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Voices of the Global Community


From the President: Opportunities in Chaos

Erin Justyna, NACADA President

Erin Justyna.jpgIt would seem that in the fourth and final column of Academic Advising Today, NACADA presidents usually take the opportunity to reflect back on the year and consider what the immediate future may hold. It is 2020. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and all the implications stemming from that. I am taking multiple deep breaths just so I can bring myself to put words onto paper. One of our members, Katie Cooper, is also a wonderful artist who typically creates amazingly lifelike portraits of humans and pets. Recently Katie began creating ornaments for the year 2020 – and the image is a dumpster fire. I purchased five.

We don’t know when the end of this pandemic will arrive. We don’t yet know its full impact. It seems each day brings a multitude of decisions that must be made, from the most minute decision of whether to go to the grocery store to decisions about sending our own children to school or moving campus and Association events online for the foreseeable future. As I write, campuses across the globe who have decided to hold on-campus instruction are beginning to welcome students. Our campus communities are adjusting to masks, outdoor classrooms, and social distancing guidelines. By the time you are reading these words, we may be just beginning to understand the results of these decisions and efforts.

The constant stress of deciding – both in our professional and personal spheres – when we have so little data is exhausting. I’ve seen the fatigue on the faces of faculty, staff, and students. I’ve seen the fatigue on Zoom calls with the NACADA Board of Directors and Executive Office staff. I’ve seen the fatigue staring back at me from the mirror. And yet, life does not stop.

If each of us are to succeed in our work, we must continue to recognize or create opportunities in the chaos. If we look at history, and any moment within that brought great challenges, we can always find those who rise above or even excel under the pressure. They are adapters, innovators, tinkerers, thought leaders. You have likely seen these people emerge on your own campuses, and certainly I have watched members and staff of NACADA surmount each new challenge and nimbly adjust processes and practices to continue to support advising professionals and students.

I hope you have been reading the monthly NACADA Highlights to keep up with the many projects and events occurring throughout the Association, as well as updates coming from, among others, the NACADA Council, the Research Center, the Region Review Implementation Committee, and the Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion Work Group. The work of NACADA is expansive and constant, and these updates allow members to see the work occurring in almost real time.

Given the ways our lives have been rapidly changing, it seems timely that the Board of Directors is finalizing the Strategic Goal benchmarks put into place in 2017 during Dana Zahorik’s presidency. We’ve made great strides as an Association in three years, but the need to continually evolve is more heightened than ever, and work has recently begun to review and revise NACADA’s mission, vision, strategic goals, structure, and bylaws.

Perhaps, as one of my colleagues said, some of the changes that we are being forced to make because of the pandemic – whether in how we think about our campuses and professions or how we operationalize our work – are long overdue. The circumstances stink, but in thinking of new ways to offer a campus experience or NACADA event, we may find ways that are more accessible and more inclusive. To offer just one example of this – members for whom either long international or domestic flights, budgets, time away from office/family, etc. made participation with in-person NACADA events difficult may now be able to join us from the comfort of their own homes or campus offices. While I’m certainly disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet many of you at the Regional and International conferences, I look forward to interacting with you in new virtual spaces during our Annual Conference in October.

Looking back on a year as NACADA President is a surreal thing. I have moments where I wish I would have done something differently. I have many moments where I wish I was able to do more. I wish I had paused to have conversations with more members or thank a staff member or volunteer for all the hours worked. But, of course, I know that I did exactly what I could in each moment. I started a new job at a new institution. I was navigating a pandemic as a partner, parent, and professional. We must also have grace for ourselves. The work is happening. It takes time. It’s bigger than any one member. It takes all of us.

With that, I would like to share my immense gratitude for the staff members in the NACADA Executive Office and the individuals who have served on the Board of Directors and Council alongside me the last five years. I am proud that Cecilia Olivares and Megumi Makino-Kanehiro have been elected as incoming President and incoming Vice President of NACADA. As a member, I am humbled by their thoughtful leadership and steady dedication to NACADA and its members. As a human, I am in awe of their kindness and generosity. We are fortunate to have them lead.

Finally, I would like to say thank you to each of NACADA’s members. At the beginning of my term, I pledged to open my eyes, my ears, and my heart to acknowledge all of our members and their experiences. During the fifteen years I have been a member of NACADA, I have been fascinated by the potential and professional identity of our members. You make our Association better every day. I’ve learned so much from you. It’s an honor and privilege to serve as President of NACADA. I hope I have served you well.

Erin Justyna, President, 2019-2020
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Assistant Provost for Student Affairs 
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center 
Pronouns: She/her/hers
[email protected]

From the Executive Director: Honoring Our Past and Looking Forward to Our Future

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Charlie Nutt.jpgWho would have predicted a year ago when we started planning to celebrate NACADA’s 40th Anniversary, that we would be in the midst of a year marked by global pandemic which has brought terrible destruction to so many lives? In the midst of fear, stress, financial worries, and concern for loved ones, we cling to family, friends and all that brings us a sense of normalcy. Some days it feels like we are standing on shifting sand, trying to find our footing, only to be bowled over by an incoming wave. As I watched the tides come in and out on the beaches of Coastal Georgia, it was so clear we are responsible for how we handle these turbulent times as we can’t stop or change then.

As The Global Community for Academic Advising, NACADA has supported academic advisors for 40 years by creating professional connections which often turn into personal friendships. Our ties with colleagues around the world inspire us to do our best work to support student success through academic advising. At the same time, our connections feed our souls. Whether in person or virtually we all belong to this wonderful, dynamic community of academic advisors.  #NACADAFamily is not simply a statement, it is a reality for many of us. And it is important that our association keeps working with our Inclusion and Engagement Committee, our Social Justice Academic Advising Community, our Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion Work Group, and our Region Review Implementation Team to make #NACADAFamily reality for all our members and not just a few.

A colleague earlier this year informed me that throughout their professional life NACADA had served as a lodestar, guiding them through tough times, both professionally and personally, and inspiring them to achieve in ways they never dreamed possible. What this colleague failed to mention is that they in turn served as a lodestar to other NACADA members as it is all about learning, sharing, and growing together.

Attending a NACADA event is often the first introduction to connecting with like-minded professionals who support, challenge, and help us become our best selves. Whether through a virtual event, an in-person experience or within the framework of Regions, Advising Communities, or committee initiatives, members engage, learn, and share their expertise. While this year has certainly brought about changes in the ways that we connect, we are resolved to strengthen our Global Community and provide ongoing commitment to you, our members.

A special initiative in NACADA’s 40th anniversary year is member engagement, not only through the work of Joan Krush, Assistant Director of Member Engagement, who has surveyed, contacted, highlighted, and communicated with hundreds of NACADA members, but also through leadership and staff efforts across the association.  It is important that our numbers grow and that we never lose the core principle of connection with each other.

NACADA grew out of a compelling vision 40 years ago that continues to this day to create, nurture, and grow a caring and creative community of academic advising professionals who are committed to student success. The field has moved from transactional to transformational and is at the heart of student success. Our ability to respond, especially in the midst of difficult and challenging times, is a hallmark of the association. Today we honor those pioneering spirits 40 years ago who saw a need for a community to come together, share experiences, expertise and develop professionally in order to support students. Today we honor our members who carry on that tradition supporting current students, institutions, and the academic profession.

Be a part of NACADA as we work towards the next 40 years of academic advising and student success.

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

Advising Black Male Students in 2020 and Beyond

Mark S. Nelson, Oklahoma State University
Locksley Knibbs, Florida Gulf Coast University 
Quentin R. Alexander, George Mason University 
Darryl C. Cherry, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Bill Johnson, University of North Carolina Greensboro 
Joshua “JJ” Johnson, University of Central Florida

Editor’s Note: To hear more on this topic from this team, plan to join them on October 21, 2020 for a Webinar.

Locksley Knibbs.jpgMark Nelson.jpgAs the Fall 2020 semester begins, a call to serve incoming Black male students is warranted. Advisors and administrators can work together to improve the overall experience for Black male students beginning postsecondary education. The purpose of this essay is to present a charge for advising Black male students. We, the authors, are Black men that come from diverse backgrounds.  We experience microaggressions, subtle and overt racism, and prejudgment as we face our own Black male intersectionality in our professional and personal lives. Our aim is to begin the dialogue for improving and strengthening the Black male student academic advising experience, particularly at predominately White institutions. 

Quentin Alexander.jpgDarryl Cherry.jpgAcademic advising can be an intimidating process for all students but specifically for young Black males in a collegeclass="img__right" environment. This can be attributed to the fact that they do not see individuals who represent intersections of race, gender, and identity. They become isolated fearful, and often avoid visiting spaces for an advising appointment when they feel those spaces are unwelcoming. This is coupled with the fact that they are being advised by professional advisors who sometimes cannot understand or empathize with their lived experiences as Black males. 

Bill Johnson.jpgJoshua Johnson.jpgIn light of the current crises, amidst the Black Lives Matter movements, Black males matriculating into colleges this upcoming fall semester will be burdened with lots of “baggage to unpack” in the form of psychological stress, racism, stereotypes, bigotry, xenophobia, and the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campuses where they will become more conspicuous as the minority on campuses across the United States. 

The realistic effects of “working twice as hard to get half as far” in dealing with racism, microaggressions (Wu, 2010), white privilege (Myers, 2012), racial battle fatigue (Franklin, 2016; Smith, Hung, & Franklin, 2011), and John Henryism (James, 1994) lead to the deterioration of mental, physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual health (McGee & Stovall, 2015). These conditions make the college experience challenging (Harper, 2012). Black male students will encounter feelings of imposter syndrome, finding and adapting to a sense of belonging, in addition to struggles with how to navigate and engage in spaces that are perceived as unwelcoming (Cuyjet, 2006; Harper & Wood, 2016; Strayhorn, 2012). 

To mitigate these issues, advisors should be in touch with and know about these Black males who may also be first time college students. Black male students will be judged on the burdens of low-expectations from their K-12 teachers which follow them into college (Bonner & Rolanda, 2006). Occasionally, they find themselves overwhelmed during the first year with the rigorous coursework and to an extent are bothered by feeling unprepared to meet their professors’ expectations based on such preconceived notions. Advisors can play significant roles by adjusting the way they advise and making Black males feel more welcome when they visit their offices. Here are a few tips to assist creating a more welcoming space for Black males.

Advisors should:

Work to build a positive relationship with Black male students by establishing rapport with them. Advisors should learn developmental theory (Aydin, et al., 2018), and critical theories (Schuh, Jones, & Torres, 2017), especially theories on racial and male gender identity development. Keep equity in mind: this means taking the needs of the racial and ethnic individual (e.g., Black, Native American) into consideration instead of thinking of the student as a member of an entire group (e.g., people of color, underrepresent minorities). Since advising is viewed as a relationship building experience, it would be paramount to build a relationship and establish connections with these students on an individual basis.

Be intentional, empathetic, strategic, and patient when providing guidance, development, and support for Black male students to help them develop a healthy work/school/life balanceWhile considered dependents regarding their financial aid status, some Black males may lack the support of their families and are often more self-reliant—particularly in light of systemic inequities that impact employment, wages, and health. While attending college, Black males might feel a sense of obligation to provide financial support to their families, particularly those from low-income backgrounds. Thus, many may work more hours than their non-low-income counterparts to pay for their education and to provide family financial support. Institutions could be proactive in mitigating financial, time-management, and stress-related variables for Black male students by providing on-campus employment such as work study, internship, and paid research opportunities to support their development, financial obligations, and retention. On-campus employment opportunities could help Black male students manage their schedules more efficiently by decreasing the amount of time they might spend traveling to and from off-campus job sites, and then back to campus for school-related obligations.

