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Voices of the Global Community


From the President: On the Value of Coming Together

Karen Archambault, NACADA President

Karen Archambault.jpgSometimes as advisors, on even the most well-intentioned of campuses, we can feel like no one understands the challenges of our position and our work with students. In the daily grind of working with students, isolation, frustration, and even disillusionment can easily creep in. It is at those times when we need collaboration, camaraderie, and just plain understanding the most.

When I speak to those outside the organization about my NACADA family, I often get questions about how we became so close: what is it about these people I see only a few times a year that makes me identify them as some of my closest friends, my colleagues, my confidants for more than just advising related questions? I have struggled to find the right answer. What I have come up with is that the ability to understand what advisors give to students and what we need to sustain ourselves is uniquely our own; those who have never worked with students one on one—who have never taken on the challenges, pains, and successes of students as their own—simply cannot understand what an advisor needs.

The limited number of people—these strong and mighty few—who understand what advisors go through necessitates that we find ways to join together. Certainly each fall the Annual Conference brings several thousand people together and the spring and summer bring together smaller numbers at the regional and international conferences. But those are just a few of the many ways NACADA members come together both in companionship and in support. To highlight just a few of the ways to stay connected:

  • Plan to attend a summer institute. These (along with the winter institutes) are a great way to jumpstart your team’s efforts toward student success, but also give you opportunities to connect with those across the country who are addressing problems similar to those that challenge your campus. This year, the institutes are held in Lexington, KY and Little Rock, AR
  • Attend a state or local drive in. These are already beginning to crop up for 2019, and they are a great and inexpensive way to connect close to home. Not only can you connect with advisors in your area, but you can also get great professional development at a really reasonable rate.
  • Nominate someone for an award. That advisor in your office who you think does amazing work?  That graduate student you wanted to encourage? Connect them to you and to NACADA through the Global Awards program. Deadlines are coming up quickly.
  • Read an article, share it, and contact the author. The NACADA Clearinghouse provides a wealth of information, but do not just read it and think about it on your own—pass along a great article to a friend, colleague, or NACADA family member! Send an email to the author to ask a follow up question or to just say you appreciated their work.

Your NACADA membership gives you so much, and perhaps most important of this is the ability to connect professionally. If you are not sure where to start, connect with me, at [email protected]. I would be happy to hear from you.  

Karen Archambault, President, 2018-2019|
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Vice President, Enrollment Management & Student Success
Rowan College at Burlington County

From the Executive Director: NACADA's Growing Role in Higher Education Globally

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Charlie Nutt.jpgAs many of you read this, you are already traveling to attend or preparing to attend one of NACADA’s 10 Region Conferences. These conferences are always outstanding opportunities for participants to gain access to valuable research, knowledge, and strategies that enhance student success in colleges and universities. In addition, it is exciting that many of you are also preparing to attend one of the NACADA Summer Institutes in June or July and the International Conference in Belgium in July as well. These events, in addition to the NACADA Research Center and other growing resources and programs, clearly demonstrate that the NACADA Board of Directors and the Executive Office is constantly exploring new and exciting ways to meet the needs of our participants and members as we all are working so hard to increase the academic, career, and life successes of our students.

It is important that NACADA continues to grow in influence and involvement in higher education across the world in order for the future of the association to have impact across higher education for student success. This involves intentionally selected partnerships and collaborations with many institutions across the world as well as with other influential higher education associations and entities. Just as we know that academic advising cannot be successful working in a vacuum or silo at any institution, NACADA must also be proactive in strategically connecting with other associations to place NACADA “at the table” in global discussions on student success. This work connects directly to our NACADA mission and with NACADA Strategic Goal 3 (to promote the role of effective academic advising in student success to college and university decisions makers). I feel it is important for members to be aware of these partnerships and how they strategically connect NACADA to higher education in ways we have not been in the past.

While there is a long list of strategic partnerships we are working on, I am going to highlight just a few:

Achieving the Dream: NACADA continues to be actively involved with ATD as it does outstanding work in reaching out to institutions for the improvement of academic advising.

Complete College America: NACADA continues to build a strong partnership with CCA in their work with game changers for student success across the colleges in the US. This partnership includes jointly sponsoring material such as the 15 to Finish initiative, Purpose First, and workshops and events focused on academic advising.

Gates Academic Advising Solutions Network: With NASPA as the grant recipient, NACADA is collaborating in a multi-year project with NASPA, EDUCAUSE, ATD, AASCU, and FYE to provide technical assistance to a multitude of institutions with the goal of improving the academic advising experiences of their students.

Global Partnerships: NACADA continues to strengthen our partnerships with global associations such as UKAT in the United Kingdom and LVSA in the Netherlands as well as working closing with institutions in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and several other countries.

NACADA/John Gardner Institute Excellence in Academic Advising (EAA) Program: This new collaborative venture provides an aspirational two-year self-study of the academic advising experiences of students on university and college campuses with the goal of implementing an action plan based on 9 Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising.

NSF Inspire Alliance: In partnership with the CIRTL and APLU, NACADA is actively involved with a multi-million dollar NSF grant with a focus on new higher education faculty and post docs to enhance their skills in innovative teaching, research mentoring, and academic advising. NACADA is actively involved in providing resources, expertise, and delivery of workshops for faculty on the skills and competencies for effective academic advising.

Reinvention Collaborative: Dedicated to reinventing the undergraduate experience at US research universities, Reinvention Collaborative has partnered with NACADA for the past four years on the NACADA Academic Advising Administrators’ Institute for a new track for administrators with campus-wide responsibilities for academic advising at all types of institutions globally.

Tyton Partners: NACADA has been actively involved for five years with the Tyton Partners Drive to Degree survey for academic advising in both creation and analysis of the survey. Recently Tyton has provided funding for a Senior Research Analyst position for the NACADA Research Center at Kansas State University.

While NACADA is expanding its reach with other associations as well, these are just a few of the partnerships presently in place. I hope all of you are as excited as I am that the NACADA reach is connecting the organization in ways the association needs not only to grow in numbers (we presently have over 15,000 members internationally) but also to grow in influence and impact for the future!

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


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The Power of Story to Engage, Advise, and Connect

Christine Robinson, Western Michigan University

Christine Robinson.jpg“Trips to apple orchards are not fun for all students.”

That statement, made by a student enrolled in my First Year Seminar, a course for first-year students to support their transition from high school to college, hit me like a slap in the face. The course is typically taught by academic advisors, and I had taught the course for several years. I prided myself on making my course as engaging as possible, which usually included a fun field trip. When Carlos, the son of Mexican immigrants, reacted emotionally to my idea of a fun field trip to a fruit orchard, I was shocked. I like to think I at least have baseline knowledge and understanding about my students’ cultural backgrounds and that I am culturally sensitive when interacting with students in my advising and teaching roles. How did I miss the mark on this one? It was a wake-up call to the fact that I must constantly be aware of my biases and must continually work on expanding my cultural lens.

To be an expert on the culture of all students that advisors advise and teach is unrealistic. However, getting to know each student in terms of their personal stories and backgrounds is doable. This is particularly important as the student population in higher education continues to diversify (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2014). Building meaningful relationships with students is key, but this can be a challenge. This is particularly true when difference, whether real or perceived, presents a barrier to connection between advisor and student. Difference comes in many forms including, but not limited to, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, etc., and this difference can make it difficult for advisors to connect with their students. How do advisors, as educators, overcome self-doubt about their ability to connect with students whose lives and experiences are so different from their own? How do advisors build trust with students who may see their advisor as an authority figure whom they feel cannot possibly understand their life challenges?

A few years ago, I encountered a former at-risk youth at a student success conference for instructors and advisors—Dr. Paul Hernandez, the conference keynote speaker. In his talk, he shared his story of growing up on the streets of Los Angeles engulfed in deep poverty and gang culture. He talked about dropping out of school because school was not a place where he felt he belonged; school did not connect to his lived reality and teachers did not effectively engage him in the classroom. Eventually, however, he reengaged with school through community college and went on to earn his PhD. From his lived experiences, he created an innovative pedagogy to help educators work with students like him.

In his book, The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching and Connecting With Students At-Risk, Dr. Hernandez outlines the method for using “Real Talk” with students. A Real Talk dialogue is "an instructor-led [or staff-led] discussion based on a series of broad, engaging, universal themes to motivate student-oriented outcomes" (Hernandez, 2015, p. 18). The engaging and inspiring story shared by Dr. Hernandez at the success conference that day created an emotional, pin-drop experience for his audience and provided a stellar example of the power of a Real Talk to connect people together. Applying the method in advising and in the classroom, advisors can build meaningful relationships with students by creating and sharing their own personal stories, or those of others they know (Tedx, 2017).

Advisors can utilize Real Talks to connect with students and to tie advising content to students’ experiences in a way that helps them learn. According to Hagen (2018, 2007), narrative theory, as a way of thinking about and explaining human experiences, underpins the importance of advisors listening to students’ stories to imagine what it might be like to be that student. Connecting with students around their story creates a relationship that provides a foundation for greater learning, student development, and a sense of belonging and community (Chickering & Reisser, 1993; Strayhorn, 2012). 

Another key to establishing teacher/student connection, and to motivating learning, is understanding the importance of our students’ terministic screens. Terministic screen describes a type of lens, constructed with terminology, perceptions, and beliefs, through which humans understand the world around them (Winterowd, 1985). Each one of our students will perceive the same experience differently from each other, and from their teacher, depending on their terministic screen. Our students’ terministic screens are created by their group memberships, e.g., race, gender, sexuality, religion, social status, etc. As I reflected on the applicability of the concept to the field-trip conversation, I was reminded that the phrase “field trip to a fruit orchard” can conjure up different meanings, emotions, beliefs, and memories for different people. A field trip to pick fruit meant something completely different to me than it did to my student based on different terministic screens.

For me, a white middle-class female, growing up in a stable, privileged family and community, picking fruit like apples or blueberries conjures up wonderful childhood memories of trekking out on a warm sunny day into the country to a u-pick blueberry farm with my mother and best friend where we would fill buckets with sweet, plump berries, alternately eating one berry and dropping the next into our buckets until both our bellies and buckets were full. Next, my mother and I would freeze some to be used later for pies and cobblers and would make jams and jellies to give out to friends and families at Christmas.

For my student, picking blueberries conjured up completely different feelings and memories. The son of Mexican immigrants, he spent his early elementary years moving between Mexico, Florida, and Michigan, where he and his family would pick blueberries to survive. He told me that one year picking blueberries as a teenager in Florida, even though he lived just a few miles from Disneyworld, he did not even know it existed. It was at that moment, he shared, that he realized there were two worlds—one where kids were working hard to survive, and one where kids were having the time of their lives. To him, blueberry farms represented long, hot days filled with tedious hard work for poverty-level wages—a place where his parents and siblings labor year after year, not because they love it, but because they do not have any other opportunities. To him, blueberry farms represent overcrowded living conditions where he and up to 13 of his friends and relatives, many of them undocumented, would live in a 2-bedroom dwelling with some living in fear of deportation. Blueberry farms to him represent oppression with little hope of a brighter future. My failure to consider our different world views resulted in me unintentionally marginalizing him further.

The other side of the concept of terministic screens is that when an individual assigns meaning to certain terms or phrases, at the same time that person disregards, discounts, or overlooks other possible meanings. For instance, Carlos needed to be offered another construct around the idea of a trip to an apple orchard, just as I needed to expand my understanding of the same phrase by considering his experiences. This intentional exercise pushes us out of our tendency to default to dualistic thinking patterns where we seek to make sense of our world by categorizing things in an either/or fashion. For Carlos, he could experience growth by understanding that a field trip to a fruit orchard could be a positive experience or at least something in between the two extremes of his and my experiences. For me, my growth could come from reflecting on the fact that there could be a variation of emotions around a field trip, depending on whose experience it is.

