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Voices of the Global Community


From the President: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Kyle Ross, NACADA President

Kyle Ross.jpgAs advisors begin another academic year, I find myself wondering where the time has gone between when I started my presidency last October and now. While the time has flown by, I acknowledge that the association has accomplished much in these 11 months.

Last year, the Board of Directors adopted a new Vision, Mission, and Strategic Goals to lead the association through continued advancement of the field of academic advising. Immediately following adopting these statements, the Board of Directors committed to forming a new advisory board that would carry forward the accomplishments of the Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion Workgroup. I am now pleased to announce the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Education Advisory Board with Ahmad Sims (Christian Brothers University) as the Inaugural Chair. Joining Dr. Sims are the following members who applied for appointment for these positions:

Madeline Goldman, Virginia Commonwealth University
Trayle Kulshan, City University of Seattle
Jasmine Lee, University of Maryland
Rachel Lim, University of Denver
Megumi Makino-Kanehiro, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Jairo McMican, Central Carolina Community College
Keenan Mosley, University of North Carolina-Asheville
Khadijah Peak-Brown, Tidewater Community College
Quinn Peoples, Portland State University
Jill Putman, Colorado State University
Tyler Rhea, University of St. Augustine
John Sauter, Niagara University
Kerry Wallaert, LaGrange College

I want to extend my thanks to Teri Farr, Incoming President, who led the Task Force to form this new advisory board, which included responsibilities around soliciting applications and drafting a mission and function. Teri has long been a leader in the association who has consistently followed through on work she volunteers for and delivers high-quality results. It has been my privilege to work with her on both the Council and Board of Directors these past few years. I know she will be an exemplary President, and I know she and incoming Vice President Locksley Knibbs will make an amazing team.

Another major priority for the Board of Directors this year has been to initiate a review of the organizational structure of the association. The review has been divided into three phases. The first phase consisted of developing a request for proposals from potential consultants who will be instrumental in conducting the holistic review alongside what will be a workgroup dedicated to this endeavor. The workgroup’s and consultant’s efforts will serve as the second phase of this review. Once they have made recommendations to the Board of Directors, what is approved will require a third and final phase dedicated to implementation of those revisions. At this time, the task force for the first phase is nearing completion of its objectives and has been on an ambitious timeline to do so. I thank current Vice President Michelle Smith Ware for chairing this task force in addition to her responsibilities as an Officer of the Board of Directors. I also want to express my deep gratitude for her as someone I have leaned on every day as President. She has given so much of herself to this association, and I cannot thank her enough for always being a listening ear and for providing an essential perspective to me when decisions needed to be made quickly.

As I look forward to the Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, I want to thank several others for their commitment to NACADA. The work of this association would not be possible without the immense and unwavering support of the Executive Office and Dean Debbie Mercer from the College of Education at Kansas State University. Executive Director Melinda Anderson has now completed a full year in the role, and I cannot imagine anyone else assuming the responsibility following the achievements of retired Executive Director Charlie Nutt. She has been and will continue to be the partner the Board of Directors needs to ensure the success of the association.

Words cannot express my appreciation of my fellow Board Members this year: Michelle Smith Ware, Zoranna Jones, Mehvash Ali, Teri Farr, Rebecca Hapes, Quentin Alexander, Locksley Knibbs, and Kimberly Smith. Each Board Member has been vital to the conversations had over this year. It was my honor to serve among them.

For me, Portland is the perfect point of looking forward to where the association goes next and looking back at my 10 years of membership with NACADA. My first engagement with the association was at the Region 8 Conference in Portland in 2012, and I shall now conclude my presidency in Portland in October. My biggest thanks goes to the membership, as so many people have taught me invaluable lessons, helped me develop as a professional, and given me life-long friendships. It has been the utmost honor to give back to the membership through the roles I have served over the years.

Kyle Ross, President, 2021-2022
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Head Academic Advisor
College of Business
Oregon State University

From the Executive Director: September 2022

Melinda J. Anderson, NACADA Executive Director

Melinda Anderson.jpgFall is a time of major change on campuses.  

It’s when high school graduates officially become college students and when cadres of undergraduates advance to the next level in their academic career. For academic advisors, fall is about helping students identify their passion and finding their purpose.   

While I absolutely love my position as NACADA Executive Director, I must admit that I miss the rhythm of campus life and all the beautiful student interactions that came with my role as an academic advisor. I miss students. I miss cheering them on and watching them succeed and being the person, they felt safe turning to when things did not go as they hoped, planned, dreamed or expected.  

However, one of the ways I’ve continued to connect myself to these experiences is by attending NACADA events. Our conferences and institutes are filled with professionals who share a spectrum of student stories—from those that are heartwarming to triumphant to painful. Higher education is difficult terrain for a myraid of reasons and for many students, reasons we can’t necessarily see.  

While I’ve shared, I miss daily student interaction, what’s fueled me is knowing the value of NACADA’s work. When advisors share examples of how using NACADA’s core competencies impacted their advising practice or how a colleague read an article in one of our publications and it completely altered their approach with a student, I know I’m in the right place for all the right reasons.  

When I read conference proposals in my current position, it’s like peering into a live advising session. The topics are real, relevant, and they make a difference. One of the beautiful aspects of our Annual Conference is you will be surrounded by subject matter experts who only have one goal: to help you find the strategies and techniques you are looking for. So, if you haven’t registered, I invite you to do so. It will be one of the best things you can do for you advising practice and students this fall.  

I will be thinking about all of you as you head into the fall semester. I know your energy, time and talents will empower students to find the very thing they are looking for – their purpose. Continue to take care of yourselves as our work never seems to never stop. And as always NACADA is here to support and guide you on your professional journey. 

Melinda J. Anderson, Ed.D.
Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Strengths-Based Advising for Social Justice

Colleen Rose, Indiana University Bloomington

Colleen Rose.jpgThe student population in higher education is more diverse than it has ever been. Students of color, women, low-income, and first-generation students are enrolled in the highest numbers in history (Krogstad & Fry, 2014; Lopez & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2014; National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). These students come from historically oppressed identity groups that continue to be systematically marginalized. Academic advising is not immune to participation in this marginalization, even if unknowingly. How might academic advisors not only mitigate bias in their work with underrepresented students, but also nurture the NACADA Core Value of inclusivity by showing respect and value for diverse populations (NACADA, 2017)? Strengths-based advising, which is based upon the strengths perspective in social work, offers an opportunity to minimize bias and maximize inclusivity while recognizing the resilience and often overlooked talents of underrepresented students.

Strengths-based advising emerged as an advising approach in the early 21st century (Schreiner & Anderson, 2005). This approach draws heavily from the strengths perspective in social work, which was codified in the late 1980s. The strengths perspective in social work served as a hopeful antidote to the long-entrenched deficit or problem-solving model utilized by most helping professions (Weick et al., 1989). Saleebey, one of the original authors of the strengths perspective in social work, developed the perspective in response to what he saw as the “big business” of victimhood, which describes how the helping professions profit from pathologizing already-marginalized communities (Saleebey, 1996, p. 297). The strengths perspective offered a new lens through which to see the populations that social workers serve. Rather than focusing on the deficits of clients and communities, the strengths perspective challenged social workers to see those they served in terms of their “capacities, talents, competencies, possibilities, visions, values, and hopes” (Saleebey, 1996, p. 297).

In what similar ways has higher education profited from a deficit-oriented model of students? Most often students from marginalized backgrounds are identified by universities as lacking the necessary skills and knowledge needed to be successful in college. Institutions of higher education send implicit messages about these perceived shortcomings when they require students to participate in extra programs, interventions, and assessments. While these programs exist with the important goal of equity in mind, they risk emphasizing what marginalized students lack rather than the gifts, skills, knowledge, and talents they already have that can become the foundation for their success in college. Academic advisors, at least within their realm of influence, can foster equity by using a strengths-based approach with the most vulnerable of students.

How can advisors advise towards social justice by using a strengths-based approach in their work with underrepresented students? First, the strengths-based advisor must believe that students can build upon strengths they already possess within themselves and their environments to achieve their goals. Regardless of where the student comes from (e.g., a low-income neighborhood) or the skills or knowledge the student is perceived to lack (e.g., collegiate-level writing skills), the strengths-based advisor believes that the student has talent and values worth recognition. For example, a student from a marginalized community may have more family responsibilities than their well-resourced peers. The student shares with the advisor that it has been difficult to balance school and family needs at the same time. The deficit-oriented advisor might advise the student to “put yourself first” and avoid distractions from family. While well-meaning, such advice merely attempts to fix the problem while also showing preference towards white middle-class values of independence and autonomy. At its worst, this advice could create a serious ethical dilemma within the student about how to proceed in what has been framed as a zero-sum game: choose family or choose school. The strengths-based advisor, on the other hand, recognizes the value the student places on family and frames that value as a strength. Valuing family can be a strength in that it signifies the student values loyalty, relationships, and community. It may also signal that the student cares about the welfare of those closest to them and maybe even exudes a level of maturity beyond their age in the responsibilities they assume for those they love. After the advisor points out this strength the student may experience a level of trust with their advisor because they feel as though the advisor gets it. This is the building block from which to explore opportunities and solutions that the student and advisor brainstorm collaboratively and that transcend the either/or paradigm.

Second, the strengths-based advisor is self-aware. Self-awareness may be the most important element of strengths-based advising with marginalized populations. The self-aware strengths-based advisor recognizes their bias toward certain skills, values, and talents due to their own upbringing, life experiences, politics, and culture. This is particularly important for academic advisors whose most salient identities reflect historically privileged groups (e.g., white, straight, upper-middle class) because they risk perpetuating the marginalization of the values and talents of underrepresented students. For example, an advisor might recognize in themselves that they have a particular value towards hard work that was instilled in them by their family. They find themselves heaping praise on advisees they perceive to be hard workers and have little difficulty identifying that strength when they see it. That same advisor may find that they regularly feel frustrated by students who tinker, daydream, or doodle, so to speak. It is much more difficult for the advisor in this example to see these seemingly aimless distractions as the basis of strengths: creativity and visioning. Without self-awareness, the strengths-based advisor cannot equitably exercise their strengths-identifying skills and risks overlooking the talents, knowledge, and gifts that each student brings to the table. To advise towards social justice, the strengths-based advisor must cultivate self-awareness of their own values, talents, and hopes and reflect honestly—ideally in a supportive supervisory and/or collegial setting—about the values and skills which are of less value to them and why.

Self-awareness is the foundation for the third skill of the strengths-based advisor advising towards social justice: drawing out and identifying non-traditional, undervalued, or even negatively stereotyped talents and values of students from marginalized populations. This can be a truly challenging task. Advisors and students have experienced messaging their entire lives that includes negative stereotypes about marginalized groups. Some of those stereotypes have been entrenched for centuries. Additionally, some underrepresented students have internalized those messages as true and others have rejected them, while many oscillate between the two at any given time. While it may be challenging for advisors to assess where students are in their critical conscientiousness (Freire, 2000) and, if appropriate, attempt to reframe negative cultural messaging over the course of an advising relationship, the effort is worth the potential gains.

The strengths-based advisor, by striving for social justice, can at least create cracks in that messaging by suggesting that maligned values may be strengths. Schreiner (n.d.) gives excellent guidance for facilitating this challenging but worthy task by suggesting that strengths-based advisors ask the following questions: “What have you sometimes been teased about or even criticized for? How could this be a ‘shadow side’ of something that is actually a strength in you that helps you achieve excellence?” In a trusting advising relationship, the advisor may even be able to identify a strength they notice in their advisee that the advisee speaks about negatively. For example, many female-identifying students interested in social work as their major express a worry that they will “care too much” and therefore be ineffective as a social worker. This is a great opportunity for the advisor to ask why caring too much is a bad thing. Examples of reflective questions that could help to reframe the traditionally female trait of caring as a strength might include: “What does it look like to care too much? What was your experience of expressing emotion growing up and how does that connect to what you think is appropriate for a social worker? Is it possible that caring too much could actually be a talent of yours? How could you harness caring too much as a strength if you were a social worker?”

Last, one of the most common misconceptions of strengths perspective is that a strengths-based practitioner ignores what is going wrong. This is not true at all. In fact, the most powerful application of the strengths perspective is when deficits are presented and the advisor helps the advisee to recognize skills and knowledge, such as resilience, that have helped the student to overcome those deficits in the past. In work with students from marginalized backgrounds, this could be a powerful exercise in validating and re-framing adversity.

Is strengths-based advising towards social justice a magical panacea for eliminating bias and creating equality for all students? No. But it does re-orient an advisor’s perspective to what their advisee is capable of rather than where they are failing. If advisors are to “honor the inherent value of all students” as outlined in the profession’s core values (NACADA, 2017), strengths-based advising, especially with underrepresented students, is one effective way advisors can minimize bias and create positive social change.