Purposefully engage in conversations on thoughts and feelings about the traumatic events that have occurred and continue to occur regarding racial discrimination and police brutality against Black men in societyCritical dialogue is important for understanding. Advisors’ feelings are imperative for discussions and understanding. Developing progressive measures that can be used in tandem with offices and units across campus can lead to enlightenment. Therefore, it would be advisable to encourage engaging discussions with peers and supervisors. This will help in understanding issues encountered by Black male students.

Actively participate in professional development centered on cultural competence and awarenessThese should be respectful environments to ask questions for clarity and understanding. Failure to learn and practice developmental theory will lead to stereotyping Black males (Colgan, 2017; Thomas & Chickering, 1984). Push those preconceived notions aside and see Black males as equal and deserving. 

Remind Black males to not feel compelled to explain or teach about race, racial discrimination, and/or police brutality against Black men to their White counterpartsThis can often leave Black male students distressed. The responsibility falls on the individual to educate themselves but with the guidance of others, not the Black male student.

Aim to become a co-conspirator willing and ready for action rather than just becoming an ally by only showing empathy to their plight

  • Learn the differences between “co-conspirator” and “ally” (Move to End Violence, 2016).
  • Active listening and knowing the issue are key but committing to action is far more reassuring and meaningful (Love, 2019).
  • Show emotional support and encouragement by demonstrating to Black males that they are not just another statistic in the many students you advise. (How might one do this?)
  • Do not make assumptions or perpetuate stereotypes of Black male students based on the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Use mentorship as a method of showing that you care about the Black male student.
  • Direct Black male students to campus resources such as counselling and psychological services, academic tutoring, and culturally relevant student organizations to enhance their leadership abilities that help them to become more engaged in the collegiate experience.

Understand the stigma associated with mental health in the Black community. Black males arriving to campus should be aware of the signs of depression that often result from experiences with traumatic events. Because depression often looks different in men, both advisors and Black males should watch for these symptoms and seek assistance immediately from a mental health professional if they are present and persistent:

  • Anger, irritability, and aggressiveness
  • Feeling restless, anxious, or on edge
  • Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
  • Feeling sad, empty, flat, or hopeless
  • Problems with sexual desire and performance
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family or self, or other important activities
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • A need for alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020)

Encourage Black males to join affinity groups with other Black males that meet regularly to discuss issues of racial discrimination and other experiences on campus. This provides a space where they can collaborate on and give each other advice about ways to address these issues.

Be conscious that Black males may experience re-traumatization of past experiences of racial discrimination because of the latest racialized events in our countryThis re-trauma may be due to experiences on campus (e.g., marginalization in the classroom, social issues, etc.). Be aware of visceral feelings (e.g., stomach aches, anger, irritability) when in certain spaces or engagement with certain persons. If the student experiences such re-trauma, help them find someone to speak with and process their feelings. Remind the student not to internalize these feelings as they could lead to feelings of depression.

Apprise Black males that power lies in completing their education. Protesting is needed. Service and work within the community are powerful tools for seeking social justice. Extracurricular activities are also important. However, completing the aspired degree creates a greater platform for Black males to seek justice, transformation, and prosperity within the Black community and beyond.

  • Charge the student to do and be his best.
  • Use tact and sensitivity in delivering difficult news.
  • Assist the student in creating achievable academic goals.
  • Vest the student to persevere using anger and disappointment as fuel to complete their degree.
  • Celebrate their accomplishments.

Regardless of socioeconomic status, educational class (first-generation, etc.), sexuality, religion, or country of origin, Black males will be viewed as Black. Remember, not all Black males identify as African American. Black is a racial term assigned to people with a darker skin complexion who may or may not have genetic roots to the African continent (Kalunta-Crumpton, 2020). Regardless, Black is still beautiful. Black origins transcend beyond the United States but also to Caribbean nations like Dominica, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands, Barbados, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico (just to name a few). Blacks also originate from other North American, South American, and African nations, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia, and Europe. We originate from all over the world, speak different languages, and present a vast multitude of skills, passions, and loves while being blessed with melanin through our skin. As academic advisors, let’s become co-conspirators that guide Black male students to become contributors to not only their communities but all over the world!

Mark S. Nelson
Sr. Academic Advisor I
University College Advising
Oklahoma State University
[email protected] 

Locksley Knibbs, Ed.D.
Lead Academic Advisor for Team Natural Sciences
Colllege of Arts and Sciences
Florida Gulf Coast University
[email protected] 

Quentin R. Alexander, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Advising
Undergraduate Education
George Mason University
[email protected]

Darryl C. Cherry
Coordinator of Student Retention
Student Opportunities for Academic Results (SOAR)
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
[email protected] 

Bill Johnson
Student Success Navigator - Life Planning and Personal Development
Advising and Personal Development Center
School of Health and Health Sciences
University of North Carolina Greensboro|
[email protected] 

Joshua “JJ” Johnson
Student Resource Specialist II
Veterans Academic Resource Center
University of Central Florida
[email protected]


Aydin, Y., Güneri, O., Eret, E., & Yildirim, F. (2018). The views of undergraduate students and academic advisors on the academic advising process. Journal of Higher Education (Turkey), 9(2), 139–148. https://doi.org/10.2399/yod.18.042

Bonner, F. A., II, & Rolanda, K. W. (2006). Enhancing the academic climate for African American men. In M. J. Cuyjet (Ed.), African American men in college (pp. 24–46). Jossey-Bass.

Colgan, A. (2017). Think about it: Philosophy and dialogic advising. NACADA Journal, 37(1), 66–73. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-15-045

Cuyjet, M. and Associates (2006). African American men in college. Jossey-Bass.

Franklin, D. (2016). Racial Microaggressions, racial battle fatigue, and racism-related stress in higher education. Journal of Student Affairs at New York University, 7(12), 44–55. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Racial-Microaggressions%2C-Racial-Battle-Fatigue%2C-and-Franklin/34d29a2f4b7187edabc21c577b9500e81f740368#page=45 

Harper, S. R. (2012). Black male students in public colleges and universities: A 50-state report card. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. https://www.luminafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/black-students-at-public-colleges-and-universities.pdf

Harper, S. R., & Wood, J. L. (2016). Advancing Black male student success: From preschool through Ph.D. Stylus.

James, S. (1994, June). John Henryism and the health of African Americans. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 18(2), 163–182. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/45356/11013_2005_Article_BF01379448.pdf?sequence=1 

Kalunta-Crumpton, A. (2020). The inclusion of the term “color” is racist, is it not? Ethnicities 20(1), 115-130. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468796819884675

Love, B. (2019, March 19). We want to do more than survive. C-SPAN. https://www.c-span.org/video/?458837-1/we-survive#

McGee, E. O. & Stovall, D. (2015). Reimagining critical race theory in education: mental health, healing, and the pathway to liberatory praxis. Educational Theory 65(5), 491-511. University of Illinois. doi.org/10.1111/edth.12129

Move to End Violence (2016, September 7). Ally or co-conspirator?: What it means to act #InSolidarity. https://movetoendviolence.org/blog/ally-co-conspirator-means-act-insolidarity/

Myers, V.  (2012). Moving diversity forward: how to go from well-meaning to well-doing. American Bar Association.

National Institute of Mental Health (2020). Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Smith, W., Hung, M., & Franklin, J. (2011). Racial battle fatigue and the miseducation of black men: racial microaggressions, societal problems, and environmental stress. The Journal of Negro Education, 80(1), 63–82. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41341106?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents 

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

Thomas, R., & Chickering, A. (1984). Education and identity revisited. Journal of College Student Personnel 25(5), 392–399.

Wu, D. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Wiley & Sons.

Creating a Flipped Advising Approach: A Model and Five Videos

Editor's Note: To learn more about this topic, check out NACADA's Creating Online Flipped Advising Activities eTutorial.

George E. Steele, The Ohio State University

If every picture tells a story, then this article introducing five videos on the flipped advising approach is sharing many tales. The time to re-examine adopting a flipped advising approach has become critical as we react and embrace new ways to advise our students during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article provides a framework for conceptualizing how a flipped advising approach can complement those advisors who find themselves predominately interacting with their students through video-conferencing technologies, trying to replicate the synchronous one-on-one encounters they were familiar with before the onset of the pandemic.

The framework for considering topics and content for a flipped advising approach proposed here was developed by Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber (2006). These authors created a model for helping advisors consider the difference between advising and counseling, as well as why and how to make appropriate referrals. This article proposes that their The Advising and Counseling Continuum: Triggers for Referral model for referring students can also be a guide to developing curricular topics and learning outcomes for activities that engage students in critical thinking. In other words, a flipped advising approach.

To that end, in this article, a brief description of the primary properties of a flipped advising approach will be presented to introduce it to those unfamiliar with it. What will follow is an overview of five videos describing more in-depth descriptions of the flipped advising approach and examples of practitioners implementing it and discussing their successes and challenges.   

During the spring of 2020, most academic advisors' traditional ways of interacting with their students were dramatically changed with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread adoption of the use of video conferencing technologies followed. The approval of this means of interaction was based both on the availability of the technology and the desire to replicate traditional synchronous one-on-one advising sessions. The success of this model was due to its familiarity with past practices and the dedication of advisors who worked long hours to make it succeed. Attempts to perpetuate this model for the duration of this pandemic and even afterward would be a mistake. Any model of delivering academic advising that relies on professionals sustaining, over an extended period over one hundred percent effort is designed to fail.

Adopting a flipped advising approach can be one way to integrate asynchronous advising approaches with synchronous ones to obtain a better distribution of advisors’ efforts and provide students with a variety of learning activities that support the learning goals of the advising unit. Flipped advising relies on using technologies designed for learning. The two predominant technologies are standard on most campuses: learning management systems (LMS) and e-Portfolios. This author (Steele, 2015 & 2016a & b) described why these technologies were critical for advancing a teaching and learning approach to advising. It is because these technologies are designed to engage learners in intentional activities guided by learning outcomes. Furthermore, these technologies provide advisors with the ability to organize learning outcomes with activities into an advising curriculum, while offering various means of soliciting student feedback to assess their critical thinking. Adoption of a flipped advising approach is grounded in a teaching and learning paradigm: that students are expected to show, through both summative and formative evaluations, "that they have mastered some content, developed a skill, produced a project, created a plan, or reflected on a topic or issue." (Steele, 2014, par 11). The most familiar technologies used for learning, the LMS and e-Portfolios, provide means for organizing and publishing multi-media content, tools for student feedback and evaluating learning, and venues for communicating between multiple parties through private and community-based interactions. In short, this teaching and learning approach for academic advising, inspired by the NACADA Concept of Advising (2006), uses an instructional and curriculum approach to achieve its goals.  

With intentionality being critical to the practice of academic advising, the consideration and selection of learning outcomes are crucial.  That is why the framework introduced by Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber (2006) can be helpful. Their focus was to provide a model to clarify the difference between advising and counseling by describing a continuum of responsibilities for issues and referrals. They also addressed possible student triggers that might warrant referrals. For our purpose, Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber's model can also provide a framework for suggesting learning outcomes associated with activities for creating a flipped advising approach.

The advising and counseling continuum Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber proposed is presented in Table 1, The advising and counseling responsibility continuum.

In their model, Kuhn, Gordon, and Weber identified four activities in which advisors engage: Informational, Exploratory, Developmental, and Mentoring. They also identify four categories to delineate the functional difference between these four activities as well as to contrast these with equivalent areas for counseling. For advising, providing information to students is the simplest level. With exploratory advising, advisors attempt to clarify information for students to act. Developmental advising is more personal, for the focus is on helping students clarify their goals and plans, using information and explanations in the context of the students' needs, goals, values, and personal situations. With mentoring, the advisor is a role model and friend who helps the student with academic and career attainment and support to achieve the student's potential. Personal counseling, on the other hand, works with students on issues of personal, social, and adjustment concerns that are often complex and not related to academics. 


