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Voices of the Global Community

Entries for 2006

From 56 attendees in its inaugural year to 280 participants in 2005, the Academic Advising Summer Institutes (SI) have blossomed into one of NACADA's most highly-anticipated annual offerings. SI founder Wes Habley recalls that "in the early '80s, the prevailing opinion about academic advising was that, just as every institution was different, every institution’s advising program was different. In a sense, there was no real common body of understandings and beliefs about advising." However, Habley's experiences suggested otherwise. He believed that "there were commonalities across institutions and across advising programs, and those commonalities formed a set of building blocks or core concepts that could be identified and shared." Thus, in establishing the first Academic Advising Summer Institute, Habley's intention was "to provide an extensive curriculum of building blocks (core concepts) that would affirm advisors and advising and provide participants with a support network and an impetus to take action to enhance advising." Although the SI curriculum has grown and changed over the years, "in many ways," says Habley, "the intended outcomes for the first Summer Institute continue to this day."

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I am very honored to be writing my second letter as President of NACADA. We had a record number of attendees at the National Conference in Las Vegas, NV Oct. 5-8, 2006, with over 3380 registered. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we hope those in attendance found this Conference to be a most rewarding professional experience, which will lead to more opportunities in the coming year.

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As we continue to celebrate our growing membership (now over 9100!), it seems appropriate to pause just a moment to consider how we got to this point. So, I am going to try to highlight some of the important moments in NACADA’s history that have contributed to its continued growth and success. I am convinced that NACADA has been blessed with exceptional leadership at all stages of its development – leaders who had a vision for the Association and recognized how to continually change the organizational structure to be most responsive to the needs of the growing membership.

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Light (2001) notes that “good advising may be one of the single most underestimated characteristics of a successful college experience.” Yet, academic advising is as diversified as our varied institutional missions and purposes. Therefore, it is important that we keep in mind that advising programs are designed and implemented to meet the unique and changing needs of today’s students, their enrollment patterns, population groups, budgets, and diversity within the institution.

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Gambling on academic advising success? Using the balanced scorecard approach could lead to advising windfalls.... Development of a BSC begins with a clearly stated mission or purpose, measurable objectives and strategies to meet those objectives. Then under each perspective, specific outcomes are identified for each strategy. For example, if one of our strategies is to utilize faculty advisors, then a desired outcome might be the development of faculty’s advising skills.

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Even in this day of expanding job duties, an academic advisor’s primary function remains to assist students in reaching both their academic and career goals. However, completing the primary function of the job has become more challenging because of unrealistic career expectations developed through media influence.

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Preparing students for a career is not higher education’s primary focus. However, the question is understandable. We expect an action to produce an outcome, a direction. “Undecided” insinuates unknowing, and unknowing suggests lack of direction. We stress the need for critical thinking, developing transferable skills, immersion in learning situations, and studying a topic in-depth, i.e., the importance of college for the intellectual experience itself. Nonetheless, the anxiety over what happens the Monday after graduation weighs heavily from day one for students (and their parents); thus it demands our attention.

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...Assessing dispositions is an area that is necessary but difficult and is still in the process of development. Academic advisors have a plethora of valuable information about student dispositions and this resource is underutilized. More information needs to be gathered about the who, what, when, and how of disposition evaluation. Increased formal involvement of advisors needs to be explored and implemented.

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The Marquette University School of Education prepares teachers for urban classrooms. As the School’s Director of Undergraduate Advising, I occasionally hear complaints from beginning students (who, as a group, are predominantly Caucasian) about what they consider to be the disproportionate focus on diversity issues within their Education courses.“I’m not a racist!” each student invariably proclaims. They report that the recurring discussion about white privilege and social justice makes them feel uncomfortable. “Good!” I think to myself. “Here’s the opening for a serious teachable moment.” I feel prepared to talk with these students about the program’s goals. We discuss the importance of recognizing ourselves as cultural beings and how biases aren’t always apparent intellectually but can manifest themselves in practice.

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Last summer I attended the NACADA Summer Institute (SI) as a team member from my community college. There were about 130 participants in this SI; about twenty were faculty members. Of those twenty faculty members, I was the sole ESL teacher. I asked a lot of questions, and I did a lot of listening. Once again, I was struck with the dissimilarities when it comes to ESL students.