The author dedicates this article to Dr. William Patrick Sullivan, one of the founding authors of the strengths perspective in social work.

Colleen Rose, MSW, LSW
Student Services Coordinator and Recruitment Specialist
School of Social Work
Indiana University Bloomington


Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Routledge.

Krogstad, J. M., & Fry, R. (2014, April 24). More Hispanics, blacks enrolling in college, but lag in bachelor’s degrees. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/24/more-hispanics-blacks-enrolling-in-college-but-lag-in-bachelors-degrees/

Lopez, M. H., & Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2014, March 6). Women’s college enrollment gains leave men behind. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/06/womens-college-enrollment-gains-leave-men-behind/

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

National Center for Education Statistics. (2017, July). Table 302.30. Percentage of recent high school completers enrolled in college, by income level: 1975 through 2016. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_302.30.asp?current=yes

Saleebey, D. (1996). The strengths perspective in social work practice: Extensions and cautions. Social Work41(3), 296–305. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23718172

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

Schreiner, L. A. (n.d.). Questions for each phase of strengths-based advising. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/NACADA-Companion-Resources/Academic-Advising-Approaches/Strengths-Based-Advising.aspx

Weick, A., Rapp, C., Sullivan, W.P., Kisthardt, W. (1989). A strengths perspective for social work practice. Social Work, 34(4), 350–354. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/34.4.350

Using Advising to Make the Case for Tenure and Promotion

Kalani M. Palmer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Kalani Palmer.jpgIn higher education, the tenure and promotion process involve a review of teaching, scholarship, and service. Faculty at a research institution are heavily assessed on scholarship, while faculty at a teaching institution may have greater expectations placed on teaching and service (Green, 2008). It is important to note that while faculty at teaching institutions may have a greater expectation regarding teaching and service, scholarship remains a focus in the tenure process for all faculty regardless of institution type (Bowden, 2007; Green, 2008; Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017; Youn & Price, 2009). Teaching is typically evaluated based on student feedback after completing a course, peer observation, and a review of syllabi or assignments. Service is often demonstrated by serving on committees at the institution, on a state committee or organization board of directors, and through volunteering with professional associations, reviewing manuscripts, editorship, or reviewing grants. Scholarship is often focused on peer reviewed publications and external funding awards (Bowden, 2007; Green, 2008). Despite the focus on scholarship in the review process, lower ranked faculty spend a great deal of time on teaching, service, and advising (O’Meara et al., 2017; Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017). This may be especially true for faculty that identify as a person from an underrepresented or marginalized group (Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017). Moreover, advising performance is not typically part of the tenure and promotion review process (Green, 2008). For faculty that advise, advising is a time intensive job duty but not assessed in this vital review process. Quality advising is vital work that leads to retention, persistence, and graduation (Donaldson et al., 2016; Ryan & Glenn, 2003); for faculty that engage in quality advising, ignoring this work in the tenure and promotion process is an injustice.

Advising as Part of the Case for Tenure and Promotion

If higher education administrative leaders want to best serve students, faculty need to be held accountable for advising practices. Advising done well requires personalization and relationship building, as well as knowledge of policies, procedures, career opportunities, and the skills needed for the field (Barker & Mamiseishvili, 2014; Crocker et al., 2014). Essentially high quality advising requires time. Faculty that put in the effort should highlight the work. Encouraging and advocating for faculty to highlight their advising work may help normalize the inclusion of advising efforts in tenure and promotion materials. For many faculty, this may amplify their scholarship of application and/or advising.

Table 1

Dimensions and Evidence of Effective Advising in Tenure and Promotion Application



Example or Evidence

Student outcomes and feedback

Advisee achievements and student perceptions of advisors

Unprompted student emails, images of messages in cards, course evaluations, anonymous survey responses, student awards/scholarships, # of students admitted to graduate school, # of students employed after graduation, retention rates, persistence rates, graduation rates

Peer feedback and recognition

Colleagues’ and professional organizations’ perceptions of your advising work

Peer observation, department committee or peer letter, college/university awards, regional awards, national awards

Effective management

The number of advisees and the amount of work related to advising managed

Caseload, # of recommendations/references, frequency of advising meetings, length of meetings

Scholarship of discovery

Contributions to knowledge development in advising

Peer reviewed article, internal and external research grant funding

Scholarship of integration

Investigating existing literature or research, making connections, and synthesizing information

Peer reviewed literature review, white paper, non-academic outlet publication

Scholarship of application

Application of research through program design, policy changes, collaboration, and/or developing/leading professional development

Training flier, attendee feedback, program funding, program theory of change, program logic model, needs assessment, evaluation report, letter from collaborators (e.g., student affairs staff), screenshots of program website or events

Scholarship of advising

Implementation of best practices, evidence-based practices, formative assessment, self-reflection, and ongoing continuous improvement

Advising syllabus, advising philosophy, screenshots of learning management system (LMS) for advisees, screenshots of advisor emails, questionnaires, forms or exercises created, certificate for training attended



  • Student performance and feedback: Student performance is not caused by advisor actions or advisor-advisee relationships, but student performance is influenced by advisors (Young-Jones et al., 2013). Including information on student performance or student perceptions of faculty advisor performance helps illustrate the impact of quality advising.
  • Peer feedback and recognition: Peers and professional associations can also assist in validating the quality of work performed by a faculty advisor. Peer observations, awards, and letters attesting to work that the faculty member has conducted in relation to advising corroborates statements made in the tenure and promotion application.  
  • Effective management: Effectively managing the workload, which includes work that is often ignored, is challenging. Using data such as the number of students advised each semester, the average amount of time spent with each student, and/or the number of recommendation letters or references provided helps illustrate a full and complete picture of the skill level and effectiveness of the faculty member.
  • Scholarship: Lastly, scholarly efforts may aid in exemplifying the quality of work performed by a faculty advisor.

Boyer (1990) attempted to diversify the demonstration of scholarly activities and opened the discussion for higher education to be more inclusive in the tenure and promotion review process. Boyer (1990) outlined four types of scholarship: discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Troxel (2018) discusses the scholarship of advising, which is like the scholarship of teaching. The scholarship of advising or teaching is when a faculty member demonstrates excellence in practice.

Scholarly activities include:

  • Scholarship of discovery: Faculty advisors can engage in knowledge discovery and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field (Troxel, 2018). Advising research performed by faculty advisors might focus on advising in their specific discipline or with certain populations (e.g., international, first generation, undergraduate-level, graduate-level) that they frequently encounter. Engaging in advising research will inform and enhance the professional practice of the faculty advisor while also increasing the professional community’s understanding of faculty advising in higher education (He & Hutson, 2017). Unfortunately, faculty engaged in the scholarship of discovery in their specific discipline often find burdensome the pursuit of a secondary research agenda in academic advising (Bowden, 2007).
  • Scholarship of integration: For this reason, the scholarship of integration or application may be more appealing. Faculty advisors that read and consume advising research may find a need or desire to investigate existing literature across disciplines. This investigation can produce meta-analyses or literature reviews that highlight recommendations or findings with implications for practice and future research.
  • Scholarship of application: When faculty advisors design programs, offer training, as well as recommend and implement policies that improve practice, they demonstrate the scholarship of application. The scholarship of application is undervalued in higher education, but can improve outcomes (Bowden, 2007).
  • Scholarship of advising: Finally, faculty advisors engaged in the scholarship of advising implement evidence-based practices, utilize current research, monitor their practice, and adjust based on formative feedback.

Scholarly work can be performed in a variety of ways, and when discussing advising in tenure and promotion, faculty should be encouraged to select the scholarly work that best represents their efforts.


The work is being done; faculty are advising. The absence of advising in the tenure and promotion review process signals that the work is devalued. The dimensions of advising noted can support the case for tenure and promotion. Dedicating a small portion of time and space to advising in tenure and promotion materials accurately articulates faculty contributions while affirming the significance and value of faculty advising.

Kalani M. Palmer
Associate Professor
Department of Professional Studies in Education/ College of Education and Communications
Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Barker, S., & Mamiseishvili, K. (2014). Reconnecting: A phenomenological study of transition within a shared model of academic advising. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(4), 433–445. https://doi.org/10.1515/jsarp-2014-0043

Bowden, R. (2007). Scholarship reconsidered: Reconsidered. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 1–21.

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton University Press.

Crocker, R. M., Kahla, M., & Allen, C. (2014). Fixing advising: A model for faculty advising. Research in Higher Education Journal26, 1–9.

Donaldson, P., McKinney, L., Lee, M. & Pino, D. (2016). First-year community college students’ perceptions of attitudes toward intrusive academic advising. NACADA Journal, 36(1), 30-42.

Green, R. G. (2008). Tenure and promotion decisions: The relative importance of teaching, scholarship, and service. Journal of Social Work Education44(2), 117–128. https://doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2008.200700003

He, Y., & Hutson, B. (2017). Assessment for faculty advising: Beyond the service component. NACADA Journal37(2), 66–75. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-16-028

O’Meara, K., Kuvaeva, A., Nyunt, G., Waugaman, C., & Jackson, R. (2017). Asked more often: Gender differences in faculty workload in research universities and the work interactions that shape them. American Educational Research Journal54(6), 1154–1186. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831217716767

Ryan, M.P. & Glenn, P. (2003). Increasing one-year retention rates by focusing on academic competence: An empirical odyssey. Journal of College Student Retention, 4(3), 297-324.

Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group. (2017). The burden of invisible work in academia: Social inequalities and time use in five university departments. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations39(39), 228–245. https://digitalcommons.humboldt.edu/hjsr/vol1/iss39/21/

Troxel, W. G. (2018). Scholarly advising and the scholarship of advising. New Directions for Higher Education2018(184), 21–31. https://doi.org/10.1002/he.20300

Youn, T. I., & Price, T. M. (2009). Learning from the experience of others: The evolution of faculty tenure and promotion rules in comprehensive institutions. The Journal of Higher Education80(2), 204–237. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2009.11772139

Young‐Jones, A. D., Burt, T. D., Dixon, S., & Hawthorne, M. J. (2013). Academic advising: Does it really impact student success? Quality Assurance in Education, 21(1), 7–19. https://doi.org/ 10.1108/09684881311293034

Sleep for Student Success: Suggestions for Academic Advising

Anna Traykova, Georgia Institute of Technology

Anna Traykova.jpgOne of my most memorable academic advising appointments during my first semester as an academic advisor was with Bobby (pseudonym). Bobby‘s grades weren’t great, and he shared with me he had a hard time focusing in class and a hard time learning and remembering what he had studied. He specifically noted he had no learning differences or disabilities and had been very successful in high school. Bobby wanted to talk about study skills and strategies that can help him, and we did. Towards the end of the conversation, my Eureka! moment happened. The topic had changed, and we were talking about the need for him to reach out to the Veterans Administration, at which point he said he needed to talk to them anyway, because he had sleep apnea and needed a new CPAP machine, as his current one had a problem, and he hadn’t been using it for a while. This was my light bulb moment—without a CPAP machine, he wasn’t getting deep, restful sleep, so his brain could not really integrate his new knowledge in his long-term memory and his cognitive skills were impacted. There is a history of sleep apnea in my family, so I know about this condition and its effect on sleep quality, mental capacity, and overall health. Bobby could and did dramatically improve his academic success by addressing only one issue—and it wasn’t study skills. The issue was poor-quality sleep.

The American College Health Association (ACHA) identifies poor sleep as one of its top health concerns for students and had better sleep as one of five key benchmarks for its 2020 Healthy Campus campaign (ACHA, n.d.).  ACHA surveys show that over half of US college students want to learn more about sleep from their universities, yet only a quarter report hearing anything about sleep from their schools (Hartmann & Prichard, 2014). 

The science on sleep is clear: poor sleep decreases mental capacity and compromises mental and physical health. In order for students to learn, and for any individual to thrive and enjoy clear mental focus, robust productivity, motivation, and general wellbeing, sufficient high-quality sleep is of paramount importance (Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, 2008; NHS, 2018; Walker, 2018). In view of that, statistics on student sleep in the United States are worrisome. Lack of quality sleep is associated with increased drop-out rates for freshman students and lower grades (Hartmann & Prichard, 2014). Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, studies showed that students get less than seven hours of sleep on 46.2% of nights (Kamenetz, 2019). Over 60% of students in a large survey were categorized as poor-quality sleepers and tension and stress were cited as chief culprits (Lund et al., 2010). 20% of students in the ACHA survey report being unable to sleep due to stress about life and school, and 12% report falling asleep in class or missing class due to oversleeping (Hartmann & Prichard, 2014). With recent reports on increased anxiety and depression rates associated with the COVID-19 pandemic (Huckins et al., 2020), the numbers above are anachronistic, yet clearly indicative of a dire situation that begs two questions:

  1. What can students (and advisors!) do to get better sleep?
  2. What can advisors do to help students? 

What Can Students (and Advisors!) do to get Better Sleep?