In Table 2 are listed typical issues students bring to advisors, as identified in the Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber model. In Table 2, student issues that are solely in the realm of professional responsibilities for academic advisors and counselors are listed, as well as those responsibilities they might share. By focusing on the distribution of issues on the continuum, Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber sought to delineate responsibilities and areas for referrals for both advisors and counselors. While advisors needed to recognize the personal and social issues that counselors address and to make appropriate referrals to them, counselors also need to acknowledge the specialized professional knowledge and skills advisors have and refer clients they encounter correctly.


For creating or improving a flipped advising approach, these same student issues Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber identify can be topics to develop learning outcomes to guide in the development of flipped advising activities. Using Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber's categorization, those student issues listed under Advisor and Both, are topics for starting the development of a flipped advising approach. The five videos associated with this article address two points. First addressed are the historical and theoretical foundations for the flipped advising approach. Presented second, through case study approaches, are examples of how advisors and faculty in multiple institutional settings integrated a flipped advising approach within their advising programs. Advisors and faculty in these videos highlight numerous examples how Kuhn, Gordon, and Webber's framework can be used for planning a flipped advising approach.


Flipping Advising: An Introduction: This video provides a brief history of ideas and theories that form the basis of Flipped Advising. It also shows several flipped advising activities that demonstrate the use of learning management systems and e-Portfolios. By: George Steele, Retired from Ohio State University, currently a consultant (About 60 minutes long) [email protected].

Orientation and Flipped Advising: This video shows how the flipped advising approach can be used for orientation, to centralize critical information and procedures in an LMS. by: Diana Thompson, University of Hawai'i, academic advisor. (About 30 minutes long) [email protected].

Flipped Advising as a Student Portal: This video demonstrates how the reconfiguration of a student portal, using a flipped advising approach can centralize critical information and procedures in an LMS. By: Rachel Mars, University of Alabama, Birmingham, academic advisors (About 30 minutes long) [email protected]

Encouraging Student Reflection on Their Personal, Academic, and Career Goals through Flipped Advising: This video demonstrates how to use the tools found in an LMS to support students' reflection on personal and academic issues before meeting with their advisor. By: Matt Williams and Joel Parker, University of Florida, academic advisors, (About 30 minutes long) [email protected] & [email protected].

Flipped Advising: Faculty Advising for Graduate Students: This video shows the integrated use of multiple technologies (LMS, social media, e-Portfolio, and Google Sites) to advise graduate students. By: Holly M. Lawson, Ph.D., Coordinator, Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) Licensure Program Portland State University, College of Education Special Education (About 42 minutes long) [email protected].

George E. Steele
Retired, The Ohio State University
Currently, Consultant
[email protected]


Kuhn, T., Gordon, V. N., & Webber, J. (2006). The advising and counseling continuum: Triggers for referral. NACADA Journal, 26(1), 24-31. doi:10.12930/0271-9517-26.1.24

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2006). Resources. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/Concept.aspx

Steele, G. E. (2014). Intentional use of technology for academic advising.  http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Intentional-use-of-technology-for-academic-advising.aspx

Steele, G. E. (2016a). Creating a flipped advising approach. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Creating-a-Flipped-Advising-Approach.aspx

Steele, G. (2016b). Technology and academic advising. In T. J. Grites, M. A. Miller, & J. G. Voller (Authors), Beyond foundations: Developing as a master academic advisor (pp. 305-325). Jossey-Bass, John Wiley & Sons/NACADA.

Steele, G. E. (2015). Using technology for evaluation and assessment. http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Using-Technology-for-Evaluation-and-Assessment.aspx

Addressing Student Anxiety in Academic Advising

Marie Bunner and Courtney A. Lloyd, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Courtney Lloyd.jpgMarie Bunner.jpgAcademic advisors work with students on a range of issues where students often identify anxiety as the cause of poor academic performance. Advisors can employ pragmatic approaches to address student anxiety and assist students in managing anxiety while adjusting to college life and academic pressure.

The Problem

“The propensity for mental health issues to hinder the success of college students” has reached far beyond test anxiety (Beiter et al., 2015, p. 90). Anxiety is one of the most common psychological disorders noted on university campuses (Huenergarde, 2018). A recent survey conducted by the American College Health Association (2020) found that 23% of undergraduate participants indicated they had been diagnosed by a healthcare or mental health professional with anxiety; 26% of students reported that anxiety negatively impacted their academic performance in the last twelve months. While professionals are aware of the statistics, students often still feel isolated and believe they are the only ones negatively affected by anxiety. Academic advisors can help students navigate these challenges.

Advising and Counseling

Kuhn et al. (2006) describe “a continuum of responsibilities shared by faculty and nonfaculty academic advisors” and personal counselors (p. 24). They address the various definitions of advising and counseling and note that these terms are often used conversely causing confusion among students. For example, a student may have an academic counselor at a community college but is assigned to an academic advisor upon transferring to a four-year institution.

Traditionally, academic advising is a collaborative teaching and learning process that assists students in developing a plan of study. Academic advisors are typically faculty and/or professional staff members whose primary responsibility is to provide information regarding university policies and procedures, while assisting students in exploring, developing, and achieving their academic, professional, and personal goals (Kuhn et al., 2006).

In contrast, the role of a counselor or psychologist is to “help students overcome personal problems from the past and present that interfere with their academic success” and to help students find resources to resolve the problem (Kuhn et al., 2006, p. 24). For example, licensed psychologists typically provide individual counseling for personal problem solving, group counseling for special interests groups, such as stress and anxiety, relationship issues, loss and grief, and crisis intervention for students in urgent need of mental health assistance (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, 2020).

What Can Advisors Do?

During an advising session, “an advisor’s ability to communicate and develop a relationship with a student provides a foundation for meaningful dialog and interactions” (Hughey, 2011, p. 22). When students are comfortable with their advisor, they become more relaxed to discuss issues of concern.

McClellan (2005) observed “the best way to engage the trust of students is to demonstrate sincere willingness to help” (p. 57). When students are struggling, advisors need to question students to find out what they think is going on. Students often identify anxiety as the reason for their poor performance. However, students may use this term when they are stressed and overwhelmed, but it does not necessarily mean they have been clinically diagnosed with anxiety.

By asking probing and follow-up questions, advisors can learn to interpret what students are really saying to provide helpful strategies for academic improvement or to make referrals to campus resources. The trick is not to fall into the role of a counselor or psychologist. By validating and normalizing student feedback, advisors can help students understand it is normal to have some anxiety. Awareness of specific signs or “red flags” can help advisors determine if a student needs to be referred to resources beyond the purview of academic advising. Finally, advisors can help students identify coping strategies to help manage anxiety and cope with perceived demands and expectations.

Validating & Normalizing

Advisors can help students understand it is normal to experience anxiety and validate their feelings. A classic example is the student who feels that they are the only one in the class who is anxious about giving a speech. As advisors, we can assure students that it is common to feel this way—“Of course you’re anxious; public speaking can be nerve wracking”—and they are not alone; many students face the same anxiety they do—“Remember that nearly everyone else is also as nervous as you are.”

Validating students’ feelings is how advisors can communicate that they accept what students are thinking or feeling without agreeing or approving, without passing judgement or taking responsibility (Rogers, 1964). As an advisor, it can be challenging to stay quiet and listen without jumping in with solutions/recommendations. Simply listening can be a powerful start to a conversation an advisor can ultimately steer toward coping strategies to help improve academic performance.

It is not an advisor’s job to help students understand the root cause of their anxiety; that falls into the bailiwick of counselors. Acknowledging and accepting what students feel, helping them understand that what they are feeling is normal, and assisting them in figuring out how to navigate the demands of their coursework while coping with their anxiety strengthens the student/advisor relationship.

Red Flags

A study by Brownson et al. (2016) asked students to identify contributors to stress. Of the 73% who reported academic stress, only 20% of them listed academics and nothing else. The remaining 80% listed other contributing stressors, including financial problems, life transitions, and relationship and family problems. It is important for advisors to understand what other aspects of life, in addition to academics, may contribute to anxiety and academic difficulty. These are often the underlying issues that necessitate referrals to other services.

In an advising situation, there are not always clear-cut answers in identifying red flags that necessitate a referral to counseling. Advisors need to try to get a feel for what is going on. They should think in terms of function and note changes in behavior and/or appearance. Is the student’s ability to function compromised? Are they eating? Sleeping? Going to class? Isolating themselves from others? Instincts and experience will serve advisors well in these situations. Temporary feelings of anxiety are normal, but if they persist and effect a student’s ability to function, additional support beyond advising is likely necessary (Mokrue, n.d.).

Coping Strategies

Anxiety can prevent students from performing to their potential. Advisors can employ the following coping strategies to help students manage feelings and behavior that are negatively influenced by anxiety so they can meet the demands of their coursework.

Share your own experiences. Using personal stories to engage students in conversation can be an effective way to address an advising issue and reduce anxiety around that topic. Sharing your stories will help students connect with you and realize they are not alone. It also helps students understand that others have been where they are and survived. In this conversation, there are no right or wrong answers; students talk about their own experiences and interests which may lead to new ideas or solutions to problems.

Encourage students to practice self-care. Mahrer (2019) defines self-care as engaging in practices that improve your health and well-being. Talk with students about how they are taking care of themselves. Find out if they are eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and enough sleep. Help students find time in their daily schedules for quiet time or time to decompress. This conversation often provides clues about circumstances beyond the classroom that may be impacting student performance and anxiety.

Encourage students to learn how to calm down. Ask students to take a deep breath. Breathing exercises can help decrease heart rate, which can cause the body to physically relax; this can help students feel less nervous (Sneddon, 2007).

Help students set realistic expectations and goals. Encourage students to set goals they are willing and able to work toward, then help them figure out the specific steps for how to achieve that goal and a timeframe for which to accomplish it. A goal is more likely achieved if it is important to the student.

Balance anxiety and responsibility. Help students understand that even though they have feelings of anxiety, there are consequences for not doing the things they are avoiding. Advisors can help students determine if the consequences are worth it. Sometimes students need to figure out how to be anxious but still perform. It is also valuable to note that anxiety should not always be perceived as a negative; it can be a good thing in certain situations as it can have a positive impact on motivation (Robotham, 2008).


A growing number of college students report anxiety negatively impacts their academic performance. Advisors are often students’ first point of contact when they have academic concerns or other issues. Advisors’ primary responsibility is to help students navigate university policies and procedures and assist students in achieving their academic, professional, and personal goals. Unlike advisors, counselors help students identify and cope with personal problems that interfere with their academic success. Therefore, it is critical for advisors to know when to refer students to counseling services and what strategies they can effectively employ within the purview of advising to help students cope.

Marie Bunner
Associate Director, Academic Success Program
Assistant Professor, University College
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
[email protected] 

Courtney A. Lloyd
Academic Advisor, Exploratory Studies Academic Advising
Assistant Professor, University College
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
[email protected]


American College Health Association. (2020). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Undergraduate Student Reference Group Data Report Fall 2019.

Beiter, R., Nash, R., McCrady, M., Rhoades, D., Linscomb, M., Clarahan, M., & Sammut, S. (2015). The prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and stress in a sample of college students. Journal of Affective Disorders, 173, 90–96.

Brownson, C., Drum, D. J., Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Saathoff, A., Hentschel, E. (2016). Distress and suicidality in higher education: Implications for population-oriented prevention paradigms. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 30(2), 98–113.

Huenergarde, M. (2018). College student’s well-being: Use of counseling services. American Journal of Undergraduate Research, 15(3), 41–59.

Hughey, J. K. (2011). Strategies to enhance interpersonal relations in academic advising. NACADA Journal, 31(2), 22–32.