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In 1987, Summer Institute founder Wes Habley – who was completing his two-year term as NACADA's president – had recently accepted a position as Associate Director of the ACT National Center. The role of the Center was to develop conferences and workshops on a variety of topics in higher education. Habley recalls that it had become clear to him "that academic advising was unlike any other student support service. It afforded the continuing process of engaging students in a positive and meaningful way about important educational and career decisions." From the "huge groundswell of interest in advising" that he had witnessed in his thirteen years as an advisor, Habley knew "that advising was as exciting to many, many other people as it was to me…My new role with ACT provided a venue to develop and lead conferences and workshops. As a result, we offered the first Summer Institute at the University of Iowa in 1987."

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From June 2005 through December 2011, this publication was titled Academic Advising Today: Lighting Student Pathways. 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 advisors can play an integral role in promoting student success by assisting students in ways that encourage them to engage in the right kinds of activities, inside and outside the classroom.

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Greetings! I hope this has been a happy spring for each of you! As I have traveled to Regional Conferences, I have been reminded how special NACADA members are, and I deeply appreciate your enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication to our mission of providing quality academic advising for our students and to our Association.

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The NACADA Board of Directors and the Council met in Indianapolis in April for their annual mid-year meetings and found “Indy” to be a wonderful venue for NACADA’s upcoming annual Conference. The folks at IUPUI were terrific hosts and provided an opportunity to see more of the city by hosting a wonderful reception at Dean Evenbeck’s home and providing transportation through a beautiful historic district. Couple this experience with a vibrantly beautiful downtown area adjacent to the Convention Center and our host hotels, and everyone was convinced that NACADA Conference participants in October will be very pleased with their Indy experience! Restaurants and entertainment and parks galore offer a multitude of opportunities for exploration.

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The learning community is an important asset to college campuses around the country. As an advising community, we should consider what we can discover from learning communities and explore methods of applying these lessons to our advising duties.

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When using Facebook, both higher education professionals and students should proceed with caution. When talking with students, we should warn them to be cautious regarding the content that they post on their profiles. Students believe that Facebook is a students-only site, and that what they post there will only be seen by other students. We should make them aware that professors, administrators, and employers are learning about the site and can sign up for their own accounts with an institutional email address. When considering how we as advisors might use the site, we must keep our ethical standards in mind. Our goal should be to serve the students to the best of our abilities and support their success. We will need to use our best judgment when deciding whether or not to use Facebook contents in disposition assessments and be honest with our students about the impression the profile presents. Before including content from a Facebook profile in any assessments or recommendations, we should have a conversation with the student about how that content could affect the student’s career. Doing so will give students insight into how their profiles represent them and provide them with the opportunity for growth and maturity. Our students should be able to express themselves in their own networks, but we should encourage them to do so with integrity.

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Each year, tens of thousands of college students across the United States are placed on probation as a result of the low grades they earned during the previous term. Regardless of class standing, no students—freshmen through seniors—are immune to academic performance issues. Even the most academically talented students with impressive academic credentials often find themselves struggling for the first time when they enroll in college. Reasons for student academic difficulties are not impossible to address or remedy. However, colleges and universities struggle with developing and implementing effective programs to assist students on probation. In addition, advisors have experienced difficulty locating resources that adequately address the specific needs of this student population. So what can advisors do to overcome their own frustration at working with this challenging population while at the same time assisting students to achieve academic success?

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Advising is changing daily. Technological advancements and increased distance education have the potential to drastically change current advising practice. Calls for accountability and the increasing litigious nature of American society have added more concerns and pressures to advisors' daily activities. Increased caseloads and lack of resources often preclude advisors from being able to engage in holistic developmental advising. This article will present the integrative approach to advising, which is a more flexible method that draws from a variety of other perspectives (Church, 2005). Many advising approaches have merit, but they may not correlate to the hectic work environment faced by many advisors.

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Most department or office budgets do not stretch very far. Without budget growth, trying to offer additional programs and services to a multitude of students and provide adequate salaries or stipends for staff members or faculty advisors can be challenging in the face of growing student populations. In times of budget cuts, this challenge becomes nearly impossible. One method institutions have used to confront this challenge is assessing an advising fee to students. These fees may be used to provide new services or to continue to provide existing advising services. The objective of this article is to share with advising administrators methods and means by which some institutions and departments have initiated and used advising fees.

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Institutions of higher education continually face budget constraints as they struggle to provide high quality services to students. Today many institutions turn to academic advisors for assistance in meeting this challenge. 'Academic advising is the only structured activity on the campus in which all students have the opportunity for on-going, one-to-one interaction with a concerned representative of the institution' (Habley, 1994). While the delivery of advising services varies among institutions, one option can help address the needs of both students and institutions: the employment of graduate assistants (GAs) within advising offices.

