this was a person from whom I would learn much – and I have indeed dearly appreciated her mentoring and friendship. Knowing someone with her level of experience has been a wonderful gift.

Jo Anne and I presented together at our 2008 Regional Conference and, following that, she asked if I would be interested in serving on the 2009 Annual Conference committee. I agreed to be the Exhibits Chair. Without the Emerging Leader experience, I do not believe that I would have volunteered to be involved with the planning for the Annual Conference – and it all began with filling out a simple program application!

During the past year, I served on the NACADA Name Change Task Force, and just recently was asked to serve on the Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board. Both are great opportunities to become more involved and learn more about how NACADA works; I look forward to seeing what develops from these groups.

Attending the 2008 Annual Conference in Chicago was a homecoming in many ways. In part, it was bittersweet – our time was half over as Emerging Leaders; it seemed like it had gone too quickly. At the same time there was a renewed energy from the incoming 2008-2010 Emerging Leaders class. Meeting the new class was such fun, and they looked to us as experts – I don’t think that view is warranted quite yet but we are working on it! We met together one afternoon to discuss questions and share ideas; I think the returning members learned as much as the new Emerging Leaders. Those of us who had been in the program for a full year had stories to tell about our relationships, how our professional development had gone during that year, and our plans for the upcoming year.

Now that my final year as an Emerging Leader is well underway I must confess to a few moments of panic – have I done what I should, have I missed opportunities, what does the future hold? I am excited about the part I will play in helping with the 2009 Annual Conference, and I can’t wait to meet the next class of Emerging Leaders. Par

ticipation in the Emerging Leader Program has been certainly a career changing experience; I am honored to have been a part of this special group. I encourage YOU to apply for next year and begin the same journey.

JoAnneHuber.jpgJo Anne’s Perspective

First of all, I was honored to be chosen as a Mentor for the first Emerging Leader class. Over the years I have learned a lot from NACADA leaders and colleagues; these individuals were absolutely invaluable as I worked my way up the ladder in leadership positions. The difference is that with this Program there is a formal process, with a dedicated budget, that ensures that those who wish to pursue NACADA leadership positions – regardless if as a volunteer or in an elected position – are encouraged to achieve their goals. The Emerging Leaders were able to select the Mentor they felt could best help them pursue their interests. Luckily, with the Annual Conference planning for 2009, it was easy to slip Carol into a role she wanted. I hope that Carol will continue to achieve her goals in the Association and always know that I am a phone call/email away, even when our formal mentorship ends as our second year concludes.

Carol J. Pollard
Senior Academic Counselor
College of Music
University of North Texas
[email protected]

Jo Anne Huber
Senior Academic Advisor
Dept. of Government
University of Texas-Austin
[email protected]

You Have to Be There: Summer Institute

Patsy Krech, Wesley R. Habley NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient


“You had to be there.” No doubt we have all heard people say these words after recalling what, to them, was a hilarious story, only to have the listeners look at them quizzically. Describing a NACADA Summer Institute is like that experience. Explaining what occurred at the Summer Institute in Portsmouth, Virginia, June 22-27, 2008, is not difficult, but conveying the depth and impact of the experience is challenging!

At the suggestion of Karen Thurmond, Director of Academic Advising and Degree Planning Resources at The University of Memphis, I submitted an application for a Wesley R. Habley Summer Institute Scholarship and received one of these annually-awarded scholarships. Since I had attended several excellent NACADA annual and regional conferences, I was expecting a similar type of experience. As a part of my scholarship application, I had written a draft for a project which I wanted to complete, so I thought I was well prepared. Like many of our students, I soon realized the wealth of information available on my topic – and a number of resources yet to be studied.


