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The Changing Workplace: Implications for Academic and Career Advising

Judith K. Hughey and Kenneth F. Hughey, Kansas State University

Editor's Note: Ken Hughey teaches EDCEP 863 Trends in Career Development, one of the graduate-level courses in the award-winning Kansas State University / NACADA Graduate Certificate Program in Academic Advising and within the Masters of Science in Academic Advising Program. Ken is the lead editor for the upcoming NACADA/Jossey-Bass publication The Handbook of Career Advising that will debut at the 2009 NACADA annual conference.


In the process of developing an academic and career plan, it is important for advisors to help students understand how their career fits in the context of their future. The context involves a workplace that is changing and a future that will likely provide less security, an increased level of competitiveness, and an increased rate of change. Gordon (2006) stated that 'now as never before, academic advisors need to be in tune with the changing workplace and the many factors influencing it' (p. viii) and to use this knowledge to enhance their advising and facilitate students' academic and career planning.

It is important that academic advisors be knowledgeable about the evolving, changing workplace and the skills needed to be successful. There is a need for students to become motivated lifelong learners who 'focus on monitoring and interpreting change' (Feller, 2003, p. iii). Simonsen (1997) stated, 'We are experiencing a revolution in the world of work no less dramatic than the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century that caused major changes in the way people made their living' (p. 13). The workplace evolved from being agricultural to industrial to being characterized by knowledge, information, and technology (Simonsen, 1997; Toffler & Toffler, 1995). Feller and Whichard (2005) noted that the workplace characterized by 'innovation, speed, and independence demands behaviors from all workers that were formerly expected only from professional/managerial workers' (p. 46). Students must understand that 'knowledge is the most valued commodity in today's economy; workers who understand this and have adapted accordingly are the ones able to capitalize on the best and most creative employment opportunities' (Feller & Whichard, 2005, p. 55).

This information on the changing workplace can be helpful and provide a context for academic and career advising and planning. An advisor can maintain currency through reading the professional literature (e.g., NACADA Journal, The Career Development Quarterly) and relevant magazines (e.g., FastCompany) and resources (e.g., Brave New Work World). In addition to advisors being aware of the information, it is important to provide information to students and help them seek ways to develop or enhance their knowledge, skills, and marketability. This can be accomplished through individual or group sessions, coursework, or formal or informal types of activities.

Knotts (2002) related workplace skills (core liberal arts skills [written communication, oral communication, creativity, critical thinking, theoretical thinking]; research design skills; data analysis skills; computer application skills; and general business skills) to undergraduate courses. For example, advisors should, based on students' goals and future plans, guide students to courses and experiences that will help students develop the skills that will effectively prepare them for the future. The development of an academic and career plan that effectively prepares students for their future is an important task for advisors. Understanding the changing workplace, skills needed and valued to be successful in the future, and individual academic, career, and personal needs is critical to the establishing academic and career goals and plans. Further, it enhances the potential for students to be prepared and respond proactively to changes or transitions that will arise over a lifetime.

As part of a student's academic and career plan, work-related or major-related experiences may be included (e.g., internships, experiential learning activities, or service-learning activities). Other examples include seminars, job shadowing, or active engagement within pre-professional organizations. The work-related activities can provide students the opportunity to help them become aware of the workplace, the in-demand skills needed, and expectations of change and adaptability within organizations. Further, these experiences may offer the opportunity to develop skills relevant to their career. Also, through these activities students can gain a clearer picture of their fit with the majors, certificate programs, or occupational fields. Further, advisors can work collaboratively with undergraduate faculty, career services professionals, and business organizations and temporary employment brokers to help students become aware of the changing workplace and the skills needed to be successful. It seems critical that students' preparation for their future and the development of skills and knowledge should be goals and addressed within all college coursework.

In her recent book on career advising, Gordon (2006) noted areas in which advisors can assist students with their preparation for the future. These include:

  • Helping students gather and interpret complex educational and career information related to the work world of the future;
  • Helping them become career strategists, not just planners;
  • Helping them develop contextual and portable skills;
  • Helping them develop the ability to negotiate school and work environments;
  • Helping them develop contingency plans for changes; and
  • Impressing upon them the need to set realistic and measurable personal, academic, and career goals (p. 126).

In summary, given the changes in the workplace and the decreasing level of employment security and job tenure of many workers, the development and implementation of career management skills and skills valued in the workplace have the potential to facilitate students' ownership of their career development and effectively prepare them for the future. Advisor involvement in facilitating students' development of academic and career plans and goals that support students' personal and professional development for a changing, evolving future is critical. Career and academic advising has an integral role in preparing students for their career and future.

Concluding Thoughts

Advisors observant of how their careers are changing can appreciate college students' challenges interpreting how they should prepare for a changing, evolving workplace and future. Often the best advising is that which offers some sense ofhope, encouragement, and concrete examples so that students see the connection among their course selections, experiences, and expectations. Burton Nelson (2006) offered a mission statement for effective career advising as educating and graduating students 'with the skills needed to enter suitable employment and contribute to the economic development of surrounding communities and beyond.' Feller and Whichard (2005) recommended that students make 'courageous choices.' They stated the following: 'Confront your fears about risk and change. Explore new possibilities. Make the hard choices. Climb the tallest peaks. Look behind the shadows and listen to those without voices. Live life fully' (p. 134). Through effective advising to facilitate academic and career planning, students can learn and develop skills, knowledge, and characteristics needed for a successful career and life.

Judith K. Hughey
Kansas State University

Kenneth F. Hughey
Kansas State University
[email protected]


Burton Nelson, D. (2006). Career advisors: A new breed. Retrieved March 23, 2006, from the NACADA Clearinghouse of cademic Advising Resources Web site at http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/career-advisors.htm

Feller, R. W. (2003). Connecting school counseling to the current reality. Professional School Counseling, 6 (4), ii-v.

Feller, R., & Whichard, J. (2005). K nowledge nomads and the nervously employed: Workplace change and courageous career choices. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Gordon, V.N. (2006). Career advising: An academic advisor's guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Knotts, H. G. (2002). Rethinking liberal arts skills in the new economy. NACADA Journal, 22 (1), 26-31.

Simonsen, P. (1997). Promoting a development culture in your organization: Using career development as an agent of change. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Toffler, A., & Toffler, H. (1995 ). Creating a new civilization. Atlanta: Turner.

From the President: What a Year We've Had!

Jo Anne Huber, NACADA President

President Jo Anne Huber.jpgAs I write this final article as president, I look back at a year that has proven fruitful in many ways. Following a record Annual Conference attendance of 3,380 in Las Vegas last October, February found us in Clearwater Beach, Florida for three outstanding professional development events: the Ethical/Legal Issues in Academic Advising Seminar, the 4th Annual Academic Advising Administrators' Institute, and the 2nd Annual Assessment of Academic Advising Institute.

Our spring Regional meetings concluded in late May with over 2,250 in attendance. From Hartford, CT to Honolulu, HI, academic advisors - be they faculty, professional staff, graduate students, or advising administrators - were actively engaged in exciting and highly successful professional development activities.

June professional development in Portsmouth, VA began with the Effectively Engaging Faculty in Academic Advising Seminar, during which 148 registrants pondered the history, training and assessment services for faculty on our campuses. All indications are it was extremely successful! Then, the 20th annual Academic Advising Summer Institute was held in the same locale with 145 registered. Special recognition of this anniversary was marked with a presentation of a plaque to Wes Habley, Summer Institute Advisory Board Chair and Summer Institute founder, by Peggy King, a charter faculty member. The culmination of this celebration was held in Madison, WI at the second Summer Institute, July 30-August 4th. A special scholarship named for Wes Habley was unveiled at this time. Wes' term as Chair of the Advisory Board ends in October 2006, and Rich Robbins of Cornell University will assume the role.