Sleep experts agree that prevention is key and worth a pound of cure: i.e., people should be proactive about ensuring sleep quality even if not experiencing any issues. Their advice on how to attain quality sleep is to be conscientious about sleep schedule, nutrition, physical activity, light exposure, sleep environment, sleep-related routines, and stress management (Epstein & Mardon, 2007; National Heart and Blood Institute, 2011; Walker, 2018). Here is a summary of best practices to keep in mind:

It is recommended that people maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoiding the “social jet lag” caused by varying the time one goes to bed and wakes up during the week and the weekend. It is best if this schedule is matched well with a person’s chronotype (lark, bear, owl) and individual sleep need, so that a person can wake up well-rested after between 7–9 hours of sleep without using an alarm clock. (Very few people have won the genetic lottery and can do well on less than 7 hours of sleep.) Sleep scientists note that sleep is not something we can catch up with on the weekend. In case one is short on sleep during the night, experts advocate for taking an intelligent nap during the day of lost sleep. An intelligent nap is one that is no longer than 20 minutes and is taken at least 5 hours before an individual’s typical bedtime.

Unsurprisingly, nutrition and physical activity impact sleep and following general healthy nutrition and exercise guidelines is important for good sleep. Timing is essential. Regarding mealtimes, not too much food or too soon before bedtime is the recommended strategy. People are encouraged to allow at least three hours for food to digest before going to bed and to avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, THC, among other substances that interfere with sleep quality, especially after 5pm. While many will point out that a glass of wine or a little bit of cannabis helps you fall asleep, both alcohol and THC compromise sleep quality so that the brain and body do not get the full benefits of deep, restful sleep (Walker, 2018).

Regular physical activity also contributes to sleep quality. However, as exercise ramps up metabolism and thus keeps a person awake, it is important not to exercise too close to bedtime. The flip side of this is that if one feels sleepy and tired, doing some quick high-intensity exercises or climbing some stairs can boost alertness (Morales, 2017).

Wakefulness, alertness, and circadian rhythms are profoundly influenced by light. Mimicking nature in manmade environments is seen as key to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. This means assuring adequate exposure to natural daylight or full-sprectrum artificial cool white light during the day and switching to dimmer, warmer, amber light after sunset—think of mimicking candlelight. Utilizing light bulbs with light temperature of about 2000 Kelvin (amber light) and switching all light-emitting screen technology to night-time mode close to bedtime are simple and effective strategies to that effect.  Ensuring maximum darkness at night is another equally important sleep hygiene component (Epstein & Mardon, 2007; National Heart and Blood Institute, 2011; Walker, 2018).

Light is just one of the aspects of the sleep environment. As all sensory input has the capacity to affect sleep, sleep experts recommend designing a sleep environment considering its effect on all senses, i.e. the impact of noise, fragrances, temperature, body comfort, etc. There are variations in individual preferences and needs, but for most people feeling hot, hearing startling or unpleasant noises, smelling invigorating or noxious smells, etc. are not conducive to quality sleep.

Wake-up routines can also make a big difference. The general consensus is that it is best to wake up without an alarm clock or before the alarm sounds. First, this is a sign that a person has had enough sleep, provided they are not waking up because of another issue, such as pain, discomfort, etc. Second, waking up to the sound of an alarm inflicts unnecessary stress—blood pressure and heart rate rise, adrenaline is released in the blood stream. If one uses the snooze button, the stress is multiplied by the number of times the alarm is snoozed (Walker, 2018).

Stress can be sleep’s worst enemy, thus effective stress management is essential. Learning how to calm down our nervous system to counteract the effects of stress is of key importance. The good news is there are plenty of resources and straightforward strategies to do so (Davis et al., 2019).

What Can Advisors and Advising Administrators do to Help Students?

Advisors and advising administrators can address the issue of sleep for student success at various levels—individual, group, institutional. Different institutional environments may call for different approaches. The following paragraphs offer some suggestions to build upon.

Talking about sleep can be a routine part of advising interactions with students. There are different ways to bring it up in the conversation. For example, rather than ask a generic question such as “How are you?” to which more often than not one gets a generic answer, an advisor can ask questions like “how did you sleep last night?” as a conversation starter and later on briefly share why they want to know. If a student uses words such as tired, exhausted, or overwhelmed when discussing how things are going, probing further and taking the time to discuss sleep and wellness as factors for academic success is unquestionably warranted.

Advisors often have conversations about time management and planning with students. Making sleep a prominent point of discussion, together with time to relax and socialize, time to be physically active— time for all the activities associated with maintaining wellness—sends an important message to students. An extra sentence saying why the advisor would like to focus on these before discussing time to study, attend classes, work, etc. may be all it takes to make a difference. Following up with an email with a helpful link or two on the topic can reinforce the message. If students are provided with a time-management template sheet, making it a 24-hour template, rather than a daytime template, prompts them to consider sleep as part of their time management.

Advisors also often need to address effective study skills with students—be it in one-on-one conversations, in workshops, first year seminars, orientation sessions, or through articles and resources for web pages, social media, etc. Neglecting to highlight the relationship between sleep quality and quantity and the brain’s capacity to learn and remember in this context is inexcusable. Making students aware of this relationship is good; providing resources on how to attain the needed sleep to those who need them is even better.

If one’s institution does not already have sleep resources and information available online, the good news is there is plenty of it available on the internet. Particular groups of students may respond particularly well to a specific resource, depending on their emotional associations, personal aspirations or other factors. Brand-name recognition can be a factor, thus referring students to resources from the Harvard Sleep & Health Education Gateway may be more effective than referring students to an article in a local lifestyle publication. A student athlete might feel inspired by Shaquille O’Neal discussing sleep apnea and the importance of sleep in a video produced by the Sleep Matters initiative at Brigham and Women’s Hospital while a computing student may respond better to Dr. Matthew Walker’s lectures from the Talks at Google series available on YouTube.

Student success workshops, first-year seminar classes, new student orientation programming, web pages and newsletters are all excellent venues for educating students about the importance of sleep for their student success. A good example of an exciting initiative is Harvard University’s Sleep 101 interactive online module that first-year students are required to complete before bedtime on move-in day (Baglione, 2018).

The research is unequivocal: sound sleep is an important factor for student success (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010; Trockel et al., 2000) and thus any comprehensive strategy to support student success has to address the pandemic of sleeplessness in college. Various college environment factors can play a role in creating a college experience that supports or undermines sleep. Advisors and advising administrators are often part of various committees, working groups, and forums where they can advocate for creating an environment conducive to wellness for their students and ask questions. Are dorms quiet? Are lights in the dorms dimmable? Can students easily lower the temperature at night? What time does noisy grass mowing and leaf blowing on campus start in the morning? Are dorms equipped with light-blocking blinds and/or curtains? Do commuting students have a place to take a nap during the day? Do dining service hours vary on weekends? Do vending machines on campus sell energy drinks that disrupt sleep? Do health and wellness questionnaires, roommate-pairing questionnaires, or advising intake forms include questions about sleep and sleep preferences? Do disability services offer accommodations for sleep disorders? Do tutoring and study hours run until too late? Do professors routinely set submission deadlines for midnight or for 8am in the morning, rather than an 8pm deadline? Do faculty and advisors get trained on the importance of sleep for student success? Questions like these can be formalized into a systematic environmental sleep scan (Broek et al., 2014) to evaluate how sleep-friendly higher education institutions are and inform meaningful action plans.

As students’ academic success (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010; Trockel et al., 2000) and overall health and well-being are affected by the quantity and quality of sleep they get, academic advising and student success professionals simply can’t afford to ignore the problem of sleep—it can be the solution for so many struggling students.

Anna Traykova
Academic Advisor II
School of City and Regional Planning
College of Design
Georgia Institute of Technology


ACHA: American College Health Association. (n.d.). Healthy campus: Promoting healthy campuses for over 30 years. https://www.acha.org/HealthyCampus

Baglione, J. (2018, August 24). Countering college’s culture of sleeplessness. The Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/08/sleep-101-aims-to-counter-college-culture-of-sleeplessness/

Broek, L., Cunningham, B., Kelly, C., Kielblock, C., & Prichard, J. R. (2014). Is your campus sleep-friendly? A pilot environmental sleep scan for residential colleges [Handout]. American College Health Association annual meeting, San Antonio, Texas. https://www.acha.org/documents/Programs_Services/webhandouts_2014/FR2-168-Prichard_R.pdf

Davis, M., Mckay, M., & Robbins Eshelman, E. (2019). The relaxation and stress reduction workbook. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Epstein, L., & Mardon, S. (2007). The Harvard Medical School guide to a good night’s sleep. Mcgraw-Hill.

Gilbert, S. P., & Weaver, C. C. (2010). Sleep quality and academic performance in university students: A wake-up call for college psychologists. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 24(4), 295–306. https://doi.org/10.1080/87568225.2010.509245

Hartmann, M., & Prichard, J. R. (2014, December 8). Sleepless in school: Professors examine the price we pay for poor sleep. https://news.stthomas.edu/sleepless-school-professors-examine-price-pay-poor-sleep/

Huckins, J. F., DaSilva, A. W., Wang, W., Hedlund, E., Rogers, C., Nepal, S. K., Wu, J., Obuchi, M., Murphy, E. I., Meyer, M. L., Wagner, D. D., Holtzheimer, P. E., & Campbell, A. T. (2020). Mental health and behavior during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic: A longitudinal mobile smartphone and ecological momentary assessment study in college students (Preprint). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(6). https://doi.org/10.2196/20185

Kamenetz, A. (2019, May 2). How college students are sleeping ... Or not. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/05/02/475581810/how-college-students-are-sleeping-or-not

Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Prichard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(2), 124–132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.06.016

Morales, K. (2017, December 12). Skip the caffeine, opt for the stairs to feel more energized. UGA Today. https://news.uga.edu/stairs-more-energy-research/

National Heart and Blood Institute. (2011). Your guide to healthy sleep. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

NHS: National Health Service. (2018, May 30). Sleep and tiredness. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/

Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine. (2008, January 16). Sleep and health. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health

Harvard Sleep & Health Education Gateway. https://sleep.hms.harvard.edu/education-training/public-education/sleep-and-health-education-program/sleep-health-education

Sleep Matters Initiative at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Video. https://www.brighamandwomens.org/initiatives/sleep-matters/sleep-education

Trockel, M. T., Barnes, M. D., & Egget, D. L. (2000). Health-related variables and academic performance among first-year college students: Implications for sleep and other behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 49(3), 125–131. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448480009596294

Walker, M. P. (2018). Why we sleep: The new science of sleep and dreams. Penguin Books.

Walker, M. (2019). Why sleep matters. Talks at Google. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1yGw_hfEfk

Advising Student Veterans: The Role of Advisors in Fostering Success

Monteigne S. Long, Texas A&M University

Monteigne Long.jpgStudent veterans have been an integral part of college campuses since the passage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the G.I. Bill. Higher education saw a resurgence of student veterans following the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, or the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the most significant investment in veterans’ education since the original G.I. Bill (McCready, 2010). Student veterans have always been non-traditional students due to their age and experiences, as well as being more likely to be married, have children, and be employed (Olsen et al., 2014). Student veterans face unique challenges compared to their traditional counterparts (Kirchner, 2015), but they also bring myriad strengths to the college campus. The need for veteran-specific advising is considerable given the number of student veterans who have entered higher education in the past decade (Miller, 2015). Student veterans have different needs regarding their academic advising. They may require specially designed services related to several critical areas including pre-enrollment advising, financial aid, academic support, and graduate and professional school (Molina & Ang, 2017). This article aims to provide advisors with the following: (1) an overview of student veterans and their transition to higher education; (2) a theory to guide practice in advising; and (3) practical implications and best practices for advising student veterans.

Student Veteran Transition Experiences in Higher Education

The profile of student veterans has not changed dramatically since the first veterans entered higher education following World War II. Student veterans account for only 3–4% of college students in the United States (Kelley et al., 2013) but are a very diverse student population. Student veterans are non-traditional based on their age alone, as most veterans enrolled in higher education are between the ages of 24 and 40 (The Postsecondary National Policy Institute [PNPI], 2020), with only 15% of student veterans being traditionally aged 18 to 23 years old (PNPI, 2020). Student veterans are more likely to be married, parents, and first-generation college students (PNPI, 2020). They also have diverse experiences from their time in the military and real-world work experience. Student Veterans of America (2017) calls the current generation of student veterans “a valuable asset to higher education,” with today’s student veterans pursuing rigorous degrees in business, STEM, and health professions. Student veterans, overall, have a 72% success rate in college (Student Veterans of America, 2014). Since 2009, student veterans have earned over 450,000 post-secondary degrees or certificates using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill (Student Veterans of America, 2017).