My First Year Seminar students and I did go on the field trip. We did not pick apples, however. Rather, we puzzled our way through a corn maze, experienced a hay ride, drank cider, and ate doughnuts. Carlos laughed, fellowshipped with classmates, and had a great time. I reflected appreciatively on the opportunities I have to enjoy fruit like blueberries and apples with a new thankful heart for those who pick the fruit I easily purchase at my local grocer. Carlos experienced an orchard in a new positive way, and I experienced it in a new reflective way, both of us expanding our terministic screens around the concept of the field trip.

Since that semester, I have asked myself, “What other things do I do or say that disregard my students’ terministic screens and lived experiences, and how can I be intentional about making sure my students feel respected and understood in my office and classroom?” I realize this involves continual self-reflection, intentional learning about the cultures of my students and about alternate techniques and pedagogies to connect and engage with students from all backgrounds. It involves implementing strategies to build meaningful relationships with each student whenever possible in order to connect with and engage them so that they feel comfortable sharing their stories with me. Their stories help me to anticipate how they will perceive advising and classroom lessons and activities based on my understanding of their terministic screens.

It is when we are exposed to different that we grow. I am so thankful that I went to that student success conference where I met Dr. Hernandez and began to understand the concept of terministic screens, and that I learned the technique of Real Talk for effectively advising and teaching across differences. I am also grateful to Carlos for helping me expand my lens and challenging my worldview by reminding me that “Trips to apple orchards are not fun for all students.” This advisor and teacher, at least, still has so much to learn, and I am looking forward to the challenge and blessing of that continued growth with each new student whom I am privileged to know.

Christine Robinson
Director of Academic Advising and Admissions
College of Education and Human Development
Western Michigan University
[email protected]


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

Cohen, A., Brawer, F., & Kisker, C. (2014). The American community college (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hagen, P. L. (2007, Sept). Narrative theory and academic advising. Academic Advising Today36(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Narrative-Theory-and-Academic-Advising.aspx

Hagen, P. L. (2018). The power of story: Narrative theory in academic advising. (J. Givans Voller, Ed.). Manhattan, KS: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Hernandez, P. (2015). The pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, teaching, and connecting with students at risk. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Strayhorn, T. L. (2012). College students' sense of belonging: A key to educational success for all students. New York, NY: Routledge.

TEDx. (2017, June 22). Educator training reimagined through real talk | Paul Hernandez | TEDxTraverseCity [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH9AruhN4X4

Winterowd, W. R. (1985). Kenneth Burke: An annotated glossary of his terministic screen and a “statistical” survey of his major concepts. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 15, 145–177.

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Sista Circles: Black Female Advisors in Courageous Dialogue

Elia Tamplin, Multicultural Concerns Advising Community Member

Elia Tamplin.jpgAll advisors’ experiences are mediated through varied relational contexts (e.g. higher education, interpersonal relationships) and shaped by racism, colonialism, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, and other structural relations of power. However, Black women advisors may experience the field quite differently than their male and White peers. Black women advisors, like other advisors, battle burnout and empathy fatigue. However, at the intersection of race and gender oppressions, Black women also struggle against racial battle fatigue, cultural taxation, and unique forms of discrimination—across race, gender, and other identities—within the relational work of and in advising on a daily basis.

While all advisors serve as “cultural navigators” (Strayhorn, 2015) who help students understand and navigate postsecondary education, Black women are also tasked with serving as “cultural mediators” (Kim, 2014), or bridges, between higher education and Black culture so that Black students can be successful. Added to this work, Black women often must navigate the chilly climate (Hall & Sandler, 1982; Spann, 1990) of the higher education workplace. Navigation may look like wrestling with anxieties, real and imagined, about how to avoid negative stereotypes (e.g. angry Black woman) when sharing opinions in staff meetings. Or, Black women may find themselves centering colleagues’ (and students) emotions instead of caring or advocating for themselves in the face of injustice. Where Black women may find solidarity with White women and Men of Color, advisors in some experiences, the otherwise-privileged positions of White (for women) and men (for Men of Color), can buffer the effects of subjection, discrimination, and prejudice based on race and gender (Crenshaw, 1989).

History and Importance of Sista Circles

Sista circles have played a vital role in lives of Black women, and, by extension, Black community for over 150 years (Neal-Barnett et al., 2011). Having roots in the Black church and Black women’s club movement, sista circles were a direct response to exclusion from White women’s and Black men’s social sites (Giddings, 1984). In providing a supportive and safe space for Black women, sista circles also provided Black women space to raise consciousness, seek clarity, and strategize ways to problem solve and uplift the Black race (King, Barnes-Wright, & Gibson, 2013; White, 1999). According to Neal-Barnett et al., (2011), sista circles are support groups that build upon existing relationships between Black women working and/or living in the same space (e.g. organization, community, or profession). Fundamentally, sista circles are a safe supportive space for Black women to seek help, encouragement, knowledge, and support in issues that impact them.

The importance of Black women’s gathering spaces (e.g. sista circles) is in its communal power. Community for Black women is dynamic, emergent, safe, and caring; demands accountability; and holds equal the concern for self and other. Black women’s professional and personal relationships with other Black women provide them the tools to survive and thrive in the academy (Henry & Glenn, 2009). Dorsey (2000) remarks that Black women find that “communicating with African-American women in small groups provides a unique support; one that is unwavering sources of strength for them” (p. 71). In the supportive space of the sista circle, Black women gather authentically without worrying about translating or downplaying their experiences across race (or gender), particularly in the White, masculinist academy (King, Barnes-Wright, & Gibson, 2013). Their language is not policed, neither is their behavior. Rather, participants are encouraged and allowed to communicate in culturally aligned ways (Dorsey, 2000), which can include challenging respectability politics and being oneself, self-defined and self-determined (Collins, 2000). Free of policing/surveillance, fear of negative consequences, and color-blind values, sista circles offer Black women opportunities to engage in “deep talk” about their truths, “practic[ing] and rehears[ing], in the empowering space, what must be carried out in a more restrictive space” of higher education (King, Barnes-Wright, & Gibson, 2013, p. 412).

Connecting Sista Circles to Academic Advising

The importance of community and relationships as sources of support and care align with Black women’s and academic advising’s epistemologies. Within advising literature, supportive relationships and spaces are seen as vital self-care tools. Ali and Johns (2018) suggest that practices such as seeking peer support can be easy yet beneficial forms of self-care activity. Similarly, in asking “who takes care of the advisor?” Elizabeth Harman (2018) states that formal (e.g. staff meetings) and informal (e.g. peer-to-peer) supportive spaces are one medium through which self-care can occur. She notes that supportive spaces promote connection and a shared sense of awareness, helping advisors combat burnout and empathy fatigue.

Black women advisors need to separate, periodically, for their health. While more formal (e.g. staff meetings) and informal (e.g. peer debriefing) supportive spaces may prove helpful in some cases, Black women advisors also need safe spaces where they can engage in deep-talk, speaking truth to power and to one another. As a result, the sista circle is a transformative, healing space that allows Black women to be able to go back into the world and give more.

Sista Circle in Action: NACADA 2018

There are many exciting (and anxiety-filled) parts of this story (including discussing the history of Sista Circle Methodology with its creator, Dr. Latoya Johnson, and leading a sista circle as a concurrent session at the 2018 NACADA Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona with my colleagues). However, I want to reflect on the sista circle itself.

The room, located in the corner of the large conference hall on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, was full of banter between myself and incoming attendees. The beauty of this community, comprised mostly of Black women (and three men: myself, a Latino man, and a Black male NACADA volunteer), reminded me that Black womanhood is not monolithic. Instead, it is a full of difference across complexions, shapes and sizes, ages, job titles, geographies, personalities, and sexualities.

Throughout the introduction (yes, we went around the whole room as a critical community-building practice), I became increasingly aware of and empowered by the energy in the room. The women engaged with one another without my direction, clapping and uplifting each other at every introduction. With my turn coming up quickly, I was inspired by the energy in the room and reminded of Dr. Johnson’s advice: be authentic and vulnerable about my past and present. Following her advice, I shared the purpose for the session and what led me, a Black transmyn (Stewart, 2017), to lead a sista circle.

Now, I cannot speculate how much having men in the room changed the dynamic, but I know it did. I believe that my openness and vulnerability along with setting firm ground rules (i.e. declaring the space as one to center Black women, not to educate men or non-Black people) encouraged the attendees to participate. But, to be clear, the process of gathering in a sista circle is emergent. Though openness and ground rules can help the process, it was the first “mmhm’s”, side eye glance, “okay?”, and a theatrical example of codeswitching—unique cultural ways that Black women communicate that non-group members may not understand (Dorsey, 2000)—that increased the energy and sense of belonging and community in the room.

Where there was healing in laughter, there was also healing in calls for accountability and the sharing of experience and wisdom. Conversations interrogating and working through the complex relationships of power, privilege, and oppression left the group discussing the ways that race and gender oppressions manifested and intersected with other structural forces (e.g. sizeism, ageism, and homophobia) in their everyday experiences. Mentorship (or lack thereof) was a major theme. However, contrary to limited discussions found in scholarship, the sista circle conversation provided layers and nuance. Bypassing what is commonly known about the topic, participants challenged one another to see the fruitfulness of cross-cultural mentor relationships; rallied together to “make sure no woman leaves without talking to mentors in the room”; pushed each other to use past experiences as a teacher; and critiqued the ways in which over-extended Black women mentors are always expected to give more. Bearing faithful witness to the loving yet firm conversations where Black women challenged dominant (and, sometimes, internalized) ideologies and each other revealed the power of culturally relevant support spaces. The deep talk/articulation (King, Barnes-Wright, & Gibson, 2013) led to both visible and verbal expressions of gratitude and a sense of healing and recovery. Following a group photo that commemorated the experience, several participants continued the conversation as they exchanged business cards and hugs, ready to go back into the organizational spaces they occupy with renewed visions and energy.

A Call to Action

In order for Black women advisors to continue doing vital work that benefits the university and its constituents, the importance of sista circles—formal and informal—must be recognized and the spaces be implemented. Such a call to action need not be taken as a call for total or perpetual separation nor should the call be taken seriously solely by Black women. Supporting Black women (and other women of color) in creating spaces made for them by them, within the national organization and at their respective institutions, will help promote a more just and diverse field of advising where both student and advisor receive uncompromised care and support.

Elia Tamplin
Coordinator, Experiential Learning
Undergraduate Studies and Academic Partnerships
Texas Woman’s University
[email protected]


Ali, M., & Johns, S. (2018, December). Compassion fatigue and self-care for academic advisors. Academic Advising Today, 41(4). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Compassion-Fatigue-and-Self-Care-for-Academic-Advisors.aspx

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989, 139–167. Retrieved from https://philpapers.org/archive/CREDTI.pdf?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000603

Dorsey, L. K. (2000). Sister circles: An exploration of small group communication among African American women (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (304597556)

Harman, E. (2018, September). Recharging our emotional batteries: The importance of self-care for front line advisors. Academic Advising Today, 41(3). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Recharging-Our-Emotional-Batteries-The-Importance-of-Self-Care-for-Front-Line-Advisors.aspx

Hall, R. M., & Sandler, B. R. (1982). The campus climate: A chilly one for women? Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED215628.pdf

Henry, W. J., & Glenn, N. M. (2009). Black women employed in the ivory tower: Connecting for success. Advancing Women in Leadership, 29, 1–18. doi:10.18738/awl.v29i0.271

Kim, E. (2014). Bicultural socialization experiences of Black immigrant students at a predominantly white institution. The Journal of Negro Education83(4), 580–594. doi:10.7709/jnegroeducation.83.4.0580

King, T. C., Barnes-Wright, L., & Gibson, N. E. (2013). Andrea’s third shift: The invisible work of African-American women in higher education. In G. Anzaldua & A. Keating (Eds.), This bridge we call home: Radical visions for transformation (pp. 417–428). New York, NY: Routledge.

