Norma C. Cooper, NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient
Words cannot express my appreciation for being awarded the opportunity to be a part of a Summer Institute presented by veterans of the discipline of academic advising. The knowledge I gained has had a profound and transformative effect on my life as a graduate student and educator as it relates to the possibilities of innovative programs that can be implemented at my home campus, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU). Attending this Institute and now working as a Student Success Coach have validated what I am destined to be doing at this point in my career. It has also prepared me to better serve our students in the area of advisement throughout their B-CU experience. So, NACADA, kudos to committee members and presenters involved in the organization of an unforgettable week sharing best practices within the multifaceted discipline of academic advising.
Over the week-long Institute an array of information was discussed. The topic that resonated with me the strongest was “The Assessment of Academic Advising.” This process assures that the advisement model being utilized is effective through the implementation of an assessment plan. According to Rich Robbins, in one of the presentations at the Institute, “assessment of the advisement model provides key information such as effectiveness, improvement, accountability, and most importantly enhancement of student success, persistence, and retention.” I saw clearly that all of these variables are imperative to what is being practiced as they are the links that bond academic advisement to the university‘s overall vision and mission for its students.
Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director, is unaware of it, but he has played a pivotal role in my quest to become knowledgeable and well-versed in advising. I met him at my very first conference and have learned a great deal since then through reading his articles. The thrill that I felt when initially reading the quote below has stayed with me and is part of why I am dedicated to advisement. He wrote, “Academic advising is the very core of successful institutional efforts to educate and retain students. For this reason, academic advising … should be viewed as the ‘hub of the wheel’ and not just one of the various isolated services provided for students… academic advisors offer students the personal connection to the institution that the research indicates is vital to student retention and student success” (Nutt, 2003). This typifies my own personal philosophy of advisement.
Students and their success have been of paramount concern throughout my career as an educator/ Student Success Coach. My goal is to promote the potential of all students through advisement at my university. My enthusiasm for advising is engendering within each student self-worth and a confident belief system that each one can become whatever he or she aspires to be. I see all of my students as unique, and in advisement, I evaluate how I can enhance their educational journey. In keeping with the mission and vision of B-CU, as a Student Success Coach, I am strongly grounded in the process of helping promote and produce lifelong learners. To accomplish this endeavor, I encourage all of my students to think critically, be creative, and embrace ideals that will lead to their academic success. The Institute reinforced my goals and gave me many ideas to use on my campus. As a member of NACADA, my goal is to evolve into a change agent. This directly aligns with NACADA Core Value Four, “Advisors are responsible to their institutions” (NACADA, 2005). Daily I implement NACADA standards and guidelines which are considered best practices nationally and internationally.
This Summer Institute awarded me every opportunity to build upon my knowledge. Through periodic breakout sessions we discussed ways to improve advisement, and we learned from each other. Allotted time also provided opportunities for one-on-one discussions with the presenters, as well as for networking with others in attendance. I was amazed to see and converse with members from all over the world, even from as far away as Kuwait, at this Institute. In addition, I had an assigned mentor, Blane Harding. His insights and help were empowering. It was obvious from what I learned at this Institute “flagship academic advising programs do not simply emerge. They must be conceptually grounded, meaning both theoretically and institutionally directed and guided by statements of vision, mission, goals, and program objectives that codify the values, philosophy, approach, and central purposes of academic advisement” (Campbell, 2008). I have a sound basis to build upon for making advisement on my campus a richer experience.
Habley (1994) stated, "Academic advising is the only structured activity on the campus in which all students have the opportunity for on-going, one-to-one interaction with a concerned representative of the institution" (p. 10). I fervently believe this and am a dedicated and concerned advising representative. My passion for advisement is evidenced in my credo that I instill in all of my advisees which simply says that your destiny is not written for you, it is determined by you. Advisement, I believe, shines a light that dispels the darkness of self-doubt, heals academic weaknesses, and motivates enthusiasm and striving for the top echelon of achievement. Thanks again, NACADA, for the scholarship, but even more for the experience of being part of the Summer Institute. What I learned is exceedingly practical and that is invaluable.
Norma C. Cooper
Student Success Coach/Faculty
Campbell, S. M. (2008). Vision, mission, goals, and program objectives for academic advising programs. In Gordon, V.N., Habley, W.R. & Grites, T.J. (Eds.). Academic advising: Acomprehensive handbook (second edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Habley, W.R. (1994). Key Concepts in Academic Advising. In Summer Institute on Academic Advising Session Guide (p.10). Available from the National Academic Advising Association, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.
NACADA. (2005). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/122/article.aspx
Nutt, Charlie L. (2003). Academic advising and student retention and persistence. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/636/article.aspx
Cite this article using APA style as: Cooper, N.C. (2013, March). NACADA summer institute: A transforming experience. Academic Advising Today, 36(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]