The SI Small Group Institute was led by seasoned advisors who served as faculty for general sessions, roundtables, topical sessions, and workshops. Over the course of the week, participants engaged in considering theories of advising, student development, advisor development, special populations, assessment and more. In addition, each participant was assigned to a small group which met each day, with one of the institute’s faculty who served as the Small Group leaders. In my group’s first session Tom Grites, our facilitator, encouraged each participant to discuss an idea for anAction Plan– a project to enhance academic advising on our own campuses. We were challenged over the next several days to determine the goals, background, and methods for implementing our Action Plans. At each Small Group meeting, we added to our plans based on what we had learned in the general sessions, workshops, and other events of the day. Knowing our Action Plans helped each of us select sessions that applied to our work. Also, the other Small Group participants and our facilitator provided feedback as we moved through the stages of the Action Plan. We even had an individual conference with one of the institute’s faculty members to explain our Action Plans and receive feedback. By the end of week, all participants had a well-considered Action Plan, which we took back to our institutions.

My Action Plan involved assisting with further development of an online course for new faculty advisors. The course will inform advisors of academic requirements initially and will ultimately focus on the conceptual, informational, and relational aspects of advising. Our seasoned advisors will be asked to help assess the content and make recommendations for improvement. This online course will include visual and aural components so that advisors can learn in various formats. Through the Small Group I attended, I was challenged to consider the reception of this online course, the means of delivery, the hoped-for outcomes, and assessment possibilities. Having the knowledge base of a dozen advisors from across the United States and Canada made the process more challenging and resulted in a more thorough plan than I could have developed on my own. I enjoyed getting to know the people in my Small Group very much, but, more than that, I valued their challenges, their praise, and their encouragement. Although it has been several years since I have taken a class, this group reminded me of the camaraderie of several of my graduate courses with Tom Grites serving as leader, scholar, and chief inquisitor.

This leads me to the confession that, although we accomplished much at this institute, we also had a lot of fun. During our free time we talked or went to supper with our new friends. We rode the Elizabeth River ferry from Portsmouth to Norfolk and strolled to shopping or dining. Mid-week all the participants and faculty went on an evening boat ride toward the Chesapeake Bay. Many of our group demonstrated their dance skills as we enjoyed the sunset on the water. On many occasions, we shared stories and experiences with each other. At breakfast and lunch, and in our Small Groups, we shared comments about sessions we attended. I was struck by how often we shared examples speakers used to convey ideas. Four examples come to mind:

  • As advisors, we should encourage students to “expand their comfort zone” instead of stepping outside it.
  • We should consider how our institutions “court” or recruit students compared to how they are treated once they come to campus (the difference between courtship and marriage?).
  • Students are like watering houseplants – all of them are different; watering each Tuesday and Thursday is okay if that is how often they need watering.
  • Student learning is the heart of academic advising; advisors teach students the essentials needed to be successful in college and beyond.

Although “you had to be there” to truly understand the incredible experience that my fellow participants and I shared at Summer Institute, I encourage each NACADA member to experience a Summer Institute this coming summer or in the near future. Participants leave the Institute with a more thorough appreciation of what advising means, with a deeper understanding of the theory that supports our roles as academic advisors, and with more knowledge regarding how we can help our students succeed. Like the various vessels we watched cruise by our Portsmouth hotel – the barges carrying heavy loads, the tugs pushing the resistant cargo, the sailboats drifting with the breeze, and the ferries transporting passengers to their destinations – advisors serve their advisees in many capacities. Attending a Summer Institute provides more knowledge, skill, expertise, and enthusiasm for the voyage!

Patsy Krech
Director of Advising
College of Arts and Sciences
The University of Memphis
[email protected]

Results of Member Assessment at 2008 NACADA Annual Conference

Terry Musser, NACADA Board of Directors


Assessments of membership information were implemented at the 2008 NACADA Annual Conference, sponsored by the Board of Directors. A survey and a town hall meeting were designed to: 1) gather information from the members about their member benefits; 2) determine the viability of gathering this type of information in a large conference setting; and 3) allow the current leadership to interact more with the membership.

275 participants were surveyed by volunteers from the planning team, the Emerging Leaders Program, and the current leadership. A town hall meeting was held on Friday of the conference with approximately 80 people in attendance. Eight volunteers were trained to conduct the Nominal Group Process to answer the question: “What benefits are you currently not receiving as a member that you would like to have?” Each of the eight groups produced a list of the top 3-4 benefits they would like to have as NACADA members.