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Teaching college was supposed to be freeing and provide me with the ability to teach students who pay to be in class, who want to be in class. These are supposed to be students who are eager to soak up what I have to offer, who come to class and behave, and who are responsible. I began my higher education career as an adjunct the semester before my contract as a full-time assistant professor began. As I watched my soon-to-be colleagues manage teaching responsibilities, committee assignments, and advising sessions, I became more and more eager to begin working with students. My first semester began, and I realized that my doctoral work had prepared me to teach, but nothing prepared me for academic advising – not even my own experience on the other side of the desk. What I had imagined would be the easiest part of my job became both one of the most challenging and most rewarding.

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I have long heard a saying that I would chuckle over, “Those who can’t teach, consult.” Mind you, I am neither formally a teacher nor a consultant (as of this writing), so I beg the pardon of the author of this quote because I think the truth is quite the opposite, “Those who consult, teach.

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The NACADA Board of Directors and the Executive Office appreciate the time that NACADA members took to study the qualifications and platform statements of the candidates and cast their votes online. We also thank all individuals who participated in the election—the candidates who ran for office as well as those who nominated them. Congratulations to those who have been elected to leadership positions. Their willingness to make this commitment to NACADA is greatly appreciated.

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From June 2005 through December 2011, this publication was titled Academic Advising Today: Lighting Student Pathways. 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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In the process of developing an academic and career plan, it is important for advisors to help students understand how their career fits in the context of their future. The context involves a workplace that is changing and a future that will likely provide less security, an increased level of competitiveness, and an increased rate of change. Gordon (2006) stated that 'now as never before, academic advisors need to be in tune with the changing workplace and the many factors influencing it' (p. viii) and to use this knowledge to enhance their advising and facilitate students' academic and career planning.

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As I write this final article as president, I look back at a year that has proven fruitful in many ways. Following a record Annual Conference attendance of 3,380 in Las Vegas last October, February found us in Clearwater Beach, Florida for three outstanding professional development events: the Ethical/Legal Issues in Academic Advising Seminar, the 4th Annual Academic Advising Administrators' Institute, and the 2nd Annual Assessment of Academic Advising Institute.

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The new academic year always brings new members to NACADA, and along with those who have settled into the Association, there are many who are ready to increase their level of participation. NACADA leaders become involved for a variety of reasons: to enhance their professional development, to raise the visibility of academic advising on their campus, to contribute to the advancement of the field and profession, to develop leadership skills, to enhance their network of colleagues around the world, and many others. It is my hope that everyone who wishes to be involved can be! We need EVERYONE!

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Can you remember a pivotal advising moment when a question you asked caused a student to stop and respond, "Good point. I never thought of that before' "  In that second, you realized you had a wonderful sound bite to remember, because that simple question challenged the student to develop a new perspective on his or her motivations, interests, or opportunities. As academic advisors, we engage students on a daily basis and ask the tough questions that encourage them to take responsibility for their academic success. We are pleased to have this opportunity to share with you some effective sound bites we have gathered, and to offer ideas for sharing your sound bites with your colleagues.

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Typical advising sessions can quickly turn into crisis points when students' conversations lead to disclosure of personal concerns and struggles (Butler, 1995). Students trying to deal with issues related to major career concerns, disabilities, pregnancy, mental health issues and thoughts of suicide are clearly overwhelmed and in need of additional assistance. When mundane advising issues are pushed aside with student crisis, advisors must know how to effectively refer those students for help (Shane, 1981; Kuhn, Gordon, & Webber, 2006).

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"Why do I need to be aware of GLBT persons or issues?"  Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin (1948) in their seminal work noted that up to ten percent of the population may be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender (GLBT). Thus, probability alone suggests that advisors will work with many GLBT students during their careers. Others may say, "What does it matter if I know a person's sexual orientation?"  True, we may not need to know a student's sexual orientation to be a good advisor, but there are times when issues of sexual orientation arise. This can occur when advisors seek to connect with students in a holistic way i.e., when they seek to know more about students than their course schedules.

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This article describes Sacred Heart University's Hispanic Adult Achievers Program, a program established to address the unique educational needs of Latinos who have immigrated to the United States as adults. The article includes student achievement and retention data, as well as a brief discussion of the advising and retention strategies used.