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

Mahrer, B. (2019, December 16). Why you struggle with self-care. National Alliance on Mental Health. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2019/Why-You-Struggle-with-Self-Care

McClellan, J. L. (2005). Increasing advisors’ effectiveness by understanding conflict and conflict resolution. NACADA Journal, 25(2), 57–64.

Mokrue, K. (n.d.). 5 tips for navigating the stress and anxiety in college. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/5-tips-navigating-stress-and-anxiety-college

Robotham, D. (2008). Stress among higher education students: towards a research agenda. Higher Education 56, 735–746.

Rogers, C. (1964). Experiences in communication. http://www.listeningway.com/rogers2-eng.html

Sneddon, M. (2007). Concepts: Defeating your demons - how to deal with performance pressure. Modern Drummer, 31(7), 126–128.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania. (2020). Counseling & psychological services. https://www.wcupa.edu/_services/counselingCenter/counselingServices.aspx#problem

Supporting Students Who Struggle with Mental Wellness

Cindy Firestein, Simmons University
Neena Fink, Southern New Hampshire University

Cindy Firestein.jpgNeena Fink.jpgWhile advisors are not licensed counselors, they can support students who experience mental wellness struggles before referring them to additional resources such as counseling centers. With the approaching 2026 higher education apocalypse expected, institutions are trying to be strategic on what new initiatives they invest in to entice students to enroll into their institution. Some institutions are investing in new state-of-the-art residence halls and others are currently trying to stay afloat through the COVID-19 crisis. However, not all institutions are looking to increase their wellness resources for students. Academic advisors need to grow their toolkit to support their students who are overcoming wellness challenges while on campus. This article will highlight tools, initiatives, and resources college campuses are implementing across the US to better support students struggling with mental wellness that advisors should consider adding to their toolkit or advocating to implement on their campus.

One of the first things advisors should consider when working with a student is, what is the best advising approach to utilize? Adapting to multiple advising approaches is important since each student may react best to different approaches. There are several advising approaches such as strengths advising, intrusive advising, appreciative advising, and developmental advising. Developmental is one advising approach advisors can consider utilizing when supporting students that struggle with wellness. “Developmental academic advising recognizes the importance of interactions between the student and the campus environment, it focuses on the whole person, and it works with the student at the person’s own life stage of development” (King, 2005). Following developmental advising strategies, advisors should strive to support the whole student and watch for red flags student present so they can refer the student to additional support resources. Signs of depression, a mental wellness concern that impacts 20% of teens before adulthood, include” withdrawing from school and activities, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, anger, overreaction to criticism, poor self-esteem, guilt, and many others” (Pedersen, 2019).

Mental health is a critical concern impacting college student well-being, learning, and success. Data from the 2018-2019 report from The Healthy Minds Study (Healthy Minds Network, 2019) shows that 37% of college students surveyed report having had a mental health diagnosis, and 30% of college students having accessed mental health therapy or counseling in the last year. Student-facing higher education professionals have to learn how to identify and assess a student’s emotional wellbeing. Is the student connected on campus? Does the student feel a sense of belonging to a community on campus? Does the student have a balanced and healthy outlook of failure? How does the student cope with disappointment? Resilience, grit, and hope are only effective if a student is willing to look outside of the present situation to see the big picture. The one class, semester, professor, athletic, etc. does not define them.

Advisors may choose to complete a training on psychological first aid to add to their toolkit. When an individual supports a traumatized student by utilizing psychological first aid, they are working to help the student feel safe and comfortable in the moment. This will help the student feel less threatened, cope with the situation, and begin to feel safer. If an advisor meeting with a student in their office, they can assure that the student is safe, emotionally and physically. However, an individual should never make a promise that they cannot guarantee. Even if the student is currently safe in the office, they cannot remain in the office forever. Observe the student’s physical and emotional state before offering to walk students to their next class or to another support resource on campus that can continue to help the student overcome their traumatic event. (Firestein, 2019)

Advisors should strive to have their offices feel safe and welcoming, and to develop an environment that provides a sense of comfort for students. Allowing students to feel connected, comfortable, and safe is important when students are struggling with insecurities and emotional stress. “It’s crucial for adolescents and young adults to receive mental health care and emotional support. However, teens aren’t already eager to speak about their suffering. But when it comes to treating continuum of trauma, studies show that art and music – known as expressive art therapy – can calm the body’s stress response, which can help adolescents feel safer in the classroom” (Fraga, 2019). At Simmons University, the Office of Undergraduate Advising created a wall sharing tree activity. Each season the tree changes to have paper leaves, applies, or hearts. Students are asked a question such as – “What are you most excited about this semester” or – “What is your favorite experience in college” and write their responses on the paper leaves, apples, or hearts to share their positive experiences. The sharing tree has been well received by the campus community who enjoy sharing their positive experiences with each other. 

The conversation around the importance of mental health needs to start early and happen often. At Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), the discussion around mental health and anxiety begins at orientation. During SNHU On-Campus orientation, new students are divided into groups by their major. During their scheduled advising session, students have to write out what they are most anxious about and what they are most excited about in the new semester. Students then crumble up their papers and toss them into the center of the group. Each participant collects a paper that is not their own and shares out loud. This experience allows for students to have a shared experience, typically acknowledging similar fears or hopes for the semesters.

Post University improved their counseling services to better support online learners. “The university also began offering mental health screening to students (online and on campus), which depending on the results, offer students suggestions for next steps they might take” (Lederman, 2019). Online instructors at Post receive special training to better identify students who are at-risk or a threat, and then instructors shares their concerns with a designated campus care/support team that assesses the instructor’s concern.  Additionally, that instructor is encouraged to reach out to the student to offer potential support resources to the student. Tools include HelpPRO, 211.org, and having students complete “Reality Checks” assessment to personalize their experience (Lederman, 2019). This type of training would be beneficial to academic advisors that support online learners who have large caseloads and communicate via email often with their advisees.

One of the authors of this article is employed at Simmons University in Boston, MA which has a CARE Team in place. The Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (CARE) Team seeks to proactively coordinate University support for students in distress, struggling with basic needs, experiencing unexpected crises or whose behavior raises concern about their well-being or that of others. The CARE Team also addresses behaviors that may be disruptive, harmful, or pose a threat to the health and safety of the Simmons community. The CARE Team is an interdisciplinary team which meets on a regular basis to ensure that students of concern are receiving timely and consistent support (Simmons, 2019). The CARE Team is another example of how institutions are utilizing their resources to flag and then support students that are struggling with mental wellness and other challenges.

To better train faculty and staff in identifying students who struggle with mental wellbeing and have suicidal thoughts, in addition to the CARE Team, Simmons University recently began offering I Can Help, a University Program to Support Early Detection, Mental Health Literacy, and Suicide Prevention. “Programs such as I CAN HELP are designed for students, faculty, staff, and other non-mental health professionals and are sometimes called gatekeeper training” (Mistler, 2019). When requested from the website, materials for educational use such as campus training are free.

To learn new ways to help students to thrive, advisors should consider learning more about Positive Psychology. The application to advising is that students can employ their intrinsic “strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger“ (Seligman, 2002). Advisors have the opportunity to connect personally and intentionally with students, cultivating a sense of belonging and community. By utilizing positive psychology, advisors help students to gain confidence in their strengths and unique attributes.

Below is a list of additional support resources and tools advisors can utilize and share with students: 

As advisors adapt to best serve their students’ wellness needs, they must recognize that focusing on mental wellbeing as well as teaching students about the value of the higher education experience will now be a part of their role in advising.

Cindy Firestein, M.Ed., GCDF
Director of Undergraduate Advising
Simmons University
[email protected]

Neena Fink, J.D.
Senior Academic Advisor
Southern New Hampshire University
[email protected]


Firestein, C. (2019, June). Advising students who struggle due to traumatic events. Academic Advising Today, 42(2). https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-Students-Who-Struggle-Due-To-Traumatic-Events.aspx

Fraga, J. (2019). How making music can help students cope with trauma. KQED. https://www.kqed.org/mindshift

Healthy Minds Network. (2019). The healthy minds study. https://healthymindsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/HMS_national-2018-19.pdf

King, M. (2005, November). Developmental academic advising. NACADA Clearinghouse. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Developmental-Academic-Advising.aspx

Lederman, D. (2019, September 4). Meeting the mental health needs of online students. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/09/04/university-ramps-mental-health-services-distinctive-needs-online

Mistler, B., (2019). I can help. http://www.drmistler.com/icanhelp

Pedersen, T. (2019, August 1). Study touts psychotherapy as first-line treatment for youth with depression. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/news/2019/08/01/study-touts-psychotherapy-as-first-line-treatment-for-youth-with-depression/149097.html?fbclid=IwAR14wfMjp1tEDnsLhBsR4ZXizTRmy85TCfHqM9dR6Fuo7cslEMRTPbgw4AE

Simmons University. (2019). CARE. https://internal.simmons.edu/students/services/care

Seligman, M.E.P. (2002). Authentic happiness. Free Press.

Practical Parts of Parallel Planning

Billie Streufert, Career Advising Community Member

Editor’s Note: NACADA members may view a presentation Billie gave on this topic during the Spring 2020 Global Connection Series HERE.

Billie Streufert.jpgAt the NACADA Region VII conference in 2008, Jennifer Bloom (as cited in Johnson, 2015) introduced the profession to parallel planning. Designed to teach students to pursue multiple possibilities simultaneously, universities that deploy this approach advance students’ cognitive flexibility, divergent thinking, and adaptability. Advisors frame continual goal evaluation as a necessary part of life in the twenty-first century. Students construct new complex identities that prepare them to cope with uncertainty and evaluate the need to hold on or let go of their goals (Carver & Scheier, 2005; Niedenthal et al., 1992; Pizzolato, 2007). 

Similar to the way universities define a process for declaring a major, some advisors create a form for naming a parallel path. Not every form or process, however, is created equal. Vocational and educational psychologists suggest that advisors apply the following practices or content. 

Introduce the concept collectively and use neutral language. Advisors can introduce alternatives without undermining students’ ability (Howard et al., 2009). If advisors suggest the need for parallel planning during individual sessions, students who possess ability but lack self-efficacy may perceive that advisors share this inaccurate perception and pivot prematurely to alternatives (Lent & Brown, 2013). For example, women may report lower self-efficacy despite equal ability in mathematics (Correll, 2004). Other non-dominant groups may internalize perceived stereotypes (Barr et al., 2008). To avoid this, advisors can introduce the concept in a group setting or in universal handouts (e.g., advising syllabus, website). 

Equifinality is also a cornerstone to advising alternatives. Advisors should avoid language that undermines the equality of alternatives and pervade the literature, such as “plan B,” “escape plan,” “emergency exit,” and “back-up plan” (Hallqvist & Hydén, 2012; Lent, 2013; Schlossberg & Robinson, 1996; Steele & McDonald, 2008; Workman, 2015). Instead, advisors teach students there are multiple means to achieve a goal or value.

Careful language is also necessary to acknowledge the need for both ambitious and adaptable goals. While advisors may have good intentions when they share information about the competitive nature of selective degree programs, some students have reported this left them feeling marginalized or discouraged (Harding, 2015). To avoid this, advisors can share criteria averages and the range of scores of admitted students. They can also publish profiles of students who experienced some academic obstacles but secured admission to dispel the perception that a single grade defines one’s application (Albanese et al., 2006; McCarty & Jones, 2017; Oyewole, 2001).

Define desired attributes. Students will be more open to alternatives if advisors discuss the specific attributes that appeal to them instead of broad educational or occupational titles (Gati et al., 1998). By identifying overlapping aspects of their options, students are less likely to perceive alternatives as inferior (Carver & Scheier, 2005; Kruglanski & Kopetz, 2009). For example, a student may conclude, “I can advance the well-being of children in a healthcare setting by being a child life specialist, healthcare social worker, or a nurse.” The continuity between their aspirations makes future transitions easier.