I am particularly delighted to be able to report that 45 of our members were published for the first time in one of our offerings (Academic Advising Today, the Clearinghouse, or one of our new monographs), and another dozen are serving for the first time on a Content Review Board for one of our publications. NACADA publication highlights from this past year include two on-time Journals and the tremendous success of the first CD in the Foundations of Academic Advising series: What is Academic Advising? (And it is my understanding that CD2: Models of Academic Advising, which is currently in the final production stage, may be available by the time you read this.)  Virginia Gordon's new book, Career Advising: An Academic Advisor's Guide, a joint NACADA-Jossey-Bass venture, has also proven to be a big hit. Coming soon are the first in a new Pocket Guide series, first NACADA webinar, and New Advisor and Special Populations monographs. An Advisory Board, with Jayne Drake as Chair, has just begun work on the Advisor Training Video update.

A Concept of Academic Advising statement- a project that has been in process for several years - is now ready for Board approval. This year's Task Force was co-chaired by past presidents Eric White and Ruth Darling. The draft was presented in a special session at each Regional Conference this spring, with feedback channeled to the co-Chairs and their committee. It is my strong belief this will be a fait accompli after the fall Board meeting!

On the last day of the midyear Board meeting in Indianapolis, with Council leaders present as well, the two leadership groups met with a facilitator from IUPUI, Marilyn Bedford, to review the Strategic Plan and prioritize our needs. Work groups were formed to work on the top three items earmarked for emphasis this year.

A major initiative this year spearheaded by Jane Jacobson, Vice President, and myself was 'Building the Next Generation of Academic Advisors.' An Interest Group for new advising professionals was formed and was co-chaired by Ben Chamberlain (Iowa State University) and Nathan Vickers (The University of Texas at Austin). An active list serve with new names added after every Regional Conference led to productive chatter! Jane and I would like to publicly thank Ben and Nathan for taking on this worthwhile endeavor and so quickly making it productive!

We continued our quest to gain more recognition nationally by having NACADA representation at the ACE conference and FYE national conferences. Internationally, Charlie Nutt, NACADA Associate Director, was the keynote speaker at the Counseling Arabia's 4th annual conference on advising and counseling held in the United Emirates in May. This was followed by another keynote address by Charlie at the Higher Education Academy's 2nd annual conference on Personal Tutoring in York, England. Participants were from universities/colleges from across the United Kingdom. The reports I have received were stupendous and have led to discussions for future international collaborations for NACADA.

The 2006 Annual Conference is being planned for October 18-21 in Indianapolis, with Alan Welch from Purdue University chairing this event. The title, 'Diverse Advising for a Diverse World,' is especially appropriate this year as we build on the sound work done by Skip Crownhart of Metropolitan University and the Diversity Committee, which is presently detailing plans for an Emerging Leaders program to enhance the involvement of our diverse membership in our Association. Foundations CD3: Understanding Cultural Identity and Worldview Development, which is currently in the works, will also support our diversity initiatives.

Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to our membership for entrusting the presidency to me. Special thanks to the Executive Office for their support and to my Vice President, Jane Jacobson, who has been phenomenal. Thanks also to all the members who have contributed to the many NACADA initiative this past year, and to all for providing me the opportunity to give back to NACADA for the many, many wonderful years I have had the opportunity to be involved.

Jo Anne Huber, President
National Academic Advising Association
[email protected]

From the Executive Director: Pathways to Leadership in NACADA

Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, NACADA Executive Director


The new academic year always brings new members to NACADA, and along with those who have settled into the Association, there are many who are ready to increase their level of participation. NACADA leaders become involved for a variety of reasons: to enhance their professional development, to raise the visibility of academic advising on their campus, to contribute to the advancement of the field and profession, to develop leadership skills, to enhance their network of colleagues around the world, and many others. It is my hope that everyone who wishes to be involved can be! We need EVERYONE!

The NACADA governance structure was developed to provide a variety of avenues for involvement. The myriad opportunities can be explored on the NACADA website and include involvement at the State, Region, Commission, Interest Group, Advisory Board, Task Force, Committee, Council and Board levels.

Many states have organizations that are Allied Members of NACADA, while others simply organize NACADA state drive-in meetings. Your Region Chairperson can help you identify a state contact person if you wish to get involved at that level. That same Chairperson is the one to contact if you wish to get involved at the Region level (see Region webpages). Regions have Steering Committees, Regional Conference committees, and other opportunities for volunteers.

There is a Steering Committee for Commissions, and each Commission and Interest Group has subcommittees or subgroups of volunteers to work on various projects throughout the year. The Chairpersons are your contact for these opportunities. (Find CIG Division contacts here).

Typically, members who have demonstrated a genuine interest and ability to contribute to the Association at the Region or Commission level and have gained a bit of knowledge about the organization and its operations express their interest to continue their involvement to a Committee, Task Force, Advisory Board Chair or the President, who appoints members to the respective groups.

Service as a Chairperson qualifies one to be nominated for the Division Representative positions. The six Division Representatives form the NACADA Council and act on issues brought forward from the three Divisions (Region, Commission/Interest Group, and Administrative). Issues of Association policy or funding are forwarded to the Board of Directors (10 members), who are elected (3 each year) from the slate of nominees. These nominees must have served as a Chair within a Division prior to nomination. The Board is charged with guiding the Association by setting the Vision and the strategic plan to work toward that vision while also allocating funds in support of that plan.

As you can see, your Association needs many volunteers to operate and continue to provide the member services desired of its 9000+ members! A thorough inspection of the NACADA website will further demonstrate the variety of services provided and highlight the additional opportunities for involvement - authorship of web articles, Academic Advising Today articles, Journal articles, monographs, and books; Content Review Boards for all publications, videos, webinars, & CDs; special Task Forces to address current issues; and many, many more opportunities for you!

By pondering these possibilities for involvement now, you can be prepared to discuss your interest with the appropriate leaders during the Annual Conference in Indianapolis, October 18-21.

As always, if you are seeking information about academic advising or the association OR if you have ideas/suggestions on additional services we could provide, please let us know. Best wishes for another rewarding year in higher education!!

Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, Executive Director
National Academic Advising Association
(785) 532-5717
[email protected]

Sound Bites for Sound Advising

Christopher Armstrong and Hollie Heintz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Can you remember a pivotal advising moment when a question you asked caused a student to stop and respond, "Good point. I never thought of that before' "  In that second, you realized you had a wonderful sound bite to remember, because that simple question challenged the student to develop a new perspective on his or her motivations, interests, or opportunities. As academic advisors, we engage students on a daily basis and ask the tough questions that encourage them to take responsibility for their academic success. We are pleased to have this opportunity to share with you some effective sound bites we have gathered, and to offer ideas for sharing your sound bites with your colleagues.

As advisors who prefer a developmental approach, we often find ourselves sharing helpful suggestions within our department. We are continually looking for ways to enrich the advisor-student interaction. How can we get the most from each advising session? How can we build rapport as we continue to meet with students?

From talking with others, we generated so many sound bites that we spread the word at the Regional and Annual NACADA Conferences. The wonderful interactions and ideas exchanged at both Conferences allowed us to compile an extensive list of sound bites from advisors across North America. We have provided a list of our 'top ten' sound bites below, along with explanations of why we love them.

1. What brings you in today?

We feel the connotation of this sentence is vastly different than oft-used 'How can I help you today?' because it shifts the responsibility toward the student.

2. How important would you say it is for you to ______ on a scale from 1 to 10?

This gives students a concrete way to evaluate and quantify their priorities. You can use this question to determine how important it is for the student to clear academic probation, work x hours each week, participate in extracurricular activities, etc.

3. What are you passionate about? What fascinates you?

This is an in-house favorite that we ask students exploring their major options. This helps divorce the idea that a major equals a career and focuses on their strengths and interests.

4. What do you think will happen if you don't change anything? What is the worst outcome if you do change? Best outcome?

Sometimes we encounter students who seem apathetic or stuck. To someone who feels this way, taking that next step can often feel overwhelming. This conversation script provides a catalyst for the student by reframing the dilemma.

