Academic Advising Resources


College Café

Authored by: Peggy Jordan

It's probably accurate that there is no truly new idea, just modifications of old ones.   It's certainly true in higher education. One of the great benefits of NACADA is the sharing of information and ideas, acting as a springboard for the creation of new ideas or the reworking of old ones. NACADA's national and regional conferences stimulate a wealth of ideas.

Vincent Tinto was the keynote speaker for the NACADA's National Conference in the fall of 1999 in Denver, Colorado. I was so inspired and motivated to look for new avenues to help students that Tinto was all I could talk about to my then dean, Rusty Fox, at the airport when we were waiting for our flight back to Oklahoma. I must have talked nonstop because every time Rusty tried to start a sentence, he ended it by saying, 'No, that's fine. Go ahead.'  And on I talked. Evidently I was not the only one who was mesmerized by Tinto's remarks, as he was asked to write an article for the NACADA Journal highlighting his keynote address (Tinto, V. (1999). Taking Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College. NACADA Journal, 19 (2), 5-9). The statement that still sticks in my mind from Tinto's address was the idea that advisors should be in the classroom. They should be taking every opportunity to get information to students and influence student success. As he stated in the article, 'academic advising should be an integral part of the first-year experience, not an adjunct to it. Advising should be woven into the fabric of the freshman year in ways that promote student development and that provide clear, consistent, and accurate information that is easily accessible to students.'(p. 9)   I thought about how many workshops we provided for students. Even after careful preparation, beautiful handouts, masterful promotion, two students may show up. What were we doing wrong? Tinto had the answer-go into the classroom.  The next question, of course, was how are we going to sell that to faculty members. Understandably, our professors resist having class time taken from their students. The most important thing to our professors was providing valuable subject content to students. Who could argue with that?

The week after our return home from Denver, Rusty told me about a program he knew of called, 'Don't Cancel That Class'.  Professors who were attending conferences, or for other reasons could not meet with their class, asked student services personnel to present information to their class or classes. Many colleges provide information under this model, including Duke University, University of Massachusetts, Waynesburg College, University of Michigan, and Randolph and Macon College. I don't know who had the original idea, but it still is a great idea. Rusty and I put our heads together and came up with the idea for 'College Café' modeled after the idea of 'Don't Cancel That Class'. Rusty thought having a fancy printed menu with wonderful graphics would lend a little class to the project and he had an idea in mind for such a menu. Before we got much further, however, Rusty was offered an opportunity he couldn't resist back in his home state of Texas. I worked in bits and pieces on a menu (not very fancy, but it has graphics) and offerings for 'College Café'.

With a new dean, John Hockett, the idea of College Café was moved forward. John and I met with the academic deans to get their reactions and questions. They were supportive and suggested we give faculty members the opportunity to have input.   I met with department chairs to present College Café and the philosophy behind it. By going into the classroom and 'capturing' students, we had the opportunity to give students information they often didn't even know they needed. Our objectives were (and still are):

  • Expose students to information that may increase the students' success rate in classes.
  • Increase students' resilience to normal stresses of academic life.
  • Increase students' comfort level with counselors in Student Development, so they are more likely to seek out available resources.
  • Increase students' personal understanding of their own life circumstances.
  • Integrate academic advising with the whole college experience.
  • Build collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Services.

The Provost invited me to introduce College Café during the 2002 Fall Convocation. Faculty members were given 'menus' and the concept of College Café was introduced. This also gave professors the opportunity to ask questions and to match a face to the service being provided by The Center for Student Development. Every Student Development Counselor has the opportunity to present information to students through College Café. At our institution, some divisions utilize this service more than other divisions, but all divisions have used College Café at one time or another. Students have been very receptive to the presentations. Attached is a copy of our College Café menu of services. Like most of my colleagues in NACADA, I invite you to use what you wish in order to assist students.


Authored by: 

Peggy Jordan

Professor of Psychology

Oklahoma City Community College

Cite this resource using APA style as:

Jordan, P. (2003). College Cafe. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:

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