Through this process, students clarify their values. While these attributes serve as an anchor during alternative advising (Harrick et al, 1982), they cast a sail during parallel planning. The former permits students to survive the storm of denied goal attainment and retain firmly the attributes they value most as they reengage, while the latter cultivates a mindset of continuity and openness to new possibilities or feedback. In both instances, individuals’ distress is diminished, which may increase their ability to succeed academically and consider alternatives if needed (Carroll et al., 2011; Jostman & Koole, 2009). 

Assess risks and students’ anxiety. Other questions on the parallel planning form can help advisors assess the degree to which students actively explored alternatives when they named their current chosen endeavor. Some students may not fully understand themselves or their options, especially because school counselors have limited time to invest in this process and students find the change-of-major process of most colleges to be complex (Dann-Messier et al., 2014; Halasz & Bloom, 2019).

If alternative advising becomes necessary later, students with specific personality attributes may also be at risk for maladjustment (Martin et al., 2013; Nilforooshan & Salimi, 2016). This also includes the length of time students aspired to pursue their current majors or careers, the instances they coped with loss or failure in the past, and the ways their relationships or routines may change if they face such transitions (Anderson et al., 2012). 

Advisors may also invite students to rate the anxiety they have about their ability to achieve their goals. When given standardized assessment, a subset of students who anticipate the need to adapt emerges (Gordon & Steele, 2015). To address this, advisors actively listen for subtle signals of anxiety and reflect to students the apprehension they are hearing (Freedman, 2017; Hughey, 2011; Johnson, 2015). Together, they evaluate if the anxiety is realistic and if change is necessary.

Name concrete implementation intentions and engage in mental contrasting. Once students have selected alternatives, they define specifically how and when they will pivot to the possibility (Moskowitz & Gesundheit, 2009). Known as implementation intentions, these if-then statements permit students to monitor their environment for performance feedback. Advisors could identify these intentions by asking students to name the circumstances (e.g., number of times a student repeats a class or reapplies to medical school) in which they would let go (Shaffer & Zalewski, 2011). 

Advisors also invite students to compare their fantasies with reality. This mental contrasting permits students to assess the feasibility of their goals (Oettingen & Stephens, 2009). To do so, advisors first ask students to imagine the attainment of their goal in the future and then name the barriers that currently prevent them from achieving it. Advisors then ask students to identify specific actions they need to take now to overcome these obstacles. Advisors prevent students from only imagining the desired future or their current circumstances because these strategies do not permit them to prepare, assess anticipated outcomes, or examine their goal commitments (Oettingen & Stephens, 2009). 

Invite students to evaluate their skills in every required area. The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2018) calls advisors to engage students in realistic self-appraisal. Parallel planning is a key opportunity for this intrapersonal development. Advisors invite students to provide item-specific assessments instead of global judgements. For example, students may globally believe they are prepared to excel in a biology program based on prior experience (e.g., I did well in and enjoyed high school biology), yet this may not necessarily relate to other specific course requirements for the program (Händel et al., 2018). Advisors can deepen students’ reflection by asking about their performance and interest in these areas (e.g., How did you do in calculus or chemistry? Did you enjoy these classes?). 

Advisors also evaluate the credibility and quality of evidence that students provide as they monitor their goals. Self-reported assessments may be less valid because individuals overestimate or underestimate their abilities. Individuals may also lack an accurate normative group to compare themselves to or report the skills they aspire to hold instead of their actual capacity (Carver & Scheier, 2005; Krumboltz et al., 2013; Prediger, 1999).

For this reason, researchers suggest advisors invite students to assess their abilities by asking for concrete examples of their skills (Taber, 2012). This includes previous grades, feedback from faculty, employer evaluations, and their engagement or interest in their coursework. Grade projection calculations may also permit students to assess the progress that is necessary to achieve their goals.

As they continue to evaluate their progress, advisors embody NACADA’s (2017) core value of honesty. They acknowledge information that is known (e.g., average GPA of admitted students, average test scores) and risks that are uncertain (e.g., number and profile of applicants). Advisors do not suggest alternatives, but instead explicitly share the same information with all students (e.g., admission requirements, profile of an average accepted student, percent of employers that run background checks, licensing requirements). 

Collect feedback and practice goal regulation together.  Metacognition and regulation can improve with practice. To diminish overconfidence and encourage students to gravitate to alternatives on their own, advisors should advocate that professors practice metacognition in the classroom and incentivize accurate estimates of their performance (Callender et al., 2016; Miller & Geraci, 2011). For example, students can evaluate the strategies they used and the accuracy of their responses when professors return exams. Advisors design academic environments that foster self-regulation and reflection, because both high and low achieving students are overconfident, especially when the task is difficult (Händel et al., 2018).

Advisors also promote goal regulation by asking students to reflect on their degree progress and academic performance. This proactive inquiry invites students to examine or evaluate the outcomes they anticipate. Advisors also listen for discrepancies between students’ aspirations and their behavior (Pizzolato, 2006). By continuing to discuss alternatives, other options become more accessible in students’ working memory, making it easier to move forward if needed (Strauss et al., 2012). 

Advisors may also invite students to visualize the transition, especially when the stakes are low. This mental rehearsal decreases students’ anxiety in the future and, subsequently, increases their cognitive capacity to identify uncertainty and consider alternatives (Ebberwein et al., 2004).

When they provide feedback, they do not exclusively consider academic performance. Advisors also affirm the cultural capital of applicants and acknowledge that other factors often predict students’ success (Diaz et al., 2020; Wyatt et al., 2018). Students may also be impacted by systemic barriers, such as the type of school they attended (e.g., public or private) and access to standardized test preparation.

Systemically non-dominant students have also reported that they experienced hostile campus environments and perceived the strength of their medical school application more negatively than dominant student groups due to internalized stereotypes. These perceptions and the over-emphasis of academic achievement may discourage some qualified individuals from applying or reapplying (Beasley et al., 2012; Christophers & Gotian, 2020; Witherspoon et al., 2019; Wouters, 2020). If advisors increase the time they spend with students, they can reduce this effect and foster a sense of belonging (Lawson et al., 2017).

Arrange for students to investigate their options. It is not enough to simply name alternatives. Students must pursue and confirm newly chosen endeavors like they do other vocational and educational goals. Advisors encourage students to research majors or careers and speak with others in the field to confirm their choices (Krumboltz et al., 2013). By trying new tasks, they learn more about themselves, their options, and their ability to adjust to new environments. Advisors connect the information students have gathered to their values and abilities. Students will move toward alternatives if they believe the option is both possible and valuable (Atkinson, 1964).

In conclusion, advisors implement parallel planning universally. They teach students to assess uncertainty, clarify their values, and monitor their progress. Through this process, students engage in meaning-making and learn to regulate their goals. They also discover that ambitious planning and adaptability are not mutually exclusive (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). Both can and need to co-exist given competitive degree programs and a rapidly changing labor market. 

Billie Streufert
Assistant Vice Provost, Student Success and Engagement
Edith Mortenson Center
Augustana University
[email protected]


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Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2005). Engagement, disengagement, coping, and catastrophe. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 527–547). Guilford Publications.

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Empowering Graduate Students: Cultivating Environments for Student Success

Jamie Heck, Chair, Advising Community on Graduate & Professional Students
Angie Cook, Member, Advising Community on Graduate & Professional Students

Jamie Heck.jpgAngie Cook.jpgStudent retention services have grown substantially in higher education over the years. Educators now boast an arsenal of best practices for student engagement, orientation, advising, and myriad other facets of the student experience. One truth remains, however: institutions cannot treat these best practices as one-size-fits-all. Do retention strategies have the same outcomes regardless of institution type, academic program, and student population? The challenge behind any best practice is determining what is most effective for a specific context and student population, and this is especially true for graduate student populations. As graduate students become more diverse with added complex life situations, advisors must further develop their existing retention strategies to reflect students’ needs.

Consider, for example, a welcome event planned for new graduate students in the fall semester. This welcome event, held in the student center, included short speeches from the graduate student government, giveaways, and opportunities to meet students from other programs and colleges. Without question, this event format appears on campuses across the country every year, often with great success and student satisfaction. However, think about what happens when graduate students are predominantly distance learners, begin programs in the spring and summer instead of fall, or have families that make evening events more difficult. Is this classic engagement strategy truly a best practice in all scenarios?

This article seeks to challenge common approaches to student retention efforts, providing some strategies for identifying the unique considerations of a student population. The article will also discuss the importance of collaboration for enriching the graduate student experience and provide a call to action for any educator invested in graduate student success. Advisors are encouraged to reflect on their student populations and contemplate how best to support their students’ unique situations and needs—for example, the types of programs, the variety of student circumstances and demographics, and the culture of support for graduate students at the institution. Centering on the specific needs of a population provides the foundation required for truly effective strategies of support, engagement, and success.

Existing literature on graduate and professional students has focused on a variety of topics, including graduate student advising experiences (Schroeder & Terras, 2015), creating an environment of inclusion and community (Bernstine et al., 2014; Curtin et al., 2013; Duranczyk et al., 2015; Irani et al., 2014), mentorship (Scott & Miller, 2017), mental health (Di Pierro, 2017), retention programming initiatives (Nelson & Lovitts, 2001; Sheehy, 2016), and the role of the graduate advisor (Bloom et al., 2007; Cross, 2015). Admittedly, literature that has focused on graduate and professional students is meager compared to the abundance of resources on undergraduate students. The existing literature on graduate and professional students offers a glimpse into their needs and experiences. This insight, in addition to practical experiences, helps faculty and professional staff advisors create frameworks of support throughout students’ educational endeavors.

As graduate student characteristics evolve, so too must higher education’s common student experiences. As stated earlier, massive, in-person orientation events may not meet the needs or interests of online learners, older students with families, or students working full-time jobs. In academic advising, educators should consider the effectiveness of standard office hours and explore alternative methods of connecting with students. Communication around school policies, important dates/deadlines, and curriculum plans may require multiple delivery methods and student-friendly language. Student organizations, social events, and other engagement strategies that are common at the undergraduate level or among full-time students may not translate well to students whose life responsibilities require their attention. Rather than assuming that graduate students are disengaged, educators can benefit from delving into specific student needs, interests, and abilities to engage outside of their courses, and then design opportunities that are reflective of students’ realities. A common pitfall of graduate education is the mindset that graduate students should have everything figured out already and are solely responsible for reaching out for help, making connections with potential mentors, having an awareness of and adhering to all policies and deadlines, and engaging how they see fit. Not only does existing literature contradict this (e.g., Benshoff et al., 2015; Cohen & Greenberg, 2011; Coulter et al., 2004; Gansemer-Topf et al., 2006; Oswalt & Riddock, 2007; Polson, 2003; Pontius & Harper, 2006), but common experience with graduate students demonstrates that students thrive best when provided ample communication/onboarding, opportunities for meaningful connection and mentorship, tailored engagement, and a genuine sense of belonging.

Though drastically changing the traditional approaches to student support can feel daunting, a few strategies can assist educators in getting started. These ideas, developed through the authors’ practical experiences, can translate across many types of student support and can help to not only identify, but also respond to students’ needs.