5. Would it be okay if I told you some of my concerns regarding your plan?

This can be a powerful question from the advisor to gently but firmly express that the student has a plan that may be unrealistic or un-researched.

6. What strengths do you want to focus on?

It is important to provide encouragement to students who are on-task and taking an active role in their academic and career development. This question suggests students identify areas in which they excel and the core competencies they can build upon.

7. I can suggest advantages and disadvantages, but the decision is yours.

This statement is appropriate for students who have little experience making their own decisions or are expecting the advisor to tell them what is best for them. In other words, it puts the responsibility on the student to make an informed decision.

8. What can you do to break down these challenges into tasks that are manageable?

Goals can feel overwhelming without specific steps in place. As advisors, we can encourage students to approach problems in a step-wise and time-sensitive way that seems manageable.

9. It sounds like you have a number of concerns/questions. What are you most concerned about?

Often we meet with students who bring a list of questions to cover during the appointment. This sound bite allows both the student and advisor to focus on what is most immediate and relevant. It helps the student reframe his/her priorities more clearly.

10. What experiences do you want next?

As advisors, we feel it is important to challenge students to think about real life experiences as opportunities to learn about themselves and their world.

For more sound bites we have collected, feel free to visit our presentation website at:  https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/cmarmstr/soundbites.html.

Advisor Exercise:

Our hope is that reading our favorite sound bites has resonated with you in some way. If so, we suggest the following exercise to help spread the exchange of ideas:

  • Write down 5 of your favorite sound bites. These can be ones you created or adapted from someone else.
  • Find 5 sound bites from the list on our website that you would like to use and write them down.
  • Work to incorporate these into your daily interactions with your advisees.
  • Create an exchange program with your colleagues in which each of you completes steps 1-3 and shares your sound bites with one another.
  • Let us know what worked well for you! We can incorporate them on our website to benefit the advising community.

We have learned so much from creating our presentations and dialoguing with our fellow advisors. In our student interactions, we have found these sound bites to be an excellent way of revitalizing our advising enthusiasm and understanding our students better. Students seem to like it, too. We hope that this has helped you to generate practical ideas for your advising sessions and rekindled your passion for working with students. Advise on!

Christopher Armstrong
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[email protected]

Hollie Heintz
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[email protected]


Editor's Note: Christopher Armstrong will be presented a NACADA Outstanding New Advisor Certificate of Merit at the October Annual Conference in Indianapolis. If you see Christopher in Indy, be sure to offer your congratulations!


How to Make Effective Referrals: A Three Step Framework

Mark C. Rehfuss, Regent University
elissa Mentzer, Ashland University

Typical advising sessions can quickly turn into crisis points when students' conversations lead to disclosure of personal concerns and struggles (Butler, 1995). Students trying to deal with issues related to major career concerns, disabilities, pregnancy, mental health issues and thoughts of suicide are clearly overwhelmed and in need of additional assistance. When mundane advising issues are pushed aside with student crisis, advisors must know how to effectively refer those students for help (Shane, 1981; Kuhn, Gordon, & Webber, 2006). Effective advising referrals usually involve the following three steps:

  • Try to put yourself in the students' shoes and communicate understanding.
  • Think what resources are available to help with this issue and normalize the service.
  • Transition from the advising office to other resources.

Effective referrals start with trying to put yourself in the students' shoes even if you have heard the issues many times before. This involves listening, understanding and then communicating your understanding back to the students. This is often referred to as empathic listening or listening for understanding (Rogers, 1961; Egan, 1998). This skill involves linking the students' feelings to their experiences or behaviors: "I hear you saying that you feel... (the emotion expressed by the student) because ... (the experiences or behavior that has given rise to the emotions)." For example, an advisor might suggest, "It sounds to me as though you feel frustrated because of your poor grades."  Or, the advisor might say, "I hear you saying that you feel overwhelmed because you still have not declared a major" or  "It seems to me that you feel confused and isolated because your friends cannot help you any longer."  When advisors accurately use these types of statements, students feel understood. The key is to link students' current emotions to the reasons behind them and communicate true understanding.

Thinking means taking the time to identify the individual resources that can assist students in working through their current struggles. This means having available the names and telephone numbers of known professionals at the Counseling Center, Career Center, Student Disabilities Center, etc. It is more effective to say to students, "I know Pat, and she has really helped a few of my students who were dealing with very similar issues; why don't I give her a call?" than to say, "Why don't you just call the counseling center when you get back to your room?" Thinking also involves normalizing or explaining the referral resources (O'Hanlon and Weiner-Davis, 1989). Help the students understand that their struggles are often a normal part of personal development and maturity; in fact, their challenges are common enough that the university has developed resources designed to assist them. Here are two examples of possible statements:

Student Disability Services can let you know the accommodations that could be available to you and that may help you be more successful in your academics. Sometimes it involves more time on tests or an environment without distractions. The whole reason they exist is to level the playing field for all students so that everyone has an equal chance at success.

The Counseling Center may be able to help you process what is going on in your life currently. It seems like everything that is going on right now is making it hard for you to feel like you are still in control. I think talking to a professional who is trained to help could assist you in getting some perspective. The Counseling Center provides a variety of services from addressing study skills and relational problems to successfully handling very personal issues like yours.

Transition is the third and final step; it moves students from the advisor to other specific resources. This referral is effectively accomplished by first summarizing what students have been sharing and then thanking them for being so open with their concerns. Once advisors have affirmed students in this manner, they can transition with a statement such as, "As an advisor I can help you with many things, but I'm not really trained to help you with what is going on in your life currently. However, I do know some others on campus who could really provide the assistance, encouragement, support, and help that you need.'" Advisors can then mention the name of the referral or suggest a call right then: "Why don't I give Sue a call and see if we can set up an appointment for you?" These effective transitional statements communicate personal understanding and concern, but are also somewhat directive. While direction is needed, advisors must remember that the goal of referral is not to pressure students, but rather to educate and inform them of their options. Here are two examples:

You know, the issues you have been sharing are really important, and it sounds like you may want some help and support in processing what you are currently going through. I have found that the Learning Center can be a great resource for students. I know Fred Smith over there, and he has assisted many of the students that I advise to work through their concerns and successfully finish college.

Sometimes there are things that your friends or parents cannot help you with, especially when you are here at college. It may be helpful to get another source of support, such as meeting with a counselor or speaking with a physician about your concerns. Debbie Jones, who runs the Campus Counseling Center, is a personal friend of mine. Why don't I just give her a call and see if we can get you in to meet with her?

The foundation of any effective referral is the advisor's ability to understand and to connect with the student through basic empathy skills. Once this has taken place, the advisor can think of and transition the student to the needed resources. Taking the time to develop an effective referral framework will equip you with a needed skill and empower your students to be more successful, both personally and academically.

Mark C. Rehfuss
Regent University
[email protected]

Melissa Mentzer
Ashland University
[email protected]


Butler, E. (1995). Counseling and advising: A continuum of services. In R. Glennen & F. Vowell (Eds.). Academic Advising as a Comprehensive Campus Process. Manhattan, KS: NACADA Monograph Series Number 2, pp. 107-114.

Egan, G. (1998). The skilled helper. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.

Kuhn, T., Gordon, V., & Webber, J. (2006). The advising and counseling continuum: Triggers for referral. NACADA Journal, 26 (1), 24-31.

O'Hanlon, W., & Weiner-Davis, M. (1989). In search of solutions: A new direction in psychotherapy. New York: Norton.

Rogers, C. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Shane, D. (1981). Academic advising in higher education: A developmental approach for college students of all ages. NACADA Journal, 1(2), 12-23.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Issues in Advising Situations

Brandy L. Smith, The University of Memphis

Editor's Note: The following article is drawn from the presentation 'Colors of the Rainbow,' given by Brandy Smith at the 2006 NACADA Region 3 Conference in Nashville, TN. Before reading this article, the reader may wish to become familiar with Brandy's NACADA Clearinghouse article Working More Effectively in Advising: Understanding Multicultural Dimensions ofGay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Identities.