In addition to their academic success, student veterans bring numerous strengths to the campus and classroom. They possess maturity, discipline, work ethic, and leadership skills learned in the military. They are also focused on achievement and success and are mission oriented. Furthermore, with the U.S. military being such a diverse organization (Barroso, 2019), student veterans are comfortable with the rich diversity on a college campus. Despite the inherent values gained through military service, student veterans also face challenges associated with the military-to-academic transition (Dillard & Yu, 2016).

Veterans may face some of the same barriers to higher education as their traditional peers, such as the need for remediation, financial issues, and the challenges of balancing academics with other aspects of life (Jenner, 2017). However, student veterans also face unique barriers, including mental health issues, lack of information about veteran education benefits (such as the G.I. Bill), and the additional challenge of transitioning from military to civilian life (Jenner, 2017). Ryan et al. (2011) share that colleges and universities must be properly prepared to assist student veterans as they transition into and matriculate through higher education. Academic advisors play a critical role in that they will likely have increased contact with student veterans compared to other institutional representatives. Schlossberg’s transition theory has been applied numerous times to the student veteran transition and can help advisors connect student veterans within the framework of the 4 Ss of the model. Additionally, applying the Schlossberg model to student veterans highlights the unique features of the student veteran transition, along with aspects of general life transitions (Ryan et al., 2011).

Schlossberg’s Transition Theory

Schlossberg and her collaborators provided a framework for understanding adults in transition that focused on the significant transitional issues individuals face (DiRamio et al., 2008). Schlossberg’s model has been used numerous times to explain the transition veterans make as they exit military service and enter civilian life. This model also applies to student veterans as they separate from the military and enter higher education, as this is a significant life transition where the military provided a highly structured environment compared to higher education with its lack of clear rules and chains of command (Griffin & Gilbert, 2015). Ackerman, DiRamio, and Garza Mitchell (2009) found that starting college was the most challenging transition experience out of the military for student veterans. Personnel, policies, resources, and programs are needed for this specific student population.

According to the transition framework developed by Schlossberg and her colleagues, multiple forces influence an individual’s ability to manage transition (Griffin & Gilbert, 2015). A transition can be defined as any event or nonevent that results in change, impacting relationships, routines, assumptions, and roles (Anderson & Goodman, 2014).

The first piece of the framework includes understanding where students are in their transitions—are they moving in, moving through, or moving out of the transition (Killam & Degges-White, 2017). It is also helpful to understand the nature or type of the transition when working with students. Transitions can be described as anticipated, unanticipated, or nonevents. The 4 S system for coping with transitions is designed to help understand the process of transition (Killam & Degges-White, 2017; Schlossberg, 2011) and consists of four domains:

  1. Situation: the situation at the time of the transition
  2. Support: the people and assets that strengthen and encourage the student
  3. Self: the student’s identity, their level of optimism, and dealing with ambiguity
  4. Strategies: ways and functions of coping

By employing the Schlossberg model in advising, students can achieve personal and academic successes by having a greater sense of control about making academic transitions; developing motivation, identity, and academic skills; creating support networks; and implementing effective coping strategies (Ryan et al., 2011).

Veteran-Specific Advising Principles

Academic and career advising are key to helping student veterans overcome barriers they may face in their transition from military to civilian/student life. Advising and a positive relationship with an advisor may even lend support to students who are struggling with barriers such as academic difficulties and uncertainty about education plans or career paths. Colleges and universities can support the success of student veterans by having robust advising services tailored to their specific needs and being responsive to the concerns of this student population (Sherman & Cahill, 2015). This could be a designated advisor in each department who is knowledgeable about the unique needs of student veterans and serves as the liaison to the community.

In addition to providing more general support practices, higher education institutions must also provide support in several critical areas for student veterans: pre-enrollment advising, financial aid, academic support, and post-baccalaureate degree advising (Molina & Ang, 2017). An exclusive veteran seminar course is one way to support student veterans holistically in these critical areas. During the semester, pre-enrollment advising is offered by an academic advisor; financial aid advisors discuss veteran education benefits and the FAFSA; academic coaches offer support on topics such as time management; and graduate school admissions advisors provide perspective on the application process. The unique strengths and challenges of student veterans can be addressed through a network of advising in which students, advisors, administrators, and faculty work collaboratively to support the student through their transition to, through, and beyond higher education. Advisors cannot be expected to develop expertise in every area a student veteran may face a barrier; however, forging relationships with other institutional departments will positively position the advisor to support student veterans (Sherman & Cahill, 2015).


Advisors play a key role in the success of student veterans as they transition to higher education. The support provided to student veterans during their time at the institution is critical to their academic and personal success. Advisors must understand student veterans and their transitions as they separate from military service, re-enter civilian life, and become college students. It is also imperative that advisors comprehend the strengths of student veterans and the barriers they may face in higher education. A familiarity with Schlossberg’s Transition Theory provides a framework for supporting student veterans in their transition to, through, and beyond the higher education institution. As student veterans continue to seek out higher education opportunities, now is the time for advisors to arm themselves with the knowledge to support this student population for success.

Monteigne S. Long
Assistant Director
Office of Veteran and Military Services
Texas A&M University


Ackerman, R., DiRamio, D., & Garza Mitchell, R. L. (2009). Transitions: Combat veterans as college students. New Directions for Student Services, 126, 5–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.311

Anderson, M. L., & Goodman, J. (2014). From military to civilian life: Applications of Schlossberg’s model for veterans in transition. Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 30(3), 40–51.

Barroso, A. (2019). The changing profile of the U.S. military: Smaller in size, more diverse, more women in leadership. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/10/the-changing-profile-of-the-u-smilitary/#:~:text=In%202017%2C%2057%25%20of%20U.S.,grown%20steadily%20in%20recent%20decades

Dillard, R. J., & Yu, H. H. (2016). Best practices in student veteran education: Making a “veteran-friendly” institution. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 64(3), 181–186.

DiRamio, D., Ackerman, R., & Mitchell, R. L. (2008). From combat to campus: Voices of student-veterans. NASPA Journal, 45(1), 73–102. https://doi.org/10.2202/1949-6605.1908

Griffin, K. A., & Gilbert, C. K. (2015). Better transitions for troops: An application of Schlossberg’s transition framework to analyses of barriers and institutional support structures for student veterans. The Journal of Higher Education, 86(1), 71–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2015.11777357

Jenner, B. M. (2017). Student veterans and the transition to higher education: Integrating existing literatures. Journal of Veteran Studies, 2(2), 26–44.

Kelley, B. C., Smith, J. M., & Fox, E. L. (2013). Preparing your campus for veterans’ success. Stylus.

Killam, W. K., & Degges-White, S. (2017). College student development: Applying theory to practice on the diverse campus. Springer Publishing Company.

Kirchner, M. J. (2015). Supporting student veteran transition to college and academic success. Adult Learning, 26(3), 116–123. https://doi.org/10.1177/1045159515583813

McCready, B. (2010, August 25). Supporting student veteran success: Institutional responses to the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the influx of student veterans. Wiscape Viewpoints. https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/46231/VPMcCreadyVeterans082510.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Miller, M. A. (2015). Academic advisors of military and student veterans: An ethnographic study. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 63(2), 98–108. https://doi.org/10.1080/07377363.2015.1042997

Molina, D., & Ang, T. (2017). Serving those who served: Promising institutional practices and America’s military veterans. In D. DiRamio (Ed.), What’s next for student veterans?: Moving from transition to academic success (pp. 79–91). National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition.

Olsen, T., Badger, K., & McCuddy, M. D. (2014). Understanding the student veterans’ college experience: An exploratory study. The United States Army Medical Department Journal, October-December, 101–108.

Ryan, S. W., Carlstrom, A. H., Hughey, K. F., Harris, B. S. (2011). From boots to books: Applying Schlossberg’s model to transitioning American veterans. NACADA Journal, 31(1), 55–63. https://doi.org/10.12930/0271-9517-31.1.55

Schlossberg, N. K. (2011). The challenge of change: The transition model and its applications. Journal of Employment Counseling, 48(4), 159–162. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1920.2011.tb01102.x

Sherman, A., & Cahill, C. (2015). Academic advising for student veterans. In J. E. Coll & E. L. Weiss (Eds.),

Supporting veterans in higher education: A primer for administrators, faculty, and advisors (pp. 178–198). Lyceum Books, Inc.

Student Veterans of America. (2014). National veteran education success tracker. https://nvest.studentveterans.org/

Student Veterans of America. (2017). Profile of the contemporary student veteran. https://nvest.studentveterans.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Profiles-of-a-Contemporary-Student-Veteran.pdf

The Postsecondary National Policy Institute. (2020). Factsheets: Veterans in higher education. https://pnpi.org/veterans-in-higher-education/

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Advising Gen Z Students in a Post-COVID Environment

Rich Robbins, Bucknell University

Rich Robbins.jpgI authored an article in 2020 discussing characteristics of Gen Z college students and considerations for academic advising of these students. That was pre-pandemic, before many colleges and universities swiftly pivoted to remote and hybrid teaching and learning environments. As many campuses return to in-person teaching and learning after two years of this pivoting, those same Gen Z characteristics persist. In many cases, they have intensified and evolved to include additional considerations for academic advising of this generation of students in the post-pandemic world of higher education.

In general, Gen Z students share diverse backgrounds and are civic and social justice minded, and at the same time experience high levels of anxiety and depression. They utilize some form of technologically the majority of the time, they tend to have short attention spans, and they are multitasking masters (Robbins, 2020). Sellingo (2020) distinguished between pre-Covid Gen Z students and post-Covid Gen Z students. Pre-Covid Gen Z students started college between 2013 and 2019 and had either graduated or were partway through their undergraduate career when Covid hit in 2000, while post-Covid Gen Z students were students in middle school and high school or had begun their first year of college just prior to the 2020 start of the pandemic. The focus here is on any of these students whose education or college plans were disrupted by the pandemic.

Post-Covid Psychosocial Considerations

According to Paz (2021), Covid shutdowns affected Gen Zers especially hard, with things like dating, making and sustaining friendships, and learning becoming more difficult than in the past. Gen Zers further reported feeling that they missed out on experiences and milestones that young people their age typically had. Nearly half of Gen Zers surveyed by the Associated Press-NORC (AP-NORC, 2021) reported that being happy and maintaining their mental health during the shutdowns were more difficult as well. One of the most cited reasons for their poor mental health was the lack of social connections in school and in extracurricular activities (Sellingo, 2020); this was true for middle school, high school, and college students during the past two years.

It is not all bad news, however. Perna (2021) reported that as a result of the pandemic, 85% of college students said they gained a new appreciation for the struggles of others, while Seemiller and Grace (2021) noted that Gen Zers remained at the forefront of advocating for social issues throughout the pandemic. In addition, while nearly half of Gen Z college students reported that the pandemic made their educational and professional goals harder to achieve (AP-NORC, 2021; Paz, 2021), many reported having opportunities to explore new hobbies, passions, and interests while meeting the demands of remote and hybrid courses. The survey by AP-NORC (2021) showed that 65% of Gen Z students consider education as very or extremely important to their identity. Perna (2021) reported that an increasing number (45%) of Gen Z students are considering entering a career in science and/or healthcare due to the pandemic.

Post-Covid Technological Considerations

While most Gen Zers are familiar with communicating through various means, face-to-face communication was the most preferred method of connecting with others prior to the pandemic (Seemiller & Grace, 2021). The capability to make human connections and read emotions remain primary reasons why they continue to prefer such communication—including via video—post-pandemic.

According to a survey by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK, 2020), when asked how their dependence on technology has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z college students reported being more dependent on streaming video (65%), Wi-Fi (63%), connected devices (63%), and social media (63%). Over 1/3 of those surveyed believed they will use streaming video (35%), Wi-Fi (35%), and social media (34%) even more post-pandemic than they did pre-pandemic.

Higher Ed Post-Covid Academic Considerations

Colleges and universities will need to help Gen Z students assimilate back into campus life following the loss of a year or more of an important stage of psychosocial and academic development to the coronavirus (Sellingo, 2020). Seemiller and Grace (2021) added that many students will desire to communicate and connect face-to-face with peers, faculty, and staff members even more than they did pre-pandemic, while also wanting to engage in social interactions not possible digitally. They will advocate for learning environments that include flexibility and stability, and interpersonal experiences and educational experiences that are inclusive. They will continue to focus on social justice issues and promote activities and experiences that allow both they and their institutions to make a positive difference in the lives of others (Seemiller & Grace, 2021). In short, Gen Zers will thrive in an educational environment where they can quickly shift between their digital and their in-person social connections, driven by interpersonal and social relationships while creating an impact on the world. This means that it will be critical for colleges and universities to design learning and engagement experiences that align with these motivations of Gen Z students.

