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Weidong Zhang, Wesley R. Habley Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient

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My Seven Days and Eight Years

In China, we have an old saying: Talking with you for one moment is much better than reading books for ten years. At the NACADA Summer Institute, I talked with faculty members and fellow participants for seven days. It was the best growth experience within the advising field ever. All academic advisors should experience the NACADA Summer Institute!

During the NACADA Summer Institute, my brain did not stop absorbing knowledge and my passion for advising came back. I now feel fully charged and full of power. My mind is more clear and organized. My eyes are shining and bright, and my heart is closer to our students.

During my eight years working with students, things have not always gone smoothly. I have had lots of challenges and worries. How can I better help students? What areas should I support more strongly? What are the best practices? Sometimes I felt completely lost without guidance and resources. I always strive to better help students, but sometimes it did not work out. Having only the will to help is not enough; we must know best practices, learn effective skills, craft an advising mission statement, and be aware of student needs.

The Banquet of Academic Advising

The NACADA Summer Institute is very organized. The program includes various learning activities from basic concepts to more advanced advising skills and strategies. We received information that was both theoretical and practical. We could freely choose to attend sessions on a variety of advising topics. We had group discussions, workshops, common readings, and action plans. There were so many ways we could learn about advising.

One of the most valuable parts of the Institute was the sharing. Our faculty members were experts who did not mind sharing their stories, experiences, good practices, and treasures. Sharing is growing. Besides eating meals together, each participant could sign up for a 15 minute one-on-one talk with a faculty member. It was our chance to pour out our concerns and hear strategies that could help us find solutions for our students.

Advising Family

NACADA is a big family. Our family members are really friendly and caring. My Small Group was very international, with members from the Netherlands, Egypt, China and the United States. We discussed our issues from the perspective of different cultures and backgrounds. I really felt that this benefited our group. There was always something to learn from each other.

My group leader, Rich Robbins, is very knowledgeable and analytical. He helped us expand our ideas and thoughts. He facilitated good group sessions and provided excellent feedback. Participants from our group gave us a tour of Kansas City, and we had a fantastic dinner together. We also got a chance to see a big league baseball game. What wonderful people! I had a really good time.

Deeper in the Heart of Student Success

Advisors help students navigate college life. At Summer Institute, we learned how to better accomplish this by reading case studies and discussing our concerns and challenges; we analyzed student needs and situations. After seven days learning and sharing, we were clear about the goals we need have in order to help students, we understood the trends of the Millennial students, and knew what we could do to improve our advising skills.

As academic advisors, we must keep growing within the field. In a previous edition of Academic Advising Today (September 2008), Past-President Jennifer Bloom wrote that sometimes we forget to “walk the talk.” We need to be lifelong learners ourselves, and Summer Institute is a way to accomplish that.

Summer Institute is an excellent choice to help us grow as advisors. Whether a new advisor who needs to grow as a professional or an experienced advisor wanting to become a master advisor, Summer Institute is for you!

Weidong Zhang
Maharishi University of Management

Cite this article using APA style as: Zhang, W. (2010, March). Talking with you for one moment is much better than reading books for ten years: NACADA summer institute experiences. Academic Advising Today, 33(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Posted in: 2010 March 33:1


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