"Why do I need to be aware of GLBT persons or issues?"  Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin (1948) in their seminal work noted that up to ten percent of the population may be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender (GLBT). Thus, probability alone suggests that advisors will work with many GLBT students during their careers. Others may say, "What does it matter if I know a person's sexual orientation?"  True, we may not need to know a student's sexual orientation to be a good advisor, but there are times when issues of sexual orientation arise. This can occur when advisors seek to connect with students in a holistic way i.e., when they seek to know more about students than their course schedules.

A holistic advisor may ask a female transfer student the basic question, "What brings you to X University?"  This wonderfully open question has a multitude of answers. If the student says that she transferred because of a dating relationship, the advisor may follow up by asking how long the student and her boyfriend have been together. In this case, the advisor has made an assumption about the student's sexual orientation. While an advisor may find it helpful to know more about the dating relationship, it is recommended that he/she inquire in a way that does not infer heterosexuality. Simply asking, 'How long have you two been together?' can garner the same information, while allowing for the possibility that the student may not be heterosexual.

Hetherington (1991) noted that assumptions exist regarding appropriate and inappropriate fields for GLBT people. These thoughts are based on assumptions and stereotypes that must be challenged. Because we are exposed to socialization beliefs and stereotypes, some advisors and students may explore only majors related to sexual orientation stereotypes. Advisors should seek to discover students' reasons for choosing their majors.

An advisor may work with a male student who indicates that he is gay. This advisor may suggest theatre as a major because the arts have traditionally been seen as a 'good fit' for gay people. In this instance, the advisor needs to broaden his or her perception of student career possibilities instead of limiting the majors to stereotypical fields. Yes, certain fields have historically been more open and affirming to GLBT people, but that does not mean that those are the only fields in which GLBT people can succeed. This issue may arise if the student expresses interest in teaching, the military, criminal justice, or the business world.

Believing that GLBT people can only enter certain fields limits the students' possibilities and restricts the contributions they can make. GLBT people are employed in a variety of occupations. Advisors who choose not to discuss certain careers because of the student's sexual orientation should challenge their beliefs. It is true that some fields may be more restrictive regarding how open a person can be about his/her sexual orientation (e.g., teaching elementary school or the military), but an honest discussion of the issues is very different than refraining from discussing a career option because the person is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

GLBT individuals often 'come out' during their college years. The 'coming out' process may include student discomfort with sexual orientation and may lead students to choose careers that are traditionally seen as congruent with gender stereotypes. In these cases, male students may choose a stereotypically masculine major, e.g., sports management, while female students may select a stereotypically feminine major, e.g., nursing. Exploration of the reason for the choice of major is important. The question 'What makes you choose that major?' can lead to a productive discussion about the reasons for the choice and an indication regarding how satisfied students may be with a choice made because of gender stereotypes. Some persons may be satisfied with choosing a career path based upon gender stereotypes, but others may realize that alternative reasons for choosing a major may be more important.

Much of what has been suggested here involves challenging stereotypes and assumptions. This can be hard, especially if students and advisors are surrounded by inaccurate information. Advisors can increase their understanding of GLBT persons and the issues they face in the following ways:

  • read affirming books that accurately portray GLBT people
  • talk in a respectful way with people who are GLBT to learn about their experiences and struggles
  • attend presentations that discuss GLBT persons' experiences or perspectives in an affirming way
  • visit the Human Rights Campaign website at www.hrc.org
  • connect with individuals who are GLBT to learn more about them and how their sexual identities are integrated into their personalities rather than isolated from who they are.

Brandy L. Smith
The University of Memphis
[email protected]

Brandy Smith is a counseling psychology doctoral student in the Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Research program at The University of Memphis.


Hetherington, C. (1991). Life planning and career counseling with gay and lesbian students. In N. J. Evans & V.

A. Wall (Eds.), Beyond tolerance: Gays, lesbians and bisexuals on campus (pp. 131-146). Alexandria, VA: American College Personnel Association.

Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W. & Martin, C. (1948), Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Helping Adult Latina/o Part-time University Student Achieve

James Minor, Sacred Heart University

"...Today, she can help her family financially. Nevertheless, for her it is not enough. Her dream is to finish her education. She is determined to live a life of dignity...." (Elizabete Ribeiro, HAAP student, referring to herself in 3rd person).

According to the U.S. Census (2005), Latinos now represent the largest minority segment of the U.S. population (14.1%). Yet they have the highest drop-out rate of any major ethnic group and poorest retention rates in higher education (The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators 2003; Sanchez 2000). As a result, they lag behind in educational attainment - only 12.1% hold a bachelor's degree or more (compared to 30.6% of whites) (U.S. Census Bureau 2004).

This article describes Sacred Heart University's Hispanic Adult Achievers Program, a program established to address the unique educational needs of Latinos who have immigrated to the United States as adults. The article includes student achievement and retention data, as well as a brief discussion of the advising and retention strategies used.

Development and Growth of the HAAP. The Hispanic Adult Achievers Program (HAAP) started in 1998 with a group of 23 adult Latinos who had been studying English at a local Catholic community center. The students all had full-time jobs (as housekeepers, babysitters, landscapers, and the like) and were between the ages of 25 and 50. The HAAP was designed to offer these adult Latinos part-time higher education opportunities that were both affordable and supportive. Courses were made affordable by deeply discounting tuition and subsidizing text book expenses. The program created a supportive environment by having the students study together in cohorts. Students began with academic levels of English as a Second Language (ESL) and a core of academic courses (all of which received degree credit), then went on to pursue their various majors. The program staff consisted of a director, an academic advisor and a tutor.

Since beginning with the initial group of 23, the HAAP has grown nearly 300% and now has over 90 participating students. Most of this growth has come from area Latino community organizations such as churches.

Credit Completion and Retention Rates. Along with an increased number of students, there has also been a rising rate of credit completion. In 2004-2005, 87 students completed an average of 11.44 credits (up from 7.56 per student in 2000-2001).


Furthermore, retention rates for students in the HAAP since academic year 2001 are significantly better than national averages. After 3 years, 69% were still enrolled; and after 4 years, 67% were still enrolled. This is striking when one considers that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (2006), nearly half of all working adults who attend college on a part-time basis drop out within 3 years.

Degree completion.These credits are also adding up to degree completions. Following academic year 2005, 25% of the students had completed 60+ credits, 12 of whom received associate degrees (2 magna cum laude, 1 summa cum laude, and 2 cum laude), with 4 more on target to receive their bachelor's degrees this year.

Recruiting & Advisement strategies. The HAAP, then, appears to help Latina/o students succeed academically. Following is a brief description of the strategies employed with the program that have contributed to this achievement.

  • Developing community partnerships & building community. Friendship and community can be extremely powerful sources of educational support for Latinos (Zalaquett 2006). In recruitment for the program, therefore, an effort has been made to draw upon existing and important social structures by developing partnerships with local Latino communities. To be eligible for admission to the program, students must demonstrate active involvement with a local Latino community. Students, then, have a prevailing and stable system of relationships that can provide them with accountability and support in their educational pursuits.By recruiting students who value social connectedness, the program also facilitates the creation of community among its students. Along with the cohesion that the cohort model provides, the program additionally builds community through member requirements, a 'code of ethics' that expects each student to participate in fund-raising activities, attend program meetings each semester, and work with other students on committees. To be an HAAP student is, thus, to be a part of a family of Latina/o scholars. As one of the students has affirmed, 'The most important thing of HAAP is that it works as a united community, where we get the support from everyone, including teachers and classmates' (Leslie Argueta, HAAP student).
  • Making academic resources available. One of the functions of the program staff is to act as a liaison between HAAP students and University resources. The academic advisor has the most direct interface with students, getting to know them through regular contact and helping each of them formulate a clear academic plan. The relationship between students and the advisor is quite strong, lasting throughout their time at the University. In addition to academic advisement, the students make use of the career counseling center to help them determine career goals associated with their academic majors. Through this combination of academic and career counseling, students develop specific goals to achieve, a factor that has been shown to contribute to Latina/o student success (Zalaquett 2006).
  • Deputizing members. Students in the HAAP are encouraged to take ownership of the program. The program motto ('Be an achiever, not a drop-out!') and code of ethics were created by students, and each year a council is elected to provide leadership. Students are also invited to recommend friends and relatives for admission to the program. In this way students develop a vested interest in building community and maintaining a supportive and cohesive learning environment.
  • Celebrating successes. At the close of every academic year the program's student council organizes an awards ceremony to celebrate the students' achievements. Each student with at least 30 credits receives a certificate showing credit completion totals. The ceremony also includes a special speaker, student testimonials, entertainment and a nice dinner. Through these activities students inspire one another and foster a culture of educational dignity and respect.