Post-Covid Academic Advising Considerations

Pre-Covid, Seemiller and Grace (2016) identified four ways that campuses can engage Gen Z students: an increased use of technology in and out of the classroom, the incorporation of intrapersonal learning into class work and group work, the inclusion of community engagement opportunities in the curriculum, and connecting students to practical learning experiences starting earlier in a student’s college career. In my 2020 article, I suggested that academic advising processes needed to adapt to these Gen Z students’ optimal learning conditions while addressing the issues meaningful to them academically. This has not changed post-Covid.

Academic advisors must still be prepared for highly controversial topics of social justice, diversity and inclusivity, and others to emerge in advising interactions. Advisors will still require an awareness of learning and civic engagement opportunities for students in and out of the classroom (Robbins, 2020), and must continue to provide meaningful connections across courses and disciplines relevant to students’ academic and career goals (Egan, 2015). What has changed is the increased desire for personal connections while using both digital and in-person modes of communication. Advisors will accordingly need to utilize a combination of interaction venues. One-on-one personal meetings will still be desired and important, but long gone are the days of this advising delivery system being the only, or even primary, advising interaction. Advisors must meet Gen Z students where they are and adapt to their preferences rather than impose solely traditional advising processes on them—even those proven effective. Advisors experienced with distance advising and other digital forms of advising are ahead of the game, but an effective balance between digital and in-person processes is what Gen Z students want.

Further, given the increase in post-Covid mental health issues reported by Gen Z students, it is more important than ever for academic advisors to know when to refer students to mental health experts. Academic advisors have always played a key role in student success, but now more than ever advising will be one of the most crucial aspects of a Gen Z student’s higher education experience.


The pandemic experience has not changed the characteristics of Gen Z college students, but has intensified their need for both in-person and technological connections, their desire to connect personal and career interests with academics, their sense of civic responsibility and social justice, and (unfortunately) their increased need for mental health services. As with all aspects of a student’s higher education experience, academic advising is the “hub of the wheel” with linkages to all other support services on campus (Habley, 1994) and as such, advisors play a key role is supporting Gen Z students in more ways than most others in higher education realize.

Rich Robbins
Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences
Bucknell University


Egan, K. (2015). Academic advising in individualized major programs: Promoting the three i's of general education. The Journal of General Education, 64(2), 75–89. https://doi.org/10.5325/jgeneeduc.64.2.0075

Habley, W. R. (1994). Key concepts in academic advising. In Summer institute on academic advising session guide (p. 10). NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Paz, C. (2021, January 13). Gen Z is done with the pandemic. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/12/omicron-pandemic-fatigue-gen-z/620960/

Perna, M. (2021). How the pandemic is inspiring Gen-Z to rethink their education and career. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/markcperna/2021/07/27/how-the-pandemic-is-inspiring-gen-z-to-rethink-their-education-and-career/?sh=1f1cbe5110ca

Robbins, R. (2020, June). Engaging Gen Zers through academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 43(2). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Engaging-Gen-Zers-Through-Academic-Advising.aspx

Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. (2016). Generation Z goes to college. Jossey-Bass.

Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. (2021). The campus of tomorrow for today’s Gen Z students. https://thegenzhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Campus-of-Tomorrow-Final.pdf

Sellingo, J. (2020). The future of Gen Z: How Covid-19 will shape students and higher education for the next decade. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. (2021, December). Gen Z and the toll of the pandemic.https://apnorc.org/projects/gen-z-and-the-toll-of-the-pandemic/

The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK). (2020). The state of Gen Z 2020. https://www.msjc.edu/careereducation/documents/fow/State-of-Gen-Z-2020-by-CGK-Impact-of-Covid-19-on-Gen-Z-and-Future-3-of-3-in-Study-Series.pdf

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Trendsetting in Academic Advising

Zack Underwood, Daron Williams, Momiji Barlow, Hannah Libovicz, and Olivia Wolz, Virginia Tech

 Zack Underwood.jpgAs the field of academic advising evolves, it is an appropriate time to consider the future of the field. Prognostication is a tricky scenario similar to forecasting the weather, but many fields attempt to predict trends for the future. Utilizing student opinions, instructional design perspectives, current emerging trend lists, and academic advising theory, this article attempts to bring attention to four trends that can steer or influence the field as a whole in the next five to ten years.

Identifying Emerging Trends of the Field

Daron Williams.jpgAcademic advising is still relatively young. With significant changes occurring in technology, discussions, and student populations, emerging trends inform the advising community. Establishing trends can also establish the field of academic advising as a whole. McGill (2019) points out vital literature of advising starting in 1972 with Crookston and O’Banion. With such a young field, it is difficult to describe the field and occupation of advising to college stakeholders and individuals outside of the field (McGill, 2019). Creating popular trends of the field provide context for current and future practices.

Momiji Barlow.jpgAdvising manuscripts and chapters of books attempt to predict future trends for advising practice (Sims, 2013), the advising field as a whole (Lowenstein, 2013), and the profession (McGill & Nutt, 2016). Journals and websites such as EDUCAUSE attempt to predict overarching trends in higher education and technology or teaching and learning (EDUCAUSE, 2021, 2022). EDUCAUSE is an organization more closely related to instructional design and these trend lists  are an anticipated event in the instructional design realm.Hannah Libovicz.jpg The first trend for  expanding advising as a whole is for institutional groups, types of institutions, and organizations to create yearly emerging trends for the field of academic advising. This manuscript could stand as a short example of emerging trends. Identifying and discussing these trends could lead to campus-wide conversations or institutional comparisons towards establishing the modern advising experience.

Accepting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Olivia Wolz.jpgAdvisors may read the title to this section and cringe; however students are excited for this trend. Artificial intelligence “leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind” (IBM Cloud Education, 2020, para. 1). “Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that helps machines learn rules themselves instead of only operating according to pre-programmed rules” (Saravanan, 2022). Connecting with students is a monumental task requiring advising infrastructure. Infrastructure includes coordinating faculty, staff, students, technology, and (most importantly) time. The task of advising can be difficult to manage along with students’ desire for instant gratification and immediate answers. AI and machine learning can solve these dilemmas.

“AI could identify opportunities for advisors to make personal connections with students, such as behaviors that may signal student attrition” (Varney & Dumeng, 2019, para. 6). Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools such as predictive analytics are becoming commonplace in institutions. At the University of South Florida, administrators were concerned AI would “tell them what to do. They quickly learned that predictive analytics would do no such thing” (Miller & Irvin, 2019, para. 4). Advisors worked hand in hand with artificial intelligence to improve outreach to students who were at-risk.

From a developmental viewpoint, AI sounds like the worst-case scenario. Robots giving prescriptive advice and pushing students towards graduation sounds like a bad science-fiction movie plot. However, chatbots are being used to convince and persuade low-income students to apply to college. A chatbot named Oli “can ask questions and communicate in ways that are great for students who don’t feel comfortable talking in person . . . and then tailor the content around that” (Whitmire, 2020, para. 26). If this technology exists in an educational plane for high schoolers, then advising is the next step. Students may also have experience with chatbots within other contexts such as the medical or business fields. From a prescriptive viewpoint, AI such as chat bots can give advisors more time, while also offering students a personalized answer in the here and now. In a time when students want answers instantly, technology meets student needs. Advising can occur twenty-four hours a day, thanks to AI and machine learning.

Personalizing Relationships and Development

Advising strives towards personalization to prevent students from feeling insignificant, like just another number. When creating the outline for this manuscript, this was the highest priority for student authors. Student authors ranged from sophomore year to senior year and all emphasized the need for personalizing the student experience. To veer away from the idea of being a number, current students stressed the importance of relationships and how relationships promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To achieve success, Felten and Lambert (2020) believe every student should be welcomed for a sense of belonging, be motivated to learn, and create a network of meaningful relationships. Students get the option of which professor they get to take, yet they are given academic advisors without open opportunities for input. A mathematics major might not engage best with an advisor who specialized in the field of forestry. That being said, if students were allowed to handpick their advisor, their options could be limited to a pool of faculty or professional advising staff members who specialize in their field of education, know the major best, and/or have successful experiences with students who have graduated from the same program. At many institutions, students are assigned to faculty or staff advisors based on caseloads (alphabetical, numerical, or by class) as opposed to interest. A single relationship with a faculty or staff member could alter the student experience. Offering the opportunity of choice beyond just being assigned an individual could create an immersive, personalized affiliation with an institution.

Colleges could even consider a combination of individuals towards success teams, including but not limited to advisors, faculty, student mentors, campus partners such as Cultural Centers, Recovery Communities, Mental Health professionals, AI, and more. This provides a team approach for students and gives opportunities for network growth. Students will feel less like they are being forced to fit a mold, but rather like their advisor is molding their higher education experience to best fit them. Just because a student brings in transfer credit and classifies as a junior by hours does not mean they are at the maturity level to solely work with one member of the institution as their advisor. As the saying goes, it takes a village to grow and, in this instance, succeed at an institution.

Connecting Technology for Student Success

Institutions strive to improve student success by adopting new technologies. As more technologies are adopted, confusion occurs due to the many roles of users ranging from administrators, faculty, students, and varying permissions at institutions. In the context of academic advising, collaborative efforts are key to keep everyone on the same page.

Syracuse’s Director for Retention, Kalpana Srivnivas states, “higher education has been collecting data on students for decades, especially via student information systems, most of that data has not been used to its full potential” (Grush, 2018, para. 10). Platforms such as enterprise systems or even common degree tracking software can alter student success for the positive. “Technology can support educational reform as a foundation for college advisers and staff to change how they interact with and support students, ultimately improving the student experience” (Miller et al., 2020). Disconnected software or non-collaborative efforts lead to frustration.

As a Director for Advising, creating a story of a student’s experiences is a vital step towards identifying student success. If systems are decentralized or set in silos, then creating a singular history of a student’s experiences with campus partners such as Career Services, Tutoring, Counseling, Dean of Students, and others is tough. Fragmentation of data or data held by only certain individuals leads to incomplete stories and less informed academic advisors.

Beyond just giving access to software for data-driven decisions, collaborations for technology include keeping everyone up to date on training. Empowering students and advisors to use new or upcoming software removes the anxiety of the unknown. This could also be described as just-in-time (JIT) training or simplifying the process for the end user. JIT training is a common term in the instructional design field. Technology is a powerful tool, but it is the people who are using the advising technologies who matter.

Next Steps

Adoption and diffusion of these four trends can position academic advising to help future students thrive. AI and machine learning can help the process run smoother for students and decrease the burden on advisors, but it cannot replace—only aid—the personalized advising process that many students need. Relationships and personalization are key elements for success while technology end-user experiences can shape the way training needs to occur for new technologies and keep advisors informed for data-driven decisions.

Zack Underwood
Director of University Studies & Scholarship Support
Virginia Tech

Daron Williams
Director of Instructional Design
Virginia Tech

Momiji Barlow
Virginia Tech

Hannah Libovicz
Virginia Tech

Olivia Wolz
Virginia Tech


EDUCAUSE. (2021). 2021 EDUCAUSE horizon report: Teaching and learning edition. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2021/4/2021-educause-horizon-report-teaching-and-learning-edition

EDUCAUSE. (2022). 2022 top 10 IT issues: The higher education we deserve. https://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/research/top-10-it-issues-technologies-and-trends/2022

Felten, P., & Lambert, L. (2020). Relationship-rich education: How human connections drive success in college. John Hopkins University Press.

Grush, M. (2018, August). Data analytics and student advising: Creating a culture shift on campus: A q&a with Kalpana (Kal) Srinivas. Campus Technology. https://campustechnology.com/Articles/2018/08/13/Data-Analytics-and-Student-Advising-Creating-a-Culture-Shift-on-Campus.aspx?Page=1

IBM Cloud Education (2020, June 3). Artificial intelligence. IBM Cloud Learn Hub. https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/what-is-artificial-intelligence

Lowenstein, M. (2013). Envisioning the future. In J. Drake, P. Jordan, & M. Miller (Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college (pp. 243–258). NACADA.

McGill, C. (2019). The professionalization of academic advising: A structured literature review. NACADA Journal, 39(1), 89–100. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-18-015

McGill, C., & Nutt, C. (2016). Challenges for the future: Developing as a profession, field, and discipline. In T. Grites, M. Miller, & J. Voller (Eds.), Beyond foundations: Developing as a master academic advisor (pp. 351–362). NACADA.