The majority of respondents (67%) to the survey have been members for a relatively short amount of time – five years or less. The largest percentage of respondents worked at public four-year institutions and 25% work at a public research institution. Table 1 summarizes the number and percent of respondents from institution type.

Table 1. Type of Institution



Type of Institution

# Responding


Public Research



Public Four-Year



Private Four-Year



Private Two-Year



Two-Year/Community College







When asked about their professional role, most indicated they were academic advisors or counselors. Table 2 summarizes the types of roles represented by the participants.


Table 2. Advising Role


# Responding


Faculty Advisor



Academic Advisor/Counselor



Advising Administrator












No answer






Table 3 shows the number of respondent reasons for joining NACADA as well as a percentage of the total answers to this question.

Table 3. Why did you join NACADA? (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)


# of Responses


I heard it was somewhere I could get advising information.



I was hired to be an advisor and needed to find help and information.



My colleague(s) told me it was a good organization.



For professional development opportunities.



To support my work as an advisor or advising administrator.



For networking opportunities.








Table 4 summarizes the responses to the question, “Why do you continue your membership?”

Table 4. Why do you continue your membership? (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)


# of Responses


For the networking



For the professional development



To get away from the office once or twice a year



To receive the publications (Journal, Newsletter, Monographs, etc.)








The last question asked “What NACADA membership benefits have you taken advantage of?” Table 5 shows responses and percent of responses to each of the member benefits.


Table 5. What NACADA membership benefits have you taken advantage of? (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)


# of Responses


State workshop



Regional conference



National conference



NACADA Clearinghouse



NACADA Website






Summer Institute



Assessment Institute



Administrator’s Institute



Faculty Institute



Purchased publications








The final two questions were reserved for non-NACADA members. When asked, “What has prevented you from joining”, answers were almost evenly distributed among the choices. Table 6 shows the distribution of answers to this question.

Table 6. What has prevented you from joining?


# of Responses


I’m not an advisor.



I want to see if it is worth joining before I decide.



I can’t afford the dues.



Lack of institutional support.



Not sure of the benefits.



Had not heard of it before.



NACADA doesn’t offer me anything worth joining for.








Table 7 indicates the number and percent of responses to each option for what would make them want to join.

Table 7. What would make you want to join?


# of Responses


My institution pays my dues.



The professional development opportunities.



More support from my institution for attending professional development opportunities.



Networking opportunities.



The dues were less.



There were more benefits.








Town Hall Meeting Results

The Nominal Group Process gives small groups a chance to brainstorm all possible answers to a question and then to discuss, select and prioritize their top answers. One category of ideas repeated throughout several of the small groups is improved functionality and offerings for members via the NACADA Web site. Included in this area would be a searchable membership directory, searchable Journal, online chat communities, and easier navigation. Related to technology was the need for wireless Internet access at conferences. Job placement activities at conferences were included on two lists and monetary incentives for members came up two times as well. The need to provide more scholarships and research grants and to rethink the allocation of funding within the Association was also identified.



Addressing membership needs of a large organization is always a challenge. NACADA has grown very quickly in the past five years and the demographics are changing to reflect a younger, less-experienced advising workforce. Providing resources that target the wide ranging needs of a diverse membership is a priority of the NACADA Executive Office staff and the Board of Directors. This approach to assessing membership needs at an annual conference gave us valuable insight and information including:

  • It is possible to gather data from individuals and small groups attending a conference and volunteers typically enjoyed meeting new people and discussing their needs.
  • Members are taking advantage of the plethora of resources and professional development activities currently offered at various levels and they have ideas about how their needs could be better addressed using state-of-the-art technology.
  • Membership demographics must be examined when designing professional development activities. The needs of new or newer members, as well as those who have many years of experience in advising and with the Association, must be considered.
  • If nothing else was gained from this activity, more than 300 members’ voices were heard and dozens of volunteers were given the opportunity to get involved in the Association.

