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Voices of the Global Community


The Role of Silence in Academic Advising

Sarah May Clarkson, Juniata College

Sarah May Clarkson.jpgFilmmaker Philip Gröning waited sixteen years for permission to capture the lives and work of French Carthusian monks on camera for his movie Into Great Silence. As academic advisors, we can wait for two or three seconds for a response to a question or we can allow an advising moment to extend for what seems like a lifetime without a spoken word.

In the din of our hectic and harried world, silence is an under-rated and under-valued gift. Between cell phones, MP3 players, Blackberries, television, e-mail, cars, subways, planes, and trains, many of us hardly ever experience stillness or silence. This article is not an attempt at religious conversion, but when academic advisors are mindful about using silence, or allowing silence to take hold, it can be, truly, revelatory. In my work, I serve both as an academic advisor and have responsibility for administering the college’s policy on academic integrity, so silence is something that I use at appropriate moments with good effect. And when I am speaking with parents or families, there is often nothing more powerful than a moment of rich silence.

First, advisors need to acknowledge what silence feels like as a part of conversation. In presenting on this topic, I have had folks describe silence in a number of ways – few of them complimentary. Silence can feel like a punishment, it can feel uncomfortable, it can be scary; silence can be awkward, frustrating, even infuriating. In a classroom, silence can be interpreted to mean that students are not prepared, are not intelligent, or are not engaged.

But silence is not necessarily absence, it is not docility or withdrawal; it can speak with a fullness that words may lack. When we note the absence of sound or chatter, silence can be quite full. If we want to use silence in our work with advisees, or in our personal or professional lives, we should have an awareness of the possibilities of silence that requires both reflection and attention.

There are many challenges to silence in our work e.g., budget cuts, larger enrollments, full days, multi-tasking (one of the real enemies of silence). We take pride, as we should, in our efficiency and our busy-ness. More than 150 years ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden about the coolest technology of his day (trains) by saying, “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.” I’m sure we often feel the same about the various technologies to which we often feel attached, sometimes in a burdensome way. And so we approach silence with some trepidation, but with a sense that it has a place in academic advising.

When employing silence, keep the following things in mind:

  • Awareness– Allow silence in advising conversations to tell things; allow it to communicate. Silence in advising could be saying what the advisee cannot: fear, exhaustion, stress, uncertainty. As an advisor, be mindful of silence and its absence; the moment to address, confront, console, or counsel may present itself in a way that could not happen otherwise.
  • Listen– Listening does not necessarily translate into hearing. As professionals, we appreciate how important listening is. Perhaps we take it for granted that we listen well, but do not just listen to the words: listen to the body language, the tone of voice, and the moments without words. Listen.org is the Web site of the International Listening Association. HighGain.com has a 5- or 10-minute listening assessment that can be a good exercise for advisors.
  • Respect– In advising, respect is fundamental, and when advisors use silence in advising we genuinely seek conversation or an answer and are respectfully willing to wait for it. Respect in advising relationships is important and valuable; so is silence.
  • Restraint– Do not jump in to fill the silence. Do NOT rescue. Try to allow for what Marion Wrye (2000) calls “abundant pauses.” This may be the hardest task of all, but when an advisor has done it once or twice, we find that silence can feel absolutely appropriate.

I have found it helpful to go to certain works for encouragement and support regarding silence. Parker Palmer (1998) examines six paradoxes of pedagogy in The Courage to Teach. Number 6 is this:

The space should welcome both silence and speech. Words are not the sole medium of exchange in teaching and learning – we educate with silence as well. Silence gives us a chance to reflect on what we have said and heard, and silence itself can be a sort of speech, emerging from the deepest parts of ourselves, of others, of the world.

Psychologists say that a typical group can abide about fifteen seconds of silence before someone feels the need to break the tension by speaking. It is our old friend fear at work, interpreting the silence as something gone wrong, certain that worthwhile things will not happen if we are not making noise. But in authentic education, silence is treated as a trustworthy matrix for the inner work students must do, a medium for learning of the deepest sort (p. 77).

In Chaim Potok’s (1967) The Chosen, the devout rabbi tells his son Danny and his friend Reuven that “the heart speaks through silence” (p. 278). And David Macfarlane’s (1991) unforgettable memoir of Newfoundland, The Danger Tree, has a priceless passage (pages 16 to 18) about a 1962 Christmas dinner and a reticent uncle.

In advising, then, try not to run from silence. Embrace it. Silence asks hard things from us – presence, patience – but the rewards for us and our advisees can be plentiful indeed. The Quakers have a practice in worship of silence or what can be described as “centering down.” It requires time, thought, and an attitude of acceptance; but, much can be communicated when nothing is said. Think of it this way: talk less, say more.

Sarah May Clarkson
Academic Support Services
Juniata College
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
[email protected]


Macfarlane, David. (1991).The Danger Tree: Memory, War, and the Search for a Family’s Past. New York: Walker & Company.

Palmer, Parker J. (1998).The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Potok, Chaim. (1967).The Chose. New York: Ballantine Books.

Thoreau, H.D. (1942).Walden. Roslyn, N : Walter J. Black. Chapter 2.

Wrye, Marion. (May, 2000). “The Silent Classroom.”English Journal(89) 5. pp. 79-83.

From the President: Building on Our Past, Strengthening Our Future

Susan Campbell, NACADA President


As my year as President draws to a close, I continue to be honored by the opportunity to serve in this capacity for our Association. This year has been a highlight in my professional career. I want to thank Nancy Walburn for her leadership as Vice President during this year as well as each member of the Board of Directors, Council, and the leaders within our divisions. The true strength of our Association continues to be our leaders, who each volunteer many hours of their time to ensure that our Association continues to grow and prosper.

I must also take the opportunity to publicly thank our long-time Executive Director, Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, for her dedication to our Association and her awesome leadership for the past seventeen years. As Bobbie moves into her phased retirement, it is essential that each of our nearly 10,000 members know that without Bobbie’s guidance, management, and total commitment to NACADA, our Association would not today be recognized as one of the largest and most influential associations in higher education. As we look toward the future, it is impossible for us not to express our gratitude to Bobbie for the foundation she has provided us.THANK YOU, BOBBIE!

Much has been accomplished during the past year to build on our past and strengthen our future. First, a work group of members of the Board of Directors, Council, and members at-large chaired by incoming President Jennifer Bloom has conducted a thorough review of the Association’s by-laws and recommended several clarifications and revisions to ensure that the by-laws clearly reflect our organizational structure. This important task will provide a firm foundation for the Association as we move forward. Next, Jane Jacobson, immediate past Vice President, has chaired a work team focusing on policies and procedures to better guide the work of the leadership and Executive Office in meeting the framework of our by-laws. These policies and procedures will ensure that our work at all levels of the Association is consistent and established for the future. And, last, Eric White, past NACADA President, has chaired a work group that has explored recommendations to ensure the sustainability of our Association in our next thirty years. It is essential that NACADA plan now for future expansion and stability. The work of these three groups is invaluable to our Association’s future and I thank Jenny, Jane, Eric and the members of these work groups for their hard work this year.

The Board of Directors and the Council have also been actively involved in evaluating and expanding the Association’s strategic plan for the future. At our mid-year meetings, Gary Levy (University of Utah) facilitated our work with the strategic plan which will continue at our Fall Board meeting. Through this important work, the Board of Directors provides leadership for all members involved in the work of the Association now and in the future.

One of the most exciting initiatives this year has been the implementation of our Emerging Leaders Program. Under the leadership of the Diversity Committee and its Chair, Skip Crownhart, the first class of Emerging Leaders and mentors has been selected; they will begin their two-years of work together at our Annual Conference in Baltimore. This new program is focused on building leaders for the future and strengthening the diversity of our leadership. I am pleased to announce the first class of Emerging Leaders: Melva Harbin (University of Texas-Austin), Erica Byrnes (University of Florida), Criselda Marquez (Purdue University), Tami Clavin (University of Central Oklahoma), Todd Taylor (The Ohio State University), Carol Pollard (University of North Texas), Cornelius Gilbert (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Jose Rodriguez (Florida International University), Darryl Frazier (Bethune-Cookman), and Audrey Jackson (Florida Community College of Jacksonville). The mentors who will be working with these leaders include Jenny Bloom (University of South of Carolina), Jayne Drake (Temple University), Sandy Waters (Old Dominion University), Charlie Nutt (Kansas State University), Scott Amundsen (Eastern Kentucky University), Jo Anne Huber (University of Texas-Austin), Karen Sullivan-Vance (Western Oregon University), Glenn Kepic (University of Florida), and Terry Musser (Penn State University). I know this will be an exciting and fruitful initiative that will impact the future of our Association.

We have strengthened our Association’s future this year through our collaborations with fellow associations nationally and internationally. These collaborations have included the publication of a joint monograph with the National Resource Center on the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition:Academic Advising: New Insights for Teaching and Learning in the First Year. We also have established a very strong collaboration with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) through the development and implementation of an online course and three-day institute that focus on building successful academic support systems for student athletes that meet Academic Progress Report (APR) guidelines. We have also begun work on a partnership with the National Collegiate Honors Council and the NACADA Board of Directors is developing a plan for collaborative efforts that sets priorities and strategies for additional partnerships and collaborations with other associations.

This year has also seen important collaborations at an international level. Again this year, NACADA connected with Counseling Arabia in the United Arab Emirates, where Associate Director Charlie Nutt served as a featured speaker at their annual conference in Dubai. Over eighteen Middle Eastern countries were represented at this year’s conference, where participants gained valuable information on advising and our association. Also, NACADA partnered with the Higher Education Academy in the United Kingdom to sponsor the 1st International Conference on Personal Tutoring and Academic Advising held in Edinburgh, Scotland. Over twenty NACADA members from the United States and Canada joined their UK colleagues at this conference to learn from each other and network at an international level. I had the distinct pleasure of serving as the keynote speaker for this collaborative event. Past President Mike McCauley’s article in this edition of Academic Advising Today describes more about the conference. Plans are already under way for the 2008 collaborative conference to be held in the United States in partnership with our Region 2 conference in Pittsburgh.