Neal-Barnett, A. M., Stadulis, R., Payne, M. R., Crosby, L., Mitchell, M., Williams, L., & Williams-Costa, C. (2011). In the company of my sisters: Sister circles as an anxiety intervention for professional African American women. Journal of Affective Disorders, 129(1-3), 213–218. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.08.024

Spann, J. (1990). Retaining and promoting minority faculty members: Problems and possibilities. Madison: The University of Wisconsin System.

Strayhorn, T. L. (2015). Reframing academic advising for student success: From advisor to cultural navigator. NACADA Journal, 35(1), 56–63.

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Cultivating Dual Resilience: Teaching Shame Recovery and Image Rebuilding through Academic Advising

Tanya Wineland, Kansas State University

Tanya Wineland, jpgThe universal sensation known as shame is an individual emotional story of what is flawed, unworthy, and does not belong (Brown, 2006). Experienced in the home, workplace, and learning environment (Johnson, 2012), a shame story impairs the holistic self over time. Emerging college students are shame-prone to an unknown extent as shame is linked to both the internalizing and externalizing of psychological symptoms not limited to anxiety, depression, inferiority, anger, blame, eating disorders, and substance abuse (Mills, 2005). An invisible wound eventually healed, shame can be a powerful scar story for students who may or may not be in a status of academic concern. Depending on where they are developmentally, college students will not always require a courage-building or empathic advising approach, although they will need to experience their individual importance in a supportive environment and know they matter.

When a student’s reflections are invited to the advising conversation, and their shame story need not be recounted, the student begins to mine their academic experience. Mining helps the student find or remember their potential. It happens slowly at first: a student notices how they feel while talking to their advisor or after an advising session. In time, especially with the support of other resources, the student discovers how they learn best and gains in that understanding. Watch them delve in and make connections across their coursework, learning in layers throughout each semester. The student may even find comfort in resting their fears or worries to build anew. What the student extracts from mining experience is individual to their needs. When their courage and vulnerability are allowed expression throughout the advising process, a new reality takes form. This practice directs students onto the path of shame recovery and image rebuilding as identified by Van Vliet (2008). Perhaps at the same time something else is also happening.

Shame could be described as a mix of embarrassing feelings that promote inadequacy and inferiority of the self to varying degrees of distress that impact performance, function, and interaction. It is a threat central to both internal and external development (Mills, 2005). Creating a story involving feelings of doubt and hurt that attack the self allows shame to hijack individual potential. Coping with shame may lead to running, hiding, withdrawing, swallowing or stuffing it down, disappearing, or worse (Van Vliet, 2008). Shame is hard to manage and even harder to hide. When an individual’s shame signals are misunderstood by observers, it creates a bias, discomfort, and unfortunately, a deepening of the individual’s shame. Avoiding another’s gaze, looking down, moving the head downward, or hiding in some way conveys submissive attempts at minimizing rejection or lessening damage to social standing (Van Vliet, 2008).

Though it may be said that advisors are tasked with meeting multicultural students where they are, when shame is recognized but not addressed, it is the befriending saboteur who silently leads students away from an institution. Advisors are more recently learning they have to help the emerging student sort through much more at the pre-referral stage, which may include identifying shame experiences for the purposes of recommending counseling as a wellness support. Unfortunately, the need for counseling may be seen as shaming to the student, their family, or by their culture (Brown, 2006). Highly shame-prone students are more likely to connect with an empathetic ally to externalize shame experiences as part of their recovery process (Johnson, 2012). Therefore, responding with empathy is one powerful way advisors can increase or restore students’ sense of connection and personal power (Brown, 2006).

An empathic advising approach might include Van Vliet’s (2008) rebuilding process as a way to support students overcoming shame. The rebuilding technique moves through categories of connecting, refocusing, accepting, understanding, and resisting (p. 238). Steps within each category will need to be adapted for the student audience and are best engaged in a nonsequential order when advising. “With rebuilding, individuals restore and expand their positive self-concept, repair and strengthen their connections to the outside world, and increase their sense of power and control” (Van Vliet, 2008, p. 238). When advisors continually lead students to a space of self-empathy to reflect on academic or social experiences, a resilience to shame develops with students outside the advising session, encouraging them to become active agents. Teaching shame recovery and image rebuilding through advising is an impactful practice as a significant association was identified between shame and burnout where students are concerned (Johnson, 2012).

Academic shame may be fueled by actual experience and perception: to the individual who is outside a balanced state, they are processed similarly because the line between story and data blurs. No matter where a shame story originated, it can impact a student’s academic performance and persistence. Shame is a thick smoke clouding the air, blanketing a student’s academic achievement so they cannot see when they do well. The shame-prone student will focus mostly on the bad or wrong things done.

When the advisor meets a student who presents fears to the point of vulnerability or shame, yet does not inquire further, an important relationship-building opportunity is missed. Without this connection, yet with referral in hand to see a campus counselor, the greater message to a student is, “My advisor doesn’t understand me.” Advisor and advisee, like the narrative researcher and their participant, are “in the midst of their lives” (Johnson & Christensen, 2014, p. 429). The advisee intends to get what they want out of their time in college and working towards a degree. Their advisor intends to teach them the best ways to do both. Whatever gets in the way of this agreement is in the advisor’s realm of responsibility to address, because barriers, perceived or otherwise, have the potential to impact a student’s academic and personal well-being.

Students and their advisors are people in progress, actors performing unique living histories one moment at a time. Embedded somewhere in the experiences of both are shame stories. Parallel to the narratives of researchers and participants, the stories of advisors and advisees are also under study in the advising space (Johnson & Christensen, 2014). If shame affects students, did advisors encounter shame when they were students? Could there be advisors who encounter shame still? As many develop professional potential by continuing their education, it is likely that shame affects the experience of advisors at some point in their career. This thought warrants investigation because of the common vulnerability shared by advisors and students alike in their mining along Brown’s (2006) continuum of shame resilience, removing precious gems from earthen soil.

Relational guidance from core competencies (NACADA, 2017) produced by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising recommends intentional, trust-building, and meaningful communication in academic advising (as explained by Farr & Cunningham, 2017). When appropriately introduced to the advising dialogue, empathy and vulnerability present opportunities for connection and building mutual resilience. Adopting shame recovery and image rebuilding strategies, advisees begin to find their way, their purpose. Their confidence grows, allowing them to participate more as collaborators in advising sessions. Advisors are their teachers who still learn: the same empathic approach and dialogue used with an external student can also speak to the advisor’s internal student. Both students and advisors can build resilience to feelings of inferiority in the complex post-secondary environment to become the most centered and creative versions of themselves. If shame is a global human experience, it can weaken the educated and novice alike and does not conclude with graduation.

Cultivating dual resilience is an individual goal for the advisor and advisee working in tandem. Advisees find improvement in acknowledging experiences and through self-empathy until they can manage their shame. Advisors can lead others to a space of self-empathy, yet some may be challenged with speaking about shame or creating a space to understand their own. Either case calls for empathy. Engaging in a dual resilience-cultivating practice is for any advisor or academic professional who desires to use connection (Brown, 2006; Van Vliet, 2008) as a way to help themself and their students demonstrate that who and what the self is, is enough. Future research on this topic may reveal sensitivity as an underrated skill of academic advisors.

Student populations experience shame in different ways. The shame story of a student with a hidden disability who needs but does not want a medical withdrawal will differ from the student-athlete on scholarship facing probation, which also differs from the high-achieving student who makes their first C grade in a course at mid-term. The barriers students perceive from these experiences can feel insurmountable at points and they should not be led to feel dismissed. Without the right salve of empathy and courage-building support from their advisor, the success of these students is left to chance. By all means, meet students where they are first. Then, meet their courage where it hides. Shame is a complex story best viewed with deep curiosity for the purposes of adding to the academic advising conversation. There is promise in using narrative inquiry to identify the role shame plays in students’ stories through their academic experiences, because there is a link between shame resilience and academic resilience.

Tanya Wineland
Academic Advising Graduate Student
Kansas State University Global Campus
[email protected]


Brown, B. (2006). Shame resilience theory: A grounded theory on women and shame. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 87(1), 43–52.

Farr, T., & Cunningham, L. (2017). Academic advising core competencies guide. Manhattan, KS: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Johnson, D. E. (2012). Considering shame and its implications for student learning. College Student Journal, 46(1), 3–17.

Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2014). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Mills, R. S. L. (2005). Taking stock of the developmental literature on shame. Developmental Review, 25(2005), 26–63. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2004.08.001

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

Van Vliet, K. J. (2008). Shame and resilience in adulthood: A grounded theory study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55(2), 233–245.

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Changing Major, Staying on Track: Bringing Data-Driven Insights into Tried-and-True Graduation Pathways to Advising

Sarah Blanchard Kyte, The University of Arizona

Sarah Kyte.jpgHigher education is being reshaped by our increasingly data-driven world. While this presents larger questions how universities leverage student data, these efforts are typically led by institutional researchers, business analysts, and external vendors further removed from the day-to-day interactions between students and the practitioners that support them (Campbell, DeBlois, & Oblinger, 2007; Fletcher & Karp, 2015; Gaines, 2014; Higgins, 2017). As a primary point of contact between universities and students, academic advisors are often asked to integrate data-driven tools into their practice but only rarely do the concerns of advisors guide the creation of new approaches to institutional data (Carlton, 2010; Klempin, Grant, & Ramos, 2018; Nutt, 2017; Underwood & Anderson, 2018). However, by bringing the advising perspective to relatively simple analyses of student data, new opportunities can be found to support student pathways with helpful information.

At my institution—The University of Arizona—we recently put such an approach into action to learn more about student pathways between majors and to share our findings in an informative and actionable way with our advising community. In doing so, we aimed to use a data-driven perspective on past student decision-making vis-a-vis majors to improve—even in a small way—how we support students as they navigate their options at our university. Here, I describe in detail some of the thinking behind this effort, the end product, and the process of creating a conversation around this work with the advising community. By sharing this work with a larger audience in this format, we hope to empower and inspire others to consider replicating or extending these efforts at their own institutions.

The Challenge and Opportunity in Supporting Students Changing Majors

At many large institutions of higher education, like the University of Arizona, students are able to choose between a hundred or more different academic programs set within a number of colleges. Consistent with national trends (Leu, 2017), at our university, nearly half of students who have graduated in recent years changed major at least once.

Changing majors can be an exciting moment for students but also one that presents risk. On the one hand, choosing a new major can indicate that the student has found their academic home at the university with a set of accompanying socioemotional benefits including a heightened sense of purpose, belonging, and motivation that are all critical for student persistence (Montag, Campo, Weissman, Walmsley, & Snell, 2012; Soria & Stebleton, 2013; Tinto, 2004). On the other hand, a change of major can disrupt key relationships, including those with advisors who typically serve students according to major (Carmack & Carmack, 2016). Moreover, because graduating hinges on meeting major-specific course requirements, landing within a final major quickly and efficiently is important for timely graduation (Sklar, 2018).

