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Voices of the Global Community

Entries for 2003

In tough economic times, higher education administrators are obliged to seek cost-saving measures and/or to conduct cost-benefit analyses of programs. Academic advising programs have often been the targets for such reviews. Academic advising administrators, therefore, must be prepared to respond to these challenges before they occur.

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It seems that everywhere I turn these days, there is news of another state or system that is experiencing budget cuts. And unfortunately, in many of these cases, our students are the ones who are most adversely affected when the dollars disappear.

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It is my hope to keep you all apprised of significant projects within NACADA that may impact your professional life at some point in the future. These projects may simply be “exploratory” or they may be providing the framework for a new service or understanding within the field of advising. My point is, though, that much is happening beyond what the members usually see, and that there is a multitude of volunteers diligently addressing a number of issues at any given time. Without the work of these willing volunteers, NACADA would never be able to accomplish its goals related to enhancing the development of students through effective academic advising. A BIG new year THANKS to all who have contributed (and will contribute) to NACADA’s successes!

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Research and best practices in academic advising can be valuable to new and veteran advisers looking to improve their effectiveness in serving students. However, if academic advising as a profession is to realize its deserved value and status on our campuses, we must find ways to spread the good word about advising to faculty, administrators, and decision-makers beyond the existing advising community. As Richard Light, in his book Making the Most of College (2001) stated, “good advising may be the single most underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience” (p. 81). Academic advising plays an important role in student success and retention. Therefore, we must strive to collaborate and build partnerships to further research and assessment and spread the good word about academic advising to the broader higher education community.

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An advising portfolio provides a rich and diverse way to document advising expertise. Portfolio use is increasingly prevalent in higher education. Student portfolios are used to demonstrate that students have met the desired outcomes of a given major or program. Faculty use teaching portfolios to illustrate their mastery when they apply for promotion or tenure. Universities create portfolios for a number of purposes and audiences—such as accreditation or student recruitment. Portfolios provide flexibility; advisors can use both quantitative and qualitative measures and can customize their portfolio to fit their particular advising situation. So using a portfolio to document advising performance puts advisors in the mainstream of assessment activities which are becoming more demanding as well as more sophisticated in their call for accountability.

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The issue of student retention and persistence has continued to grow in importance throughout the history of higher education in our country. Early studies (Astin, 1977) focused on the characteristics of those students who did not persist. Beginning in the 1970s, the research began to focus on the reasons students remained enrolled and how colleges and universities could make changes or develop programs to increase the retention of their students.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Good advising may be the single most underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience as noted by evidence gathered from 1,600 one-on-one undergraduate interviews. Several of the overarching findings from these interviews are 'actionable' by advisors. I look forward to sharing details from these findings with you at the NACADA national conference. However, since June brings freshman enrollment in many areas, I thought that you might benefit from a brief summary of the findings most applicable to advising incoming students.

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Independent of the individual positions that we each hold on our campuses, we all are seeking to create an environment where we can support each other and our students. I encourage you to seek out your colleagues…faculty, full-time advisors, administrators….and celebrate the great things you are doing in your corner of the world. Then tell others about those successes. We all enjoy hearing more 'good news'.

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So, the next time you are wondering what you get for that $50 (one of the lowest dues amounts among higher education associations), I encourage you to think beyond the obvious and continue to support the work of the association as it strives to impact the positive development of students through the support of academic advising. I invite you to please join us at any or all of our events and get involved with the work of the association. I promise you that the more you give to your association, the more you will receive!

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According to research conducted by Philip Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, many of today’s college students are the product of parents who have protected and sheltered their children from a dangerous world and have raised their children to see themselves as very special. These millennial students are confident and achievement-oriented, but feel pressured to succeed both academically and professionally (2003). As a result, many young adults enter college today with a sense of entitlement, a strong dependency on their parents, and the expectation that the university will hold their hand throughout their college career. What many of our academic advisers find during the Freshman Academic Orientation Program at Michigan State is that parents want to continue to hold the hand of their new college student and the student doesn’t necessarily want to let go.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Something had to be done about the advising practices at Sam Houston State University. In the years before research and scholarship became focal faculty achievements, students were assigned to faculty advisors across campus. But the days when faculty could devote the time necessary to adequately advise students were soon over. As the emphasis on research increased, faculty service areas became back burner items. This shift occurred even as it became increasingly apparent that we must provide closer and more intrusive advising for students struggling in their college courses.

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As you think about your own situation and reflect on your daily activities, consider the students you see who are experiencing a new beginning, an ending, or some type of change. Many face all three at the same time….especially the new students and those getting ready to graduate. Even though many of these changes are positive and self-initiated, there is still very often some degree of anxiety. In your advising role you encourage, support and sometimes challenge which gives many students the courage to grow and develop in very exciting ways.

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The annual NACADA National Conference will be here soon and has the Executive Office buzzing. The National Conference was the first professional development activity offered by NACADA and remains as a firm foundation upon which to build new activities and resources to meet the needs of our members. NACADA has been fortunate to have consistently introduced successful new activities and resources based on informal feedback among the leadership and the members. To continue this success, however, it is important that we continue to hear from the members exactly how the organization can assist in continued professional development and enhancement of academic advising.

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The first NACADA Task Force on Advisor Certification was established in 2001 to explore the feasibility of creating a “program to award certificates in academic advising to NACADA members.” That group recommended that certificates be awarded and standards leading to such certificates be established.

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Some international students may also feel they are discriminated against because they may pose a security threat to the United States. Ultimately, advisors can intervene this fall to identify international students and assist them in adapting to a new environment and new security measures. Often an understanding voice or face can do more than we know in helping international students make the necessary adaptations as they study in the United States.

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Is your job a source of stress in your life? Do you feel overworked and unappreciated? Do you feel irritable about minor things at work, or need a huge effort to complete the simplest tasks? Does it seem like you are always geared up, need to hurry up, catch up, or shut up? Are you fed up? If you answered yes to these questions, you could be the victim of too much stress.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Good assessment/evaluation can be expanded into good research. Good research should lead to even better assessment procedures. Good assessment makes use of the best conceptual and theoretical models and the best research measures or methods. With valid and reliable measures, campus-specific questions may have national implications. A phenomenon identified on your own campus may be the cutting edge for an issue of significant importance.

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After every NACADA National Conference, I return to my campus with a true sense of belonging to a profession that has student learning and development as its core value. I am reassured that I associate with a diverse group of advising colleagues who approach their life's work with this point of view or perspective. I am also reassured that there is a professional association that has as its focus the promotion of academic advising within higher education along with the professional development of its members. These beliefs shape how I think about NACADA, my colleagues and my work.

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CERTIFICATION - the much used word within NACADA these days and the most often confused. As the Association strives to bring greater professional recognition to advisors, it is exploring a number of ways to recognize the knowledge and skills that advisors attain and utilize in providing effective academic advising.

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Training and development of advisors becomes ever more central to the effectiveness of the advising process with the increasing diversity and complexity of our students' environments. While there is no 'one-size-fits-all' method for advisor training and development, case studies are among the most useful items in the trainer's tool box.

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Why do some students fail to succeed in college? What interventions are most successful with these students? There is great demand for research revolving around these questions. As chair of the Probation, Dismissal & Reinstatement (PDR) Issues Interest Group, I challenge you to approach your PDR students from a research perspective.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.

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