As you can see, this has been busy and productive year. As we look toward the future, I know NACADA will continue to grow and expand under the leadership of President Jenny Bloom and Vice President Casey Self as well as Interim Executive Director Charlie Nutt. I know they will move NACADA forward and that each of you will be actively involved in the work of the Association.

Susan Campbell, President
National Academic Advising Association
[email protected]

From the Executive Director: It's Been a Wonderful Journey!

Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, NACADA Executive Director


Life has an interesting way of evolving! Little did I realize in 1978 (at the age of 31) while serving as Director of Conferences at Kansas State University, that a phone call with three advisors (Toni Trombley, Vermont; Frank Dyer, Tennessee; and Billie Jacobini, Illinois) might determine the rest of my life’s work. That call was to discuss the possibility of the K-State Conference Office coordinating the annual conference on academic advising and in particular, the 1979 conference which would be the inaugural meeting of the National Academic Advising Association. I secured that “piece of business” and NACADA was formally a part of my life. K-State coordinated all but one conference between then and 1990. In 1989, NACADA had grown sufficiently to require an Executive Office, and I believed that it provided an excellent opportunity for K-State and me, so I worked with Dean Michael Holen to prepare and submit a bid to host the Executive Office at K-State. Due to Dean Holen’s generous support for the office, we were successful and in July 1990, I began in a half-time position as Executive Director with one full-time assistant paid by NACADA and a grad assistant provided by Dean Holen. The rest is history!

Bobbie1.jpgNow, seventeen years after the establishment of the Executive Office, I am stepping down as Executive Director to begin “phased retirement.” In K-State terms, that means that I am reducing my work time to 50% for up to 5 years. The NACADA Board of Directors has concurred with a plan that will permit me to maintain some program development responsibilities while transitioning other responsibilities to staff members and training employees to assume new responsibilities.


These seventeen years have been very rewarding! Membership has grown from 2452 in 1990 to almost 10,000 in 2007, the Annual Conference has grown from 1072 participants in 1990 to a record of 3384 in 2005, and the annual operating budget has grown from $157,000 in 1990 to $2.8 million in 2007. Couple this with the growth in Commissions, all ten Regions having annual conferences that drew a total of 2820 participants in 2007, a vibrant publications schedule, and a variety of professional development opportunities delivered in an ever increasing number of formats, and one can’t help but be proud! However, this pride belongs to the many members who have supported the Association throughout its years, shared their expertise with other members and provided guidance to me. I cherish their support, but more importantly, I cherish their friendship, for I have truly enjoyed most the friendship you all have provided and which I hope to maintain into retirement.


Oh, yes, that “retirement.” My “extra” time to begin with will be directed to completing the home remodeling we began in 1974, extend into some leisure travel, and begin the task of disposing of three family estates currently stored in our garage! Those travels will likely include some opportunities to visit your part of the country – I’ll let you know when! Thanks to all of you!

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


Thank You, Bobbie!

Jo Anne Huber, University of Texas-Austin

It is with mixed emotions that I JoAnne-Bobbie.jpgwrite commending Bobbie Flaherty on her outstanding years of service with NACADA and impending phased retirement. As a long-time member of this Association and one who has held office in many capacities over the years, I can hardly remember not knowing Bobbie or relying on her expertise/guidance and her historical perspective.

In 1990, when NACADA contracted with Kansas State University, Dean Mike Holen wisely tapped Bobbie to provide conference management and financial management expertise. Along with a part-time employee and an association of 2452 members, she embarked on the journey. In seventeen years, NACADA has steadily grown to just under 10,000 members strong with an Executive Office numbering fourteen full time employees. From merely managing a national conference and financial matters, which in itself is no small feat, to the numerous conferences/institutes now held annually, Bobbie has been the driving force in implementing the goals of the Board of Directors and other leaders. She has wisely hired experts in many areas to embark on new waters to accommodate the bulging growth while maintaining existing programs. This has been a key factor in providing the services our members have grown to expect.

While what Bobbie has done for NACADA is too massive to ever completely list, here is an A-Z of some of the accomplishments NACADA has made under Bobbie’s leadership:

  • Annual Conference attendance tops 3300
  • By-law review
  • Continuous growth of Summer Institutes
  • Development of Assessment and Administrator Institutes
  • Emerging Leaders program
  • Foundations of Academic Advising CD series
  • Growing Web site
  • Heavily increased member involvement in Association leadership at all levels
  • Increasing international connections
  • Just the right amount of “personal touch”
  • Kansas State University ties continuously strengthened
  • Lasting collaborations with NCAA, FYE, NCHA and other associations
  • Monthly Member Highlights gets new format
  • NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resourcesgoes digital
  • Online Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising Program and new Master’s Degree
  • Publication partnerships with Jossey-Bass
  • Quarterly e-Publication,Academic Advising Today, evolved from newsletter
  • Region connections strengthened
  • Strong financial reserves for the Association
  • Truly amazing membership growth
  • Up-to-date monographs
  • Varied seminars attached to Institutes
  • Webinars
  • X-traordinarily best-sellingAcademic Advising Handbook
  • Y-ize oversight
  • Zealous assurance the Association meets all legal requirements

If the English alphabet had more letters, undoubtedly there would be additional accomplishments to list that Bobbie either administered, facilitated, or had the wise judgment to enlist the services of those who could.

As the chief financial officer, Bobbie has wisely invested NACADA’s monies and provided detailed budgetary details to the Board of Directors and Finance Committee. We are simply in such excellent financial shape due to her oversight.

Undoubtedly, NACADA is a leader in higher education circles, and this is her legacy. While her shoes will never really be filled, I know that before her phased retirement comes to an end, she will have left her mark in many more ways and NACADA will continue to thrive because of her work and dedication.

Congrats, Bobbie!

Jo Anne Huber
President, NACADA 2005-06

Déjà Vu in the United Kingdom

Mike McCauley, Ball State University

Mike McCauley.jpg

NACADA’s first European conference created a dose of déjà vu for me. While in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the NACADA conference conducted in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Academy (HEA), I learned that Paula Hixenbaugh of the University of Westminster in England had initiated the first conference on “Personal Tutoring” (their term for academic advising) in 2005 after thinking it would be exciting to have a meeting for those across the United Kingdom involved in personal tutoring. Paula approached the Higher Education Academy, and they agreed to sponsor such a meeting. Expecting a small group, the organizers were surprised when it sold out.


My déjà vu feelings came from knowing that 30 short years ago, Toni Trombley (pictured at left), then at the University of Vermont, had initiated a similar meeting for persons involved in academic advising in higher education in the United States and, expecting a few colleagues, was also surprised when registrations “sold out” at 275 when the facility could accommodate no more.

The Vermont conference led to a group of individuals forming NACADA, whereas this year’s co-sponsored conference in Edinburgh is leading to the globalization of NACADA! Leaders representing NACADA and the HEA have agreed to continue the partnership, which initially will lead to an annual conference to be held alternately in the UK and North America to enhance the collaboration and sharing of best practices in enhancing student success through effective academic advising/personal tutoring.

In Edinburgh, we learned that although our terminology differs, our mission is the same, and we can benefit from an exchange of information. Seventeen NACADA colleagues from California, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin, along with a member from British Columbia and three members from Kuwait, attended the conference. NACADA President Susan Campbell (University of Southern Maine) gave the keynote address, Past-President Nancy King (Kennesaw State University) presented a workshop, Associate Director Charlie Nutt and I participated on a panel with two colleagues from the UK, and Tom Kenyon (Indiana University-Bloomington), Mark Beecher (Brigham Young University), Karen Sullivan-Vance (Western Oregon University), Sarah Ann Hones (Southern Oregon University), Lesley Leppert (CUNY-Borough of Manhattan Community College), Erwin Wong (CUNY-Borough of Manhattan Community College), and Darren Francis (University College of the Fraser Valley) presented concurrent sessions. Ninety-five professionals from England, Scotland, and Wales were in attendance, making it a very successful conference.

Our UK colleagues appeared excited about collaborating with NACADA, demonstrated great interest in NACADA resources, and expressed considerable “ah” as Charlie awarded a complimentary NACADA membership to one lucky individual at the end of the conference. These colleagues will join 23 current members from Australia, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Egypt, England, Grenada, India, Jamaica, Kuwait, Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, and United Arab Emirates in leading the global expansion of NACADA beyond North America. It is evident that NACADA’s resources and expertise are becoming widely known throughout the world as higher education systems face similar issues in these evolving times.

Just as NACADA has grown to almost 10,000 members, I expect this partnership to further swell the ranks of NACADA’s international members – further increasing the visibility of advising and enhancing student success. Deja vu!

Mike McCauley
Ball State University
Office of Academic Systems

Narrative Theory and Academic Advising

Peter L. Hagen, 2007 NACADA Virginia N. Gordon Excellence in Advising Award Recipient

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
--Yeats, “Among School Children” (1927)

Peter Hagen.jpgStories have always been one of the primary ways we humans entertain, admonish, educate, acculturate, inform, persuade, praise, and punish. We use stories to create communities. As advisors, we tell and listen to stories every day. An exaggeration? Just think how often you use these words: “I have this student who. . . .” That’s the way we academic advisors say “Once upon a time. . . .” If this is true, then narrative theory—found mainly in literature, film studies, anthropology, and nursing—recommends itself as an example of how theory from outside academic advising may help us better explain academic advising and make us better practitioners.