Identifying Tried-and-True Graduation Pathways: Learning from Past Student Behavior

When choosing a major, students have historically drawn on their experiences inside and outside of the classroom, including coursework, faculty, advisor input, career goals, and their growing knowledge about disciplines and industries (Blanchard Kyte & Riegle-Crumb, 2017; Gordon & Steele, 1992; Montag et al., 2012; Ruder & Van Noy, 2018; Sklar, 2018). One additional source of information that students previously did not have access to was objective insight into what change-of-major choices students like them made in the past and how these shaped their graduation outcomes. At our university, we were able to provide this data-driven view of past student pathways—or the student journey from their starting major to their final major—thanks to the availability of student data and some simple analytical tools and know-how.

To provide students and advising professionals with the most useful information about the trends among past students, we established two key criteria for the pathways we wanted to highlight, which we combined in the phrase, “tried-and-true graduation pathways.” First, we identified “tried” pathways by measuring how common each student pathway was among recent students to avoid generalizing about pathways that were in reality, very rare. Second, we identified pathways where students tended to graduate within four years (i.e. “true” pathways). Therefore to be “tried-and-true,” a pathway needed to have been travelled by at least 8 recent students and at least half of the students who tried it—whether 8 or 80—needed to have graduated within four years. These are fairly restrictive criteria; for context, of more than 3,300 total pathways taken by students who first enrolled in 2008 or later, fewer than 500 pathways met the dual criteria for a tried-and-true pathway.

In sharing insights from our analysis with our community, we present data on tried-and-true pathways into two types of major-specific reports that combine a data-driven infographic with positive messaging about changing major. The first type, titled “What else is out there?,” is meant to help students currently in one major think about what other majors they might want to consider. The second type, titled “Welcome to ______!,” offers insight into where students who changed into a particular major started their time at our university. The pertinent data on tried-and-true pathways related to the focal majors are presented using a bubble plot where the size of each bubble shows how common that particular pathway has been and the bubbles are color coded by college. Also included in each report is the percentage of students in that major who changed into or out of the focal major. An example of each type of infographic is shown below.

Kyte infographic.jpg

While we see these infographics as a useful data-point in conversations between advisors and students interested in changing majors, there are several important caveats to keep in mind. First, the tried-and-true designation likely reflects both shared student interest between the starting and ending major but also the alignment between the courses required by each major. In this way, pathways between majors with similar course-requirements are more likely to allow for four-year graduation and therefore,­ be considered tried-and-true. In addition, though we focus on four-year graduation, many more students will go on to graduate with additional time. Most importantly, data is not destiny. Working closely with an advisor is the key to successfully navigating any pathway that a student may choose; therefore, the historical prevalence of particular pathways should not dissuade students from forging the path that is right for them. At the same time, those pursuing off-the-beaten-path changes of major should do so with the support and guidance of their advisors and other mentors.

Putting Data-Driven Insights into Practice

Sharing this information across our campus entailed a collaboration between the analytical team, the Advising Resource Center, the advising community, and the colleges. We began by making this work the focus of one of our ongoing lunch and learn sessions through the Advising Resource Center. The thirty or so academic advisors who attended learned more about the work and its motivation, took a deep dive into interpreting a few of the infographics and worked together to think about different ways to incorporate these insights into various advising activities throughout the student life cycle. In particular, advisors suggested using them during orientation and registration conversations with students interested in exploring related majors, to help undecided students declare a major, in identifying parallel plans for students struggling to thrive in their current major, in major-exploration courses, and during new advisor training.

Interest in this work spread beyond the advising community such that new opportunities to support student pathways were opened up with several colleges and offices across campus. As one small example, the College of Public Health decided to incorporate the “Welcome to Public Health!” infographic in their change-of-major orientation. We also discussed with Curricular Affairs how bringing detailed course-requirement information into the analysis could allow colleges with large populations of undecided students to create more efficient graduation pathways for their students starting in their first semester. Finally, we are working to integrate these data into various online degree-exploration tools offered to prospective and current students.

In the big picture, what we have begun here is one small, but hopefully useful, tool developed in partnership between local experts in advising and analytics. In an era where third-party vendors are using cutting-edge machine learning approaches to mine massive institutional datasets for insights into student success, there is still tremendous unexplored value in small, targeted efforts to understand the pathways carved by students across our universities. Our hope in sharing the story of this work with the wider advising community is that others will consider gathering those simple data points—where students started out, where they ended up, and whether or not they graduated—to learn about the tried-and-true graduation pathways at their own institutions. More importantly, by bringing this new vantage point on the choices and outcomes of students who have come before them into their conversations with current students, advisors can offer additional food-for-thought as they support students’ choices during their postsecondary journey.

Sarah Blanchard Kyte
Senior Research Scientist
Student Success and Retention Innovation
The University of Arizona
[email protected]


Blanchard Kyte, S., & Riegle-Crumb, C. (2017). Perceptions of the social relevance of science: Exploring the implications for gendered patterns in expectations of majoring in STEM fields. Social Sciences, 6(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6010019

Campbell, J. P., DeBlois, P. B., & Oblinger, D. G. (2007). Academic analytics: A new tool for a new era. EDUCAUSE Review, 42(4), 40–57.

Carlton, D. (2010). What do you think academic advising will be like in another ten years? The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 12(1).

Carmack, A. L., & Carmack, H. J. (2016). S-PASS: Using hand-off communication strategies for academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 39(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/S-PASS-Using-Hand-off-Communication-Strategies-for-Academic-Advising.aspx

Fletcher, J., & Karp, M. (2015). Using technology to reform advising: Insights from colleges. New York, NY: Columbia University, Teachers College, Community College Research Center.

Gaines, T. (2014). Technology and academic advising: Student usage and preferences. NACADA Journal, 34(1), 43–49. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-13-011

Gordon, V. N., & Steele, G. E. (1992). Advising major-changers: Students in transition. NACADA Journal, 12(1), 22–27. https://doi.org/10.12930/0271-9517-12.1.22

Higgins, E. M. (2017). The advising relationship is at the core of academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 40(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/The-Advising-Relationship-is-at-the-Core-of-Academic-Advising.aspx

Klempin, S., Grant, M., & Ramos, M. (2018). Practitioner perspectives on the use of predictive analytics in targeted advising for college students (CCRC Working Paper No. 103). New York, NY: Columbia University, Teachers College, Community College Research Center.

Leu, K. (2017). Beginning college students who change their majors within 3 years of enrollment (Data Point No. NCES 2018434). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/datapoints/2018434.asp

Montag, T., Campo, J., Weissman, J., Walmsley, A., & Snell, A. (2012). In their own words: Best practices for advising millenial students about majors. NACADA Journal, 32(2), 26–35. https://doi.org/10.12930/0271-9517-32.2.26

Nutt, C. (2017). Creating a data-driven advising culture: Overcoming three central roadblocks. Academic Advising Today, 40(1). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-Executive-Director-Creating-a-Data-Driven-Advising-Culture-Overcoming-Three-Central-Roadblocks.aspx

Ruder, A., & Van Noy, M. (2018). Adjusting expectations: The impact of labor market information on how undergraduates view majors and careers. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center. Retrieved from https://smlr.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Centers/eerc_majorchoice_issue_brief_final_0.pdf

Sklar, J. C. (2018). Event history analysis for investigating the likelihood and timing of changing majors. NACADA Journal, 38(1), 47–60. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-17-039

Soria, K. M., & Stebleton, M. (2013). Major decisions: Motivations for selecting a major, satisfaction, and belonging. NACADA Journal, 33(2), 29–43. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-13-018

Tinto, V. (2004). Student retention and graduation: Facing the truth, living with the consequences. Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED519709.pdf

Underwood, Z. W., & Anderson, M. (2018). Technology and academic advising: A case for embracing change in academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 41(1). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Technology-and-Academic-Advising-A-Case-for-Embracing-Change-in-Academic-Advising.aspx


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A Landing Pad for Helicopter Guests: The Friends & Family Program at IUPUI

Karley Clayton, Melissa Cooper, and Keely Floyd, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Clayton, Cooper, Floyd.jpgAcademic and Career Development (ACD) at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is an integrated office of academic advisors and career consultants who collaborate to support holistic student development. During the summer, the staff of ACD works closely with other IUPUI offices to offer two-day orientation programs for incoming first-year students. Academic planning is the major focus of these orientation sessions, and in this time of Generation Z support systems, students often are not the only campus visitors during orientation. Many bring guests, including parents, guardians, older siblings, and trusted friends, to help them navigate their two days on campus.

On the second day of orientation, while students are engaged with advisors in registration rooms, the Friends & Family Program gives students’ guests a productive way to be engaged without looking over the shoulder of the student and their advisor during the course registration process. Originally offered in Summer 2017, the 40-minute session discusses common myths regarding career development, includes facts about the current employment market, walks guests through the career exploration process at IUPUI, and helps the audience learn about resources to share with their students.

The Friends & Family Program enhances the orientation experience for students, their guests, and orientation staff in many ways and provides career consultants with a valuable connection during an already-crowded orientation schedule.

Leverage Generation Z Supporters’ Need to be Helpful

The role of parents and guardians has evolved from occasional guest or auditor at orientation to being a “key stakeholder” in their student’s college and orientation experience (Merriman, 2006, p. 12).  With the rising costs of college, parents and guardians are often forced to be investors—nearly 69% are contributing to the cost of their student’s degree (Sallie Mae, 2014, p. 9). Thus, advisors are charged with maintaining a fine balance between keeping these stakeholders involved in orientation while empowering students to begin gaining autonomy.

Aside from financial considerations, parents and guardians of Generation Z (born 1995–2005) are more involved in their child’s life than in previous generations (Seemiller & Grace, 2016). Approximately 67% of Generation Z students name their parents as their main role models, and nearly 50% state they seek their parent’s advice first for important life decisions—including major and career exploration. Likewise, they are in constant communication; the average parent communicates with their student approximately thirteen times a week through phone calls, texts, social media, and other channels (Ramsey, Oberhauser, & Gentzler, 2016). When a student is considering changing their major or reconsidering their career plan, their parents or guardians—not their academic or career advisor—are likely to be the first person to whom they disclose this information. Therefore, equipping parents and guardians with career development resources is an excellent use of time during orientation.

Provide Early Intervention for Students Questioning Majors

Students who participate in a career intervention before or during their first year of college have significantly increased one-year retention rates and four-year graduation rates (Clayton, Wessel, McAtee, & Knight, 2018). This research can be particularly important at an urban-serving institution like IUPUI, as many students arrive on campus with little knowledge of, or exposure to, professional fields. A majority of incoming IUPUI students attending orientation pre-select the most common majors: nursing, engineering, business, etc. Very few enter with majors like cytotechnology, philanthropic studies, medical humanities, or sustainable policy management (to name a few), evidence that they have done little career research prior to their major selection. Research confirms that if their original choice of major turns out to be a poor fit, the student’s ability to persevere through their degree plan is often impacted.

If can be difficult, however, to convince incoming students of the importance of exploring other options. That is why the first slides in the Friends & Family Program give guests data about the importance of career exploration. Guests learn that, according to research conducted loosely by several organizations, today’s professionals will change professional roles as many as 10–15 times (Doyle, 2018). They learn that in a 2013 study conducted by ACT administrators, 80% of college test-takers reported having declared a college major, though only 36% of them chose a major in line with their interests (Rehling, 2015). Session attendees learn their students will spend an average of 85,000 hours working during their lifetime (Sitkus, 2017), making it important to choose majors in line with their interests. They also learn that, according to research by Angela Duckworth, only 13% of Americans are “engaged” in their work (Duckworth, 2016, p. 98).