Terry Musser
Penn State University
[email protected]

Career Corner.jpb

Faux Pas to Avoid in an Advisor Job Search

Are you thinking of starting an advising job search? Need a quick refresher on the Do’s and Don’ts?

Here are a few reminders on what to AVOID when starting your next search.

Cover Letter Faux Pas

  • Addressing your cover letter to “Dear Sir”, “Dear Sir or Madam”, or “To Whom it May Concern” — Be specific as to whom you address your letter, if possible. Or use “Dear Chairperson” or “Dear Search Committee Members.”
  • Too long or too short — Should be one page, 3-4 paragraphs.
  • Forgetting to proofread — The purpose of a cover letter is to demonstrate your written communication skills.
  • Failing to match your career objective to the position — Don’t say that you want to be a professor when you are applying for an academic advisor position.
  • Attaching the job posting announcement to your letter

Resume Faux Pas

  • Listing interests — Do not list irrelevant information, such as interests, on your resume.
  • Using templates — Don’t let your resume look like everyone else’s resume.
  • Using a funky font (type and size) or paper — Not even Elle Woods can get away with a pink perfumed resume.
  • Failing to tailor your resume to the position — Even if you have seemingly unrelated experience, show how it relates to the position.
  • Including dated work experience — Ten years is the typical cut-off point for including jobs on your resume.
  • Listing references on your actual resume — Use a separate piece of paper, and please only list 3-5.
  • Updating or correcting your resume with a pen – Make changes and print a new copy.
  • Using regular copier paper — Invest in nice resume paper, which can be found at places like office supply stores.
  • Folding your resume or using matching business-size envelopes — Use manila envelopes and type out the addresses on adhesive labels.
  • Sending your resume through priority or overnight mail just to attract attention to it – Only the individual opening the mail will take note.
  • Using your email from your current place of employment — Establish a new, free email account that is solely for job searching. Please make sure to choose a professional email address (e.g., not [email protected]).

Social Networking Site Faux Pas

  • Putting inappropriate information or pictures on your Facebook® site

General Information Faux Pas

  • Failure to submit all requested documents, such as transcript copies, list of references, etc.
  • Including additional documents not requested, such as copies of diplomas and teaching licenses

Alison Hoff
Chair, NACADA Member Career Services Committee
Academic Advisor
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW)
[email protected]

Jill Parker
Director of Career Services
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW)
[email protected]

ISparklerBanner.jpgt takes but one SPARK to ignite the flame for an idea. Does your campus have an unusual or exceptional process or program that could spark an idea on another campus? If so, tell us about it in 350 words or less.  Send your Sparkler to [email protected]

This edition's SPARKLER come to us from the College of Charleston.

Myra Whittemore, Communication Coordinator at the College of Charleston Academic Advising and Planning Center in Charleston, South Carolina notes that “the use of new media is a prevalent business topic in every industry, higher education included. Every year, we review the profile of the incoming freshman class and marvel at the technology that has been part of their young lives from the very beginning; as educators we’re challenged to determine how to provide the instruction and guidance they need in a method that is understandable not only to them, but also to us. The student has the responsibility to do the learning, but the onus is on us to facilitate the delivery. ” Recognizing that current trends in broad use communication include the ever-popular YOU TUBE sites, Myra pulled together a creative team of advisors and advising administrators, who collaborated with a media professor from their Department of Communication to brainstorm about the critical messages they want to convey to their undeclared students. What media do the 18-24 year-old set seek out? What do they respond to? Myra recalls that “with this the age of skit television, sound bites, viral videos, and absurdist comedy – the tone of the project took a humorous turn. The team worked out a few scripts and concepts and laid out an overview of concepts and screen shots. A primary character emerged – our own office gnome, Mr. Folger Glimini Tilby. Then with the collaboration of advisors and a few other willing recruits from around campus, the videos were shot at venues all around campus. The approach was very tongue-in-cheek, and the results are funny, engaging, and most of all, memorable.” View The Tilby Chronicles on the College of Charleston’s Academic Advising and Planning Web site. For more information about the project, contact Myra at [email protected].


Posted in: 2009 March 32:1


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one!

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.
Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.