Fisher (1987) argues that humans are essentially storytellers, that all human communication is narrative. It’s of paramount importance to us humans that our stories have narrative probability (are coherently structured) and narrative fidelity (resonate with other stories). Does it hang together meaningfully? Does it square with other narratives? Then it’s a valid story. And we advisors just love a good story; we can’t spend a day without them. “I have this student,” says one advisor to another, “who signed up for calculus but got a D in precalculus.” It may be just one sentence, but it’s a story plain and simple and it rings true to us as a story because it sounds like other stories we have heard. But the events in the story don’t cohere with each other. It’s not headed for the “happily ever after” ending. Later, with the student, the advisor will likely use another short narrative to admonish: “I’ve seen dozens of students fail calculus when they had anything less than a C in precalculus. Drop the course!” Faithful and coherent narratives are vital to good advising.

Chatman (1978) makes a clear distinction between the real author of a narrative and what he calls the “implied” author.

He is “implied,” that is, reconstructed by the reader from the narrative. He is not the narrator, but rather the principle that invented the narrator, along with everything else in the narrative, that stacked the cards in this particular way, had these things happen to these characters, in these words or images. He, or better, it has no voice, no direct means of communicating. It instructs us silently, through the design of the whole, with all the voices, by all the means it has chosen to let us learn (p. 148).

We can’t know the author of a text, we only know the author that we infer from the words of the text. “Shakespeare” is in a very real sense a character that you and I invent when we read his works. Yes, there was a Shakespeare, but it almost doesn’t matter. Even when authors are still alive and we ask them what they really meant, all we have is another implied author creating another text. In fact, it’s worse than that, because if we combine this notion of the implied author with Fisher’s (1987) notion that all human communication is narrative in nature, then we’re left with the positively dizzying notion that whenever we read a text, or just hold a conversation with someone, we never really know that person at all. We create that person out of the narratives. Just as you are inferring me at this moment, so do we infer students from the narratives that the flesh-and-blood “real” students present to us.

And they are doing the same thing to us! Chatman describes the situation of the person on the receiving end of the narrative.

The counterpart of the implied author is the implied reader —not the flesh-and-bones you or I sitting in our living rooms reading the book, but the audience presupposed by the narrative itself. Like the implied author, the implied reader is always present (pp. 149-150).

The key thing to remember about applying Chatman’s work to advising is that we and the students with whom we meet are both “implied authors” and “implied readers” simultaneously.

If we can learn anything from narrative theory, it is that we need to pay attention to the stories we tell and receive, especially in three situations:

  • Advisor to Advisor.  While we all have our catalogs and our policy manuals, the main modality by which we train one another is through narratives, case studies. You can know the rules backwards and forwards, but until you’ve seen how they pertain to some sample cases, you don’t fully understand how to advise. We store our most important advising principles—the unwritten ones—in stories.
  • Student to Advisor. They tell us their stories. We listen and use that most vital faculty we possess as advisors—our imagination—to imagine what it must be like to be that student. We only have the implied author available to us as we try to understand and influence the real author underneath. If their story lacks narrative probability or narrative fidelity, we question them. “Wait a minute,” we say, “Earlier you said that you hated working with children as a summer camp counselor and now you’re saying that you want to major in education?” We question them because we know how that story goes. We demand that the telling of the story take another turn so that a more coherent and faithful narrative can take place.
  • Advisor to Student. How often have you illustrated a point you wish to make by telling the student before you some anecdote from your own life? Viewing the advising interaction from this direction, the student becomes the implied reader, the one for whom we “write.” Our hope is to influence the real reader, but all they have to go on is the “implied author” (us) in the narrative we are creating for them. We have a conception of what that student is really like, so we tailor our anecdote to connect with the reader that we imagine is sitting before us.

So what if this “narrative theory” approach to advising seems coherent and faithful to your own lived stories? What should you do if you want to become a “narratological advisor?” 
Three basic things would make you a better teller of tales.

  • Constantly increase your storehouse of stories.
  • Recognize the primacy of stories in advising.
  • Take to heart and keep ever before you the narratological quandary posed by Yeats in the epigram that began this article. It will keep you humble. 

How can we know the dancer from the dance? We can’t. But we have to keep trying, because the dance—the story—is all we have.

Peter L. Hagen
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
[email protected]


Chatman, Seymour (1978).Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Fisher, Walter R. (1987).Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action. Columbia : University of South Carolina Press.



Advising Honors Students

Editor's Note: NACADA and The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHA) are developing a partnership in order to provide the highest quality information and resources to those advisors and faculty who work directly with students enrolled in honors programs and colleges. NACADA Advising High Achieving Students Interest Group Co-Chairs Iona Black (Yale University) and Marion Schwartz (Penn State University) tell us, “It is a delight to introduce Academic Advising Today readers to Joan Digby, director of The Honors Program and Merit Fellowship at Long Island University's C. W. Post Campus, author of Honors Programs and Colleges for Peterson's Guides, and former president of the National Collegiate Honors Council. This spirited article exemplifies her experience and enthusiasm for working with honors students. What a wonderful way to begin our partnership with NCHC!”

Joan Digby, Long Island University -C.W. Post Campus

Over the last several years, honors directors have come to acknowledge the critical role that advisors play in helping our students stay the course in honors programs and colleges. As advisors well know, these are the students who do everything: take a double major, play sports, sing, act, dance, write for the newspaper and—in their spare time—prepare for GREs, LSATs, MCATs, Fulbrights and Rhodes scholarships! Whew! Did I mention that they also have jobs?

As an honors director for over twenty-five years and a past president of The National Collegiate Honors Council, I have looked at the profile of these students for a long time. That is why I am extremely pleased that NACADA and NCHC will now be partnering for the benefit of our students. Honors students need advisors more than they know. I hope that my own perspective on the current generation of honors students can be useful to your important work.

High achievers characteristically appear to know what they are doing and where they are going. But this is often far from the truth. Many honors students have been programmed and pushed from so many different directions that they hardly know what to study and what they really want to do with their lives.

Teachers who noticed how bright they were in the lower grades directed them to Gifted Programs and learning camps. Later in high school, they were urged to take AP courses, honors sections and college courses.

Parents delighted with their achievement collaborated in the pushing, getting them tutors and SAT prep courses, music and drama lessons—everything necessary to cultivate talents and ensure admission to a top college. Play was discouraged unless it involved competitive sports, which looked great on a resume!

“You can do it,” everyone said, not thinking so much about whether they might want to do whatever it was that teachers and parents thought they should be doing. Since these very high achievers associate admiration and love with their achievement, they were afraid to say no or disappoint.

Among new wave immigrant families, parental pushing has taken a slightly different form. Many of their children are the first in the family to go to college. Without the means for tutors, camps and coaching they crack the whip at home, enforcing long study hours and searching for college opportunities that will help their children become teachers, accountants, medical technicians—practical degrees from affordable colleges.

From my perspective, I see the work of advisors as helping these students break away from parental influence so they can find their own desires and professions. Advising high achievers is something like training a thoroughbred. Here are some suggestions I hope will be helpful.

Ease up on the reins. They need to feel their own strength and take charge. All their lives they have been tightly reined in, and many of them have also had blinders put on them by parents and teachers. Thus they can’t see to the right or left of where they are “supposed” to go. Let out the reins and take the blinders off. Encourage them to take courses that really interest them rather than just to complete a degree on time. Let them follow their noses, run with the wind, taste the fresh grass and savor the freedom that comes with enjoyment. Whether they opt for Medieval Philosophy or Japanese Flower Arranging—students should take some courses to create avocations or advance the idea of learning for its own sake.

Encourage them to play. Virtually all the academic decisions that high achieving students have made (often not by themselves) are goal oriented. College should expand their sense of personal choice. Instead of pushing them through traditional sessions and on to summer school, advisors might find out whether they would like to do an internship, study or travel abroad and see what it’s like to live away from home.

You should see the look that parents give me when I make these suggestions! Yet, precisely because these students have been overprotected and over-structured, I believe the best we can do for them is open the barn door and let them run. If they want to act like a camel or a donkey for awhile, let them do it! Play stretches the imagination.

Don’t enter them into too many races. These students have been urged to compete, and many have suffered for it. They are often shy and unable to say no. Advisors should try to sense the personality of the students they work with and help them eliminate the tension that comes from being pushed toward too much competition. Not every good horse is a candidate for the Derby.

Lead them to water but don’t make them drink it. College advisors can make suggestions about what courses to take, but they should not let students simply take courses to fit a work schedule, or complete requirements, to get the easy professor or fill in an empty space in a program. Honors students tend to be “different,” even quirky. Lead them to water but let them drink pomegranate juice if that’s what they desire.

These fine thoroughbreds of ours do need advisement and sometimes a great deal of counseling. Many need to get beyond the idea that they are only as good as their grades. The fear of disappointing themselves and their parents plays an enormous role in their self-image. What do they tell their parents when they get a D in Spanish or decide not to go to medical school? Advisors can play a critical role in teaching them to jump these life hurdles.

Advisors can also play an important role in NCHC. The National Collegiate Honors Council is one of the few academic organizations that encourage faculty, staff and students to participate on equal terms at its annual meeting. It is my personal hope that NCHC and NACADA can build a strong working relationship that will encourage us to attend each other’s meetings and share our experience advising honors students.

Joan Digby
Director of The Honors Program and Merit Fellowship
Long Island University --C. W. Post Campus
[email protected]

The 'Who, What, When, How, and Why' of a Program Review

Cindy Iten, Advising Administration Commission Chair
Adrienne McMahanAdvising Administration Commission Member

Is it time for a ‘program review’ of your academic advising unit? Would an evaluation by external reviewers be just what is needed to jump-start significant changes in an advising program?

A fresh perspective on the situations we see day-in and day-out can help us assess practical matters such as routine processes, forms, procedures, staffing, and physical arrangements. An external review can help us more closely align our efforts with institutional strategic plans and provide the evidence needed for additional resource allocation.