Guests also spend time debunking the following career development myths:

  • There is only one perfect major/career for every person.
  • A student’s major will automatically guide them to a career.
  • Career decisions are lifelong decisions.
  • Liberal arts, humanities, and sciences are not marketable majors.
  • Career decisions should be made based on the current job market.
  • Students should know what they are passionate about before declaring a major.

When guests are able to achieve a deeper understanding of the choices that their students will face when it comes to selecting a major and career path, they will be better equipped to support their students through those difficult moments. After attending the Friends & Family Program, they are armed with information and resources to help their student more proactively seek the assistance that is available to them.

Relieve Over-Crowded Registration Rooms

In previous summers, academic advisors have conducted group advising sessions in classrooms spaces packed to capacity with students and their guests. These overcrowded spaces often left students and staff strained by loud volumes, extensive back-and-forths between students and guests, and standing-room-only conditions. After working through those circumstances during the two-month orientation season, advisors began to grow fatigued.  

At the same time, the career consultants had long been lobbying to include career programming during orientation but had not been successful in having the programming included in the students’ itinerary. Enter the Friends & Family Program, which takes place during the group registration session and helps clear much of the congestion of the registration spaces. Attendance at the program is not officially required, but guests are automatically directed to the session by orientation leaders while their students are guided toward their registration classrooms. While students are typing away on laptop computers and negotiating daily schedules, their guests are learning about the importance of career development and gathering details about resources, events, and partnerships that are available as supports. The guests then become partners and advocates for student retention and are better-equipped to support their student through the important career exploration process.  

Program Impact

In 2018, over 1,050 people attended the Family & Friends Program, and 99.5% of program attendees stated that the information presented in the program was relevant to them as a parent, guardian, or supporter. One attendee declared that “this program answered questions I didn’t even know I had,” and shared that it assisted her in gaining the tools to talk about major and career exploration with her student.  Another guest said the presentation “gave me confidence that there are a lot of resources and support available to my student.” Many surveys commented that the Family & Friends Program should be more prominently placed in the orientation schedule, since the information was so relevant to their student. 

Academic and Career Development at IUPUI practices an integrated model of advising, built on the belief that conversations about academic coursework and career outcomes should take place simultaneously. One of the most important outcomes of the Family & Friends Program is that it reinforces the unified efforts of academic and career advising to students, orientation guests, and offices across campus. The results of this program provide evidence that academic advisors and career development professionals can collaborate to provide important and timely information to guests, while also creating a streamlined approach to advising and registration during orientation. A program like Family & Friends is a way for career development to be shared at orientation, an opportunity to build stronger partnerships, and an effective way to redirect and give the Generation Z helicopter guests a landing pad during the registration process.

Karley Clayton
Career Consultant, Academic and Career Development
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
[email protected]

Melissa Cooper
Career Consultant, Academic and Career Development
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
[email protected]

Keely Floyd
Career Consultant, Academic and Career Development
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
[email protected]


Clayton, K., Wessel, R., McAtee, J., & Knight, W. (2018). KEY Careers: Increasing retention and graduation rates with career interventions. Journal of Career Development. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894845318763972

Doyle, A. (2018). How often do people change jobs? Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467

Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. New York, NY: Scribner/Simon & Schuster.

Merriman, L (2006). Best practices for managing parent concerns: A mixed methods study of student affairs practice at doctoral research institutions (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of California, Los Angeles.

Ramsey, M. A., Oberhauser, A. M., & Gentzler, A. L. (2016). College students’ use of communication technology with parents: Influences of distance, gender, and social presence. The Psychology of Social Networking, 10(10), doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0534

Rehling, N. (2015). Selecting a college major. Retrieved from https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Choice-of-College-Majors.pdf

Sallie Mae, Inc. (2014). How America pays for college, 2014: Sallie Mae's national study of college students and parents. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED560123

Seemiller, C. & Grace, M. (2016). Generation Z goes to college. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Sitkus, C. (2017). ⅓ of your life is spent at work. Retrieved from http://www.gettysburg.edu/news_events/press_release_detail.dot?id=79db7b34-630c-4f49-ad32-4ab9ea48e72b


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Fantasy vs Reality: Five Simple Ways to Help Liberal Arts Students Formulate a Future

Aurora Alexander, Kent State University
Kristi Kamis, Hiram College

Kristi Kamis.jpgAurora Alexander.jpgDuring the twentieth century, when individuals had more career options and could hold the same job throughout most of their career, academic advisors performed five basic functions: exploring life goals, exploring vocational goals, choosing programs, choosing courses, and scheduling courses (O’Banion, 1994). However, in today’s 21st century economy, it is no longer enough for advisors to help students choose a major and craft a course schedule (Shaffer & Zalewski, 2011). Rather, advisors need to help students create a step-by-step plan for achieving their long-term goals and preparing for unexpected barriers along the way. Thus, career advising is now an important function of academic advising.

Some may argue that career advising should be the sole responsibility of career services offices. However, this is problematic because career services offices, although beneficial, are most often utilized by students who are approaching graduation or have no idea what they want to do. Thus, they often miss students who think they know their career goal but are misinformed or have no plan for achieving their long-term goals. For this reason, it is important for advisors to help these students extract the reality from the job title and create a plan for achieving their long-term goals. This is especially true for liberal arts students, whose degrees do not connect to a single career. For some, finding time to integrate career advising into a 30–45 minute appointment slot may not seem feasible (Menke, 2016). However, advisors do not need to be career experts to help students construct a career pathway. Rather, with five simple strategies, advisors can make career advising a routine component of their advising appointments.

Myths About a Liberal Arts Degree

Most academic advisors are aware of the myth that liberal arts students are unemployable. Although professionals who work with liberal arts students know this is untrue, advisors are faced with the chore of disproving this myth every day and helping students defend their degree choice to naysayers. Students should understand that there are several advantages to acquiring a liberal arts degree, including acquiring soft skills that employers value, having several career paths from which to choose that align with their interests and goals, and not having to attend graduate school to attain a job in their field.

Five Ways to Help Liberal Arts Students Formulate a Future

Go beyond the reason for the appointment.  Although student affairs professionals hope students attend college for the sake of learning, most are driven by the expectation of increasing their employment prospects. Knowing this, it is important for academic advisors to help students work toward this reality during advising appointments. When students want nothing more than to receive a list of courses for which to register, it can be difficult to initiate a career conversation. However, despite this setback, going beyond the understood reason for the appointment does not have to be as difficult as it seems. Rather, it can be as simple as asking four questions: “How is your semester going?” “Are you struggling with any classes?” “Which classes do you enjoy the most?” and “Which classes do you enjoy the least?” Let’s consider the following example:

As a student arrives for an advising appointment, the advisor starts by asking one simple question: “How is your semester going?” The student says things are going well, and that they received a C on their statistics midterm, which is a step in the right direction because they do not do well with math. After congratulating the student, the advisor asks “Which courses do you enjoy the most?” to find that the student LOVES their abnormal psychology class. However, on the opposite spectrum, the student hates their biology class and hopes to never take another science class again.

So, during this conversation, which may have taken 3–4 minutes, what has the advisor already learned? The student should probably stay away from STEM and research-based careers, considering they hate biology and received a C on their statistics midterm. However, the student loves learning about mental health, and may enjoy working with individuals with mental health struggles in the future. The student should probably avoid pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology because much math and science would be involved, but may want to consider finding a bachelor’s-level job in a mental health setting. Sure, the student may not be thinking along these lines yet, but these are things that advisors can talk to students about to get them to think about their futures, and they come during the first few minutes of an appointment. Then, the advisor can delve into course planning and other checkmark items (aka. the student’s intended reason for the appointment) later during the appointment.

Extract the reality from the job title. Academic advisors should ask students why they are choosing a specific career and listen to their answer to determine if they made a well-informed choice. If the student’s rationale does not seem sound, it may be beneficial to ask the student branch questions that prompt more thought, such as “Do you know what an average work day looks like for someone with that job title?” If needed, an advisor can suggest alternative careers that compel the student to explore other career possibilities.

Begin planting the seed of professionalism.  Academic advisors are not only responsible for guiding students through the tricky terrain of education, but also for preparing them for the professional journey ahead. Accordingly, when encouraging students to establish connections with faculty, instructors, graduate school coordinators, and other professionals, advisors should also be prepared to help them understand how to properly interact with these individuals.

Teach students to take small steps toward achieving their long-term goals. According to Nevitt Sanford (1966), academic advisors have a responsibility to place students in challenging situations. However, with too much challenge, a student may try to escape or ignore the situation, and with too little challenge, a student may never face new challenges. For this reason, advisors need to provide an appropriate balance of challenge and support to help students reach their goals. Let’s consider the following scenario:

An advisor is meeting with a student who is interested in becoming a school counselor. The advisor knows that the student needs to start thinking about the steps to preparing for and applying to graduate school. However, as the advisor discusses these steps, they can tell the student is panicked. Chances are, this is the first time the student has heard about the graduate school application process and feels overwhelmed.

Of course, it is important to give students all the information and resources they need to achieve their goals. However, when advisors bombard students with too much at once, it can make their once seemingly attainable goals feel out of reach. A simple solution is to break this information into smaller steps that the student can work toward now. Then, when the advisor meets with the student again, he or she see can review where the student has gotten on these steps and discuss what the next steps should be. Let’s continue the previous scenario:

Knowing the student is overwhelmed, the advisor works with the student to set three short-term goals, which include creating a school interest list, attaining an internship, and requesting a faculty advisor. The advisor and student then plan a follow-up meeting to review what information the student has gotten from these steps.

With this, the advisor has taken a previously challenging task and broken it into manageable steps that the student can take in pursuit of his or her long-term goal of becoming a school counselor.

Follow up with resources. Academic advisors cover much information during advising appointments. Yet, students are unlikely to remember everything advisors discuss with them during an appointment. To help students and themselves, advisors should send a follow-up email to students after an appointment to remind them of what they discussed. Although a follow-up email can take any form, consider including the following information:

  • Greeting (Hi ____,)
  • A brief message (i.e. “It was a pleasure meeting with you! Please see below and attached for the resources we discussed during your appointment:”)
  • A bulleted list of relevant resources and web links with descriptions (i.e. “Visit this page to review the process for applying for an internship: [Insert web link here]”)
  • Additional reminders (i.e. “Remember that the deadline to apply for Fall 2019 graduation is THIS Friday, September 13.”)
  • A closing statement (“Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great semester!”)

Baby Steps to Better Advising

Although time is sparse, academic advisors should take advantage of any gap times during their work days to create resources that prompt students to think about their next steps. For instance, a handout about potential career fields, graduate school programs, or GRE preparation, given to the right student at the right time, can mean everything. Take time to develop resources that are tailored to frequently asked questions from students.

Aurora Alexander
Academic Advisor II
Department of Psychological Sciences
Kent State University
[email protected]

Kristi Kamis
Coordinator of Academic Development
Office of Career and Academic Development
Hiram College
[email protected]


Menke, D. J. (2016). Weaving career advising into academic advising. Academic Advising Today. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Weaving-Career-Advising-into-Academic-Advising.aspx

O’Bannon, T. (1994). An academic advising model. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 10–16. doi: 10.12930/0271-9517-14.2.10

Sanford, N. (1966). Self and society. New York, NY: Atherton Press.