  • Data-driven decision-making: The specific strategies to support graduate student populations could vary based on the characteristics and needs of the students, the institutional culture, and the resources available to accomplish such efforts. Literature is helpful to reference, but educators often and easily make assumptions about graduate students’ needs, circumstances, existing knowledge, and perspectives on their programs. Combatting those assumptions requires assessing students both directly and indirectly. Educators can deploy a variety of information-gathering strategies, from written surveys to more informal focus groups, and even searching for patterns in student questions, challenges, and re-occurring needs. Getting acquainted with the graduate student population will inform the optimal ways in which educators can support students during their educational journey.
  • Multiple delivery methods: Providing information through multiple means not only helps students to engage in the ways they prefer; it also improves accessibility to that information. When planning orientation or sending onboarding materials, for example, consider videos, FAQ documents, online resources or gatherings, and recording in-person events. In establishing advising methods, investigate the best ways for students to connect—over the phone, video chat, and evening or weekend availability. Giving students options in the ways they connect provides numerous benefits to both students and educators while also easing the transition from traditional methods to newer practices that could require trial and error before finding the most effective strategies.
  • Collaboration across departments: Because graduate programs often function differently and more independently than their undergraduate counterparts, educators working with graduate and professional students can feel isolated from their institution’s common student support structures. To combat this, graduate educators can make intentional efforts to connect with resources in financial aid, housing, dining, transportation, international services, counseling services, health services, etc. Graduate advisors may have to make additional efforts to learn about opportunities available for students, advocate for decision-making with graduate and professional students in mind, and seek support from other individuals who are equally invested in student success. At the University of Cincinnati, graduate advisors began a community among themselves to share ideas, address common questions, design relevant trainings/workshops, and collectively advocate for graduate and professional students to university officials. Such a community for undergraduate advisors has existed for many years, but an equivalent has just started at the graduate level. Like assessment and multiple delivery methods, seeking collaboration is a strategy that has the potential to drastically influence the graduate and professional student experience.

As with all student support initiatives and retention services, it is imperative to examine these efforts and ensure that they are purposeful, timely, and relevant to the targeted graduate student population.  Otherwise, departments and institutions are implementing wasted initiatives and services that students view as ineffective and stagnant, subsequently resulting in poor attendance/utilization, student dissatisfaction, and an inadequate attempt to enhance the overall graduate student experience. The time and effort placed toward the creation, implementation, and assessment of coordinated and fluid recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies is pivotal to the success and impact of such efforts.  In a similar manner to the initiatives implemented to recruit, orient, and retain undergraduate students, these efforts should truly be implemented as a campus-wide initiative, in which representatives across campus are actively involved and aware of the needs and experiences of graduate students. This does not negate the value and importance of personalizing efforts based on the needs of the respective student population. However, supporting the overall graduate student experience requires campus-wide initiatives in which members across departments and colleges demonstrate a true commitment to graduate students. This commitment should be embedded in the institutional culture, creating a coherent, consistent, and systematic approach to supporting the needs and experiences of graduate students while allowing programs to customize these initiatives. Institutions need to foster an inclusive environment in which graduate education and the overall graduate student experience is rooted in data-driven decision-making, varying delivery methods, and campus-wide collaborations. Cultivating an inclusive environment for graduate students exemplifies the enhanced value and awareness an institution has in supporting the overall graduate student experience.

Angie Cook
Associate Director
Graduate Retention Services
College of Nursing Office of Student Affairs
University of Cincinnati
[email protected]

Jamie Heck
Director of Academic Affairs
College of Nursing Academic Affairs
University of Cincinnati
[email protected]


Benshoff, J. M., Cashwell, C. S., & Rowell, P. C. (2015). Graduate students on campus: Needs and implications for college counselors. Journal of College Counseling, 18(1), 82–94. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1882.2015.00070.x

Bernstine, J., Martin, A., & Peden, J. (2014). Engage graduate students on your campus: Tools for academic advising and faculty. NACADA Clearinghouse. http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Engage-graduate-students-on-your-campus-Tools-for-academic-and-faculty-advisors.aspx

Bloom, J., Cuevas, A., Hall, J., & Evans, C. (2007). Graduate students’ perceptions of outstanding graduate advisor characteristics. NACADA Journal, 27(2), 28–35. https://doi.org/10.12930/0271-9517-27.2.28

Cohen, M. A. O., & Greenberg, S. (2011). The Struggle to succeed: Factors associated with the persistence of part-time adult students seeking a master’s degree. Continuing Higher Education Review75, 101–112. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ967811.pdf

Coulter, F. W., Goin, R. P., & Gerard, J. M. (2004). Assessing graduate students’ needs: The role of graduate student organizations. Educational Research Quarterly, 28(1), 15–26. https://search.proquest.com/docview/216182731?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true

Cross, L. (2015, September). Professional staff as graduate student academic advisors. Academic Advising Today, 38(3). https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Professional-Staff-as-Graduate-Student-Academic-Advisors.aspx

Curtin, N., Stewart, A. J., & Ostrove, J. M. (2013). Fostering academic self-concept: Advisor support and sense of belonging among international and domestic graduate students. American Educational Research Journal, 50(1), 108. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831212446662

Di Pierro, M. (2017). Mental health and the graduate student experience. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 40(1), 24–27. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1895913017?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true

Duranczyk, I. M., Franko, J., Osifuye, S., Barton, A., & Higbee, J. L. (2015). Creating a model for graduate student inclusion and success. Contemporary Issues in Education Research (CIER), 8(3), 147–158.

Gansemer-Topf, A. M., Ross, L. E., & Johnson, R. M. (2006). Graduate and professional student development and student affairs. New Directions for Student Services, 2006(115), 19–30. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.213

Irani, T. A., Wilson, S. B., Slough, D. L., & Rieger, M. (2014). Graduate student experiences on- and off-campus: Social connectedness and perceived isolation. Journal of Distance Education (Online), 28(1), 1–16.

Nelson, C., & Lovitts, B. E. (2001, June 29). 10 ways to keep graduate students from quitting. Chronicle of Higher Education, 47(42), B20. https://www.chronicle.com/article/10-Ways-to-Keep-Graduate/6173

Oswalt, S. B., & Riddock, C. C. (2007). What to do about being overwhelmed: Graduate students, stress and university services. The College Student Affairs Journal, 27(1), 24–44. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ899402.pdf

Polson, C. J. (2003). Adult graduate students challenge institutions to change. New Directions for Student Services, 2003(102), 59–68. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.90

Pontius, J. L., & Harper, S. R. (2006). Principles for good practice in graduate and professional student engagement. New Directions for Student Services, 2006(115), 47–58. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.215

Schroeder, S. M., & Terras, K. L. (2015). Advising experiences and needs of online, cohort, and classroom adult graduate learners. NACADA Journal, 35(1), 42–55. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-13-044

Scott, C. E., & Miller, D. M. (2017). Stories of a transformative mentorship: Graduate student glue.

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 6(2), 143–152. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMCE-09-2016-0065

Sheehy, B. (2016, December). Graduate student success: A model that works. Academic Advising Today, 39(4). https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Graduate-Student-Success-A-Model-that-Works.aspx


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Timing is Everything: Coronavirus and the Chronosystem

Ellyn R. Mulcahy, Kansas State University

Ellyn Mulcahy.jpgThe impact of time and the progression of time may have never been so important to education as they are presently. As advisors, teachers, and students, we are currently surrounded on all sides by uncertain timelines and unknown schedules ahead. The concept of time as a driving force on student success and development during college careers is marked by our situational time of where we are right now in 2020. Students’ college education and development are very much influenced by COVID-19. The impacts that COVID-19 will have on their development this year may influence them for several semesters to come and for years of their life if this pandemic negatively impacts the health of their family or their own health.

Urie Bronfenbrenner stated that human development is “powerfully shaped by conditions and events occurring during the historical period through which the person lives’’ (Bronfenbrenner, 1999). Bronfenbrenner was a developmental psychologist who introduced a theory of development with four components of process, person, context, and time (PPCT) (Bronfenbrenner, 1995, 1999,, 2001; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998, 2006; Edinete & Tudge, 2013). The interactions and connections between these four components are recognized as strong determinants of student development. This is an ecological model as it also explains the process of these interactions and connections, not only the final results.

An ecological perspective can help us to understand the differences between how students are impacted or influenced by their environments compared to their peers. This is crucial to keep in mind, as different students will react to and be influenced by their environments in different ways. As advisors, we should not have a predetermined opinion of how a student should or would react to a situation or be influenced by a component of their environment over a given time period. The concept of the influence of time (T in PPCT) is not new to education or any other area of the study of human development. T in PPCT was separated by Bronfenbrenner into levels of time or tracks of time that may be differentially influential such as exactly when a student attended college: for example, during a period of major political and social upheaval or a major event during the lifespan of a student that was impactful, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is a good time to reflect on just how much our current time will impact our time ahead.

In the bioecological model, Bronfenbrenner and Morris integrated and described time as an element that exerts influence on development over the lifespan and even across generations (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). I perceive the levels of mesotime and macrotime as the opposite ends of the advising spectrum that we as advisors need to be aware of in light of COVID-19 and the rapidly changing landscape of higher education. Mesotime is our current time and describes the immediate weeks and months that we are moving through now and that we will move through imminently. Macrotime is our future time that we have not yet entered or experienced and is even the upcoming times of future generations. As Bronfenbrenner and Morris described, macrotime ‘‘focuses on the changing expectations and events in the larger society, both within and across generations’’ (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). For us, as advisors and mentors of our students, their current needs in mesotime must be cared for and nurtured in the short term to address our students’ immediate needs, allay their fears, and help them get back onto their educational pathway. We also, however, must look ahead and see their future pathways and think about preparing them for their macrotime. This is the strength of advising, to be able to plan with a student as a partner to ensure their pathway is laid out in front of them, and the decisions we make now in their mesotime will prepare and benefit them in their lives ahead in their macrotime.

The concept of macrotime, as a force of time that can influence development across successive generations is both powerful and humbling. This combination of the current and futures times that impacts students underscores the importance of comprehending time as a driving factor of student development. Now, more than ever, students will need to be supported and bolstered by advising mechanisms founded in the understanding that academic success in the classroom is attained by equitable support and care of student development outside the classroom.

As advisors, we must appreciate that the role of education in student development is both timely and time dependent. This is how I interpret the chronosystem, a model that considers time as an influence on human development and one of five parts of Bronfenbrenner’s theory of ecological systems (Bronfenbrenner, 1988; Edinete & Tudge, 2013). The chronosystem considers how and when major events occur and how the timing of these events can influence a person’s life. These major events could be within the person’s life itself or external such as natural disasters, pandemics, or global civil rights protests. Students experiencing such traumatic events may require an advising structure that is closely aligned with mental health services (Firestein, 2019).

The concept and impact of timing, while not new, was particularly influential to me this year. Reading Bronfenbrenner’s work has impacted how I view other people, how I view learning, how I think about vulnerable populations on our campuses, and how I make decisions to assist my students. This all spills over into my role as an advisor, a mentor, and a teacher, and how I think and advise holistically, considering all parts of a student’s life inside and outside of the classroom (Kardash, 2020). As a systems approach, the chronosystem can be utilized as part of an advising strategy that looks at overall patterns and relationships to understand and identify high-impact intervention options. This will bring more needs for us as advisors to think about and more resources for us to locate. Resources to address food insecurity, assistance with locating and applying for scholarships, advocating for our students on and off campus, ensuring our students have access to mental health support, referrals for mental health first aid for students experiencing trauma, and unidentified resources that we do not yet know that we will have to provide.

So, where do we go from here? I urge advisors to act with empathy, to encourage, to listen, and to remember what has happened this year. I also urge advisors to recall every year that events in times past have impacted our students whether they know it or whether we know it. In the face of these additional and potentially intimidating changes to our educational system and discouraging struggles we are all facing, we as advisors must continue to advocate for resources that will ensure our students make it through and thrive.