Why conduct a program review?

The generally accepted purpose of any academic program review is to ensure the continuous improvement of the unit as it relates to the institution’s goals, mission, and strategic indicators. More specifically, an advising center is charged with meeting the needs of a diverse student population through various forms and processes of advising and through numerous administrative actions. How efficient and effective is our unit? Are students receiving the assistance they need? How high is their satisfaction? Can we measure our effectiveness with students? Are advisors within the advising program professionally trained at the level of expertise needed? Is there a plan in place for continuous professional development? These are but a few questions answerable in a program review.

How is a program review conducted?

The program review for the College of Arts and Sciences Advising Center at the University of Kentucky began with gathering historical data, an explanation of the organizational structure, and a self-analysis of the unit’s strengths and weaknesses. We assessed the work climate, consequences of current policies and procedures, effects of the physical environment, impact of leadership changes, and qualitative evaluations from students and parents who attended the freshman orientation. This “self study” was submitted to the Dean of the College and then ultimately was distributed to the review committee as a starting point for their evaluation.

The Dean then appointed a review committee composed of one on-campus faculty member, one advising administrator from another on-campus unit, and two advising administrators from benchmark institutions; one of the external reviewers served as chair. The composition of a review committee may vary according to the needs of the review and mission of the advising unit. Plans were then made for the review committee to spend two full days on campus, in the college, reviewing documents, conducting interviews, touring facilities, and in private discussion. A conference room was dedicated to their use with lunch delivered. Travel and accommodation arrangements were made by the Dean’s administrative staff.

In his initial meeting with the review team, the Dean charged this committee with evaluating unit effectiveness, purpose and goals, and strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying areas of concern. To do this, they conducted extensive interviews and focus groups composed of internal staff, students, faculty advisors, alumni, and campus-wide student service professionals outside the A&S Advising Center. They reviewed various surveys and institutional reports such as enrollment trends and degrees awarded. The committee again met with the Dean at the end of their two day stay in the college.

From the interviews and the ‘self study’, the review team evaluated the Advising Center’s performance as it related to its purpose and goals, identified obstacles impeding performance, appraised budget effectiveness, and described the relationship between the Dean’s office, his staff, and the Advising Center. A final report was written by the committee chair, approved by other committee members, and presented to the Dean.

How to use the results?

Advising Center staff members were offered the opportunity to identify errors and submit clarifications as needed within the report. The staff and the Dean discussed the recommendations of the review committee and then the staff submitted a detailed response to the Dean, who provided a timeframe for initiating and implementing chosen recommendations. An annual review of the recommendations and their effect on the continuous improvement of the Advising Center will become a standard component in the unit’s annual “Goals and Accomplishments” as required by the Dean.

With confirmation from the most recent program review, the Dean initiated discussions with the staff of the Advising Center and the University administration to totally redesign the advising model in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Provost and the Deanfunded ten new advisors to join the eight already in place; four advisors were assigned to work solely with the first year students and fourteen were assigned to specific academic programs. Having enough professional advisors to adequately cover all students in the College of Arts and Sciences was always seen as the ideal situation, but it took a program review to move the process forward.

While not all program reviews result in such dramatic changes, a program review report can help identify areas for improvement, areas for celebration, and new initiatives which will enhance academic advising service to students. A program review can assist in aligning advising program goals with the institution’s strategic plan and ultimately to the resources invested in that plan. A program review helps everyone in the unit establish a foundation for developing new plans and practices, for developing a timetable of needed resources and for supporting current practice. It is a team endeavor that can assist in developing more open lines of communication or enhance those already established.

Cindy Iten
College of Arts & Sciences
University of Kentucky
[email protected]

Adrienne McMahan
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Kentucky
[email protected]

For further reading:

Find 17 institutional assessments of advising or program review reports at the NACADA Institutional Projects and Reports on Assessment of Advising Web sitehttp://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Commissions/C32/C32-Resources-AssessmentProjects.htm

Program Review Process for Kansas State University: http://www.k-state.edu/pa/programreview//PRProcess/index.htm

NACADA Institutional Assessment and Evaluation Program Web sites:


Articles related to Advising Assessment can be found at this Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Commissions/C32/C32-AssessmentReferences-Articles.htm

Banta, T.R., Jansen, Michele J., Black, Karen E. & Jackson, Julia E. (2002). Assessing Advising Outcomes. NACADA Journal, 22(1), 5-14.

Creamer, E.G., & Scott, D.W. (2000). Assessing individual advisor effectiveness. In V.N. Gordon & W.R. Habley (Eds.), Academic Advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fielstein, L.L. & Lammers, W.J. (1992). The relationship of student satisfaction with advising to administrative support for advising services. NACADA Journal, 12 (1), 15-21.

Frost, S.H. (1991). Academic advising for student success: A system of shared responsiblity. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No.3. The George Washington School of Education and Human Development, Washington, DC.

Lynch, M. (2000). Assessing the effectiveness of the advising program. In V.N. Gordon & W.R. Habley (Eds.), Academic Advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

White, E.R. (2000). Developing Mission, Goals and Objectives for the Advising Program. In V.N. Gordon & W.R. Habley (Eds.), Academic Advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Providing Support to Service Members and Veterans through Advising Services

Nicole Lovald, Capella University

As more and more Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines return home from war, there is a greater need than ever for educational institutions to provide these students with resources and support. Academic advisors are in an ideal position to both advocate for this student group and to provide the support services these students need to transition to academia, persist through their programs, and reach their graduation goals.

Mireles (2007), in a recent Newsweek article, addressed the difficulties combat veterans face when they return to their campuses following a deployment. Mireles interviewed service members who expressed feelings of isolation, being overwhelmed by administrative processes, and having a difficult time readjusting to what life was like pre-deployment and pre-war. Advisors can help create needed campus support services for these students as they attempt to continue their education in the face of deployments and as they transition home.

Additionally, advisors can provide needed support for students who want to continue their educations while deployed. Online institutions and traditional “brick and mortar” institutions are starting to address the challenge of providing educational opportunities to deployed soldiers through online course options. Providing advising assistance to students regardless of physical location is a new challenge for many institutions. As discussed at the 2007 Region 6 NACADA Conference, many campuses are engaging in a dialogue about the programs and services that must be implemented if we are to meet the needs of students in the military.

What can advisors do to assist service members with their needs?

Advisors understand the importance of cultural competency and recognizing the unique needs of students. As we begin working with our service members and veterans, we find that the military has a unique culture which is very different than the civilian sector. Recognizing these differences helps advisors connect with their military advisees and shows that we are invested in these individuals as students. Something as simple as understanding military acronyms e.g., E2 (private), may help break down barriers and show the student that we are attempting to understand their unique differences and needs.

Understanding military culture is just the beginning; it is important that we delve further and look at the specific challenges service members may face due to their commitment to the military. Some of the more apparent challenges could be due to deployments, temporary missions (TDY), and frequent moves (PCS). But it also is important that we look at the impact missions have on them emotionally, physically, and psychologically as they return to institutions and reintegrate into academic programs.

When working with deployed students, we should understand that they may be faced with technological difficulties, among other hindrances, that may necessitate greater flexibility from faculty and the institution. It is important that we work closely with these students to understand their distinct needs so that we can provide the assistance needed so they can focus on their studies and be successful in their courses.

Serve as an advocate

When advisors understand the unique needs of their military students, they can serve as advocates and institutional change agents to help ensure that these students receive the needed services, resources and accommodations. Advisors should review institutional policies and procedures to determine if these policies must be revisited or revised. Administrators may not be aware of the 2003 Higher Education Relief Opportunities Act (HEROES ACT) that protects service members from financial and academic hardships when they are activated in support of a war, national disaster, or emergency. Advisors can serve as advocates to affect policy and procedural changes to benefit students when institutions lack accommodation policies that support this legislation.

Advisors should become aware of the resources available to assist students with Veterans and other military benefits. Service members may rely on military benefits to fund their education; advisors can help these students know which benefits they may qualify for, how they can access the benefits, and what institutional policies are in place regarding these benefits. Service members may also qualify for state and local veterans assistance benefits. Accessing these programs can be difficult and frustrate service members who may already feel overwhelmed by their readjustment to college. Iinstitutions that ease administrative burdens and provide financial counseling can be both encouraging to students and beneficial for the college in terms of re-enrollment and persistence.


Academic advisors interested in implementing additional advising and support services at their institutions have a variety of resources available to assist them. The Web sites listed below provide information on military education, benefits, and legislation that can help advisors identify services military students need. Advisors can help students who are trying to balance their military commitments or separations from the military with their desire to pursue higher education. It is imperative that we support these students and their aspirations so that they can achieve their potential and reach their ultimate graduation goals.

Nicole Lovald
Armed Forces Support
Capella University
[email protected]


Service members Opportunity Colleges (SOC): http://www.soc.aascu.org/

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Educational Support (DANTES):http://www.dantes.doded.mil/

American Council on Education (ACE): Military Programshttp://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Military_Programs&Template=/

HEROES Act of 2003: http://www.finaid.org/military/heroes.phtml

NACADA Advising Military Students & Dependents Potential Interest Group

GI Bill Web site http://www.gibill.va.gov/

National Guard Benefits https://minuteman.ngb.army.mil/benefits/

Military.com http://www.military.com/

National Association of Veterans' Program Administrators www.navpa.org


Higher Education Relief Opportunities Act, 20 U.S.C. 1070(2003).

