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Voices of the Global Community

Entries for June 2007

Ernie Pascarella and I have now reviewed nearly 35 years of research on how college affects students (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005), and it seems entirely reasonable to ask: 'Well, what did you learn, and so what?' Two sets of conclusions come to mind, one about how students learn and the other (more speculative) about how colleges shape that learning.

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Now, more than ever, we must draw upon each other and the resources of our Association to support our work. The myriad NACADA publications and events available to us makes the expertise of our colleagues (e.g., monographs, Webinars, Institutes, Consultants’ Bureau) and resources of our Association (a strong, credible community with remarkable executive office support) readily available to our quest. Collectively and collaboratively we can continue our march toward full realization of the potential of academic advising in higher education. I encourage us all to take advantage of this moment!

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The purpose of this Association is to impact student development through the enhancement of academic advising. One avenue for addressing this purpose is by heightening the recognition of the importance of effective academic advising within the higher education community in general and on campuses specifically. Our challenge becomes how to get our message to those who are not members of the Association, but are key campus decision makers.

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Recent statistical trends have led experts to project that ethnic minorities will become the numerical majority in the United States by the year 2010 (Cornett-Devito & Reeves, 1999). The impact of this growth is pervasive and, according to Howe & Strauss (2000), is evident in the current generation of students who are the most racially and ethnically diverse in this nation’s history. Those involved with collegiate student development must adapt current policies and practices to better meet the unique needs of our students. As academic advisors charged with facilitating the development of student potential, we must acquire new skills and strategies in order to provide more effective advising services.

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Konik and Stewart (2004) found that college students who identify as a sexual minority are linked with “more advanced global, political, religious, and occupational identity development” (p. 815) than their heterosexual peers. Advisors should note that the very gift of difference, both generational and in sexual identity, can be nurtured into a contributing gem of insight for a young gay person who participates in these global discussions. Maybe what we must learn from our advisees includes watching how our young people deny the social constraints of heterosexism, homophobia and other cultural barriers. So, how can we apply what seems intrinsic to some students as we advise them during their college careers?

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While some may consider college a refuge from the rest of the world, it is also a place where students struggle with finances, loss, career choices, unhealthy relationships, and a myriad of other concerns. Still others...cope with a diagnosed or undiagnosed mood disorder including depression, bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, dysthymia, or cyclothymia. The student with a mood disorder might visit an advisor for excessive absences, tardiness, repeatedly dropping courses, or poor academic standing. These students may believe they are failures, appear overly sensitive, pessimistic, dependent, irritable, or even hostile. Some have problems with concentration, motivation, indecisiveness, or being overly ambitious despite a lack of accomplishments. While none of these behaviors is proof of a mood disorder, it provides academic advisors with an opportunity to speak with students about support services available on their campus. In addition to giving guidance about a study skills class, time management workshops, or tutoring, advisors could inform students about college counseling services to increase their awareness. Sharkin, Plageman, & Coulter (2005) cited the importance of informing students about the benefits of counseling as a preventive measure before a crisis develops....Whether a student discloses a mood disorder or you suspect as much, advisors should know that relationships make a difference in the lives of students. As an advisor you are often the first contact for a student. The development of an encouraging relationship provides us with the opportunity to guide students to the most appropriate services, give support, and leave the door open to their future success.

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Busy advisors look for avenues to improve their services to students while making the most of their time. Group advising is a popular way advisors can efficiently connect with students. Whether faculty invite advisors to address a class or advisors hold student workshops, advisors may only have short amounts of time to communicate with a group of students. It is important that advisors make the most of that time.

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Individuals respond to retirement in many different ways. One person may respond to the question of retirement by saying, “I can’t wait,” while another person at the same institution working with the same people in the same position might say, “I hope I never have to retire.” What is it that causes people to have such differing responses? As a recent retiree, I have discovered that there is not a simple answer, nor is there “a one size fits all” way to manage this transition.Most retirement planning addresses the financial aspect, but equally important are the emotional and psychological pieces. This article will identify the key phases in the transition to retirement, suggest resources for those considering retirement, and share recommendations from my personal retirement transition journey.