Ellyn R. Mulcahy (she/her/hers)
Graduate Student, Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising
Director, Master of Public Health Program
Associate Professor, Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology
Kansas State University
[email protected]


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Bronfenbrenner, U. (1995). Developmental ecology through space and time: a future perspective. In P. Moen, G. H. Elder, & K. Luscher (Eds.), Examining lives in context: Perspectives on the ecology of human development (pp. 599–618). American Psychological Association.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1999). Environments in developmental perspective: Theoretical and operational models. In S. L. Friedman & T. D. Wachs (Eds.), Measuring environment across the life span: Emerging methods and concepts (pp. 3–28). American Psychological Association Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (2001). The bioecological theory of human development. In N. J. Smelser & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopaedia of the social and behavioural sciences (pp. 6963–6970). Elsevier.

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (1998). The ecology of development processes. In W. Damon (Series Ed.) & R. M. Lerner (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (pp. 993–1027). Wiley.

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In W. Damon (Series Ed.) & R.M. Lerner (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development (pp. 793–828). Wiley.

Edinete, M. R., Tudge, J. (2013). Urie Bronfenbrenner’s theory of human development: Its evolution from ecology to bioecology. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 5, 243–258. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12022

Firestein, C. (2019, June). Advising students who struggle due to traumatic events. Academic Advising Today, 42(2). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-Students-Who-Struggle-Due-To-Traumatic-Events.aspx

Kardash, S. M. (2020, June). Holistic advising. Academic Advising Today, 43(2). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Holistic-Advising.aspx


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Scanning Your College Environment to Boost Student Success

Sara E. Gomez, Jonathan Z. S. Pollack, & Maria Stockton, Madison Area Technical College

“Education is what people do. Learning is what you do to yourself. Focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware and super present”—Joichi Ito (Ito & Howe, 2016).

Jonathan Pollack.jpgSara Gomez.jpgColleges and universities continue to focus on ways to enhance academic and career advising. Administrators, faculty, and staff are asking what makes institutions successful in achieving these goals. Bennis and Biederman (1997) argue, “One is too small a number to produce greatness.” As authors, we propose that in order to produce greatness in our students, we need to produce collaboration and greatness within our institutions and in our projects. In turn, our collaboration will help students complete their personal educational plans in order to be more satisfied with their experience. As advisors at Madison Area Technical College (Madison College), we are fortunate to be working at an institution that has been awarded a Title III Strengthening Institutions grant from the US Department of Education to put these ideals into action.

In 2017, we were delighted to learn that our institution won this grant. The main project goal is to define a comprehensive strategy and implement a systematic process to help students confirm their career and educational plan, while supporting their efficient progression to degree credit courses, credential completion, and/or 4-year college transfer. To accomplish this goal and vision, stakeholders across the campus continue to come together to formulate plans through involvement in committees and teams. This seems congruent and similar to one of the overall goals of NACADA, which is to “promote student success by advancing the field of academic advising globally” (NACADA, n.d.).

The authors of this article were part of the advising and career services team and environmental scan sub-team. Some of us really enjoy researching, history, and looking at best practices from various institutions, which matches our own interests. Therefore, this seemed to be a perfect team to join. The team consisted of one of the project leads, Director of Academic & Career Advising, faculty advisors, and academic advisors. Sara Gomez represented academic advisors, Jonathan Pollack represented faculty advisors, and Tina Stockton represented the project leadership. The advising and career services team was responsible for the review and development of faculty advising curriculum; training and delivery; creating and implementing a college-wide, multi-level approach to advising; and creating new and different ways to advise students to supplement current practices. The team also researched best practices for career development, enhancing existing career development tools, and aligning career planning resources across the college to increase student success and retention.


As part of the advising and career services team, we researched best practices across campus, surveyed the current state of advising-related resources and services at the college, and found best practices from community colleges across the state and country. What we really enjoyed the most was the stimulating dialogue and cross-college, inter-department connections between us as faculty and academic advisors—the collaboration! We were all working toward this common goal: to implement a systematic process that assists students to confirm their career and educational plan toward completion and/or transfer.

The implementation of the CARES Title III (CT3) grant at Madison College focused on student retention and success, starting with the seemingly simple premise of improving the student experience. One of the 11 teams formed in the first year of the grant included one focused on an environmental scan of career and advising services. The environmental scan (ES) team was the first of the CT3 teams to meet in the spring of 2018. The team approached their work in three distinct phases: 1) current state, 2) best practices, and 3) future state. Prior to beginning the environmental scan, the team agreed to define advising as practices focused on student support and learning and as such looked to all areas of the college. To ensure cross-college buy-in of the results, the team took a semi-scientific approach to this work. They compiled, analyzed, and reported on data, removing as much subjective input as possible. This work was not about one area of the college defining ideal student support—it was a collaborative definition.

Four team members broke off into smaller teams and went across the college asking the same set of questions:

  1. How do you support students?
  2. What technology do you use?
  3. What types of students do you support?

This became an overview of the current state of advising at Madison College and comprised hundreds of rows of data.

At the same time, the team was learning about student support at the college, they were also reading journal articles, papers from higher education consortiums like AACU and CCRC, and talking to other schools on how they advise students. Members compiled source summaries (of articles, interviews, and surveys) and salient points of their readings into a spreadsheet, thereby creating another artifact of the teams’ work.


The last step was the most time consuming as it involved pulling together all external resources into identifying best practices for student support (advising). Once the team identified those practices, the last step was to look at the current state to see how Madison College was already following best practices and where we could do more. This step was a confirmation that as a school Madison College was on the right track for some of our work and highlighted gaps from the current state to where we want to be. The gaps became the focus of the new strategic vision for student support.

The work of the ES team was foundational for much of the work done since 2018 on the CT3 grant, as well as for the college’s overall strategic vision of improving retention by improving the student experience. The ES work ultimately supported:

  1. The strategic vision for career and advising services at the college (turned into a report published in spring 2019)
  2. A graphic used to explain work of the grant to internal and external stakeholders by illustrating the ideal student experience
  3. An RFP for a new student success platform, which was an opportunity for 170+ stakeholders to provide input into the requirements for a technical solution and give feedback on selected vendor presentations
  4. A fresh approach to training all college employees that focuses on integrated student support, which means that every employee at the college has the ability to support student success within their role, given the appropriate training and opportunities.

Even if your colleges do not have an external driver like a major grant to compel you to engage in this kind of environmental scan, we strongly encourage our colleagues to pursue similar plans at their institutions. Researching collectively as we did can bring you comfort about what you are already doing and point you toward new opportunities.

Sara E. Gomez, MS. Ed
Lead Academic Advisor
School of Business & Applied Arts
Student Development & Retention Services
Madison Area Technical College
[email protected]

Jonathan Z. S. Pollack, PhD
History Instructor and Coordinator, Arts & Humanities Pre-Major
Madison Area Technical College
[email protected]

Maria Stockton, MSE
C.A.R.E.S. Title III Business Analyst
Madison Area Technical College
[email protected]


Bennis, W. G., & Biederman, P. W. (1997). Organizing genius: The secrets of creative collaboration. Addison-Wesley.

Ito, Joi.  & Howe, J. (2016). Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future.

NACADA. (n.d.). Our vision and mission. https://nacada.ksu.edu/About-Us/Vision-and-Mission.aspx

Shane, D. (1981). Academic advising in higher education: A development approach for college students. NACADA Journal 1(2), 12–23. https://doi.org/10.12930/0271-9517-1.2.12

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Division of General Studies: A Reflection on 2020 Pandemic

Daniel Turner & Teri Farr, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Teri Farr & Dan Turner.jpgAs colleges and universities prepare to welcome back students in person or otherwise for the Fall 2020 semester, the Division of General Studies took a moment to reflect on what had led us to this point and the quick decisions we made when changing course for Spring 2020.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when we realized our lives would change due to the coronavirus. We knew at the start of the Spring 2020 semester that this was already impacting some of the Chinese students enrolled in the Division of General Studies (DGS) at the University of Illinois. At least one student from Wuhan had been quarantined and was not able to return to campus or the United States by the start of the semester in late January. With over 5,000 international students from China enrolled at the University of Illinois, we knew this virus would impact our students, but had no idea how dramatic the impact would be. 

In DGS, we decided in late January to order a box of face masks to make available to students to prevent the spread of the flu this year, knowing how many students our advisors see at the start of the semester, all in close proximity. The media continued to deliver reports of the impact of the virus in China and then in Europe. Plans started to be made to figure out what to do with just over 800 Illinois students who were abroad for Spring 2020. Meetings were quickly called with our international education representatives and college deans to discuss options and make decisions to best support our students and academic community. The focus at this point was on our students abroad. We weren’t considering how the virus would impact our students in Urbana/Champaign . . . yet.

We noticed in late February/early March that the Champaign County Health Department issued a statement recommending all residents have enough groceries, medications, and supplies to last at least two weeks. This was before any stay-at-home orders had been issued anywhere in the US and before any campus conversations about going online were known. We started to consider what would quickly become reality. The World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic on March 11. 

On March 11 it became official: our world changed. Many of us in DGS were looking forward to spring break and taking advantage of visiting family or friends or just getting caught up in the office on various projects and tasks. In our office, several of us were planning to travel as a team to the NACADA Region 5 conference in Milwaukee for a few days of education, professional development, and connection with colleagues and friends from all over the Midwest. Instead, COVID-19 arrived and completely disrupted our way of life and how we connect with each other and with our students.

On March 11, we received an email from the system president that all U of Illinois campuses would begin migrating to online delivery with a goal of completing this move in just over a week after classes resumed from spring break on March 23. That the Urbana-Champaign flagship campus moved 5,000–6,000 courses to online delivery in just over a week was an amazing accomplishment. The DGS team quickly worked to develop a plan to deliver advising and support services online and remotely. 

DGS leadership made the call to work remotely a week before it was enforced by campus, and most of our staff started working from our homes on Monday, March 16. We quickly had to figure out how to best support our students while setting up home offices. We analyzed our resources in terms of technology. Did we and our staff have the tools they needed to effectively work remotely? What online platform would work best for us to conduct online advising appointments? With campuses and courses across the country turning to Zoom, should we consider an alternative? We reviewed using Zoom, Skype for Business, and Google Hangouts Meet considering ease of use for our staff and students and decided initially to go with Google Hangouts Meet to avoid demands on Zoom. We developed user guides and resources for our staff and determined procedures for how students would make appointments and meet virtually or via phone with advisors. 

As the campus leadership was determining how deadlines would be pushed back for course drops, electing credit/no credit, and other academic policies, advisors in the DGS were preparing to support our students remotely. We considered the impact of academic policy changes and how we would reinforce the communication students received from campus. We adapted our weekly newsletter to focus on these changes and provided the pertinent information our students needed in this new environment. 

What happened was a bit of a blur to many of us as we very quickly adapted. As academic advisors, our skills at problem solving are quite good. What really happened was support and care for our staff and students. We made thoughtful decisions and relied upon the expertise of each other. In our unit, we have empaths, cheerleaders, logisticians, planners, and weavers. We all have a gift, and we used them. We are always thinking about students and how they are doing and trying to figure out ways to ensure they know they are cared for and that we are here to help. 

Our director created two new committees—one designed to support students and the other to support staff. The student support committee worked hard to create a central clearinghouse webpage on our website so we could keep track of everything in one place. We created a survey to assess how students are adjusting so we can use that information moving forward when developing programming or services for students. The staff support committee planned creative online meetings designed to encourage continued professional development and growth.  We hosted happy hours and Zoom bingo. We checked in on each other regularly and did what we can to make sure everyone is feeling cared for during these surreal times. We continually looked for ways to motivate our team. Since we used Zoom for staff meetings, we were able to have experts from around the country stop in on our meetings to offer words of wisdom and motivation. Surprise guests included leaders in advising and NACADA, Charlie Nutt, Jenny Bloom, Michael Broshears, Erin Justyna, Cecilia Olivares, Peter Freitag and Blane Harding as well as Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones. 