Mireles, Matt (2007, April 14). Combat Veterans Confront Life on Campus. Retrieved on June 13, 2007 from http://www.msnbc.com/id/18059684/site/newsweek/page/0/print/1/displaymode/1098

Saving Face(book): Engage Through Facebook and Retain Relevance

Art Esposito, Virginia Commonwealth University

Art Esposito.jpgOur relevance assures student engagement, and engagement assures student success. Therefore, our relevancy will ensure successful students (Prentiss, 2007). Are we, as advisors, acting irresponsibly by avoiding FacebookTM? Building on Julie Traxler’s (2007) article, Advising Without Walls: An Introduction to Facebook as an Advising Tool, which focuses on the benefits of using this social networking Web site, I hope to show that, with proper care and an eye toward maintaining relevance, Facebook could be one of our most valuable tools for student engagement.

Generational Expectations

Many authors have published survey results indicating generalized characteristics of the Millennial Generation (Jonas-Dwyer and Pospisil, 2004). These characteristics help us understand the expectations of students who, in many cases, comprise the majority of our advising population; likewise, this understanding better enables us to engage them. In short, they are an on-line generation and highly “connected” to Web-based applications. An estimated 93% of college students are using social networking sites with over 60% logging in daily (Krieglstein 2007). This connectedness has always been a part of their reality—many typed their name into emails before they signed it on sheets of paper. The “always on” aspect of their lives leads to a self-evident expectation that their educational experience should also be “connected” (Jonas-Dwyer and Pospisil, 2004).

Benefits for the Institution

Research suggests a relationship between student engagement and achievement. Astin (1985) emphasized that students learn and develop when they become active in the collegiate experience. Upcraft (1995) expanded on this, stating that “the greater the quantity and quality of involvement, the more likely…student(s) will succeed” (p.18). In a more recent discussion on the topic, Kevin Prentiss identified the importance of the institution’s relevance to student engagement. The argument is that students have become “spam filters” and automatically discard institution generated emails, given their perception that “most of it is junk.” This disengagement results in lost opportunities for the institution. Alternatively, if we reach students on their terms, we can engage them with a greater perceived relevancy (Prentiss, 2007).

Benefits for the Students

Facebook is a tool for student self-discovery and social development—two important aspects of students’ college years. As readily as a student can change her/his profile picture, a new “personality” is defined. The site allows students to befriend each other and organize into groups of like-minded individuals—“virtual socialization.” Finally, offering a population as diverse as the world around them, unlimited browsing potential affords students exposure to new ideas and encourages critical assessment of who they are and how they relate to the world around them (Educause, 2006).

The nearly limitless “browse-ability” of Facebook allows students to acquire or sharpen informational literacy skills. Consider the amount of critical thinking that takes place when students assess the many interest groups and organizations they are invited to join. Students develop a heightened sense of the information’s meaning and value, both to themselves and to the world community. Isn’t this similar to how we encourage students to assess sources used for research purposes? With an ever-expanding network of friends, an equally intensifying level of creativity is required to collect and share information (Educause, 2006). A handful of my students have become active in groups with philanthropic and socially conscious goals—Students Against Self Harm, for example, and an organization connecting International Students with American Students to better facilitate intercultural exchange. Students are becoming more aware and more mature. They have read articles citing the dangers of sharing sensitive information and have already begun using security features in a self-educated and protective manner—accepting the importance of responsible computing.

Practical Observations and Results

As an advisor, I maintain a Facebook profile and an Advising Group with over 300 friends and 262 advisees in my Group. I engage them in conversation about responsible computing and help them understand reasonable behavior—primarily by modeling it for them. I useFacebookto deliver informational advising, appointment reminders, and programming invitations and publicity. With 75% of my caseload onFacebook, I would be foolish to ignore this opportunity. But there is more to student engagement than this.

At VCU, we believe that advisors’ three main responsibilities are informing students, relating to them, and enriching their undergraduate experiences. It’s the middle component—relating to students—that is most important to engagement and where Facebook can be most beneficial in advising. I engage my students on personal and “friendly” levels that secure my role as an advisor/friend; this strengthens the trust-based relationship we share, assures my relevance, and increases their level of engagement (see Rawlins and Rawlins, 2005 for an understanding of “advising as friendship”).

The most important thing to observe concerning Facebook is that it does not represent “college” to our students—this is where they socialize. We are the outsiders—the visitors—and must appreciate that when we try to encourage reasonable and responsible behavior. We will gain nothing by policing these sites with an aim toward listing prohibited behavior. If we engage students on their terms, we can better affect the change in behavior we desire and strengthen their engagement. In the two years I have used Facebook, I have seen students change their behavior simply because they know I can access their profile. I have commented to some, confidentially, encouraging more reasonable and responsible choices in things they have posted. Response to these “interventions” has always been positive and followed by voluntary behavioral modification. I have over 300 student 'friends' on Facebook and very few have blocked me from viewing their content.

A recent survey of my Facebook students revealed that 88% of them appreciate access to me on the network with only 18% feeling uncomfortable with my presence. Furthermore, when comparing my caseload on Facebook to VCU’s First-year population, my students showed a higher level of academic success with 86% achieving good academic standing at the end of their first term, versus the 81% overall average for the VCU class of 2010. By embracing Facebook appropriately and appreciating the possibilities, academic advisors can maintain relevance, increase student engagement and success, while affecting change through trust-based dialogue to better results than afforded by a punitive approach.

Art Esposito
Academic Advisor, Discovery Program
The University College
Virginia Commonwealth University
[email protected]


Astin, A..W. (1985). Achieving educational excellence: A critical assessment of priorities and practice in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bigger, J.J. (2005). Improving the Odds for Freshman Success. Retrieved January 7, 2007 fromNACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/First-Year.htm

EDUCAUSE Learning Institute (2006).Seven Things You Should Know About Facebook. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7017.pdf

Jonas-Dwyer, D. & Pospisil, R. (2004). The Millennial Effect: Implications for Academic Development. Retrieved January 7, 2007, fromhttp://www.herdsa.org.au/conference2004/Contributions/RPapers/P050-jt.pdf .

Krieglstein, T (2007, April 6). [Weblog] A Guide to Facebook for School Faculty, Administration and Staff.Swift Kick Technology: Increasing Engagement in Education Through Technology, Community, Leadership and Training. Retrieved April 7, 200 , from http://swiftkick.typepad.com/activities_technology/2007/04/facebook_guide_.html

Prentiss, K (2007, April 5). [Weblog] When the Content is Crappy, the Pipe Doesn't Matter: Colleges and Facebook.Swift Kick Technology: Increasing Engagement in Education Through Technology, Community, Leadership and Training. Retrieved April 7, 2007, from http://swiftkick.typepad.com/activities_technology/2007/04/when_the_conten.html

Rawlins, W. K., & Rawlins, S. (2005). Academic Advising as Friendship. NACADA Journal. 25(2), 10-19.

Traxler , J. (2007, March). An Introduction to Facebook as an Advising Tool. Academic Advising Today, 30 (1).

Upcraft, M. Lee. (1995). Insights From Theory: Understanding First-Year Student Development.First-Year Academic Advising: Patterns in the Present, Pathways to the Future, (15-24). (Monograph # 18). Columbia , SC : University of South Carolina, The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Teaching Students to Become Responsible Advisees


Stephen O. Wallace, Shippenburg University

In one Peanuts cartoon strip, Charlie Brown stands perplexed before Lucy’s psychiatric help stand and pleads, “Tell me a secret. Tell me something that will make a difference in my life! ” Lucy responds with a question.“Do you ever get up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water? ” “Sure,” replies Charlie Brown. Then Lucy smugly advises, “Before you drink be sure to rinse out the glass. There might be a bug in it.” Many academic advisors share Charlie Brown’s sentiments. Facing increasing institutional demands to manage unrealistic advising caseloads, to keep students and parents happy, and to keep the pipeline from enrollment to graduation flowing, a common plea from advisors is for a secret that will make a difference in their advising experiences. If I could suggest a bit of wisdom that would benefit your students and increase your professional and personal satisfaction, would you be interested?

A common concern among academic advisors is the lack of opportunity to engage in meaningful developmental advising with their advisees. There appear to be two common contributors to this problem—each pilfering precious time: daily schedules packed with back-to-back fifteen minute appointments and students who come to appointments unprepared to maximize the precious time. Rather than a time to develop a close student-advisor relationship, advising sessions often become a mechanistic process of answering questions, creating schedules, explaining institutional policy, and keeping students on track. Frequently, the same students with the same issues show up over and over again. Advisors often enable this behavior and create a relationship of dependency when they fail to empower students to maintain ownership of their decisions and experiences. Admittedly, there is a sense of satisfaction in being able to fix a student’s problem and a sense of pride in being known as the go-to person for quick answers. This may feed the advisor’s ego, but it does not make a difference in the student.

Here is my bit of wisdom. Actually, it is no deep, hidden secret, and unlike Lucy I will not charge a nickel for it. One of the most important learning objectives an advisor can have for students is to teach students to become responsible advisees. While advisor development programs seek to ensure that advisors fulfill their responsibilities, often a vital link is overlooked. Students do not instinctively know how to be responsible advisees. We must teach students the value and process of advising and how to fulfill their advisee responsibilities.

As an integral part of the teaching/learning process, advising involves a partnership and includes a curriculum (what we teach), pedagogy (how we teach it), and learning outcomes (what we want a student to know, to be able to do, and to value as a result of advising) (King, 2006). Lowenstein (2005) posed the question: If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? Answers to this question often target basic survival skills, such as how to read the catalog, understand institutional policies, use the student information system, read a degree audit, and schedule classes. Indeed, these are valuable learning outcomes for the advising process; however, if we are to teach students to become responsible advisees we must help them move up the taxonomy of educational objectives (Bloom, 1956).

To become responsible advisees, students need to be able to:


  • realistically assess their academic, professional, and life goals. Students must be taught how to examine the beliefs and presuppositions that constitute their views of self, their world, and their place in their world.
  • employ critical reasoning skills. Students must be taught to accept ownership of the decision-making process and to become creators of their experiences.
  • understand that advising is a collaborative partnership. Students must be taught their responsibilities in the advising process and how to fulfill them.