Despite the program's successes, the HAAP faces significant challenges; one of which is economic. Can the University continue to bear the cost of deeply discounting the HAAP tuition? To continue to grow, the University will likely need to find partners to share this cost. Another challenge is how to address the issue of undocumented immigrants. With as many as 8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., educational institutions must wrestle with the issue of whether or not to deny them access to higher education. Nevertheless, the program staff is inspired to continue by student sentiments such as this:

"Thanks to the HAAP, I can dream again of pursuing an academic life that I always wanted. Even though sacrifices will be inevitable, such as the loss of free time that I have, I am willing to do it all for the sake of a better tomorrow for myself and for what I can bring to those around me." (Thiago Pires, HAAP student)

James Minor
Sacred Heart University
[email protected]


Sanchez, I. M. (2000). Motivating and maximizing learning in minority classrooms. New Directions for Community Colleges, 112, 35-44.

The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. (2003). Closing achievement gaps: improving educational outcomes for Hispanic children. Los Angeles, CA: TRPI. Washington, DC: National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2005). Table 1. Annual estimates of the population by race alone or in combination and Latino/a origin for the United States and states: July 1, 2004. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.census.gov/popest/states/asrh/tables/SC-EST2004-04.xls

U.S. Census Bureau. (2004). Table 6.1 Educational Attainment of the Population 25 Years and Over by Sex, Hispanic Origin, and Race: 2004. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hispanic/ASEC2004/2004CPS_tab6.1a.pdf

U.S. Department of Education National Center for Educational Statistics. (2006). Nontraditional Undergraduates / Persistence and Attainment of Nontraditional Students. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/97578g.asp

Zalaquett, Carlos P. (2006). Study of successful Latina/o students. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 5, 1, 35-47.

Preparing to Advise High-Achieving Students

Marion Schwartz, Advising High Achieving Students Interest Group Co-Chair

Marion Schwartz.jpgWorking with high-achievers can be immensely satisfying: they are the students most likely to live out their advisors' ideals of the academic life. At the same time, these students present special challenges. Because they have such potential, it takes knowledge, research, and creativity to serve them well. Further, although they come to college with the same developmental needs as other students, those needs can be hidden behind their confident surface of accomplishment. Their abilities may set them up for perfectionism, social isolation, identity foreclosure or diffusion-problems that become evident only in crisis. Thus, advisors who work with high achievers need both a thorough knowledge of the opportunities open to these students and the sensitivity to support them through realization of these opportunities. How can advisors prepare for such challenges?

Know the institution. Advisors should know honors programs inside out. What must students do to maintain their status in honors? What privileges will they receive within the honors program? Is money available for research projects? Does a substitution rule make pursuit of a double major easier for honors students? Honors advisors must keep abreast of program information; they must reread the handbook and check with administrators at least once a year for updates on changes.

Advisors should think of the institution itself as a treasure trove of opportunities for high achieving students. Advisors can guide their most ambitious students towards the unique strengths of the institution. Which departments or special institutes offer exceptional opportunities? Who are the leading lights among the faculty? Prepare to help students by reading news releases, faculty-staff newsletters, department brochures and Web pages; scan the bookstore for faculty publications.

Know the students. Achterberg (2004) noted that it is difficult to generalize about honors students (p. 88), and Kem & Navan (in press) found that honors students were unhappy when they were judged solely on the basis of their accomplishments. Just as advisors work to avert stereotyping students by ethnicity, they must avoid prejudging their high achievers. Advisors should seek clues to the uniqueness of each student by reading folder materials before meeting with the student. Look beyond transcripts to documents such as admissions essays, teacher recommendations, resumes of volunteer or work experience, and portfolios submitted for special awards. Look at competitions, religious affiliations, community service, jobs (both menial and impressive), and travel -students are far more than the sum of their course work.

Broaden the network. Because high-achieving students pursue broad and more accelerated goals than other students, they can profit from a wider range of referrals. Therefore, advisors should cultivate special connections in a variety of areas.
  • Financial aid can include not only government aid and institutional scholarships, but also national and international competitions. If the institution does not have centralized information about such funding, consult the National Association of Fellowships Administrators.
  • Study abroad for high achievers is encouraged by national governments and corporations overseas. High-achievers may seek these out, not only because of the sponsorship, but also because they see the world broadly. Advisors should cultivate a colleague in the study abroad office with expertise in uncommon destinations and scholarships for foreign travel.
  • Library resources are necessary for research projects of all sorts. While academic advisors may not be supervising the projects, they should be able to refer students to appropriate librarians, especially if the student is still searching for a topic. On campuses without a designated honors librarian advisors can either get a list of staff subject specialists or develop contact with an experienced librarian to whom they can refer high-achieving students.
  • Study skills are often underdeveloped among high-achievers; this is especially true for those who not adequately challenged in high school. Advisors can either create a resource of their own or work with the college learning center to tailor study materials for successful students. In general, high achievers will operate near the top of the Bloom's (1956) taxonomy hierarchy; they will not relearn material as much as create new knowledge by making new connections. Also, advisors can find out which writing tutors work best with honors students; every writer needs an editor.
  • Relevant facult y are the advisor's link to the disciplines. They provide insights into their field and mentoring for ambitious students. Because high-achievers may start research early or may combine seemingly unrelated fields, it is important that their advisors have a broad network of specialists for referral. Consider the student who loves computer science, architectural engineering and theatre: he ends up designing a whole new approach to theatrical lighting, but only because his advisor knew whom to call and how to coordinate his various interests.
Review Development. While advisors know how typical developmental issues arise among students, they might review theories of identity that relate tohigh-achievers. Crises occur when students face failure for the first time, when they have had too little space for identity formation, when they have to adjust their relations to their parents, or when they have to set priorities among their many strengths. Dougherty, in a 2006 review of the literature on high-achieving students, noted that 'educators need a thorough comprehension of student development theory' if they are to advise high-ability students effectively. Recalling the literature can sensitize advisors to the type of problems their students are likely to incur.

IG.jpgIn the end, no advisor can fully prepare for meeting with their high-achieving students: they will always ask something that is just a little bit beyond us. The key is to have a strong information network, a wide view of the world, and the readiness to think all sorts of new thoughts.

Marion Schwartz
The Pennsylvania State University


Achterberg, Cheryl. (2004). 'Characteristics of Honors Students' in Student Characteristics Matter, Division of Undergraduate Studies, Penn State University.

Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Dougherty, Sarah B. (2006). Academic and Career Advising for High-achieving College Students. Unpublished Master's Paper, The Pennsylvania State University.

Kem, L., & Navan, J. (in press). Gifted students in college: Suggestions for advisors and faculty members. NACADA Journal 26 (2).

Effective Advising for Study Abroad

Jodi Malmgren, Study Abroad Interest Group Chair
Jim Galvin, Study Abroad Interest Group Member

Editor's Note: An Academic Planning for Study Abroad Form developed by Jim and Jody was featured as a 'Sparkler* in the June 2006 edition.