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Working with high-achievers can be immensely satisfying: they are the students most likely to live out their advisors' ideals of the academic life. At the same time, these students present special challenges. Because they have such potential, it takes knowledge, research, and creativity to serve them well. Further, although they come to college with the same developmental needs as other students, those needs can be hidden behind their confident surface of accomplishment. Their abilities may set them up for perfectionism, social isolation, identity foreclosure or diffusion-problems that become evident only in crisis. Thus, advisors who work with high achievers need both a thorough knowledge of the opportunities open to these students and the sensitivity to support them through realization of these opportunities. How can advisors prepare for such challenges?

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Nationally, study abroad interest is high, but participation falls far short of the interest expressed by students entering college. Perceived barriers and myths may deter students from studying abroad, widening the gap between interest and participation. Effective advising can foster interest and participation by addressing barriers, dispelling myths, and emphasizing the value of study abroad.

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As advisors and students meet this fall, advisors may notice an increase in the number of students who have received learning disability services in high school. Ironically, these same students may not have the documentation necessary to receive accommodation at the college level. This is the result of the 2004 revisions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These revisions will also impact student accommodations for such professional tests as the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), required for admission to some teacher education programs.

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Sometimes our more creative ideas occur in places like the shower, or maybe at a coffee shop. In this case, it came to me on a city bus riding home at the end of a day filled with advising undecided students. It was January 2005, and I was trying to find a way to present some of the basic relational skills involved in advising undecided students, and yet, have it fit with the theme of the upcoming NACADA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. My mind kept wandering to the image of 'advising' dice. Then, it hit me. Grabbing an envelope that used to hold one of my monthly bills, I began to scribble furiously. This is what in the end came of my chicken-scratched envelope.

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I'm a bicyclist. I love the road. I tried off-road cycling, but I didn't like the uncertainty of the trail. There were too many turns, obstacles, and variables for my liking. I like a well paved, proven, and clearly marked path with unambiguous edges and boundaries. It is my comfort zone.When I approached advising, I wanted the same thing - a well-defined, clear path without obstacles. I sought a clean edge. But, as I have discovered, I would never experience new possibilities until I was willing to move out past the edges. The terrain out past the edges is filled with a rich fauna of color and texture. It is here that I have found the fullness of advising.

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An academic advisor's job includes encouraging students to get involved in campus activities that will help them become better students and contribute to their academic and career development. I'm here to tell you that you need to listen to your own advice!

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From June 2005 through December 2011, this publication was titled Academic Advising Today: Lighting Student Pathways. 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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As we move into the 21st century, we find ourselves in a time when our educational system is plagued with a high number of dropouts and many students who complete college lack important skill sets. We also know that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in developing the workforce needed to sustain our communities. As higher education professionals, we must commit to implementing programs that focus on student learning outcomes.

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Once again, the NACADA Annual Conference was a resounding success! The breadth, depth, and quality of presentations from the pre-conference workshops through the concurrent and poster sessions were truly outstanding. Over and over again, colleagues with whom we had the opportunity to speak during the course of the short week indicated how impressed they were with the information being presented and the commitment to student success that was evident by all. Our shared commitment to student success reinforces our own observations about NACADA's membership, that is, we are, indeed, a community of teachers-scholars-learners. We fluidly move from role to role unselfishly sharing our knowledge and ideas for practice and, simultaneously, learning from each other. Who could ask for more?

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NACADA's shared governance structure encourages members to get involved with the Association and provides a variety of opportunities for various degrees of involvement - from committee or task force membership within one of the Divisions to the Board of Directors. Each position provides an opportunity to be involved and to shape the work of the Association while exercising your leadership skills.

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At their October 21, 2006 meeting, the NACADA Board of Directors approved the proposed NACADA Concept of Academic Advising Statement....NACADA is pleased to provide this new resource to our members and encourages you all to utilize the Concept of Academic Advising as you work on your campuses. 

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They sit in front of us, sometimes dejected, sometimes irreverent, always wondering, "What does this mean? What's going to happen now?"  Students who have earned academic suspension status are generally uneasy about speaking with an academic advisor, even though they may not tell us. Some did not realize that they were suspended until they came to register for classes. Many have lots of 'reasons' why they are in academic trouble. ALL of them need us! How can we approach these students to best meet their educational, occupational, and sometimes personal, needs?