Miller, C., Cohen, B., Yang, E., & Pellegrino. L. (2020, December). Using technology to redesign college advising and student support: Findings and lessons from three colleges’ efforts to build on the iPass initiative. MDRC, Community College Resource Center. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED610065.pdf

Miller, T., & Irvin, M. (2019, December 9). Using artificial intelligence with human intelligence for student success. EDUCAUSE Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/12/using-artificial-intelligence-with-human-intelligence-for-student-success

Saravanan, R. (2022). Machine learning can change the way institutions operate. Ellucian. https://www.ellucian.com/blog/machine-learning-can-change-way-institutions-operate

Sims, A. (2013, March). Academic advising for the 21st century: Using principles of conflict resolution to promote student success and build relationships. Academic Advising Today, 36(1). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Academic-Advising-for-the-21st-Century-Using-Principles-of-Conflict-Resolution-to-Promote-Student-Success-and-Build-Relationships.aspx

Varney, J., & Dumeng, C. (2019, August). Can a machine imitate an academic adviser? The impact of artificial intelligence on higher education. The Evolllution. https://evolllution.com/attracting-students/retention/can-a-machine-imitate-an-academic-adviser-the-impact-of-artificial-intelligence-on-higher-education/#:~:text=AI%20may%20also%20help%20advisors,into%20a%20system%20of%20nudging

Whitmire, R. (2020, September). How the common app, the college advising corps, and an AI chatbot are saving the college dreams of low-income students during the pandemic. The 74. https://www.the74million.org/article/how-the-common-app-the-college-advising-corps-and-an-ai-chatbot-are-saving-the-college-dreams-of-low-income-students-during-the-pandemic/

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Implementing an Integrative Advising Approach

Rebecca O. Weidner & Amy R. Soto, Brigham Young University

Becca Weidner.jpgAmy Soto.jpgSingle voices stand alone, but when voices coalesce, they create beautiful harmonies with a variation of sound and feeling. To be sure, advisors can successfully use isolated approaches; however, integrated advising approaches can empower advisors to uniquely adapt to individual student needs.

Kimball and Campbell (2013) make a call for an integrated approach by saying:

The field needs flexible, eclectic practitioners able to adapt their advising strategies in accordance with the needs of their students. Being married to a single approach to academic advising, advisors potentially disregard the diverse ways in which students learn and presume a single, linear developmental path that is clearly more idealistic than realistic. (p. 6)

When integrating approaches, advisors have a wide variety of advising approaches to choose from: developmental, proactive, motivational interviewing, appreciative, strengths-based, etc. What would happen if, when helping students, advisors intentionally and thoughtfully integrated approaches? How could both advisors and, more importantly, students benefit from this approach?

What is Integration?

Psychotherapy integration, also known as eclecticism, is a psychological treatment approach that looks beyond one single theory and instead attempts to combine or integrate multiple theories and techniques (Norcross & Newman, 2003). As it has evolved over the last 30 years, psychotherapy integration has become a defined area of interest and a popular therapeutic method. Norcross and Newman (2005) attribute this rise in popularity due to several factors including the increase in the number of theories available to therapists, the inadequacy of one single theory to fit every case, the limited number of differences in the outcomes between the different therapies, and recognition that success is more commonly a result of the alliance between therapist and patient and characteristics of the patient rather than a result of a particular therapy.

The four most common types of psychotherapy integration are technical eclecticism, assimilative integration, theoretical integration, and common factors (Norcross, 2005). Therapists who espouse technical eclecticism use the approach that works best for the client (Norcross, 2005). While the therapist may not subscribe to the theories supporting those methods, the therapist focuses on the most effective approach. Therapists who use assimilative integration base their practice on one theory but incorporate other techniques as needed. Theoretical integration uses multiple therapies with the hope of creating a new, emergent theory. Ideally, the sum of those theories will be greater than the parts. Finally, common factors integration refers to the core aspects that different therapies have in common. Some of these factors might include the therapeutic alliance or therapist qualities, such as empathy and positive regard (Norcross, 2005).

These different therapeutic strategies can also work well as advisors seek to combine advising approaches. Many advisors already seamlessly use integration. For example, they commonly use prescriptive advising with another advising approach. Like the development of psychotherapy integration, not one singular school of thought or one theory can encompass all students’ needs.

What are the Benefits of Integration?

Psychotherapy integration is thought to be extremely beneficial for patients (Zarbo et al., 2016). Researchers have studied the different integration models and the models’ use with various disorders to illustrate the many benefits (Schottenbauer et al., 2005). Integration of advising approaches can also have several benefits for advisors and students. It gives advisors flexibility to adjust to student needs and encounters. This integrative approach can be especially beneficial in difficult and complex situations. Using integration, advisors can create an individualized approach for all students, responding to their learning styles. Integration is also outcome focused; advising approaches are immaterial as long as advisors can help the student thrive. However, advisors who intentionally use and thoughtfully integrate advising approaches can have a strong outcome for their students.

How can an Advisor use Integration?

Here is an example of how one of the article’s authors used integration recently in a student appointment. Aubrey, a freshman in her second semester, arrived for a required advisor meeting following a challenging first semester—so rough that her GPA was below a 2.0. Her classes seemed to be appropriate, a good mix of general education and major classes with varying difficulty, but she was struggling to find a balance between school, work, and social life as she experienced life away from home for the first time. Unfortunately, her second semester, while a little bit better, was still proving to be difficult.

On the surface, Aubrey’s situation might seem typical to most advisors. She did great in high school, especially her junior year, despite a heavy academic load and significant extracurricular activities.

One option would be to use prescriptive advising—to cover the policy information related to her GPA—along with strengths based advising to help her find a path to success. In fact, the advisor started the appointment using the strengths based advising approach.

Although Aubrey needed to make changes to her current routine to return to her previous success, the advisor noticed Aubrey seemed ambivalent about the changes. Using strengths based advising alone wouldn’t necessarily help her to implement change. Integrating motivational interviewing into the appointment, in particular using reflections to evoke change talk and make a plan for the current semester, enabled Aubrey to explore her ambivalence and motivation. Motivational interviewing recommends an elicit-provide-elicit (e-p-e) or ask-tell-ask technique for giving prescriptive information (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Using the e-p-e technique, the advisor gave Aubrey the applicable prescriptive information to explain the withdraw policy and her options for the current semester as she was still struggling. To give herself a better chance at success for the semester, Aubrey decided to withdraw from one of her particularly difficult classes.

Without even thinking about integrating advising methods, Aubrey’s advisor might have moved in the same direction. However, being intentional about the process can help advisors better serve students and be present in the moment with the advisor’s approach. Taking the time to be intentional enables advisors to be more proactive rather than reactive when assisting students. While new advisors may want to focus on mastering one theory or approach, experienced advisors can improve their practice by carefully analyzing and successfully integrating multiple approaches.

How can an Advisor Cultivate an Integrative Advising Approach?

While it may sound like a simple technique, integration of advising approaches, to be successfully attempted, requires both comprehension and implementation to be successfully experienced. This type of trial and error can come through practice and by using some of the following tips:

Collaboration. Advisors rarely advise in total isolation. Even a lone advisor in a single department has access to campus colleagues, collaborators, and professionals at neighboring colleges or universities which may provide connections and a wealth of collegiality, support, and a renewed perspective. For example, troubleshooting a tough appointment or brainstorming new ideas with the help of another is much easier and generative, rather than alone. Similarly, accessing NACADA’s advising communities, mentoring programs, and conferences are available to all and can provide new or seasoned advisors with access to individuals with varying backgrounds, feedback, and experience.

Personal Assessment. After an appointment, advisors can take a few minutes to personally assess it. Advisors should identify the appointment type, the core student needs, and the approach they used to address each need. Advisors can write down and brainstorm ways to address similar future student appointments. Although this process will take a few minutes of precious time, the benefits can be extremely helpful for professional development as it is an impactful practice to mindfully reflect and set goals for immediate improvement. Even five minutes to reflect can lead to a small, yet long-term impact. Later, when the same or a similar situation occurs again, advisors will be better prepared and grateful they already solved the problem or have resources readily accessible. Over time, advisors will become more adept at meeting needs that arise. 

Formal Assessment. Advisors can record their student interactions or invite another advisor or supervisor to observe their interactions with students. Receiving valuable feedback from someone outside of the student interaction can help advisors to see the situation with fresh eyes. Be clear on expectations for this type of shadow and feedback session to guide the observer to attune to specific approaches or behaviors.


Advisors can use psychotherapy integration to enhance their success with students. In difficult situations, advisors can intentionally combine different advising approaches to achieve an individualized advising practice for each student they work with. Using collaboration, personal assessment, and a formal assessment process, advisors can continue to refine their practice. Advisors who integrate different approaches will create new harmonies for their practice, benefiting advisors and students alike. 

Rebecca O. Weidner
Academic Advisor
College of Fine Arts and Communications
Brigham Young University

Amy R. Soto
Associate Director
University Advisement Center
Brigham Young University


Kimball, E., & Campbell, S. M. (2013). Advising strategies to support student learning success. In J. K. Drake, P. Jordan, & M. A. Miller (Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college (pp. 3–15). Jossey-Bass.

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change. The Guilford Press.

Norcross, J. C. (2005). A primer on psychotherapy integration. In J. C. Norcross, & M. R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd ed, pp. 3–23). Oxford University Press.

Norcross, J. C., & Newman, C. F. (2003). Psychotherapy integration: Setting the context. In J. C. Norcross & M. R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy integration (pp. 3–45). Oxford University Press.

Schottenbauer, M. A., Glass, C. R., & Arnkoff, D. B. (2005). Outcome research on psychotherapy integration. In J. C. Norcross & M. R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd ed, pp. 459–493). Oxford University Press.

Zarbo, C., Tasca, G. A., Cattafi, F., & Compare, A. (2016). Integrative psychotherapy works. Frontiers in psychology6(2021). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02021  

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Transactional Advising vs. Transformational Advising

Bill Johnson, Davidson-Davie Community College

Bill Johnson.jpgFor over 32 years, I have straddled the line between academic advising and coaching. First, serving as an academic advisor, helping students create educational plans and assisting with scheduling, registration, and degree planning. Over the years, my role expanded to include career development as well. In 2006–2007, I learned about the field of life coaching, opening my eyes to new possibilities when interacting with students. One belief has always been central to my work in higher education: students need to be empowered to take control of their educational experience. 

My definition of advising has evolved over time, from one that was primarily focused on the student being “advised” on the courses necessary to complete their degree. My definition evolved after reading an article by Terry O’Banion on advising in the 21st century (O’Banion, 1972/2012), where he described a process of academic advising which focused on the five steps necessary in advising students, listing them in order of importance:

  • Explore life goals
  • Explore vocational goals
  • Program choice
  • Course choice
  • Scheduling courses

As you can see, the first two steps (explore life goals and explore vocational goals) focus on having more in-depth conversations; the last three choices (program choice, course choice, and scheduling courses) have a greater emphasis on specific registration and scheduling transactions. Today, based on my experiences as an advisor and as a coach, I would define academic advising as:

A systematic process based on a collaborative relationship between a student and advisor, intended to aid students in achieving their educational, career, and personal goals by unlocking their ability to optimize their performance and actualize their potential through the use of institutional and community resources. The academic advisor serves multiple roles in the learning process (as a coach, teacher, facilitator, mentor, guide, etc.), keenly aware that the student has the answers to his or her own questions, while understanding that students may need help finding those answers.

This next section makes the distinction between transactional advising and transformational advising. Advisors are typically engaged in a combination of both types of advising; however, most have primary responsibilities aligned with one or the other. As you read the descriptions and the characteristics below, take a moment to define your primary advising role on campus.

Transactional Advising

Transactional advising is motivated by the desire to get the most one possibly can while giving as little as possible. The student sees the relationship as “it’s all about me,” and “what I can get,” not about what they can give. Transactional relationships protect and minimize what advisors share with their students. Transactional conversations are defined by an exchange: “I need this; you need that” or “I need to do this; you need to do that.”


  • Passing on information from the advisor to the student
  • Advisors are trained for specific tasks to please the student
  • Focus is on the immediate needs of the student
  • Tasks can be performed relatively quickly
  • Tasks are assigned based on strengths and expertise of the advisor to increase output
  • Agenda is determined by specific functions of the advisor/unit
  • Success is determined by solving student problems
  • Easy to measure
  • Limited interaction with the student
  • Student interactions more focused on the self than on others
  • Focused on execution and completion of tasks; progress based on institutional goals
  • Typically tied to institution-based goals

Transformational Advising

Transformational advising inspires students to innovate and create in ways to help them grow and shape their future success in education. Having a higher purpose helps students make intentional actions for change. The key factor is developing trust; it determines whether the student enters a relationship with the intent to help make the change needed to improve their learning, working, and/or living environments.