Nationally, study abroad interest is high, but participation falls far short of the interest expressed by students entering college. Perceived barriers and myths may deter students from studying abroad, widening the gap between interest and participation. Effective advising can foster interest and participation by addressing barriers, dispelling myths, and emphasizing the value of study abroad.

National Trends in Study Abroad

Of college-bound high school students surveyed, 48% want to study abroad and 28% plan an internship abroad. Public support is also high. Seventy-five percent of the public (with equally high levels of support among men and women and across all education levels) believes students should study abroad while in college. Actual participation rates are much lower, with only approximately 3% of students nationally completing a study abroad program (Hayward & Siaya, 2001).

The gap between interest and participation poses significant challenges and opportunities. Fortunately, there are encouraging signs. The trend over the past few years is toward greater participation in study abroad and broader diversity of destination. Since 2000-01, U.S. student participation in study abroad has grown almost 20%. Significant increases have occurred in several non-English speaking countries outside of Western Europe, notably a 90% increase in study abroad to China (U.S. study abroad, 2005). In addition, the U.S. Congress has designated 2006 as the Year of Study Abroad and the Lincoln Commission is proposing national legislation for new scholarship money to support study abroad, aiming for a participation rate of one million students by 2017, a more than five fold increase over the 191,321 students who participated in 2003-04 (U.S. study abroad, 2005). Reaching this level of participation will require significant institutional investment in promoting study abroad and advising students on the barriers and benefits to study abroad.

Myths and Barriers: The 'Five Fs'

Survey data at the University of Minnesota (2005) continues to confirm that students face five barriers, five Fs, when deciding whether to study abroad:

  • Finances
  • Academic Fit
  • Faculty and Adviser Support
  • Fear
  • Friends & Family

Advisers can assist students by addressing the five F's and devising solutions.

  • Financing study abroad may involve collaboration between the academic adviser, the study abroad center, and financial aid office. Students who plan ahead are more successful in financing an international experience.
  • Incorporating a study abroad that fits into any major, minor or pre-professional goals is becoming easier. Fields such as business, engineering, and health care are now well represented in the options available to students.
  • Advisers can prepare detailed pre-departure plans that include course evaluations, graduation maps, and career planning. At the University of Minnesota, students are required to meet with their collegiate, departmental, and study abroad advisers prior to departure. All classes are evaluated and the equivalencies are listed on the Academic Planning for Study Abroad (APSA) form. Knowing how the credits will apply to the academic plan helps to address student and parental concerns. (View the APSA form here.)
  • Advisers can assist students by acknowledging the real fears associated with leaving the familiar to immerse oneself in another culture. It may be helpful to remind students of their previous successes with transition, such as acclimating to the university as a first year student.
  • Students struggle with leaving behind family and friends. Forming a new social safety net abroad is challenging, but for many students, the friends (and, sometimes, host families) met abroad become lifetime relationships. Staying in touch while abroad has also never been easier.

In addition, there are common 'myths' about study abroad that may overlay these 5 Fs.

MYTH:Study abroad costs too much.
FACTS: Study abroad costs vary widely. For institutions that charge their home school tuition, scholarship money may defray additional expenses such as airfare. For institutions that have students pay the study abroad program fees directly, students have the ability to seek out lower-cost programs. Opportunity costs such as lost wages can be met with scholarship money or the value of increased marketability in career searches.

MYTH:Study abroad delays graduation.
FACTS:With careful planning to apply study abroad coursework toward degree requirements, students can graduate on time. The APSA form and process for study abroad degree planning can be adapted to your campus.

MYTH:Professional schools do not see value in study abroad.
FACTS:A recent study of Medical School admissions deans suggests that 65 percent of respondents indicated that international study is beneficial for pre-med students (Anderson, Nemecek & Navari, 2001).

The Value of Study Abroad

As an adviser, you can also share with students the unique value of study abroad.

  • Discipline specific and 'field' learning opportunities that offer an international perspective on a student's area of study
  • Personal development (self confidence, tolerance for ambiguity)
  • Cross cultural and language skills and greater appreciation of diversity
  • Greater student satisfaction with their education and improved graduation and retention rates
  • Broadened career perspective

What Next Steps Can an Academic Adviser Take?

  • Advocate for study abroad when meeting with your advisees. Your encouragement really does make a difference.
  • Degree planning is crucial. Early planning and effective advising makes study abroad applicable to degree requirements and resolves course sequencing issues.
  • Voice your support for study abroad among your colleagues. Your voice can help sway opinion or even change a campus culture to be more supportive of study abroad.
  • Investigate your campus' study abroad office and meet the adviser(s). Get to know your institution's study abroad programs and policies.
  • Share your international story if you went abroad. If you didn't, share a student or colleague 'success story.'
  • Encourage students to investigate financial aid and scholarships for study abroad. Money is available, especially for students who plan ahead, go to less traditional locations, or study abroad for longer periods of time.
  • Re-entry advising is essential for returning students. Advisers can help students re-assimilate, review their degree progress, articulate their new skills, and reflect on career and other future plans.

Academic and study abroad advisers can make a student's dream of study abroad become a reality. While the five Fs pose challenges, close collaboration and effective advising can significantly improve study abroad participation.

Jodi Malmgren
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
[email protected]

Jim Galvin
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
[email protected]


Anderson, A., Nemecek, J. E. and Navari, R.M. (2001). International study in premedical education: Report of a survey of medical school admission deans. Academic Medicine.

(2005, Nov 14). U.S. study abroad increases by 9/6%, continues record growth. Press release for Open doors 2005: U.S. students studying abroad. Institute of International Education. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/?p=69735

Hayward, F.M. and Siaya, L.M. (2001). Public experience, attitudes, and knowledge: A report on two national surveys about international education. American Council on Education. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.acenet.edu/bookstore/pdf/2001-intl-report.pdf

(2005). University of Minnesota curriculum integration data. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at: http://www.umabroad.umn.edu/ci/stats/surveys/index.html

IDEA and College Accommodations

Les Hemphill, Advising Students with Disabilities Commission Past Chair 

As advisors and students meet this fall, advisors may notice an increase in the number of students who have received learning disability services in high school. Ironically, these same students may not have the documentation necessary to receive accommodation at the college level. This is the result of the 2004 revisions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These revisions will also impact student accommodations for such professional tests as the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), required for admission to some teacher education programs.

Psychological testing mandated by earlier versions of IDEA is no longer required under the 2004 revision, although college disability student support staff, with few exceptions, believe the testing is necessary at the college level. Students in many states will either have to forgo accommodations or pay providers in the private sector for the testing.

The primary reason for this problem is the decision to abandon the discrepancy model as an important component in the identification of learning disabilities. In its simplest form, the discrepancy model examines discrepancies between subscale scores on achievement tests and scores derived from IQ tests. If the deviation between one or more achievement subscales and the IQ score was great enough, and other conditions were met, this was taken as evidence of a learning disability.

A number of reasons were offered for discarding the discrepancy model. The most persuasive argument is that the testing necessary to determine if a discrepancy exists is difficult to conduct with preschool children, thus resulting in treatment delays at a time when the child might be most responsive (Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 2001, 266; Fletcher, Coulter, Reschly, & Vaughn, 2004, 9). It is difficult to fault this argument, but it does little to alleviate the problems faced by disability support staff and advisors at the post secondary level. In place of the discrepancy model, elementary and secondary special education staff are encouraged to adopt a 'response to intervention' approach for both the identification and treatment of learning disabilities.

Typically, this involves a three tiered approach that begins when a child is first observed experiencing difficulties in reading, writing or mathematics. At the first tier, the child is exposed to a more intensive level of instruction. Failure to respond at this level results in efforts at the second tier that may include alterations in the curriculum and assistance by others besides the classroom instructor. At the third level, the student could be diagnosed as having a learning disability and exposed to the full array of special education services in an effort to guarantee the child's success. If the child responds positively to the intervention, it is assumed that a learning disability exists, eliminating the need for psychological testing.