How do we teach students to become responsible advisees? Lowenstein (1999) envisions the exemplary advisor as someone who:

  • talks with students about courses that will initiate them into the world of ideas, help them understand their interrelationships, and to appreciate the thinkers who have gone before.
  • helps students discover for themselves how courses and ideas from a variety of disciplines complement each other and guide them to develop an overall world view.
  • Socratically challenges students to examine their intellectual presuppositions about learning, work, and the nature of adult life so they can continue to refine their ideas.
  • makes sure students develop and understand the importance of tools for lifelong learning.

Advising sessions should be viewed as instructional moments that are purposely designed. During the initial advising session, two important understandings should be established. First, the respective responsibilities of both the advisee and the advisor should be thoroughly explained. An advising syllabus (see Trabant, 2006), Web sites, handouts and posters can effectively delineate the advisor’s expectations of the student and what the advisee can expect from the advisor. Second, from the beginning of the advising process, the advisee must fully understand that success is his or her responsibility and that the advisor is a partner in that success. This lesson often has to be reinforced.

During succeeding meetings with a student, time should be allowed to teach the student how to achieve the learning outcomes that characterize a responsible advisee. The CAS Standards for Academic Advising (2005) provides examples of student learning and development outcomes. Each meeting should focus on particular learning outcomes and incorporate appropriate teaching strategies. One way to teach students to be responsible advisees is to give assignments rather than answers. If a student does not understand issues, such as graduation requirements or institutional policies, teach the student how to access the relevant information. Then observe as the student discovers the answer. It is the old question of whether we should give a hungry person a fish or teach the individual how to fish. The best way advisors can teach students to be responsible advisees is to model accountability in fulfilling the responsibilities of a good advisor.

When we teach students to become responsible advisees, we empower them to take ownership of their educational experiences and develop skills that are transferable to other dimensions of their lives. When we develop responsible advisees, we reduce the number of students who become dependent upon their advisors and the advisor’s office ceases to be an information booth with a revolving door. In addition, advisors have more time to invest in effectively advising students and in professional development activities. Teaching a student to be a responsible advisee is a win-win situation for both student and advisor.

Stephen O. Wallace
Coordinator Developmental Education and Advising Development
Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania
[email protected]


Bloom, B.S., (Ed.) (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York: Longmans.

Council for the Advancement of Standards ( CAS ). (2005). Academic Advising: CAS Standards and Guidelines. Retrieved April 5, 2007 fromhttp://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Standards.htm .

King, N. (2006). Advising as Teaching. Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.

Lowenstein, M. (2005). If Advising is Teaching, What Do Advisors Teach? NACADA Journal, 25(2), 65-73.

Lowenstein, M. (1999). An Alternative to the Developmental Theory of Advising.The Mentor An Academic Advising Journal, 1 (4). Retrieved September 14, 2006http://www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/991122ml.htm .

National Academic Advising Association. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved March 18, 2007 fromhttp://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm .

Trabant, T.D. (2006). Advising Syllabus 101. Retrieved March 15, 2007 fromNACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising ResourcesWeb site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/syllabus101.htm

Intrusive Advising

Jennifer Varney, Hesser College

Jen Varney.jpgIt’s an all-too-familiar situation: a student begins a college program full of excitement and nervous anticipation of the classroom experience. She wants to purchase her books weeks before they are available and arrives the first day of class with several notebooks and a fist full of newly sharpened pencils. Weeks go by and all seems fine until one day she doesn’t come to class. She attends the next day, but not the following two…before anyone realizes it, the student has stopped attending altogether and it’s too late to try and get her back. Sound familiar? This is an example of an at-risk student. All schools have at-risk students. Some are on academic probation, some are first generation college students, and some just are unsure of what they are doing. In any case, one of the best ways to reach at-risk students is through the use of Intrusive Advising (Heisserer & Parette, 2002).

Earl (1987) observed that Intrusive Advising is about getting to the heart of what is causing difficulty for a student and recommending the appropriate intervention. Earl (1987) describes the intrusive model of advising as an action-oriented approach to involving and motivating students to seek help when needed. The big question is how to get students to seek help when they need it, and before it’s too late. Intrusive Advising involves proactive interactions with students, with the intention of connecting with them before a situation occurs that cannot be fixed. Intrusive Advising is not “hand-holding” or parenting, but rather active concern for students’ academic preparation; it is a willingness to assist students in exploring services and programs to improve skills and increase academic motivation (Upcraft & Kramer, 1995).

Why Intrusive Advising?

Intrusive Advising involves intentional contact with students with the goal of developing a caring and beneficial relationship that leads to increased academic motivation and persistence. Research literature on student retention suggests that contact with a significant person within an institution of higher education is a crucial factor in a student’s decision to remain in college (Heisserer & Parette, 2002). Habley (1994) tells us that 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). Therefore, advisors often are the people best suited to make important student connections. When advisors make connections and show interest in students, they can become the reason a student decides to stay in school. In addition, contacting students in a preventative mode may help them anticipate problems and learn problem-solving skills and strategies (Upcraft & Kramer, 1995).

Intrusive Advising differs from the more traditional prescriptive and developmental models of advising because advisors are not only helpful and encouraging of students, but they proactively make the initial contact with students…a pre-emptive strike, of sorts. Most students know they have an advisor but may be unaware of how and when they are able to contact the advisor or what the advisor can help them accomplish. Heisserer and Parette (2002) observe that “the only variable that has a direct effect on student persistence is the quality of a relationship with a significant member of the college community” (p. 72). Thus the advisor is often the person best suited to form a significant relationship with the student. At-risk students, in particular, may benefit greatly from the intrusive approach as they may not be aware of how to move forward when unexpected situations arise.

How To Be Intrusive

Intrusive Advising sounds great, but how can an advisor become more intrusive? The most important thing is to remember the goal is to help students feel cared for by the institution. Students who perceive that someone cares about them and that they belong to the school community are more likely to be academically successful than those who do not feel any sense of care by the institution (Heisserer & Parette, 2002). An excellent way to be intrusive with students is to begin at orientation: have a formal orientation and make it mandatory that students attend. Learn who the new students are and what their concerns may be. Take photographs of students and post the pictures on an institutional Intranet or place in student advising folders; this is an excellent way to keep students’ faces with names. The photos are a great visual aid in remembering the student when a call or email is received. Orientation should include an interactive discussion of who the advisors are, their roles in the academic experience and how advisors may be contacted (phone, email, or IM). A day planner or similar inexpensive gift with advisor contact information printed on it may encourage students to contact advisors sooner rather than later. Giving students the opportunity to include family members in the orientation process may prove beneficial as family members will know who to encourage the student to contact if questions or concerns arise.

Another way to be intrusive with students is to proactively monitor grades: both mid-semester and final. Advisors should contact students whose grades are marginal and encourage them to schedule an appointment to discuss strategies for working with faculty, improving study skills, and increasing the probability of academic success. When meeting with students, include questions about their grade expectations and how the outcome could have been different. Advisors should consider implementing an early warning system for students that includes grades, attendance, classroom behavior and any other information faculty can provide that may identify a student as being at-risk (Upcraft & Kramer, 1995). Determine the institutional definition of “at-risk student” and find ways to connect with these students.

Other ways to be intrusive include taking any and all opportunities to connect with students e.g., in hallways, on campus, or at Wal-Mart©. Involvement in student activities is an excellent way to bond with students, as is having lunch or taking breaks where students typically “hang out”. Encourage students to network with each other, as well as assess their own strengths and areas of opportunity. Do not be afraid to get to know students within professional boundaries and advocate for them when necessary. In addition, advisors should:

  • truly know the school and its resources.
  • know the staff of school programs.
  • be available to be reached by students whenever or wherever is reasonably possible.
  • be trained in all relevant areas (academic and non-academic) that have a direct impact on students’ well-being and success.
  • monitor advisee progress with or without student presence.
  • maintain clear boundaries with students: show genuine care, including a positive attitude, openness and honestly, but maintain professionalism at all times (Thomas & Minton, 2004).
  • do not be afraid to contact students before they contact you e.g., email, IM, telephone, and personalized mail. College students today have many distractions from academics: compete with those distractions!

Give It A Try!

Intrusive Advising is all about making strong bonds and connections with students. The time to make these connections is when students first walk into the advising office…not when they are in trouble. Start slow…it gets easier with each student!

Jennifer Varney
Hesser College – Nashua Campus
[email protected]


Earl, W.R. (1988). Intrusive advising of freshmen in academic difficulty.NACADA Journal, 8, 27-33.

Heisserer, D.L. & Parette, P. (2002, March). Advising at-risk students in college and university settings.College student journal,36(1), 69-84. Retrieved April 1, 2007 from EBSCOhost database.

Habley, Wes. (1994). Key Concepts in Academic Advising. In Summer Institute onAcademic Advising Session Guide (p.10). Available from the National Academic Advising Association, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.

Thomas, C. & Minton, J. (2004, spring). Intrusive advisement: a model for success at John A. Logan College.Office of Community College Research and Leadership, 15(2), 1-16.

Upcraft, M.L. & Kramer, G. (1995). Intrusive advising as discussed in the first-year academic advising: patterns in the present, pathways to the future. Academic Advising and Barton College,1-2.

Practical Ways We Can Assist First Generation Students

Lorneth Peters, Austin Peay State University

Lorneth Peters.jpgStudents who enroll in college will be faced with many challenges, but for some, being a first-generation student will be a challenge within itself. Billson and Terry (1982) define first generation students as students whose parents have had no college or university experience. Most of these students enter college without as much preparation as their counterparts. Chen (2005), in a study done for the National Center for Education Statistics, confirms that first generation students receive lower grades and have a higher drop out rate. Advising first generation students leads me to suggest six practical things we, as academic advisors, can say and do to increase the success rate of our first generation advisees.