This new environment has been challenging for all of us. We have staff balancing multiple professional schedules while working full-time from home and taking care of young children. We have staff members recovering from melanoma who no longer have the same access to health care as they did before. Others are waiting for cataract surgeries that have been cancelled while others have adult children with medical issues for whom care is being postponed due to the pandemic. Many of us have elderly parents who we are very worried about and can only visit through phone or online. Many of us live alone in apartments and had been confined for months. We all worry about the possibility of catching this virus while we’re doing normal activities such as getting groceries or picking up meals. 

Through all of this, we’re still focused and worried about our students. We worry about students who have to change their learning style to adapt to online learning. We are concerned about students who have gone home to additional responsibilities of taking care of parents and siblings and for our students who don’t have a safe place to go home to. We balance all of our personal commitments with our commitment to ensuring our students are supported and feel cared for.

We understand the 2020-2021 academic year will be unlike any other.  We are focused on the health and safety of our students and staff and look to creative approaches to delivering exceptional student support services in a mostly online environment.  We recognize that although much has changed, that one day we will all be together again working side by side in offices and seeing students in person.  Advisors have exceptional interpersonal skills and will continue to rely on these in support of our students.  Now more than ever, we must use technology, communication skills, and care for each other and our students as our critical competencies to be effective academic advisors.  It is too early to reflect on the true impact the pandemic will have on higher education and our culture. We know we’ll have to continue to adapt to provide opportunities for students and support their personal and academic growth and development. Because this is what academic advising is and what advisors do.

Daniel Turner
Division of General Studies
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
[email protected]   

Teri Farr
Associate Director
Division of General Studies
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
[email protected]

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Student Resilience During Times of Crisis

Anne Liotine & Michael Magee, Harper College

Anne Liotine.jpgMichael Magee.jpgThe Spring 2020 semester will be remembered as one of the most challenging in the history of higher education. Students have endured significant crises throughout time; however, having multiple crises occurring concurrently has rarely, if ever, been experienced. First, Covid-19 threatened the health of students and their family members. This led to a sudden economic downturn as nationwide stay-at-home orders were implemented. Within the span of a few weeks during the middle of the semester, students may have lost their job or had to get a job to support their families if their parents were laid off, furloughed, or became unemployed. This may be more applicable to community college students, non-traditional age students, or those who are commuters. Residential students had to leave their campuses and move out two months early. Many students (Fischer, 2020) did not have the resources to move off campus let alone to continue their education in an online modality. Students lost their homes, meals and health care, with very little warning. Currently, there are hundreds of lawsuits from students seeking refunds of tuition, room and board, and other college related expenses (Keshner, 2020).

With dueling crises happening in the nation, we entered a period of social unrest related to festering racial inequalities in American society. Protests, rioting, and looting ensued after the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. This action led to a third crisis that has engulfed the nation. With many campuses prepared to welcome students back to campus soon, protests and hate crimes may become another major issue for students to overcome. FBI data has shown an uptick in hate crimes on campuses (Bauman, 2018), and this was prior to the latest string of racial incidents.

Twenty-first century students have had to overcome many tragic events. The terrorist attacks of September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, economic collapse in 2008, and multiple natural disasters since then. Students have lost everything due to natural disasters and relied on strangers around the country for support (Magee et al., 2007). Many needed the support of counseling services on their new campuses to enhance and develop their ability to persevere through a tough situation (Fernando & Hebert, 2011). During challenging times where resilience is critical to student success, advisors must be prepared to empower and support students to persist.

Determination and resilience, particularly through times of adversity, to reach a desired outcome can be the hallmark of a successful student. Angela Duckworth and her team of researchers define the term grit as “perseverance and passion for long term goals” (Duckworth et al., 2007, p. 1087). Choosing to attend college is not a small decision, especially for first generation students. As college expenses continue to rise, more and more is asked of our students: studying 2–3 hours outside of their courses, working a full-time/part-time job, and taking care of at-home responsibilities. For a college student to be successful, they not only need to have the passion to complete their courses, but they also need to keep in mind their long-term goal, whether that is earning a certificate, associate’s degree, or continuing their education further. In the Duckworth et al. (2007) study, the researchers wanted to understand why some college students are more successful than others. They found that grit increases with age and students with a higher grit score have lower SAT scores but higher GPAs. Resilience is one component of grit that explains some of these phenomena as well as overcoming adversity in the face of challenges (Perkins-Gough, 2013). Being able to pick yourself up from a failure and keep moving forward exemplifies the definition of grit in that a student who may have a lot going on outside of school, will work harder in their courses to understand material receiving a passing grade in a class.

Another noteworthy researcher is Carol Dweck, who studies growth mindset. Her “research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value” (Dweck, 2016, p. 6). What Dweck (2016) insinuates is that when you have a growth mindset you believe that you can change innate qualities within yourself, whether that is your personality, intelligence artistic or athletic ability. Failure can help drive you towards your next success because you learn and grow from mistakes. It aids you in coming up with creative solutions to move forward and taking action to confront the problems, rather than believing you cannot come back from it (Dweck 2016).

As advisors, we must encourage and promote grit and growth to encourage resilience and persistence. To do this, advisors first need to look inward and determine how we overcame setbacks while working from home. How have we handled a mistake? Do we work towards a creative solution or dwell on the fact that we have failed ourselves and/or our students? Duckworth has a free online assessment that will help determine our personal grit score (Duckworth, 2020). Determining where we are can help us move forward, and the same goes for our students. We can share this resource during our phone/video appointments to then discuss how to persevere through a challenging course or semester.

When it comes to our student’s long-term goals, we can help them break down their habits. For example, if a student wants to earn all As and Bs this semester, what does that look like? What kind of behaviors can advisors encourage they follow through with when they encounter a paper, test or discussion post that has brought down their grade? As the advisor, it will be important to encourage tutoring, utilizing professor’s office hours, creating study groups with peers, and having enough time to prepare. The objective is to help students think outside the box, as well as how to overcome a setback when they should face it.

Online learning can be challenging for students. This can be even further multiplied by students who may not have a laptop or consistent internet at home. Advisors may hear comments from students like, “I just can’t teach myself this material” or “I am not motivated to do the homework.” Part of building resilience and growing their mindset can be breaking down their goals into simpler tasks. If they want to get all As and Bs in their classes this semester, how far in advance are they studying for their tests? How much time are they devoting to their readings? Papers? Have students create a schedule of when they will be doing their homework for each class, blocking off time as if they must attend classes in person on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Having smaller goals will help them to not feel overwhelmed by the bigger picture.

College students have overcome many obstacles throughout the history of higher education. However, this may be the most uncertain time as there is a global pandemic, economic depression (and potential recession), combined with civil unrest. How advisors can best help students is to understand where they are coming from, acknowledge the difficulties they have faced and may continue to face, and then help them pick up the pieces to help them sustain their overall long-term goals. Advisors are not meant to have all the answers, but in order to best serve our students in this current situation, it is critical that academic advisors continue to serve as beacons of hope that can help guide our students through these turbulent waters.

Anne Liotine
Academic Advisor
Harper College
[email protected]

Michael Magee
Academic Advisor
Harper College
[email protected]


Bauman, D. (2018, November 14). Hate crimes on campuses are rising, new FBI data show. The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Hate-Crimes-on-Campuses-Are/245093.

Duckworth, A. L. (2020). Grit scale. Angela Duckworth. https://angeladuckworth.com/grit-scale/

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1087–1101. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087

Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Ballantine Books.

Fernando, D. M., & Hebert, B. B. (2011). Resiliency and recovery: Lessons from the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 39(1), 2–13. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1912.2011.tb00135.x

Fischer, K. (2020, March 11). When coronavirus closes colleges, some students lose hot meals, health care, and a place to sleep. The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/When-Coronavirus-Closes/248228

Keshner, A. (2020, May 22). At least 100 lawsuits have been filed by students seeking college refunds – and they open some thorny questions. MarketWatch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/unprecedented-lawsuits-from-students-suing-colleges-amid-the-coronavirus-outbreak-raise-3-thorny-questions-for-higher-education-2020-05-21.

Magee, M., Cobb, A., Bodrick, J., & San Antonio, L. (2007). Triumph in the face of adversity: Hurricane Katrina’s effect on African American Students’ coping ability with forced transitions. National Association of Student Affairs Professionals Journal, 10(1), 97–111.

Perkins-Gough, D. (2013, September). The significance of GRIT. Educational Leadership, 71(1), 14–20. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272078893_The_significance_of_grit

NACADA Emerging Leaders Program Promotes and Celebrates Successful NACADA Leadership Development

Amy Korthank, Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Chair
Meagan Hagerty, Incoming Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Chair
Leigh Cunningham, Emerging Leaders Program Coordinator

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising is committed to providing opportunities for professional development, networking, and leadership for our diverse membership (Vision and Mission).  Association strategic goals include developing and sustaining effective leadership, as well as fostering inclusive practices within the association that respect the principle of equity and the diversity of advising professionals across the vast array of intersections of identity (Strategic Goals). To support these goals, the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) was developed in 2006, as an initiative from the (then) Diversity Committee (now the Inclusion & Engagement Committee), to encourage members from diverse backgrounds to explore and get involved in leadership opportunities within the organization. 

Each year, beginning with the 2007-2009 Class, 10 Emerging Leaders and 10 Mentors are selected for the two-year program. Leaders are matched with Mentors who have a wide range of experience within NACADA, from research and publication to serving on the Board of Directors. Leaders and Mentors work closely to connect the Leaders to the areas of the association they are interested in and develop a plan for continued involvement and growth within the association. Emerging Leaders receive a $2,000 stipend to assist them with travel to NACADA conferences, institutes, and seminars, helping to promote their engagement and involvement.

With more than a decade of successful leadership development now behind us, we are excited to recognize the many members of the Emerging Leaders classes who have served in elected and appointed positions—as chairs of NACADA regions, advising communities, committees, advisory boards, and task forces—as well as those who have stepped up to leadership in other service, scholarship, and research areas. ELPers have already made a lasting contribution to NACADA and have a long list of accomplishments.

The 2018-2020 Emerging Leaders and Mentors, who began work at the 2018 Annual Conference in Phoenix, have been diligently pursuing their goals over the past two years and look forward to receiving their Certificates of Completion this October. They will be recognized in a Virtual Awards Ceremony Video.

2018-2020 ELP Class.jpg

Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Chair Amy Korthank is pleased to announce the 2020-2022 NACADA Emerging Leaders and Mentors

Emerging Leaders

Philip Aguinaga, University of North Texas
Amber Bollinger, College of Charleston
Maria Domingo, California State University San Bernardino
Leah Frierson, University of Richmond
Bri Harvie, Mount Royal University
Cassie Jaquez, New Mexico State University
Iyabode Okoro, Indiana University School of Medicine
Camille Reid, The University of West Georgia
David To, San Diego State University 
Anna Traykova, Kennesaw State University


Christina Bowles, Missouri State University
Suanne Early, University of Kentucky
Jonathan Hallford, Auburn University
Andrea Harris, Pepperdine University
Kerry Kincanon, Oregon State University
Christopher Kirchhof, University of Pittsburgh
Patricia MacMillan, Ontario Tech University
Sam Murdock, Texas A&M University
Jesse Poole, Nevada State College
Maureen Schafer, University of Iowa

The new Class of Emerging Leaders and Mentors have been meeting over the summer and will continue working virtually and on-site to create partnerships and begin development, conversation, and group-building. Partners will develop goals pertaining to leadership in NACADA over the next six months and continue their work together over the two-year program.

Visit the Emerging Leaders Program website for more information and consider applying for the 2021-2023 Class!

Amy Korthank
ELP Advisory Board Chair, 2018-2020
University of Iowa

Meagan Hagerty
ELP Advisory Board Chair, 2020-2022
University of Minnesota

Leigh Cunningham
ELP Coordinator
NACADA Executive Office
Kansas State University


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