This approach may well be warranted for providing services to children through the secondary level. However, it would generate very real problems at the post secondary level. Under IDEA, the goal of the public school system is success for the student with a disability. The mandate under ADA at the postsecondary level only requires that colleges and universities provide equal access. When advisors and Disability Support Service (DSS) personnel ask faculty to provide accommodations, it is with the understanding that the accommodations will provide equal access and that documentation is on file justifying the request. Students exposed to the 'response to intervention' model may demonstrate improvement, but was this improvement a response to the accommodations or a placebo effect? Did the student have a learning disability or was some other underlying problem addressed by methods used in the 'shotgun' approach encouraged by this model?

The 'response to intervention' model can not demonstrate that intervention is still necessary at the postsecondary level, nor can it differentiate between which interventions were actually effective and which were not. Under the mandate to provide success, special education staff in the public school system often provide a laundry list of services, modifications and accommodations. In describing this process, Jane Jarrow, a leader in the disability field, made the following pertinent comments while discussing a specific accommodation ' THEN AGAIN, it could be that. is one of those success-oriented strategies that IEP's are famous for suggesting, simply because it MIGHT help, and MIGHT make a difference, and in the K-12 system, that is enough to mandate its approval' (personal communication, May 31, 2006). DSS staff and advisors making similar requests at the college level would quickly lose credibility and respect from faculty and administration.

The issues that mitigate against IQ and achievement testing and the discrepancy model for young children do not create the same kinds of problems at the postsecondary level. Test results for young adults are more reliable than for young children, and since identification has already occurred there is no 'wait to fail' before providing services. In fact, at the postsecondary level elaborate procedures have evolved utilizing the discrepancy model as one component for determining both eligibility for services and the kind of services most appropriate for college students with learning disabilities (Brinckerhoff, McGuire, & Shaw, 2002).

This has already begun to surface as a problem at colleges and universities in the Midwest. It is hoped that those who are concerned about this issue will join the author in a Hot Topics session at the NACADA Conference in Indianapolis to share strategies for addressing the problem.

Les Hemphill
Cloud County Community College
[email protected]


Brinckerhoff, L. C., McGuire, J. M., & Shaw, S. F. (2002). Postsecondary education and transition for students with learning disabilities (2nd). Austin, TX: PRO-ED, Inc.

Fletcher, J. M., Coulter, W. A., Reschly, D. J., & Vaughn, S. (2004, December). Alternative approaches to the definition and identification of learning disabilities: Some questions and answers. Annals of Dyslexia, 54 (2) 304-331. Retrieved May 19, 2006, from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3809/is_200412/ai_n9471603

Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (2002, summer). On babies and bathwater: Addressing the problems of identification of learning disabilities [Electronic Version]. Learning Disability Quarterly, 25, 155-168. Retrieved May 17, 2006 from http://www.advocacyinstitute.org/resources/Babies_and_Bathwater.pdf

Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. (2001, May). Rethinking learning disabilities. In Rethinking Special Education for a New Century (chap 12), Retrieved May 17, 2006 from http://www.edexcellence.net/library/special_ed/special_ed_ch12.pdf

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The Game of MACAO: How Riding the Bus Led to Rolling the Dice in Vegas

David B. Spight, The University of Texas at Austin 

David Spight.jpgSometimes our more creative ideas occur in places like the shower, or maybe at a coffee shop. In this case, it came to me on a city bus riding home at the end of a day filled with advising undecided students. It was January 2005, and I was trying to find a way to present some of the basic relational skills involved in advising undecided students, and yet, have it fit with the theme of the upcoming NACADA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. My mind kept wandering to the image of 'advising' dice. Then, it hit me. Grabbing an envelope that used to hold one of my monthly bills, I began to scribble furiously. This is what in the end came of my chicken-scratched envelope.

At the Annual Conference, my University of Texas colleague Vonya Baldridge and I presented a session entitled, They can't win if you don't play: Why undecided students need advisors who gamble.  It was our hope that we could encourage advisors to gamble more often on their undecided (and decided) students. By gambling, we meant: taking risks to build a strong rapport, pushing advisors through their anxieties about talking 'with' a student instead of 'to' them so they could engage in a dialogue, and simply asking more questions so students could come up with more answers themselves.

After a very brief presentation of the types of information advisors need to know and understand, participants were asked to play a dice game known as MACAO (Maximizing ACademic Advising Outcomes). This game is intended to help advisors practice one of the more important relational skills: the skill of asking questions. The game of MACAO involved rolling a six-sided wooden die labeled with the question words: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Based on the question word rolled, participants attempted to write as many questions as they could think to ask 'Jamie,' our fictional student, during a 3 minute round. Jamie is described as follows:

Jamie is a first-year first semester undecided student. Jamie is very undecided about a choice of major and believes that the purpose of attending college is to prepare for a future occupation. Jamie is concerned about not having a choice, but at the same time, is worried about committing to a choice. Jamie claims, "I have no real ideas about what I want to do with my life. I guess I want to be a part of something where I can help out." Jamie has already asked peers and family for assistance.

Participants were divided into smaller groups. Each group played 3 rounds, at the end of which a count was taken and those with the greatest number of question ideas were awarded a prize. But the real winners were the students, as these advisors were now more prepared to gamble on their own campuses. Participants were also given their own little MACAO Advising Die to place on their desks as a reminder to ask at least one more question.

Pages and pages of questions were compiled and categorized to provide advisors with questions that could be asked of undecided students in the process of choosing a major and career exploration. An offer to send out copies of these questions went out on a list serve after the Conference and surprisingly, over 300 of you asked for copies of the questions. Still, the list of compiled questions is nowhere near exhaustive, since it only pertained to one fictional student at one point of the exploration process.

Some examples of the questions participants generated included:

  • From whom do you want respect?
  • What is the worst that would happen if you change your mind?
  • When do you remember having a powerful learning experience?
  • Where would you go if you weren't in college?
  • Why is talking to your family about career choices important to you?

The significant number of requests for the compiled lists brought up a couple of questions advisors should also consider asking themselves:

  • How many times could we ask at least one more question during an advising session, even during high traffic times? Asking a question takes a few seconds, and the response but a minute or two more. Yet, the question and response can create an interaction that could significantly impact the student for a long time to come.
  • How much could information gleaned from the question help us assist students to help themselves? The more we know about students, the better we can assist them. The more they know about themselves, the better prepared they are to make a crystallized decision.
  • How often do we prepare questions, maybe even play a round of MACAO, before a student comes into our offices? We often ask or expect students to prepare questions for their sessions with advisors or other campus and community resources. Would not a moment of considering possible questions make for a more intentional and purposeful meeting?

Granted, during high traffic times it is easy to argue that there just is not enough time to ask one more question. But, I challenge you, the next time you are in one of those brief appointments, ask yourself if you could squeeze in at least one more question. Take a chance, take a gamble and start asking more questions. You will be surprised how much you impact students and how much their answers impact you.

And, on a related note, try riding the bus sometime. You may be surprised how creative you can be. Just be sure to have plenty of envelopes available for writing, just in case.

David B. Spight
The University of Texas at Austin
[email protected]


Out Past the Edges

Jerry Harrell, Ivy Tech Community College - Indianapolis

I'm a bicyclist. I love the road. I tried off-road cycling, but I didn't like the uncertainty of the trail. There were too many turns, obstacles, and variables for my liking. I like a well paved, proven, and clearly marked path with unambiguous edges and boundaries. It is my comfort zone.

When I approached advising, I wanted the same thing - a well-defined, clear path without obstacles. I sought a clean edge. But, as I have discovered, I would never experience new possibilities until I was willing to move out past the edges. The terrain out past the edges is filled with a rich fauna of color and texture. It is here that I have found the fullness of advising.