Develop positive friendships.   Academic advisors should encourage students to seek out others who are passionate about completing college. First generation students are already at a disadvantage, so positive friendships are a must to survive college. As an Academic Counselor for TRIO Student Support Services, I encourage students to complete a simple exercise. They are encouraged to make a list of “so-called friends,” each friendship’s length of time, and how it contributes to their college success. After completing the exercise, most of the students realize that the company they keep is more of a hindrance than help to their college success. The students are advised to nurture positive friendships by joining professional groups within their particular major and seek out faculty within their field of interest as possible mentors.

List important dates. Students who forget important dates can be in trouble before they even begin classes. Missing admissions, financial aid, and registration deadlines can get students off to a bad start. To lessen the frustration advisors may experience when students repeatedly ask the same deadline questions, advisors should develop an important deadline list and hand it to every student. In my experience, first generation students function better on a one-on-one basis. Even though our program hands out the important deadline list to a number of students, we take the time to explain the importance of deadlines and highlight the dates most applicable to each student’s situation. We feel that this helps increase our retention of first generation students.

Develop a contact list. Sometimes students feel like they do not receive the right information from departments. After going from person to person and hearing different answers to the same question, students, and specifically first generation students, can become discouraged. Discouragement fosters the blame game: “this person did not provide me with the right information.” Advisors can help prevent this discouragement when we know at least one person in each department and refer students with questions to that individual. Advisors should tell students to keep a list of individuals with whom they spoke.

Use technology to help students. The increase of on-line education has drastically changed traditional advising. Today advisors are not always able to sit across from students and read their expressions. Still, advisors can use the Internet to our advantage. Ask on-line advisees to set up an uninterrupted time to e-mail or phone questions to advisors. Additionally, provide distance students with a list of important deadlines and contact information for each department.

Our experience has been that many first generation students are not computer literate. Academic counselors within our TRIO program strongly encourage first generation students to take on-campus courses for a year before signing up for on-line courses. We strongly believe that on-campus courses help students connect with the institution. Still, single parents and students who work numerous jobs may opt for on-line classes. Using technology to contact these students is vital.

Technology can also be used to contact all students throughout the semester. Counselors within our department contact each student via email every month. This helps us develop a more personal approach to our advisees. We ask students about their classes and if they have questions or concerns. Even when no questions exist, students indicate that they are happy that someone took the time to check on their academic and personal progress.

Utilize the Assistance of Federally Funded Programs. Several federally funded programs are dedicated to the success of first generation students. While each institution may have different programs, those such as TRIO Student Support Services and the McNair program can help students. Advisors should encourage qualifying students to join these programs and take advantage of each program’s services, e.g., free tutoring.

Help Students Persist. Students who are not prepared for college can feel overwhelmed and quit school. Advisors who share their personal struggles as college students can help motivate stressed students. When students realize that even advisors face late nights and shed tears, they can feel encouraged not to quit. We give each student a copy of “Don’t Quit,” a poem by an anonymous author. The last part of the poem is especially helpful for our students:

Success is a failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems afar.
So, stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.......
It's when things go wrong that
You mustn't quit.


First generation students often require more attention than other students. Academic advisors can help ensure the success of these students when they are prepared. Advisors who apply the six practical suggestions listed in this article can guide first generation students through their toughest and most rewarding years and in turn help them graduate.

The NACADA First Generation College Student Advising Interest Group is a good resource for advisors who work with first generation students. To find out more information about the group visit: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/InterestGroups/C31/index.htm .

Lorneth Peters
TRIO Student Support Services
Austin Peay State University
[email protected]


Don’t Quit. Retrieved May 30, 2007 fromhttp://www.allinspiration.com/Life/Poems/dont_quit_poem.html

Billson, J.M., & Terry, M.B. (1982). In search of the silken purse: Factors in attrition among first-generation students.College and University, 58 , 57–75.

Chen, Xianglei (2005, August 9). First Generation Students in Postsecondary Education: A Look at their College Transcripts. Retrieved March 30, 2007 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005171

Advising Probation and Reinstated Students with Financial Aid Issues: A Public and Private University Perspective

Chris Maroldo, Probation / Dismissial / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group Chair
Andrea HarrisProbation / Dismissial / Reinstatement Issues Interest Group Member

At many higher education conferences, people refer to the “silo effect,” a phenomenon requiring students to travel from office to office to find the information they need. “Fred” visits the Registrar’s Office to find out why he can’t register. It’s due to a Bursar bill. Then a catch-22 occurs. Off to the Bursar to find that he can’t pay without additional loans. See Fred run to Financial Aid where he learns that he lost his aid due to previous unsatisfactory academic progress. On to the Advising Center to meet with his advisor for help.

“Integration,” the silo’s antidote, is not always feasible given institutional resources. However, any school can theoretically integrate by sharing knowledge. Given that so many probationary or dismissed students lose their aid, schools should consider training advisors who work with that population to provide comprehensive information.

Two examples of an intersection of advising and financial aid as it relates to both public and private institutions:

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Fred comes to your office with a pained expression. After successfully completing the reinstatement process, the financial aid office just informed him he must file an appeal to receive aid for the upcoming school year. What do you do?

Fred has been flagged for low grade point average and not successfully completing 75% or higher of previous coursework attempted. Students like Fred, after paying their academic “debt” to the institution and successfully completing the petition process, are overwhelmed to learn that a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) appeal is necessary. Can advisors assist students who must file an appeal? Or should advisors defer to the experts and refer students to the financial aid office? The answer to both questions is a definite but qualified “yes.”

Many students like Fred, who counted on financial aid but now have to deal with the added stress of waiting to learn if he can afford to come back to school, may be headed toward very serious financial consequences, such as taking out a high interest personal loan or giving up his dream of attending college. Advisors must offer related guidance to help students get back on track and can assist students with the appeal process by first becoming more familiar with the SAP guidelines at their institution. For example, the SAP guidelines for IUPUI can be found at http://www.iupui.edu/~finaid/undergraduate/sap.html . Granted, there is a lot of information and the language is in “financial aid-ese.” It is unreasonable to expect that advisors understand all the details. Yet, imagine how students feel reading the guidelines for the first time. That’s why they are in your office.

To help lower the stress levels of student AND advisor, advisors should work to establish a good relationship with a knowledgeable staff member of their school’s financial aid office. At IUPUI, advisors can seek clarification via email to a special “staff only” email address that is managed by financial aid professionals who provide excellent, easy-to-understand answers. While this information allows advisors to share specific information with the student, advisors must be clear with the student that helping them navigate this process does not mean that the appeal will be accepted. It is the student’s responsibility to articulate why the appeal should be approved.

Pepperdine University

Usually, a private higher educational experience comes with a hefty price tag. A majority of students at an institution such as this may rely on their financial assistance to pay for their education. Because students who have been on probation for two terms (or have an abysmal single term) will lose their aid, it is vital that our staff be knowledgeable about the related financial aid issues.

While it is certainly helpful to phone a friend in Financial Assistance, academic advisors are the ones who will meet with the student who has received a policy-laden letter about (possible) cancellation of aid due to poor performance. For some, the prospect of losing aid is the greatest deterrent, and for those who have actually lost their aid, the question of whether to pursue a private loan that can help them remain enrolled is a very real issue, sometimes more important than degree progress.

Pepperdine advisors do not pretend to know about amortization and interest, but we know what it will take to get back to good standing. Assuming that the majority of our dismissed students must earn at minimum 20 units of “B” work to get back to a 2.0, and that some have never earned even a single “B-,” we would be remiss if we did not tell students that they might be looking at a private loan for more than one semester. In fact, compounding probation/dismissal stress with additional financial worry may likely exacerbate an already difficult situation. As a result a conservative, realistic estimate is warranted.

Although we may not have a SAP appeal form, we have a petition process for just about anything. To ensure a more integrated approach, an “exception” committee (which ignores financial issues) reviews readmission petitions and a Financial Aid Appeals Committee (whose membership includes this advising administrator) reviews requests for reinstatement of institutional aid. What if a student petitions both groups and is welcomed back sans aid?

It is challenging to reconcile support for the institution with genuine service to the student. The institution benefits from the tuition, but the student who takes out a private loan at an exorbitant interest rate and defaults will still owe money to the university, damage his/her credit, and never be able to get a transcript to apply to a less-expensive school and rebuild.

What the authors think:

It is not realistic to expect every academic advisor to know the particulars about the financial aid world. However, when it comes to dealing with students whose aid is jeopardized or lost because of previous academic performance, advisors at both public and private institutions should be able to discuss all of the ramifications so that students are able to make informed decisions about these potentially life-altering matters.

Chris Maroldo
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
University College Advising Center
[email protected]

Andrea Gillie Harris
Senior Director, Student Administrative Services
Pepperdine University
[email protected]

Mountains to Climb

Dawn Henderson, North Carolina State University

Achieving in college is the proverbial mountain that so many students face. For some students, specifically those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, the mountain presents a daunting task and they are unsure about whether they have the tools or ability to reach the top. These students can be called our “at risk” students or students who are on the edge of academic failure. As a new advisor in the College of Education, I was responsible for creating a success plan that would address the needs of students having academic difficulty. So here I was, standing at the top of the mountain and attempting to map out a plan that would support the students in their climb to success.

The College of Education is considered a competitive college in its admission standards and has one of the highest cumulative and graduation GPA averages at the University. However, students entering the College as undecided tend to have the lowest cumulative GPAs at the end of the first year. With the formation of a centralized advising model, I had the responsibility of developing a plan that would address the academic needs of EDU (Education-Undecided) students having academic difficulty and eventually become a component of an Academic Advising and Connections Center. The following reflects an outline of the plan and its role in improving student success.

What is a Student Success Plan?

