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Voices of the Global Community


2007 December 30:4

Today’s students use technologies to explore their world in entirely new ways. With these new technologies they speak an entirely different language, one they expect us to understand... Our students look to us to incorporate these new technologies into our advising practice. 

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There are many reasons why I think that NACADA is the best professional organization on the planet, but the Annual Conference is certainly one of the top ones. The opportunity to get together with over 3,000 people who share the same passion for student success and appreciation for the important role that advisors play on college campuses throughout the country is reinvigorating and inspiring.

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After an international search, Dean Michael Holen of Kansas State University has named Charlie Nutt as Executive Director of NACADA, replacing Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, who moved into phased retirement as of August 1.

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What a wonderful way to spend the first week of your new job – with over 3,000 of your best friends in the wonderful city of Baltimore! The 31st Annual Conference of the National Academic Advising Association was clearly a first in so many ways – my first in the role as Executive Director, the celebration of the superb and memorable leadership of our first Emeritus Executive Director Roberta “Bobbie” Flaherty, the introduction of our first Charter Class of Emerging Leaders and Mentors, the first time our NACADA chorus opened our Conference, and our first Conference overseen by a Pirate!

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The Diversity Committee has developed the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program to encourage members from diverse groups to get involved in leadership opportunities within the organization, outfit participants with the skills and tools necessary to pursue elected and appointed leadership positions, increase the number of leaders from diverse groups, and encourage and assist members of underrepresented populations to attend State, Regional, or National Conferences.

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Communicating essential and often timely information to students can be a daunting daily task for academic advisors. Although today’s students are often considered more “connected” to technology than previous generations, this connectivity can present a new obstacle: competing to get students’ attention....As technology becomes more dynamic, moving from email to MySpace/Facebook and beyond, advisors may find themselves searching for ways to reach their advisees. Podcasting is just one of many tools advisors can and should consider using.

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Most colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to take public speaking and composition courses; many require coursework in these areas. Yet, there is not a similar emphasis on basic, everyday communication skills such as e-mail etiquette. While formal classes addressing everyday communication skills might not be on the near horizon, academic advisors can make an immediate and important contribution to improving students’ communication etiquette.

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Today’s college students are the most diverse advisors have ever encountered; with that diversity comes the need to design advising experiences to meet certain fundamental goals while simultaneously ensuring that advising materials, delivery methods and interpersonal communication are accessible and meaningful to each student. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) offers advisors a framework for designing and delivering high-quality advising to students with varying backgrounds and learning styles. This article will first lay out some background about UDL, then focus on applying its principles in advising contexts.

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The NACADA Core Values challenge advisors to “help students establish realistic goals and objectives and encourage them to be responsible for their own progress and success” (NACADA, 2004). As advisors, we know that helping students to set goals and to monitor their progress assists them with achieving their desired educational outcomes....How might we define desirable learning outcomes for study abroad participants? Categorizing learning outcomes into three areas can help students determine realistic goals for their study abroad.

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Imagine a college or university in which students feel that no matter which staff member, advisor, or professor they approach, they have an equal chance of being assisted, nurtured or challenged -- no matter the issue, no matter the question. At this institution, the academic mission and the professional commitment to student welfare meshes seamlessly and is embraced by staff, faculty, and administrators. Here it is clear that everyone shares in the responsibility of the institution’s mission and reaps the involvement and engagement that results. Imagine an institution where shared responsibilities means academic and professional opportunities for students, staff, and faculty exist in abundance.

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The effect of institutional policies and campus environments on advising undecided students is discussed within the Commission on Undecided/Exploratory Students membership through listservs, conference presentations, and informal conversations. Often the focus of the discussion is how students are served and how advisors deal with institutional policies and practices. The impact that institutional policies and environments can have upon our undecided students is considerable. As Lewallen (1995) explains, “some institutions are extremely supportive; others are indifferent or even nonsupportive. These approaches appear to have the potential to profoundly influence a student’s willingness to declare being undecided” (p.28-29). This article briefly examines some of the literature related to these topics.

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As we continue to study First Generation College Students, we become increasingly aware of several subgroups within this special population of students. We can identify adult students with family and job responsibilities, those who are among the first in their families to be born in this country, and foster care alumni who are aging out of the foster care system as three subgroups advisors can assist. Each of these groups faces particular issues as they seek a college education. A closer look at these students reveals special needs that academic advisors must take into account if they are to provide these students with the care they require to succeed.

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Advising is an awesome responsibility and privilege in today’s educational climate. To be a good role model, learn to reduce stress, exercise regularly, eat properly, and think positively. Advisors who have mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body) will live longer, feel better, and be more effective during their careers.

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The college experience plays a fundamental role in a student’s personal development. We believe that increased accessibility to pre-college, credit-bearing options indicates that the number of students who earn pre-college credits will continue to grow. This continued growth will challenge higher education institutions to find ways to meet the needs of these younger college students. The most successful students will be those whose college educations help them make intentional decisions about their classes, majors, and careers in conjunction with successful evolution through developmental stages.

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Over 3100 colleagues came to Baltimore October 18-21 to share information on current advising topics. To paraphrase one participant: “Thanks for putting on a spectacular conference. As a newbie to NACADA, and a relatively new professional in Student Affairs, I appreciated the breadth and depth provided in the sessions;and especially enjoyed the welcoming NACADA veterans that made me feel at home.

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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.

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