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In the fall of 2006, I boldly went where no other “non-faculty” academic advisor at Seward County Community College had gone before; I joined the teaching scholar learning community. Why? One word: CURIOSITY. I wanted to test the catchy academic advising slogan, Advising is Teaching. I kept asking myself, if advising is teaching, then what links the two domains? What tools can we use to showcase these similarities? And how do we obtain buy-in from all stakeholders, especially students? As an academic advisor and a teaching scholar participant, I made it my charge to find this essential element.

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College administrators and faculty are responsible for making academic, programmatic and financial decisions that can greatly impact an advising program. The practice of academic advising can be misunderstood by those who do not function in an advising role. Thus, it is essential that advisors interpret the ‘story’ of an advising program in ways that are informative and of interest to decision makers.

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Are the training and development programs at your institution lecture heavy? Do participants nod off? Do their eyes glaze over as they listen to yet another talking head? While lecture is easy, it may not be effective. Research and experience have shown there are more effective means to reach audiences. Advisor training and development programs lay the foundation for quality academic advising and enhance the image and reputation of academic advising on campus. How faculty and staff advisors feel about advisor training and development influence how they feel about advising in general. Active training methods out perform lecture for learning and enhance the overall reputation of academic advising at the institutional level.

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Advisor training programs typically end just when the most critical part of an advisor’s development begins—the experiential synthesis of the conceptual, informational and relational components of advising that is achieved student-by-student in the advising chair. As a profession, we should do more to help new advisors reach their potential by creating year-long new advisor development programs that recognize the experiential nature of advisor development by setting realistic expectations for first-year advisor development, establishing expectations for long-term development and providing the necessary support to move from the first set of expectations to the second (Folsom, 2007, p. 8). With the publication of NACADA’s new monograph, The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Advising Through the First Year and Beyond, we now have the resources and tools to do this.

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Academic advising has seen an evolution from prescriptive advising, to developmental advising, to the current concept of advising as a teaching experience. Prescriptive advising is based on advisor as authority figure whose primary responsibility is to dispense information about classes and schedules and prescribe solutions for problems the student encounters (Winston & Sandor, 1984). Not only do many advisors with little or no training find this to be the easiest way to approach advising, the prescriptive approach often fits with how advising is viewed on many campuses.

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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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Today academic advisors, accustomed to the >hectic pace of student advisement appointments, find that it is not just students who show up at their doors; increasingly students are accompanied by their parents. Howe and Strauss (2000) point to an increased level of parental involvement during the college years of the millennial students: traditional-aged students who are characterized as being “close to their parents.” Many advisors struggle to find effective strategies for working with parents who accompany students to advising sessions.

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Regardless of the method – email, telephone or personal visits – faculty and staff on today’s campuses should expect to hear from concerned parents of traditional-aged college students. Advisors with an unclear understanding of FERPA can almost be afraid to talk to parents and thus can prematurely end a conversation that could be beneficial. Because the millennial generation values the opinions of their parents so highly (Jayson, 2006; Tucker, 2006), many parents may have more initial credibility with students than advisors. Advisors who listen to parent concerns and respond with helpful information can make parents into valuable allies in supporting successful students. Thus it is time to develop strategies to facilitate appropriate and productive conversations between parents, advisors and students.

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In early 2006, the NACADA Advising Graduate and Professional Students Commission achieved a milestone when it completed a comprehensive survey of its Commission membership. The results were both expected and surprising, with certain trends transcending the small confines of our very specialized group and adding further details to the state of the advising profession in general. On the broadest level, the findings show that we are overwhelmingly female, well educated, not very well paid, and rather poorly trained. Yet, we like our work.

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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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