Shaffer, L. S., & Zalewski, J. M. (2011). Career advising in a VUCA environment. NACADA Journal, 31(1), 64–74. doi: 10.12930/0271-9517-31.1.64


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What Advising Administrators Can Do to Promote and Support Diversity in their College and Units

Yung-Hwa Anna Chow, Washington State University

Anna Chow.jpgQuestions about diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice remain unanswered at many of America’s universities. While universities often pride themselves on having diverse student populations, using glossy photos and brochures as part of their efforts to sell their twenty-first century exceptionality, a lack of effort to combat the toxicity of racism—much less create an empowering environment for every student—demonstrates how much may be missing from the faux diversity celebrations. As advising administrators, there are a number of actions that can be taken to support diversity on our campuses. U.S. national student demographics and recent campus incidents point to the need for advising administrators to promote diversity through hiring practices and training of advisors and by creating and maintaining inclusive, supportive work environments.

National Statistics: Student Demographics and Campus Incidents

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2018), between 2000 and 2016, the U.S. undergraduate Latinx student enrollment has increased every year from 1.4 million to 3.2 million, representing a 134% increase. Between 2000 and 2016, Black enrollment increased by 56%, Asian/Pacific Islander enrollment increased by 29%, and American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment increased by 1% (National Center for Education Statistics, 2018, Figure 2).

The changing demographics of higher education makes the discussion of diversity on college campuses essential in so many ways. However, most campuses also struggle to address diversity, especially in the face of numerous examples of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. In November 2016, a Washington State University student woke up to find homophobic slurs “Die fag!” and “Go 2 hell” painted on his car (Sokol, 2016); that following year, members of the College Republicans built an immigration wall on campus, only to be followed up by an anonymous video that demonized and ridiculed black students. In October 2017, bananas hung on rope fashioned into nooses were found all across the American University campus in Washington, D.C. (Anderson, 2017). In May 2018, police were called to Yale because a white student found a black graduate student taking a nap in her residence hall (Griggs, 2018). These are just a few examples of racist, sexist, xenophobia, and homophobic incidents on college campuses that have followed the 2016 presidential election. With increased diversity (and the resulting resistance), the failures of university administrators and faculty to foster change has become that much more damaging.  

Diversity Hiring of Advisors

With the increase of diversity in undergraduate students, increased visibility of racism, and growing demands from marginalized students, most universities have not been able to mirror this diversity in personnel that serve students directly, such as advisors or student services providers. Most often, diversity hires are focused on the hiring of faculty and administrators, not on staff. A dissertation written by Jenny Kwon, a special-projects administrator in the University of California at Berkeley’s office of the chancellor, compared UC Berkeley and 10 public universities’ and found that staff diversity at the management level was not increasing at the same rate as student diversity. “While minority students made up about 58 percent of the student body at the 10 public universities, minority staff members accounted for only about 35 percent at the management level. By comparison, 65 percent of managerial staff members are white, while just 42 percent of students are white” (Chan, 2017). 

Diversity hires are important for universities in their efforts of recruiting and retaining students, creating inclusive environments, and helping students graduate and attain their educational and career goals all while being prepared for a multiracial, multicultural, and global work environment. As advisors are on the front lines of meeting each of these goals, universities must commit to ensure diversity within this part of its structure, service, and support. “Students of Color may find value in having an advisor who not only provides academic support, but one who also understands the ethnic and racial implications of being a student of Color” (Carnaje, 2016). Having advisors who match students’ racial background, sexual orientation, or disabilities allows students to establish trust and empathy through mutuality.

Many colleges and universities have begun the process of rewriting recruitment ads and training search committees on how to promote the hire and retention of diverse faculty members. As advising administrators, we can take a similar approach when advisor positions are approved for hiring. This effort might start with requiring search committee members to take an implicit bias test. “Project Implicit” through Harvard University offers several implicit association tests about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics (Project Implicit, n.d.). This might serve as a starting point for search committee members to check their own biases and discuss how to actively leave them out of the search and hire process.

Another recommendation to consider is adding specific questions that target diversity during the interview process. Questions below are some examples from different universities that allow the search committee to learn about a job candidate’s past experiences and their views and perceptions of diversity.

  • Provide an example of what you have done in a higher educational setting to improve success for students of color and economically disadvantaged students. Please provide an example of how you do this in your daily work (“Interview questions database,” n.d.).
  • What is your approach to enhancing your understanding of different cultures? In other words, how do you expand your own learning with regard to diversity? (“Diversity-related interview questions,” n.d.).
  • Describe an experience in which you collaborated with individuals while in a diverse, multicultural, and inclusive setting? Did you encounter any challenges? (“Examples of behavioral interview questions,” n.d.).

Professional Development and Continuous Training

Research has shown that advisors who harbor bias and stereotypes towards certain student populations can negatively impact their success and achievements (Arnsperger Selzer & Rouse, 2013). Misperceptions fueled by racist, sexist, or homophobic stereotypes can lead to biased behaviors from advisors when working with students. Thus, another way that an advising administrator can promote and support diversity is through professional development and continuous training.

Diversity is not limited to race and ethnicity. NACADA’s Mission statement defines diversity “across the vast array of intersections of identity, which includes but is not limited to age cohort, institutional type, employment role, location, nationality, socioeconomic status, faith, religion, ethnicity, ability/disability, gender identify, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation” (About NACADA, n.d.).

Advising administrators can promote professional development that addresses different types of diversity. By providing funding for advisors to attend NACADA Annual Conferences, advisors can attend conference sessions that specifically address diversity, inclusion, and social justice issues in advising or participate in the various Advising Communities that advocate for LGBTQA students/advisors, multicultural concerns, first-generation students, or students with disabilities, etc.

NACADA Region 8 (which includes Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Yukon Territory) has a Diversity and Social Justice Coordinator/Inclusivity and Engagement Coordinator. This individual works to represent the region’s inclusion and engagement interests, recruit members from under-presented populations, solicit nominations of advisors or advising administrators for awards, and also encourages submissions of proposals regarding diversity and social justice issues at Region 8 Conferences. There are also Diversity Committee sponsored sessions that advisors can attend at regional conferences.

At the institutional level, advising administrators should work with campus leaders to facilitate and require mandatory training. For most of our campuses, diversity changes over time, so advising administrators must also design training that shifts to keep up with the current trends. Topics such as how to support undocumented students, trans and ally trainings, microagressions on campus and in the classrooms, power and privilege, and recognizing ableism are just some of the issues that should be regularly covered. Attendance and participation in such trainings should be built into advisors’ annual review and promotion process. 

Creating and Maintaining Inclusive Environments

Investing in diversity does not stop after hiring and training. Advising administrators and campus leaders alike should work to create and maintain inclusive environments that fosters diversity and inclusion for their advisors. This might start with a review of existing services and activities offered to current advisors to find out how they are being supported. Are there mentoring programs in place to assist advisors with networking and promotion? Is pay equity being addressed on campus? Has there been a survey to collect feedback from advisors in regards to issues surrounding diversity and support? Does your campus have affinity groups to help build community and improve retention of diverse advisors, staff, and faculty? Are there specific units on campus that would address potential issues advisors may be experiencing themselves as they can be targets of their own students?

Diversity allows us to learn from others’ histories and perspectives, sharpen our critical thinking and apply multiple perspectives, and it exposes us to inequalities so that we may move forward to create a more just and equitable society. As advising administrators, we must take steps to create intentional efforts to promote and support diversity.  From hiring to training to retention, each of these steps require support and investment. 

Yung-Hwa Anna Chow
Director of Advising, College of Arts and Sciences
Washington State University
[email protected]


About NACADA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/About-Us.aspx

Anderson, M. D. (2017, October 19). How campus racism could affect black students’ college enrollment. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/10/how-racism-could-affect-black-students-college-enrollment/543360/

Arnsperger Selzer, R. & Rouse, J. E. (2013, September). Integrating social justice and academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 36(3). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Integrating-Social-Justice-and-Academic-Advising.aspx

Carnaje, E. (2016, March 1). Advising across race: Providing culturally-sensitive academic advising at predominately white institutions. The Vermont Connection, 37, 38–47. Retrieved from https://www.colorado.edu/odece/sites/default/files/attached-files/advising_across_race.pdf

Chan, J. C. (2017, June 29). Talk about diverse hiring often means faculty. What about staff? The Chronicles of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/Talk-About-Diverse-Hiring/240484

Diversity-related interview questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.umt.edu/diversity/Recruitment/intquest.php

Examples of behavioral interview questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/diversity/files/2017/04/Examples-of-Behavioral-Interview-Questions.pdf

Griggs, B. (2018, May 12). A black Yale graduate student took a nap in her dorm’s common room. So a white student called police. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/09/us/yale-student-napping-black-trnd/index.html

Interview questions database. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://uwosh.edu/equity/interview-questions/

National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). The condition of education 2018: Undergraduate enrollment. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cha.asp

Project Implicit. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

Sokol, C. (2016, November 11). WSU student finds gay slurs painted on his car. The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved from http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/nov/11/wsu-student-finds-homophic-slurs-painted-on-his-ca/


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Supervising in Academic Advising: Ten Lessons Learned in Ten Years

Julee Braithwaite, Brigham Young University

Julee Braithwaite.jpgAs the anniversary of my appointment as an academic advisement center supervisor approaches, I have become reflective. Although I had 20 years of experience as a professional academic advisor prior to my installment as supervisor, I had minimal training specific to supervising a team of student employees and academic advisors responsible for providing advisement to literally thousands of students. Over the course of 10 years, I have witnessed an ever-changing student advisee clientele, an expected turnover in my student employees, a clean sweep in my advising staff, numerous shifts in administrative leadership, and a total of five associate deans in my direct line of reporting. As I have matured in my position, I have acquired and subsequently shared lessons of learning with my staff, hoping to provide them with training that just might prepare them for supervisory positions someday!

Presented here are my 10-in-10 offerings to my eventual successor:

  1. Provide a constant message addressing the function and importance of academic advising. Years ago, I created an instructive presentation on the value of advising as a class assignment. The intent was to provide a true portrayal of the academic advising profession that could be presented to the college council and then to a more broad college audience; when those possibilities proved to be beyond my personal control and in fact impossible, I targeted departments instead with rather lukewarm results. Therefore, I have finally succeeded in communicating my message to newly hired advising staff in my office, members of the campus advising community, our college curriculum committee, each of my bosses, and any other willing audience.
  2. Beat the drum. In my earliest supervising experience, I could easily identify our advisement center’s resource needs; however, it quickly became clear that our needs were often denied by higher powers as resources were allocated elsewhere. I begrudgingly surrendered to denial decisions beyond my control while trying to stay hopeful and forward-thinking. Luckily, I had an associate dean that was a wise mentor. On one occasion, he patiently listened as I very frankly enumerated my frustrations. His response proved to be a lastingly profound mantra: Beat the drum. He kindly explained that denials are not personal, but routine in an institutional setting. Resources are limited and not automatically gifted upon request. He suggested that I persist in continuing to promote my area’s resource needs. In that way, if and when resources become available, advisement requests are immediately memorable and retrievable by decision-makers. 
  3. Recognize and utilize the strengths of your staff. One of the greatest challenges in assuming my supervisory role originally was the inheritance of someone else’s hiring decisions. That circumstance coupled with a temporary hiring freeze was ultra-limiting. When the freeze lifted and employees eventually phased out, I was painstakingly careful in handpicking an ideal advising staff well-suited to my management style.  Among the practices that I have incorporated into the hiring process to screen ability and suitability are:
  • A two-tiered interview process which includes an initial traditional appointment committee interview complete with questions and real-life scenarios, as well as a mock student appointment.
  • A determination to never feel pressured to make a hasty hiring choice. If the applicant pool doesn’t produce a well-suited candidate, it is better to re-open the position than to settle with the hope that extensive training can compensate for lacking ability/qualifications.