My journey began in 2004 with a colleague. Our chancellor asked us to work on a grant to request funds for the improvement of advising services at our college. We knew that we needed to demonstrate that we had a clear plan if we were to gain funding. We contacted NACADA for guidance. Prior to submitting the grant proposal, the NACADA Consultants Bureau gave us ideas on how they could assist us in the process. As a result, we wrote our grant to include NACADA consulting services. We secured funding for three years to 1) assess current advising needs, 2) develop an advising system that responds to those needs, and 3) measure whether improvements increased student satisfaction. From the start, the NACADA consultants brought validity to our plan and to our grant; they have been valued partners since.

In spring 2005, a team of NACADA consultants came to our campus to begin the process of evaluating our advising program. They looked for things we couldn't see. They liked the brush. They turned off the clearly paved road others and I had made. They immediately went beyond the edges. They looked for the trees, the hills, the mud, and the holes - the stuff that makes a journey challenging, yet fulfilling. They talked to students, faculty, staff, administrators, chancellors, deans, and passers-by. It was then that I realized that new roads are discovered, defined, paved, and traveled when we are willing to stand back to see the full terrain.

The NACADA consultants began with assessments that included interviews, focus groups, and staff discussions. They were able to do what we couldn't: create open and objective forums through which students, staff, faculty, and administrators could express their perceptions and thoughts about advising needs and services at our college. The written report they provided became our guiding document for improving advising. It also gave us credibility with senior management when we began to design new systems. The consultants built a bond of trust with our senior management that paved the way for exploration and change.

IvyTechTeam.jpgThe consultants first helped us realize that student satisfaction is not the truest measurement of a successful advising program. It is a result, but not the primary goal. The goal is to have clearly defined learning objectives and outcomes for students. It wasn't until we determined what students needed to learn that we were able to pave our first path in the new advising terrain. Eight staff members - representing faculty, administrators, and advisors - attended the NACADA Academic Advising Summer Institute. We spent five days working together to develop our mission statement, learning objectives for students, and professional standards for advising staff. All the while, the Institute faculty were there to help us.

Following the Summer Institute, we created specialized teams to address the objective and outcomes we had outlined in our guiding document. We have involved over 50 faculty, staff, and students in discussing advising needs, intervention strategies, and implementation plans. We began with our six most challenging tasks: new student entry, undecided students, developmental students, academic-risk students, integration of career and advising, and professional development. The consultants returned to our college two times in this process to guide us.

This summer the consultants worked with us to deliver our first professional development workshops for general and faculty advisors. In the fall, we will implement new advising programs and begin the process of developing assessment strategies to measure the effectiveness of our initiatives. In preparation, four of our staff members attended the NACADA Academic Advising Assessment Institute, where the faculty guided us in understanding how to create an effective assessment plan. The consultants will return to our campus this fall to help us develop our assessment tools and evaluation timelines.

I have been asked on many occasions if the NACADA Consultants Bureau has worked well for us. Each time, I struggle to express the gratitude I have for the consultants. It is difficult to describe the experience of emerging at the other end of a journey, realizing that we have arrived in a much better place than the destination originally planned.

I recall a long ride I once made when I first began to cycle. Twenty miles from my destination, I broke a derailleur while climbing a hill. I had planned my water, food, and travel needs, but I had no tools to fix my derailleur or my chain. I began to walk. After a short distance, someone stopped to offer me a ride. I was grateful for the lift, but I was more grateful for what I learned. He was a bicyclist, yet he had many years of experience over me. Because of his guidance I now carry a simple tool kit that allows me to fix many things on my bike. It has gone on many journeys with me.

Maybe this is the greatest benefit of the NACADA Consultants Bureau - I now have tools. And, I have new friends who want to take the journey with me.

Jerry Harrell
Ivy Tech Community College - Indianapolis
[email protected]

Get Involved in NACADA Leadership

Sandra M. Waters, Old Dominion University

Sandy Waters.jpgAn academic advisor's job includes encouraging students to get involved in campus activities that will help them become better students and contribute to their academic and career development. I'm here to tell you that you need to listen to your own advice!

Here is my story about how taking that advice and getting involved in the NACADA leadership has helped me with my academic and career development. I've been in the advising profession since 1990, and from the beginning I attended the NACADA Annual Conferences regularly, went to some of the Regional Conferences, and once and a while attended a state Drive-In with a team from my campus. These were all great opportunities to get to know my colleagues at Old Dominion University and explore the diverse practices of professional academic advisors.

Then, in late 2004, I was asked to take over as Chair of the 2005 Region 2 Conference in Virginia Beach. I had turned down the role in the early planning stages because I didn't think I had the organizational skills to do something that big, and I had too much going on in my personal and professional life to take on one more challenge. But, when I was contacted a second time at a later stage in the planning process, my life had calmed somewhat, and I said "yes." Much of the planning had already been completed, and I was assured by the Region 2 Board members that they would be there to help.

Once I got over the shock of agreeing to host 300 people at a Conference hotel that was still under construction (it opened just a few weeks before the Conference), I got a great team of people from across my campus to help and contacted a few colleagues at other institutions in our area to give some of their time as well. The Conference was a tremendous success, and we all had a good time getting to know one another a little better. Following the Conference, a very nice letter was sent to our University President thanking her for allowing all of us to participate in hosting the event.

Little did I know that this was going to be just the beginning! During the Awards breakfast on the last day of the Conference, a NACADA leader leaned over to me and said, "I think you should run for the Region 2 Chair position." I was surprised and flattered. Caught up in the euphoria of the moment, I said I thought that was a splendid idea. (Isn't it wonderful how some leaders have the most incredible sense of timing-they know just when to ask us to do something! That's why I'm writing this story..)

So, here we are, two years later, and in just a few weeks I will be installed as the Region 2 Chair at the Annual Conference in Indianapolis this October. A second letter was sent to my President after the election to let her know the results, and she responded with a congratulatory letter thanking me for my involvement with the professional association that is known for promoting excellence in advising and contributing to student success.

I truly believe that being involved with NACADA has lent credibility to my recommendations for improving the academic advising processes at my institution; my President's congratulatory letter expressed her belief in the importance of continuing to develop our advising program at the University. This involvement has not only provided the knowledge and mechanisms for advancing our mission as advisors (academic goals), but it has provided me with promotional opportunities (career goals) that have elevated the importance of good advising for the sake of our students.

Take your own advice-get involved.

Sandra M. Waters
Director of Undergraduate Services
Old Dominion University

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

This edition's SPARKLER comes from Laura Cano Amaya, Academic Advisor, who tells us about a promising new program for probationary students at Texas State University-San Marcos.

The 'Partners on Academic Student Success' (PASS) program at Texas State's College of Applied Arts Advising Center addresses academic and non-academic factors affecting student academic performance by providing a community network for probationary students. This network consists of student and academic services offices collaborating to provide workshops and presentations throughout the semester that assist students' integration into college life and address challenges faced by these students. Presentations include topics on study skills, time management, adjustment and personal problems, stress management, and financial aid, among others. Currently, we have nine partners offering these workshops; among them are the Counseling Center, Financial Aid, Student Learning Assistance Center, Career Services, Health Center, and the Mentoring Program.

The Registrar's Office places holds on all probation students at the beginning of each semester, which prevent them from registering for the next semester without completing probationary requirements. Probation students are contacted at the beginning of the semester through e-mail to introduce them to the PASS program, inform them about the probation hold and instruct them on how to complete their requirements. Probation students are required to attend a Scholastic Review Session through our office to go over academic policies, student success strategies and GPA projections. In addition, they need to attend three workshop offered through our partners. They are encouraged to attend the workshops that will address the factors contributing to their academic performance. Students are given a workshop log to take to these workshops for an attendance signature. Once the student has completed all requirements the probation hold is removed.

Although this program is only two years old, the data is promising. Probation students participating in our PASS program are more likely to reach good academic standing than those that fail to participate. Most importantly, beyond all the positive statistical data that we are getting, the anecdotal evidence from probation students reinforces our numbers and shows that the program is working for a lot of them.

For more information, contact Laura at [email protected].


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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.