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The program, Career Coach, comprises a series of personal and career developmental workshops supported by a powerful, interactive e-profile tool. Each class, in year one, attends a weekly hour workshop with a counselor to address one of the Career Coach themes. The workshops revolve around three main themes: Self ExplorationLife Skills, and the Job Search Process. In their first semester, students participate in a series of workshops to explore their personal styles, values, characteristics, and learning styles. Students are introduced to college life, academic expectations, rules and regulations in an attempt to support them as they settle in their new environment. In the second semester, workshops are aimed at supporting students personal and academic development with sessions that revolve around building self esteem, setting goals, time management, communication skills and style, team work, assessment management and presentation skills. 

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Advisors must understand how identity management (i.e., deciding when and if to disclose one's sexual or gender identity) affects students' academic success and career decision-making. We should be prepared to help students discern and prioritize their career values so they can make well-informed decisions. Additionally, advisors should become knowledgeable about the realities of oppression and provide students with guidance based in research.

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There are many benefits to utilizing the active learning environment of web-based instruction. The effectiveness of any learning environment is based upon the types and levels of cognitive and metacognitive activity engendered in the learning process (Oliver, 1996). Learning is enhanced in active environments in which students are engaged in processing personally relevant content and reflection during the learning process. Web-based instruction facilitates student-centered approaches and an active learning environment rich with visual and audio stimuli (Winfield, 1998). It can provide a medium that supports learning in an active learning environment and the ability to track skills and identify gaps in knowledge. It allows for reflective time in the learning process and a degree of participation well beyond that which is possible within the time constraints of a place-based session (Parker, 1998).

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Peer advising continues to grow in undergraduate programs (Koring and Campbell, 2005, p. 9). Despite this, little research has been devoted to outcomes of peer advising or student satisfaction with the process. What research has been done indicates that peer advising has positive outcomes in terms of student involvement, academic achievement and retention (Koring and Campbell, 2005). Nelson and Fonzi (1995) discovered that 80% of students who participate in a peer advising program find the process to be satisfactory, but they do not specify the terms of satisfaction (p. 42).

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The Action Plan I crafted at the 2005 NACADA Summer Institute focused on the interactions between our academic advisors, IPFW students and their families. My charge was to find a way to include family in the advising conversation without taking attention away from student development and still work within FERPA guidelines. I applied the following process, adapted from Robert Sternberg's (1987) Successful Intelligence, to this issue.

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The highly decentralized advising system at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) makes it difficult to gain a reliable view of the effectiveness of advising on campus. In response to the developing emphasis on campus toward assessment, a team of advisors was asked to lead an initiative to address this need. As representatives of the UAB advising community, we were asked by the administrators of our institution to attend the 2005 NACADA Assessment of Academic Advising Institute to begin the assessment process. Although we were from three different units, we were able to utilize our campus wide Committee on Academic Advising (CAA) to provide the structure for this project. The result of our two-year effort is a comprehensive approach to assessment that will be implemented university wide.

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One acronym strikes fear into many in the south-QEP. The QEP or Quality Enhancement Plan is a requirement for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This is how one college, with NACADA 's help, survived and thrived during its QEP journey.

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As the field of enrollment management continues to develop, advisors will be asked to assume leadership roles because of our unique background of student involvement and post-secondary administration. It is our knowledge of both areas that give us the ability to affect change throughout the institution. The result will be the success of our students and the long-term viability of the institution.

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One of the hallmarks of a small, liberal arts college is its ability to provide students with a personal connection with the institution. The Department of Biology at Indiana University - Bloomington (IUB) has over 1,200 majors and, until recently, only two advisors. This large advisee load challenges advisors who seek to provide students with both excellent guidance and the kind of personal attention they would find in a smaller school.

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As academic advisors, we have an opportunity to not only encourage students to earn their degrees, but we can take a special interest in helping them develop into successful professionals. Giving a student 'an ear' to actively listen, providing the 'extra push' needed for forward academic progress, and at times, sharing our own experiences with students should never be done in a sense of duty but should be a privilege. Helping students find academic direction before enrollment will satisfy students' short term objectives, but inspiring them will enrich their confidence and have a far-reaching effect on their undergraduate experience.

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Nearly 2,600 colleagues came to Indianapolis October 18-21 to share information on current advising topics. To paraphrase one participant: 'I thought this Conference was outstanding. I have never been to a conference where the rooms were so full with participants on the last day of the conference. Obviously, the Conference attendees were really energized in Indianapolis and eager to learn as much as they could.'

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From June 2005 through December 2011, this publication was titled Academic Advising Today: Lighting Student Pathways. 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.