This process spanned several years; however, I now have an advising dream team assembled! Our success together is not due to meticulous hiring efforts alone—it is also attributable to observing on-the-job interactions and contributions, noting who really shines in various scenarios, and making staff assignments based on proven yet varied strengths.

  1. Delegate. As a new supervisor, I initially functioned under the mistaken perception that I needed to personally take on as much as possible in order to avoid overburdening my staff. Although my intentions were well-intended, the tradeoff was not ultimately worth it—in fact, this approach resulted in undue stress, uncompensated over-hours, and an under-utilized staff. The real jolting wake-up call came to me directly from my Dean, when he captured me after I had produced three convocation ceremonies in one day. Out of genuine concern, he instructed me to offload some of the roles that I had clung to for years.

That instruction was needed; however, the process has taken some time. Not surprisingly, my willing advising staff has assumed some of my responsibilities. Perhaps more surprisingly, we discovered that due to longstanding expectations, our office provides services to our college community that are not directly related to advising. Offloading those services has been more difficult to nuance since we do not want to appear to withhold service to our colleagues. With gradual and tactful effort, we have made strides in empowering college units to meet their own needs on their own timeline.

  1. Continue professional training and development. In the past, I halfheartedly dabbled in professional development opportunities. A feeling of complacency, contentment, and a bit of suspicion once prevailed in our campus community; therefore, I struggled to commit my efforts to formalized (and technically optional) professionalization. More recently, the overall environment and my personal attitudes have changed significantly. I can honestly report that my sense of professionalism, citizenship, and stewardship are now heightened due to training and development participation—my perspective is enhanced, knowledge expanded, practice refined, networking circles broadened, and the bottom line is clear: students, staff, and I are benefitting from additional professional training.
  2. Teach and trust students. Obviously we interact with a lot of students in our profession—not only advisees that seek our academic assistance, but also employees that sustain our office operations. As academic advisors, we are teachers of a sort to both student populations. Philosophies related to “advising as teaching” (Crookston as cited by Appleby, 2008, p. 85) and developmental vs. prescriptive (Crookston, 1994) and intentional vs. strengths-based advising (Schreiner & Anderson, 2005) are all applicable in our interactions with students.

Our advisement center mission statement contains a universal aspirational goal shared within the advising profession: “Teach and empower students to reach their potential” (Fine Arts & Communications Advisement Center, n.d.). In the recent past, the student employees in our office were awarded wage increases based primarily on longevity. After exploring other compensation models, we adopted one wherein students voluntarily complete several tasks and assignments in a series of certification levels to demonstrate skill, knowledge, and achievement.

Similarly, our student advisees are seeking training, instruction, and rewards (if not compensation) related to their academic needs. As academic advisors, we contribute to those needs; however, methods and models may vary. I appreciate the scaffolding analogy (Harland as cited by Hagen & Jordan, 2008, p. 23) wherein advisors provide a supportive structure for students in their formative college experience and gradually remove it as students learn to stand and function on their own.

With either student population, I have found that if we provide trusted training (scaffolding) and well-defined expectations (supportive structure), students will respond and often flourish.

  1. Establish a presence in curricular matters. Fortunately, my college has a longstanding tradition of including advisement in curricular issues, yet I am often shocked to find that this might not be common practice. I have suggested to several colleagues that they must maneuver their way into curriculum discussions, committees, and councils. As advisors, we view, track, interact with, and enforce curriculum pieces with experience, foresight, and history that faculty and departments may not fully comprehend due to ever-evolving assignments and ever-changing curriculum. Advisement truly needs a firm voice and established presence in curriculum planning and implementation.
  2. Value collegial relationships. One of the most rewarding and essential lessons that I have learned throughout my advising career is the value of associating with and learning from colleagues. I have benefitted from collegial associations on several levels. At whatever level, I have profited from these associations in a number of ways (e.g., broadening my circle of acquaintances, identifying referral resources, learning best practices, developing friendships, observing leadership styles, discovering go-to contacts, gaining respect for truly caring professionals, witnessing tactful communication and conflict resolution, and creating an environment that is welcoming on a daily basis).
  3. Practice humble confidence. I am admittedly an introvert. As such, I often prefer to observe from a distance rather than be in the thick of things. Prior to my appointment as supervisor, I had observed examples of leadership—some good, others not-so-good—that provided training to draw from. Luckily, I had some leadership opportunities in my personal, if not professional, life that somewhat prepared me for a supervisory position.

The conditions of my appointment were unconventional: I was presented a letter of understanding stating that I would act as interim supervisor for an indefinite period. After the fact, I theorized that because college administrators had not had the opportunity to view me (an introvert) as a leader due to a rather extroverted predecessor, they wanted me to prove myself; therefore, the position was offered on a tentative basis. I exerted myself then and every workday since then to be an active leader. One of my greatest professional compliments came a few months into my interim status when the then-Dean stated that I had assumed my position with aplomb. Within six months, I was officially named advisement supervisor. As I have functioned in that capacity since, I have sought a pleasing balance of humility and confidence. 

  1. Honor personal needs. Leonardo da Vinci offered these powerful words of advice: “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power” (Leonardo da Vinci, n.d.). Although work might be all-consuming and all-important at times, personal needs and self-care are too. We must learn to strike a balance between viewing our personal needs as an indulgent luxury rather than an actual necessity! “Go away” at appropriate times in order to return ready, refreshed, and rejuvenated.

Julee Braithwaite
Supervisor/Academic Advisor
College of Fine Arts & Communications
Brigham Young University
[email protected]    


Appleby, D.C. (2008). Advising as teaching and learning. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, and T. J. Grites (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., pp. 85–102). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Crookston, B.B. (1994). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 5–9. Retrieved from http://nacadajournal.org/doi/pdf/10.12930/0271-9517-14.2.5

Fine Arts & Communications Advisement Center. (n.d.) Our mission statement. Retrieved from https://advisement.cfac.byu.edu/about/mission-statement/

Hagen, P. L. & Jordan, P. (2008). Theoretical foundations of academic advising. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, and T. J. Grites (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., pp. 17–35). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Leonardo da Vinci Quotes. (n.d.). Goodreads. Retrieved July 27, 2018 from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/39001-every-now-and-then-go-away-have-a-little-relaxation

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/Concept.aspx

Schreiner, L. A., & Anderson, E. (2005). Strengths-based advising: A new lens for higher education. NACADA Journal, 25(2), 20–29. doi:10.12930/0271-9517-25.2.20


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Becoming a Positive Leader by Using Mutual Goodwill: A Concept of Interacting Positively with Students, Colleagues, and Stakeholders

Dawn Coder, The Pennsylvania State University, World Campus

Dawn Coder.jpgThe culture within an office whose team provides service to others can set the tone for communicating positively in each situation, whether it is with a student, colleague, or a stakeholder. Communicating with students, colleagues, and stakeholders can be difficult if past intentions are negative and cloud each and every contact. Implementing mutual goodwill on a team can change the entire dynamic of all communications by providing a positive tone in all interactions. The concept of mutual goodwill expects that in all communications, whether it is a difficult conversation or in asking questions, those involved show goodwill by not assuming any underlying agenda. The assumption is that all involved in the conversation are genuine in the context, regardless of past interactions, including the written or verbal tone of those interactions. All communication has the assumption of being positive and helpful to each other, which builds honesty and trust, facilitates positive relationships, offers forgiveness, and results in a culture of helping one another.

Understanding Mutual Goodwill

Mutual goodwill requires that:

  • Questions are asked in a positive, helpful way;
  • The tone in all communications is thankful and the person asking a question does not take the response personally but assumes it will be a positive outcome;
  • Detailed information is provided and if additional information is requested, it is provided without a negative connotation;
  • Once the decision is made, the person thanks the student, colleague, or stakeholder and does not use that interaction as an example of the next interaction with the person;
  • Each interaction is experienced as a new one. Past interactions are left in the past and not used except to learn from anything that was confusing;
  • Team members look for ways to improve relationships and always communicate, even in the most difficult situations, positively and directly without taking on the other person’s emotions or tones;
  • Individuals do not seek control over situations and assume that there are reasons for making a decision.

Forgiveness is necessary in order to follow the concepts of mutual goodwill. “Forgiveness restores hope and productivity in the workplace. Not forgiving creates separation. When we judge others, we must also look at ourselves and be honest about what we haven't been able to forgive in ourselves” said David Williams (2015). Forgiveness is a beginning. It is the first step in allowing a team to heal when faced with leaders who dictate rather than provide a democratic process for team members. Understanding personal issues and forgiving those personal issues will be key in following mutual goodwill and in bonding as a team, regardless of leadership style.

Consider a team culture which does not allow for mutual goodwill. Sally, the director of a unit, makes a decision to change roster sizes for all academic advisors. Alexis, an academic advisor on Sally’s team, has been with the team for five years and is disgruntled about the change. Sally is a manager who likes to dictate to her staff. She does not allow for positive relationships to be built and will not allow for anyone to speak their concerns about changes occurring. When Sally’s team members try to share concerns or opinions, she ends the conversation and states that she “has made her decision and they will need to support it.”

In this situation, the team is not experiencing mutual goodwill from leadership. Consider Williams’ (2015) comment “Sometimes forgiveness is withheld because we think it means we are accepting or condoning a behavior. This is self-serving and judgmental. Issues that could easily be resolved become personal and create unnecessary conflict in the workplace.” Mutual goodwill can begin with anyone. It does not have to start with leadership to positively affect the entire team. Although the team is not getting mutual goodwill from Sally, they can use it with each other and improve morale on the team through each other.

Applying Mutual Goodwill in the Workplace

Using mutual goodwill as a leader has the ability to change team environments into a more open, transparent culture. Van Valin (2018) writes “Many people have created an exterior that makes it appear dangerous for anyone to offer their own healthy perspective of coaching. Some have inadvertently locked-out the potential to be helped by others. When this happens in large numbers at work, it tips the tipping-point for a culture that lacks honesty and the ability to self-correct.” When was the last time you walked into a meeting with colleagues and had a sinking feeling because of past conversations? What if you walked into the meeting, with these same participants, and had the intent of being positive, forgiving, and helpful? Would the outcome be different for you? It takes one individual to start this process, build trust, and create patterns of positive interactions that grow mutual goodwill.

Mutual goodwill can shift the dynamics in difficult conversations, and advisors may find applying mutual goodwill as a useful tool when:

  • interacting with students who show a pattern of not taking responsibility for mistakes;
  • discussing potentially challenging topics with supervisors, especially supervisors who have not been supportive in the past;
  • responding to aggressive emails, whether those come from students or colleagues;
  • changing the tone of any communication from negative to positive;
  • building relationships that foster trust and respect;
  • respectfully disagreeing with a colleague or supervisor while maintaining a positive relationship; or
  • turning negative communications into positive ones, regardless of past interactions.

The following illustrate how advisors might apply mutual goodwill in some of these scenarios.  

Example One. An administrator who oversees university advising is known for being difficult when questions are asked, especially in regards to decisions about advising at the institution. Many times the response from the administrator has a tone of taking power over the situation and degrading the advisor who asked the question. Additionally, the decisions this advisor makes do not tend to support student-centeredness. Mutual goodwill dictates that each interaction with the stakeholder is a fresh view with the idea that it will be a positive, helpful conversation. The person who is interacting with the administrator provides forgiveness from past conversations and begins the conversation with the intent of building a trusting relationship.

Example Two. A student sends the same nasty email to his academic adviser each semester complaining that he has not received any course recommendations. When the advisor sees the student’s name displayed on their computer screen, they experience a sinking feeling knowing that his past interactions have been nasty. Mutual goodwill dictates that this advisor put aside personal feelings and views the communication as though it is the very first email that this student has sent. Looking at the email as if it is a brand new student and interacting with him for the first time allows the academic advisor to provide consistent, friendly advice without judgment. It will also open up communication to review the expectations of the student advisor relationship and give the advisor the opportunity to discuss how to communicate positively.