  • Focuses on the message being delivered, not on the task at hand
  • The advisor takes time to form a relationship/connection with the student
  • Partnership between advisor and student is built on a foundation of trust
  • Focus is on love, care, and/or inspiration for the student
  • A commitment to goals, mission, purpose, and outcomes for the student
  • Agenda is determined by the student
  • Success is determined by student growth and development
  • Hard to measure
  • Specific conversations with the student that evolve over time
  • More focused on others than on the self
  • Focused on personal growth and development; progress based on students’ goals
  • Typically tied to student-driven goals

Institutions focused on transactional advising are geared towards solving student problems and issues. Advising conversations are focused on an understanding of policies, procedures, and processes, where things get done quickly and easily, but are less engaging. Institutions centered on transformational advising understand that while the work is sometimes difficult, less direct, less tangible, and less clear as to whether progress of any kind is actually being made, it is a necessary process for students to gain clarity and direction for their personal growth and development.

In our Advising and Personal Development Center at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, we provided both transactional and transformational advising services and support. Those involved in transactional advising help students maintain progress to complete their degrees and provide support and referrals when life gets in the way. Those involved in transformational advising assist students in the exploration of purpose and meaning as they navigate the college journey, challenging students to answer questions such as: “Who am I?,” “Why am I in college?,” and “What could I do with my life?”

Both transactional and transformational advising are essential roles within the university system. However, over time, as many of the transactional advising services become automated, students will desire and need transformational advising services. The symbiotic relationship between the advisor and the student supports learning and growing for both, as the advisor improves his or her skills and the student grows as an individual. Transformational advising creates deeper connections, more trust, and more meaning, developing both better students and better people, and ultimately creating a better world. Transactional advising provides the tools and connections for students to survive college; transformational advising provides the tools and connections for students to THRIVE in college!

Bill Johnson
Legacy-Men of Color Program
Davidson-Davie Community College


O’Banion, T. (2012). Updating the traditional academic advising model for the 21st century. Community College Journal, October/November, 42–47. https://www.3cmediasolutions.org/sites/default/files/UpdatingTheTraditionalAcademicAdvisingModelForThe21stCentury.pdf (Original work published 1972)

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The Power of Nudges: Five Elements to Facilitate Outreach

Aaron J. Petuch, Texas A&M University

Aaron Peruch.jpgCommunication is an important aspect of the advisor-advisee relationship, and this interplay helps both parties establish mutual trust, understand one another’s perspectives, and provide clarity on goal achievement, to name a few. With the sheer number of duties that academic advisors face, it is a challenge to consistently preserve fundamental elements of communication. This is exacerbated by academic advisors becoming increasingly overburdened by their workload, emotional exhaustion, and a lack of institutional support (Gregerson et al., 2022). Mass outreaches have the benefit of reaching many students at once, and academic advisors conduct these types of outreaches for a myriad of reasons, including but not limited to prompting them to register, informing them of an opportunity, reminding them to submit an important document, and encouraging perseverance during midterms. However, they also have the disadvantage of eliminating personalized communication components, which diminishes the likelihood of students following through. Research on the art and science of large-scale outreach is blooming, and advisors can hone their communications to maximize effectiveness.

When advisors send outreaches, they are attempting to influence students toward a particular choice, way of thinking, or other behavior. In the literature, the term nudge has taken precedence and refers to altering the environment so that senses favor a certain outcome (Saghai, 2013). Nudges come in many forms, including but not limited to emails, text messages, verbal cues, slogans, and gestures, and usually serve the purpose of either informing, encouraging, or preventing. Regardless, there is an identified purpose with little effort for the recipient. Most advisors are well-versed in sending outreaches to students, but they do not always achieve the desired results. Suhaimi and Hussin (2017) analyzed the findings of several significant research papers and found that students are drowning in information, particularly when technology, academic requirements, and personal commitments are considered. Coupled with the incessant communication they receive daily, it is no wonder that students do not follow through, respond, etc.

Behavioral and physiological elements are at play, especially when considering what is most fundamental. Famous behavioral scientist B. F. Skinner (1974) asserted that human beings interact with the environment to generate consequences that in turn affect their behaviors. Through learning via past experiences, individuals could be less likely to respond to stimuli. Thus, outreaches can lose their effectiveness due to students being conditioned to respond based on past consequences. Regarding the latter, Lewis (2015) concurred that people are bombarded with information in today’s world, and our brains struggle with filtering out information. Specifically, two structures in our brains (i.e., the thalamus and cerebral cortex) work together to select environmental information that is a priority, but the system is susceptible to inundation, resulting in over saturation. This can be especially true for students when responding to an email or carrying out a task that does not take priority over competing demands in the environment. While advisors cannot directly manipulate the physiology of their students or make drastic changes to their interactions with the environment, nudges can be structured in such a way as to yield more favorable results.

With well over 50,000 bachelor’s degree-seeking students, Texas A&M University has one of the largest undergraduate student populations in the country. The Office for Student Success (OSS) tracked enrollees throughout the registration season and sent nudges to students who missed their registration to remind them of upcoming opportunities to select classes. During the fall 2021 registration cycle, five colleges/departments allowed OSS to send outreaches on their behalf, and this was compared to four areas that wanted to send their own. Registrants were tracked throughout the spring and into the summer, resulting in a 4.94% difference in favor of those areas that permitted OSS to assist. The efforts were replicated during the spring 2022 registration campaign, and the results were as impressive (i.e., a 5.41% increase) for those assisted. It should be noted that the two groups naturally shuffled between the first round and the replication, which further supports the results. While the results are not indicative of causation, OSS believes that effective nudges played a role in encouraging students to register.

This begs the question, what constitutes an effective nudge? Burdick and Peeler (2021) suggest that nudges are supposed to gently encourage recipients, contain a human element, be thoughtful and particular, have suitable language, and incorporate elements of teamwork. These suggestions are even more important considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, effective nudging can increase the perception of feeling supported and facilitate connectedness. There is a definite subconscious component aimed at getting students’ attention at pivotal moments throughout the semester and giving them an open, yet optional channel of communication that can facilitate effectiveness (Burdick & Peeler, 2021). OSS concurred with these assumptions and proposed the following elements for effective nudges: awareness of purpose, striving for compactness, limiting action items, avoiding new obstacles, and timeliness.

Awareness of Purpose. Before creating a nudge, advisors should define and build outreach around their central purpose. Typically, nudges are meant to either inform, encourage, or prevent something. If a well-defined purpose is not carried out accurately, the anticipated results run the risk of not yielding the actual outcomes. For example, if an advisor designed a nudge to encourage an action such as registering for courses but did not include a website link to do so, the outreach might only inform students instead of motivating them to complete an action. 

Compactness. When designing the nudge, it is important to retain salient points but also not come across as long-winded. If compactness is not enforced, students could get lost in the communication and feel unsure about what they are supposed to do (e.g., become informed, complete an action, etc.). As a result, the desired outcome risks not being attained. It is recommended that advisors think about how to get their points across in the smallest number of words possible.

Limit Action Items. For nudges that strive to encourage an action item, it is recommended to stick to one item at a time. For instance, if the purpose of an outreach is to encourage students to sign-up for a new tutoring program, additional action items (e.g., filling out an academic survey, reminding them to see someone about advising-related holds, etc.) should be avoided. Advisors can master this step by practicing reading nudges and eliminating anything that can be construed as an additional action item. 

Avoid New Obstacles. The fourth element involves not adding obstacles to the mix. For example, if the purpose of a nudge is to inform students about the scholastic deficiency process but also includes potential penalties (e.g., probation, suspension, etc.) as consequences, the designer of this nudge intentionally included an obstacle that could hinder students’ ability to understand its purpose and cause undue anxiety. It is imperative to pinpoint potential obstacles and remove them.

Timeliness. Lastly, the timing of nudges should be considered, especially when time is of the essence. For example, if an advisor plans to send a nudge to remind students to complete and submit their anticipated registration schedules, it will make little sense to send it immediately prior to the deadline. In this instance, sending the nudge weeks in advance would be appropriate to allow students time to complete and submit it. On the other hand, nudges that are sent too early run the risk of being ineffective due to too much time passing between the nudge itself and the anticipated action. An example would be nudging students to inform them of academic standards pertaining to midterms in let’s say week eight of the semester. If instead the nudge was sent during week five, when they are taking other exams, the nudge would most likely not be effective, and this could also induce confusion and possible pandemonium. 

In conclusion, communication is a vital piece of the advisor-advisee relationship, and there are occasions when it is appropriate to influence students toward a particular choice, way of thinking, or other behavior. Even though behavioral and psychological elements are at play, nudges are powerful tools that, if designed correctly, can motivate students via encouraging, informing, or preventing. Adhering to a specified purpose, aiming for compactness, reducing action items, steering clear of new obstacles, and seizing the best opportunities for implementation can maximize the effectiveness of nudges.

Aaron J. Petuch
Academic Advisor
Office for Student Success
Texas A&M University


Burdick, J. M., & Peeler, E. (2021). The value of effective nudging during COVID. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2021/02/23/how-strong-nudge-campaign-can-improve-student-outcomes-during-covid-opinion

Gregerson, K., Sutton, L., & Miller, O. (2022, March). From self-care to systemic change: The evolution of advisor well-being in NACADA. Academic Advising Today, 45(1). https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-Self-Care-to-Systemic-Change-The-Evolution-of-Advisor-Well-Being-in-NACADA.aspx

Lewis, J. G. (2015). This is how the brain filters out unimportant details. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201502/is-how-the-brain-filters-out-unimportant-details

Saghai, Y. (2013). Salvaging the concept of nudge. Journal of Medical Ethics, 39(2), 487–493. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2012-100727

Skinner, B. F. (1974). About behaviorism. Alfred A. Knopf.

Suhaimi, F. A. B., & Hussin, N. B. (2017). The influence of information overload on students’ academic performance. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(8), 760–766. https://doi.org/10.6007/IJARBSS/v7-i8/3292

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Overcoming Identities and Impacting Spaces

Mindy Heggen, Iowa State University

Mindy Heggen.jpgWhite. Middle-class. Master’s degree. Married. Heterosexual. Female. These are the visible identities that I walk with every day. However, there are many identities that are not visible and have led to the way I experience the world. I haven’t always been a member of the middle class, and I am the first in my family to be a member of the educated group. Growing up, I was put into an identity box based on my parents’ identities. Those boxes did not give me much hope for a future. As a result of my situation and under-preparedness for college, my academic advisor told me that they did not believe in my ability to succeed, which means I did not seek help when I needed it most. My advisor put me in a box with a label that I felt I didn’t deserve. It is hard to reach out to someone when there is a misconception about your abilities.

However, I did have valuable supporters. My junior high literature teacher stated that I could do better.  That I was smart. I began to believe in myself during challenges. These adversities spurred me to think more about my identities throughout college and my full-time careers. As I started my studies in higher education, I began to learn the struggles racially underrepresented students experience in American higher education. While I didn’t have their racial identity, I had also had to fight against labels and stereotypes that were assigned to me. I could see how the system was broken and I wanted to help other advisors be the advisor I needed. This led to me attending my first National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) in 2018.

My first NCORE, I went as the white savior. I intended to attend, absorb information, come back to my safe space, and make change. I have never been so wrong in my life. The experience opened my eyes to what it means to be white! My white fragility shined brighter than the sun and I completely embarrassed myself. I learned more than I ever imagined in that space.

Upon returning, I could have given up. Retreated to my safe space. A predominantly white space I naturally belonged to. A space where nobody talked about what I did wrong or how hurtful my actions could have been. Instead, I remembered what my mentors said to me: “You can do better.” I picked my sorry self up and humbly attended debriefing meetings to discuss what went wrong and what could have been. I pulled out my notes from all the sessions I attended, and I began looking at my sphere of influence to determine how and where I could share what I learned.

Years later, when I transitioned to an academic advising role in the largest department on campus, I found there were not many opportunities to engage in conversations about our students and the challenges they face on our campus. Iowa State University has a 5-year strategic plan which includes a goal to “create, expand, and invest in opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to connect and build meaningful relations with others.” This goal made me think of the student development theories I learned in graduate school.  Reason (2009) theorizes how organizational context, peer environments, and pre-college experiences impact a student’s college experience. Considering this theory and our strategic goal, I took what I had learned previously and expanded it to the college advisors. I started what we now refer to at Iowa State University as our multi-media club.

The multi-media club is an interdisciplinary opportunity that engages with advisors across the College of Engineering. It started with eight participants using a book borrowed from the local library.  Since then, it has expanded to fourteen advisors and is funded by the Associate Dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion. I find many of the book discussion questions and movie guides online. My role has been to pick a book, movie, or short story; read/watch it; research online for questions; add my own set of questions; arrange a time and location for us to gather; and facilitate a discussion.