The first step in developing the plan was to understand the components of the College’s advising philosophy. Due to the size of our student population and our commitment to student development, the College takes an Intrusive Advising approach. Earl (1988) defined Intrusive Advising as an action-oriented model that involves and motivates students to seek help when needed. Intrusive Advising incorporates both prescriptive and developmental advising strategies by providing a specific program of action to students having academic difficulty. In a success plan, an academic advisor identifies specific strategies that can provide the student with the means to improve their academic progress. Many of these strategies include: additional advising, tutoring, workshops, and completing a contract with specified guidelines.

Our Student Success Plan

The remaining summer months were spent reviewing and revising the plan for implementation in the 2006 – 2007 academic year. After revisions and reviews, the plan included:

  • Student Letter: The letter took an advocacy approach to students and discussed the importance of choices and support. The letter also explained the Student Success Plan and responsibility of the student to meet with the advisor.
  • Student Information & Expectation Sheet: The sheet requires students to provide updated contact information, review and check off student expectations for the plan, list advising appointments (a minimum of three required visits on a bi-weekly basis), review recommendations made by the advisor, and then provide signatures from both student and advisor.
  • Academic Obstacles & Solutions Worksheet: The worksheet required students to list three obstacles, provide possible solutions, and detail how the proposed solutions would assist the student in overcoming the specified obstacles. Students were also required to develop a goal and list some possible steps to achieving this goal.
  • Academic & Personal Goals Worksheet: The worksheet was a component of the initial advising session with the student where the student and the advisor would discuss reasons why the student was at the University, short- and long-term goals, and steps needed to achieve goals.
  • Resource Referral Form: The completed form was provided to the department/center that the advisor recommended as a resource (Counseling and Undergraduate Tutorial Centers, Career Services, etc.) for students. The form helped personnel within these service areas determine if the student attended sessions and whether their primary concerns were addressed.

Using university grade reports at the end of each semester, I identified students and sent letters and copies of the plan to EDU students with GPAs less than 2.2. Although the University has a 2.0 requirement to maintain good academic standing, students with a 2.2 GPA in the College do not meet the requirement to transfer into a teacher education program. These students are also less likely to meet the GPA intra-campus transfer requirements for any other majors at the University; therefore, they become “stuck” as EDU students.

Climbing the Mountain

The academic year was filled with many challenges for the students, but somehow they still began the journey up the mountain. From the plan’s evaluation, it was evident that the students believed that the advisor identified relevant strategies and campus resources to assist them in improving their academic outcomes. Additionally, the students believed the Student Success Plan was helpful to students having academic difficulty. One student, who served as the inspiration for this article, commented:

It’s important to have an end goal and end results in mind, while trying to climb these academic hills/mountains…These success plans help us to look past these little hurdles and continue on with our end result in mind. Keeps you focused and on track!

There are numerous factors that can impact academic performance, e.g., student-institution fit, academic preparation, and instruction. However, this model demonstrates the role of academic advising in serving as a conduit for student success by connecting them to campus resources and serving as an advocate for their academic journey.

We are slowly approaching the half-way mark to the top of the mountain; many of these students had significant improvements in their cumulative GPAs from the fall to spring semester. For the College, the Student Success Plan provides a step-by-step model that incorporates Intrusive Advising and proactive communication between the advisor and student. In this model, the advisor provided the support needed for students to reach their goals. Likewise students displayed a commitment to use recommended strategies and showed their motivation to achieve specified goals.

If you would like a copy of the Student Success Plan and report, please e-mail Dawn Henderson at [email protected] or [email protected].

Dawn Henderson
Assistant Director, Student Involvement
College of Education
North Carolina State University
[email protected]


Earl, W. R. (1988). Intrusive Advising of Freshmen.NACADA Journal, 8 (2), 27 – 33.

Habley, W. R., Crockett, D. S. (1988). The third ACT national survey of academic advising. In W. R. Habley (ed.),The Status and Future of Academic Advising(pp. 11 – 76). Iowa City, IA: American College Testing Program.

Heisserer, D. L. (2002). Advising at-risk students in college and university settings. Retrieved on June 1, 2007 fromCollege Student Journalwebsite:http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCR/is_1_36/ai_85007770

Project Success. (2007). Retrieved on May 31, 2007 from Virginia Tech’s Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence website:http://www.caee.vt.edu/programs/project_success.html

Dear Career Corner,

I have an interview for a new job on campus coming up soon. I have also just been diagnosed with an “invisible” disability. Should I reveal that I have a disability during the interview?

Worried Wendy


Dear Wendy:

Your question raises, perhaps, the most concern for people with disabilities seeking a job. Federal law does not require you to disclose your disability to a prospective employer unless your disability will impact your ability to complete essential duties.

Use your judgment to decide what you want to do based on the interviewer’s attitude, how the interview is going, and your prior contact with the department. On one hand, if you openly reveal your disability during the interview, you may be seen as cooperative and desirous of a positive working relationship. However, if you are not comfortable revealing your particular disability, there is no obligation to do so. This is an ethical decision that only you can make.

It is a good idea to have documentation of your disability already prepared should you discover that you will require some accommodation. The documentation should contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  1. Verification of the disability by a licensed physician or other health care provider who is qualified to diagnose the disability
  2. A specific description of how a major life activity is limited
  3. A request for accommodation that includes what you need in order to perform your job; for example, if you are hypoglycemic and need to take short breaks to eat, providing times during the day for a break will help your supervisor understand how to meet your needs.

Check with your Human Resources office to learn what the specific requirements are at your institution. For information about the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), please log on to the official website

Good luck on your interview!

Katie Davis
Chair, Member Career Services Committee
Fielding Graduate University
[email protected]

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]  

In this edition, we share three SPARKLER Sfrom the University of Houston, Florida State University, and Auburn University.

Leslie Thornhill tells us that at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business, the Business Honors program (www.bauer.uh.edu/bauerhonors) has developed an effective way of increasing student participation in advising and retention by implementing an “Early Bird Advising” concept. For the past two years, “Bauer Honors” has offered small but attractive raffles to get students to come in earlier for advising during “non-peak” times, before the “rush” period prior to registration. Raffles include small prizes (costing $12 or less) such as professional sports tickets and UH gear, as well as community-donated items such as a free massage. Raffle winners are announced via email to the entire program at the end of Early Bird Advising season (months of September and February). Leslie says that “Bauer Honors has consistently received a great response from this campaign, filling advising appointments well before the registration rush and increasing advising for program students by 25%! Early Bird Advising is now being adopted by other offices within the college.” For further information, contact Leslie at [email protected].

Kathleen Shea Smith tells us that at Florida State University, exploratory/undecided students are required to select a departmental major by the end of the freshman year at approximately 30 credit hours). Kathleen explains that “Like so many advising offices serving the undecided population, the Advising First Center for Exploratory Students needed better ways to effectively guide students’ major selection.” In 2006, Advising First launched the STEPS (Students Taking Exploratory Paths to Success) program, a systematic method for helping exploratory students progress. In this program, “the major/career selection process is described as a continuum made up of three distinct phases; Self Exploration, Major Exploration, and Career Exploration. Steps are specific activities assigned within each phase designed to help the student move along the continuum. It is expected that the student will meet regularly with their academic advisor, complete assigned tasks, and collaboratively process findings until a departmental major is selected. The continuum starts at the Self Exploration phase. Steps within this phase include assessments and resource sheets where students identify their values, interests and skills. The next phase, Major Exploration, takes the insight gained from Self Exploration phase and the advisor translates the information into a list of 5-10 potential majors. The students are responsible for gathering facts and completing assignments such as researching majors on-line or meeting with departmental advisors. The goal for this phase is to narrow the final list and make a final selection. The importance of establishing a post-graduation plan is addressed in the final Career Exploration phase, and students are encouraged to begin identifying potential careers. Steps within this phase highlight internships and other opportunities for experiential learning. Based on the number of students who have participated in this program and declared their majors with confidence, we know the STEPS program is a win-win! Students are taking responsibility for their progress, completing their assignments, and returning for their follow-up visits. Advisors are enjoying the ongoing contact and value their students’ progression. The Advising First STEPS program is systematic, making major selection a more manageable and removing the ambiguity for both the student and the advisor.” To learn about this program, contact Kathleen at [email protected].

Katie Lackey tells us that the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University takes pride in creating a friendly, approachable atmosphere for all incoming students. Katie explains that “advisors begin their year long outreach program for freshmen prior to their arrival on campus. Since students usually relate better to their peers than to faculty or staff, the outreach program is carried out by the college’s student ambassadors. The ambassador group is advised through the academic advising office and the outreach program only includes freshmen majoring in our college. The academic advising office in our college hosts the first step of the program which is a phone-a-thon designed to connect with prospective students of the incoming freshman class. The process begins by writing each student a postcard informing them about the phone-a-thon as well as who will be calling and what time to expect the call. Ambassadors also make contact by emailing the prospective students. Email provides another avenue to connect with the students through the decision making process. In order to accurately advise, the ambassadors are equipped with a book containing information on all the departments within the college. General information pertaining to financial aid, housing, and student life is included in a FAQ booklet. The most valuable component to this program is that our students continue the mentoring and advising relationship with the ambassador throughout their entire freshman year experience. Ambassadors invite the freshmen to a welcome reception where they are given a chance to meet in a safe environment. Ambassadors frequently email the freshmen about upcoming events, including academic advising sessions and other important academic and social opportunities. Many students feel a strong sense of connection with their mentor and continue the mentoring relationship throughout their college career. The phone-a-thon is a vital first step in creating a lasting mentor/mentee relationship. The personal interaction allows the incoming freshmen to feel a sense of belonging before they even step foot on campus. We believe this outreach program is essential in generating the desired atmosphere in order to provide a supportive environment during this transitional period of their collegiate career.” To learn more, contact Katie at [email protected].


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