Taking an intentional step to change is what is important. Mark Cuban shares:

One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice. Nice sells. . . . I went through my own metamorphosis, if you will. Early on in my career, I was like bam, bam, bam, bam, bam—I might curse. I might get mad. And then I just got to the point—I wouldn't have wanted to do business with me when I was in my 20s. And so I had to change, and I did, and it really paid off. (as cited in Elkins, 2018)

Mark Cuban recognized that he and his team were more productive when he brought a positive environment to each meeting rather than allowing his negative emotions to dictate the atmosphere of the meeting. He removed his emotional responses, did not allow the past to influence the present, and brought a helpful, understanding perspective. He recognized the need to change and it has provided better and more positive interactions in the workplace.

Mutual goodwill: a positive environment; a positive team culture; positive student interactions, and positive future communications. Brilliant!

Dawn Coder
Director, Academic Advising & Student Disability Services
The Pennsylvania State University, World Campus
[email protected]


Elkins, K. (2018, Oct. 12). Mark Cuban: ‘One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice.’ Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/12/mark-cuban-one-of-the-most-underrated-business-skills-is-being-nice.html

Van Valin, S. (2018, June 19). Will extreme PC be the death of healthy corporate culture? Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/extreme-pc-death-healthy-corporate-culture-steve-van-valin/

Williams, D. K. (2015, Jan. 5). Forgiveness: The least understood leadership trait in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2015/01/05/forgiveness-the-least-understood-leadership-trait-in-the-workplace-2/#7f6f46d4b3f2


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Towards a More Objective Approach for Selecting Academic Advising Awards

Michael S. Wilson and Jamaica DelMar, Metropolitan State University

Jamaica DelMar.jpgMichael Wilson.jpgThe value of recognizing and highlighting academic advising through advising awards is supported by theory. In formal interactions within or across teams and work units, rewards based on knowledge sharing behavior are effective in creating a feeling of cooperation, ownership, and commitment among employees (Allen & Smith, 2008). The need for awards is also supported by the experiences of faculty advisors who often feel generally satisfied with the advising they provide but not responsible for providing all of the kinds of academic advising that are important for students to receive (Bartol & Srivastava, 2002).

Those who recognize the value advisors bring to an institution would agree that developing a formal process for recognizing outstanding work done by advisors is important. For our institution, Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, recognizing academic advising awards has been a challenging experience with uneven processes, especially since we rely on student evaluations to select award winners. Developing such a process can be challenging when relying on student nominations, and it is important to recognize that a lack of nominations does not necessarily mean advisors are not doing good work. For those that review advising nominations, it is critical to identify the aspects of advising that are most valuable when choosing academic advisors for formal recognition.

The Idea

For many students, advisors are the closest confidants they have on campus, yet in a Midwest University with over 5000 enrolled students each assigned to an advisor, there have traditionally been fewer than 20 nominations submitted each year. The primary reasons for a lack of nominations were the awards are not well known by the student body and the nomination deadline is in August when most students have been out for summer break. At Metropolitan State University, we attempted to acknowledge and celebrate the small number of nominations received by underscoring the value of a nomination.

For selection of the academic advising awards, it was requested that previous advising award winners volunteer to serve on a selection committee. A group of four previous winners became the selection committee and were responsible for coming up with a rational method for selecting award winners. A brainstorming session ensued to predict student comments and come up with a hierarchy for the student nominations, and a rubric was developed by a committee member to assign values to student nomination themes.  The rubric was used as a pilot during the nomination process to recognize the various roles academic advisors play and to assign different weights to these roles to facilitate scoring for selecting award winners. 

The value of the approach was two-fold in selecting award winners: first to explicitly identify the academic advising skills considered most valuable and second to develop an objective process for evaluating the nominees, many of whom were close colleagues of the committee members.

In general, more points were assigned to student comments that involved life skill coaching. Based on anticipated student comments, the following five categories were used to capture the themes of student nominations and evaluate them as evidence of higher order life skill coaching:

  1. Course planning: At the basic level, student evaluations were expected to describe help in course planning. Students often cite their academic advisor as a key to helping them efficiently complete their degree program. The pilot recognized this work as basic to the profession.
  2. Career trait-matching: A more developed set of student comments refers to academic advisors that played a role of helping a student assess their readiness for a career. The assessment process is a part of a trait-matching role that academic advisors often play to help students understand if they are a good fit for their chosen path. Trait-matching was also considered basic.
  3. Coaching: A higher set of student comments included the role of the academic advisor as a coach. Students may cite the role an advisor played in challenging their assumptions or helping them think more critically of their future plans. Since coaching includes taking a personal interest, this theme was considered proficient.
  4. Sorting through chaos: An even higher level of academic advising may revolve around student comments that describe how an academic advisor helped sort through chaos. There are a number of challenges including personal, financial, or academic that can present significant obstacles to completing an academic program. A student nomination that included references to academic advisors helping them overcome these obstacles was representative of academic advising at a high level. Chaos sorting was considered a distinguished level of engagement
  5. Supporting self-actualization: Finally, students who discussed becoming self-actualized through their advising relationship were considered to be the highest form of academic advising. These comments reflect a description of academic advising playing a role resulting in the student feeling fulfilled by their education experience. These activities were considered to represent a higher level of distinguished performance.

Theme of student nomination


Course planning


Career trait matching




Chaos sorting





The pilot tool was used explicitly by a member of the committee for purposes of selecting one instructor and one professional academic advisor for an award. However, the other three committee members responsible for selecting award winners agreed on the same two winners. The discussion that followed confirmed the strength of the rubric because student nominations matched the themes of the advising rubric.

Theoretical Foundation

The theoretical foundation for the rubric is based on the GROW concept of coaching (Mind Tools, 2018).  The model was the work of business coaches and uses the same principles as planning a journey. First, you decide where you are going (the goal), consider your current situation (current reality), and explore various routes (options), before committing to the journey (the will).

The GROW model assumes the coach (advisor) is not an expert, but more of a facilitator who assists a student in selecting the best options without providing concrete direction. By serving as a coach or mentor, students are more empowered then they would be if conclusions were thrust upon them.

Key steps along the way include the following:

  1. Establishing the goal through degree planning. Identify the goal a student wants to achieve by ensuring that it is a SMART goal: One that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
  2. Examine the current reality. The key to this step is to recognize each student has a different starting point. Asking probing questions (e.g. “What is happening now [what, who, when, and how often]?”) can help to identify the current reality. This is important in trait matching. Students need to recognize where they are in their lives before they can know where they are going.
  3. After recognizing the current reality, it is time to explore possible options. This is done through brainstorming as many good options as possible, discussing these, and identifying the best ones. A good question at this stage could be, “What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?” This is a form of coaching, and taking the time to encourage students to understand all options is a result of advising as a teaching and learning process.
  4. The final step is to motivate students to achieving their goal. The goal is to help students establish their will and boost motivation. Ask follow up questions like, “So, what will you do now and when?” Setting key dates is important. This results in a student (hopefully) feeling self-actualized. Once a goal is achieved, a student can feel fulfilled and motivated to take on further challenges.

The two most important skills for coaching using this approach is to ask good questions and listen effectively. Again, students are in the driver’s seat. Advisors simply hold the road map for them. Using the GROW model, academic advisors create a transformational experience which can have a significant impact on a student’s subsequent experiences, going above and beyond course planning and potentially leading to self-actualization of the student.

These principles are consistent with the preamble section of NACADA’s (2006) Concept of Academic Advising:

Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community. Academic advising engages students beyond their own world views, while acknowledging their individual characteristics, values, and motivations as they enter, move through, and exit the institution.

Student nominations for advising awards often reflect significant work on the part of academic advisors. Advisors that go beyond course planning and use coaching to help the student sort through the chaos in their lives and become self-actualized are worthy of recognition. Having a framework to evaluate student nominations can lead to a more objective evaluation rooted in advising theory. As advisors and administrators, we should celebrate the work performed by academic advisors who receive nominations and of those we select as winners of prestigious advising awards.

Michael S. Wilson
Associate Professor of Accounting
Metropolitan State University
[email protected]

Jamaica DelMar
Academic Advisor
College of Management
Metropolitan State University
[email protected]


Allen, J. M., & Smith, C. L. (2008). Importance of, responsibility for, and satisfaction with academic advising: A faculty perspective. Journal of College Student development 49(5), 397–411. Retrieved from https://learn.nsu.edu/iea/iea/image/AcademicAdvising_FacultyPerspective.pdf

Bartol, K. M., & Srivastava, A. (2002). Encouraging knowledge sharing: The role of organizational reward systems. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(1), 64–76. doi: 10.1177/107179190200900105

Mind Tools. (n.d.). The grow model of coaching and mentoring. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_89.htm

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2006). Concept of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/Concept.aspx


Academic Advising: Before and After Attending NACADA Summer Institute

Hattan Tawfiq and Abdalghaffar Osman, 2018 NACADA Summer Institute Attendees

Abdalghaffar Osman.jpgHattan Tawfiq,jpgKing Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) is one of the oldest universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite its somewhat recent establishment in 1963. The university campus is located in the Eastern Province of the kingdom. The university consists mainly of engineering departments in addition to the departments of the colleges of Science, Computer, and Business Administration.

Only faculty members offer academic advising on the KFUPM campus. The provision of academic advising to students has been a continuing challenge due to faculty members' preoccupation with teaching, scientific research, and some administrative tasks. The university administration set up an academic advising unit in 2016, and Abdalghaffar Osman was appointed to carry out the unit duties, which are limited to developing plans to improve and facilitate the practice of academic advising on campus with the help of some faculty members. The members of the unit do not provide direct advising to students. Subsequently, the University Rector established a Standing Committee for Academic Advising to assist in the planning of a well-structured academic advising program taking advantage of global practices in the area. Among the results of the survey was the identification of the Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) and its programs and events, particularly the Summer Institutes.

Two of us from the KFUPM advising team were present at the 2018 Summer Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The six-day institute was full of benefits for us. During both foundation and thematic sessions, we received extensive knowledge in all aspects of academic advising. We learned about the systematic way of practicing it, and we had the privilege of learning from people who have appreciable experience in the field. The Summer Institute allowed us to meet with colleagues from various higher education institutions in the United States and identify some aspects of the practice of academic advising that we could not identify by searching the websites of their universities and colleges. Communication with them has been continuing for further inquiries.

Attending the summer institute was so beneficial. What we learned through presentations, discussions, and the subsequent consultation session has played a major role in enabling us to develop a plan of action to create a more effective role for academic advising on our campus. The advice and guidance of our group leader, Rich Robbins, and the discussion with colleagues from the rest of the group had a great impact in revising and developing our detailed work plan and we benefited from their different ways of thinking in this regard.

Because of our engagement with the NACADA Summer Institute, we can say that we came back from Albuquerque to our campus with a clear vision and a strong starting point to develop the process of academic advising based, this time, on NACADA’S (2017) academic advising core competencies model and core values and the assessment of student learning outcomes.  Thanks to all faculty of NACADA 2018 Summer Institute and to KFUPM administration for their support to attend this event.

Hattan Z. Tawfiq
Assistant Professor
Mathematics Department
Chairman, Standing Committee for Academic Advising
[email protected]

Abdalghaffar M. Osman
Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Coordinator, Academic Advising Unit
Student Success Center
[email protected]


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

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx


Posted in: 2019 March 42:1


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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.