While using Phinney’s Model of Ethnic Identity Development, I have watched and evaluated the participants’ growth in understanding their ethnic identity (Bernal & Knight, 1993). Phinney’s Model was created for youth development; however, the growth through the three stages has been evident in the participants throughout the semesters. Most participants are in stage two where individuals take time to look at their own identity and seek information pertaining to other identities. With all of us being academic advisors, the questions and discussions always come back to, “How can we use what we learned to better serve our students?” As participants go into stage three, they begin to express an understanding as to why some students act the way they do or don’t ask “the right questions.”

Cost is an important factor when creating new initiatives. I am excited to say that there are a lot of free resources on the internet and at the library. For example, many libraries offer book club sets for The Nickel Boys. There are discussion questions already in the book. If a group watches a moved based on a book, like The Hate U Give, book discussion questions may be slightly altered and utilized. This has been key to our initial success.

While there are free resources, a beneficial conversation cannot just happen without ground rules and preparation. I have a mentor who facilitated a similar experience, to whom I ask questions and watch for methods in addressing difficult conversations. I have attended conferences such as NCORE and CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference) to learn more about productive conversations with peers. There are free TED talks and podcasts that can help as well. Ibram X. Kendi (2020) is one of my favorites.

The goals of this initiative are:

  1. Participants will engage in discussions around identities that they may not belong to.
  2. Participants will evaluate how the information read, watched, and/or discussed applies to their daily lives.
  3. Participants will evaluate how the information read, watched, and/or discussed applies to their work as advisors.
  4. Participants will become more comfortable being uncomfortable while having difficult conversations. 

To evaluate the success or lack of success in meeting these goals, I do a retrospective pretest as an anonymous survey through software Iowa State provides. I’m also a full participant observer who notes the growth of the participants based on their involvement in conversations and words used in discussions. Results indicate that the participants have met the goals each semester of participation.

There is a lot of time and energy that goes into creating spaces for difficult conversations. The payoff is realized when students can come in, be recognized for their identities, feel a sense of belonging, then go on to graduate. As an academic advisor, I believe I have a chance to impact every student’s sense of belonging on campus by investing in my peers who then invest in their student. My advisees go to class with peers who also feel they belong. This makes all the time worth it. I once heard the late John Lewis say “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Mindy Heggen, M.Ed
Academic Advisor II
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Iowa State University


Bernal, M. E., & Knight, G. P. (1993). Ethnic identity: Formation and transmission among Hispanics and other minorities. SUNY Press.

Kendi I. X., (2020). The difference between being “not racist” and anticracist [Video]/ YouTube. https://www.ted.com/talks/ibram_x_kendi_the_difference_between_being_not_racist_and_antiracist?language=en

Reason, R. D. (2009, November-December). An examination of persistence research through the lens of a comprehensive conceptual framework. Journal of College Student Development, 50(6), 659–682.

Strategic Plan 2017-2020. Iowa State University. https://strategicplan.iastate.edu/

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Elements of a Successful Leader

Sara E. Gomez, Madison Area Technical College
Ann M. Hintz, St. Norbert College

Sara Gomez.jpgAnn HIntz.jpgThere are many meanings to the term leadership and what it entails for higher education professionals.  Leadership opportunities are open for everyone, regardless of title or role. Effective leaders are able to inspire others to reach a common goal and do not need to be in positions of power to lead (Cox, 2016). Rather, they need the skills to inspire others to do their very best. At times, it can be difficult to inspire those around us, but now, more than ever, we need to lead with passion, collaboration, connection, commitment, and communication. The following article includes several key components to be a strong leader that can be helpful for academic advisors to be aware of so they can lead from their position on campus.

Supporting Yourself and Others

Leadership is about supporting those around you to achieve goals; actively and sincerely listening to needs, interests, and desires; and providing the support necessary for success. Supportive leadership involves providing inspiration, support, trust, and helping and supporting others through challenges (Corporate Finance Institute Education Inc., 2022). When leaders support the initiatives of others, this can foster motivation (Jansen, et al., 2016).

Leadership and DEI

Leadership means educating ourselves and understanding our cultural diversity, awareness, and privilege. Then working on steps to understand equity, inclusion, and diversity through using an equity lens. As leaders, we first need to have a deep and sincere understanding of what cultural awareness is and what it means for us. It means having the ability to recognize, value, and appreciate ourselves and others as we all bring unique perspectives, experiences, skills, perspectives, histories, and culture. It is about celebrating and valuing our differences, listening, and embracing. In addition, we need to understand how our actions influence others, and how we can help those around us realize the importance of doing our work through this lens.

Equity means fairness, impartiality, and justice—an equal opportunity for all students to participate fully in all educational and non-educational opportunities. As campus leaders, are we committed to working with our colleagues on equity, diversity, and inclusion to best meet the needs of our students, faculty, and staff? As authors, on our campuses  we have embraced this is by taking advantage of opportunities to learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion through ongoing staff training and participating in book clubs. We have also found it valuable to understand the history, current events, and personal experiences/stories of our colleagues, friends, and relatives. From these experiences, we gain knowledge, insight, and become better. This also gives us more insight to help understand the injustices that continue to take place in our society, to be advocates, to work together toward a common goal of valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also means to value and acknowledge the experiences and stories. It becomes important to continue to be advocates for these important issues, to actively engage in conversations and to work together toward solutions and achievable action items. Lastly, we have learned that the work in diversity, equity, and inclusion is ongoing, and we have found it is important to continue to educate, learn, build our communities, embrace, and celebrate each and everyone’s unique and individual experiences. 

It is about understanding current issues in higher education nationally, locally, and internally. Then understanding these issues, especially as it relates to our institutions. Then talking about the issues, collaborating, communicating, and actively working together toward common goals. As a leader, it is important to ask and reflect on these questions.

Communication and Collaboration

As leaders, we are in conversations with our colleagues and campus leaders, directors, and/or managers to discuss student needs. For example, maybe there needs to be additional funding for students impacted by COVID-19. If yes, is there an opportunity to write to legislators to advocate for additional funding and the importance of maintaining state funding? In another example, maybe a student's need is about how campus can be more inclusive. How can we as faculty and staff make the learning environment and college setting more inclusive? This first starts with examining our own assumptions. Learn more about our students, their names, their unique backgrounds, experiences, abilities, and dreams/goals for the future. We as the authors of this article, have learned recently how the pandemic has made it more complicated for international students to enroll in college and for continuing students at some community colleges to increase their persistence. Now, it is even more important to welcome students as leaders in higher education. Perhaps it is about offering mentors for students, support groups, and/or more funding for them to continue their education. As leaders in higher education, it is important for us to understand the issues, collaborate with our institutional partners, and together work on initiatives to achieve these common goals.

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Leadership means that we are in tune to our emotional intelligence, being confident, clear, concise, and comfortable in our communication. According to Daniel Goleman (2005), an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements. Are we using and considering the five components of emotional intelligence individually and collectively as we work toward our leadership goals and strategic planning?

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Self-motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

For example, when a leader for a team is motivated, it can boost employee morale. Additionally, an empathetic leader listens to the team, understands them, offers support, and helps them.

As leaders, it is necessary to understand the needs of those around us. Using the key elements of emotional intelligence will help us understand others. Being aware of how others are self-aware, what motivates them, and how their social skills and empathy play into their roles on campus will strengthen our ability to lead, but more so encourage the respect of those we lead.

Celebrating the Success of Others

Leadership also means having the ability to celebrate the success of our colleagues and peers, showing them praise and support for a job well done. If we haven’t done so already, can we develop and honor our colleagues? Do we have campus awards available for staff, faculty, and administrators? Nominations can be received from current staff, instructors, faculty, and administrators to honor a well deserving colleague for a recent achievement. Even a small recognition makes a difference—the thank you note with a treat, or the weekly celebrations of what people are doing well can help with morale.

Taking the time to celebrate the success we share with others will also impact this. What opportunities are there available or what opportunities can we create on our campuses to do this? This can be done both formally, through official awards, or informally, at meetings and events. Take the time to honor colleagues at a staff meeting with recognition of a job well done for things such as working on a team to coordinate and develop a new curriculum to teach a First Year Seminar Orientation Class.

Other options include facilitating an end of the semester gathering to celebrate the team's achievements or having the beginning of a meeting include time to share praise for colleagues. Often these small gestures go a long way for recognition. Share the kudos and praise in public. This begins the meeting on a positive note and adds to the positive morale of the group.

One of our colleagues from Madison College, Dr. Froehlich-Mueller shares,” A true leader is one that respects, values, and appreciates the uniqueness of each individual on their team and the perspective that they bring to their work. A leader must find a way to develop this in their team members and themselves and celebrate this development.” As author of this article, we agree. Each team member brings their own unique experiences, backgrounds, interests, and values to the team.  

Leading Through Connections

Your professional network is one of the most important networks that you have. This network develops over time and has a plethora of knowledge and support for you. A strong leader will use this network for support and continue to network, growing and expanding connections to colleagues within their institution, within the state, and nationally. Encourage those you lead to make these connections and to become active participants in your professional development organizations. For more seasoned professionals, this work often helps fill their cup and re-energize them for projects back on campus. Additionally, this allows for professional development in the field and encourages continual development and succession planning.

Professional connections can also impact campus development through analyzing key institutional needs, student needs, asking key questions while we are in dialogue with our colleagues to solve concerns, and being strategic and creative in long term planning. Additionally, data gained through this type of professional development can then be used to enhance our services. As campus leaders, we need to understand, constantly communicate, collaborate, coordinate, and celebrate.

Closing Thoughts

Leadership on a higher education campus is about being proactive and dynamic in addressing staff and student needs. This means communication and collaboration on a regular basis with our institutional partners, faculty, staff, advisors, counselors, and students. It is important that we use this holistic approach to leadership that is ever evolving, changing, and growing. Then together we can lead with passion and have a positive, energetic, and vital mindset to best serve our students and one another.

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

Ann M. Hintz
Director of Academic Advisement 
St. Norbert College


Corporate Finance Institute. (2021). Supportive leadership. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/soft-skills/supportive-leadership/

Cox, J. A. (2016). Leadership and management roles: Challenges and success strategies: Perioperative leadership. AORN Journal: The Official Voice of Perioperative Nursing, 104(2), 154–160.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aorn.2016.06.008

Goleman, D. (2005). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ (10th anniversary ed.). Random House Publishing Group.

Jansen, J. J. P., Kostopoulos, K. C., Mihalache, O. R., & Papalexandris, A. (2016). A socio-psychological perspective on team ambidexterity: The contingency role of supportive leadership behaviors. Journal of Management Studies, 53(6), 939–965. https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12183

NACADA Emerging Leaders Program Celebrates Fifteen Years of Leadership Development

Meagan Hagerty, Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Chair 2020-2022
Jared Burton, Incoming Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Chair 2022-2024
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. Emerging 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. Emerging 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.

This year we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of this important program! With fifteen years 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 services, scholarship, and research areas. ELPers have already made a lasting contribution to NACADA and have a long list of accomplishments.

The 2020-2022 Emerging Leaders and Mentors, who began their virtually work during the coronavirus pandemic, have been diligently pursuing their goals over the past two years and look forward to coming together onsite to receive their Certificates of Completion this October at the Annual Conference in Portland, OR.

ELP 2020-2022 Class.jpg

Current Emerging Leaders Program Advisory Board Chair Meagan Hagerty is pleased to announce the 2022-2024 NACADA Emerging Leaders and Mentors

Emerging Leaders

Erica Brown-Meredith, Longwood University
Bethany Jordan, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Amanda Lager Gleason, Colorado State University
Isabelle Langham, Tennessee State University
Benjamin Norris, Frostburg State University
Kalani Palmer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Khadijah Peak-Brown, Tidewater Community College
Ali Ressing, Northeastern University
Erica Stubblefield, Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
My'Chael Willis, Norfolk State University


Michael ‘Brody’ Broshears, University of Southern Indiana
Jeff Elliott, Purdue University
Matt Eng, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Michael Geroux, University at Albany, SUNY
Rebecca Hapes, Texas A&M University
Andrea Harris, Pepperdine University
Patricia MacMillan, Ontario Tech University
John Sauter, Niagara University
Isaiah Vance, Texas A&M University
Lisa Yamin, Virginia Commonwealth University

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.

We toast this amazing program and look forward to seeing many more Classes arise in the years ahead!

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

Jared Burton
Incoming ELP Advisory Board Chair, 2022-2024
Pima Community College

Leigh Cunningham
ELP Coordinator
NACADA Executive Office
Kansas State University



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