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Voices of the Global Community

Entries for February 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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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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