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Voices of the Global Community

Entries for September 2007

In the din of our hectic and harried world, silence is an under-rated and under-valued gift. Between cell phones, MP3 players, Blackberries, television, e-mail, cars, subways, planes, and trains, many of us hardly ever experience stillness or silence. This article is not an attempt at religious conversion, but when academic advisors are mindful about using silence, or allowing silence to take hold, it can be, truly, revelatory. In my work, I serve both as an academic advisor and have responsibility for administering the college’s policy on academic integrity, so silence is something that I use at appropriate moments with good effect. And when I am speaking with parents or families, there is often nothing more powerful than a moment of rich silence.

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Much has been accomplished during the past year to build on our past and strengthen our future....It is essential that NACADA plan now for future expansion and stability...As we look toward the future, I know NACADA will continue to grow and expand under the leadership of President Jenny Bloom and Vice President Casey Self as well as Interim Executive Director Charlie Nutt. I know they will move NACADA forward and that each of you will be actively involved in the work of the Association.

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Life has an interesting way of evolving! Little did I realize in 1978 (at the age of 31) while serving as Director of Conferences at Kansas State University, that a phone call with three advisors (Toni Trombley, Vermont; Frank Dyer, Tennessee; and Billie Jacobini, Illinois) might determine the rest of my life’s work. That call was to discuss the possibility of the K-State Conference Office coordinating the annual conference on academic advising and in particular, the 1979 conference which would be the inaugural meeting of the National Academic Advising Association. I secured that “piece of business” and NACADA was formally a part of my life.

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It is with mixed emotions that I write commending Bobbie Flaherty on her outstanding years of service with NACADA and impending phased retirement. As a long-time member of this Association and one who has held office in many capacities over the years, I can hardly remember not knowing Bobbie or relying on her expertise/guidance and her historical perspective.

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Our UK colleagues appeared excited about collaborating with NACADA, demonstrated great interest in NACADA resources, and expressed considerable “ah” as Charlie awarded a complimentary NACADA membership to one lucky individual at the end of the conference. These colleagues will join 23 current members from Australia, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Egypt, England, Grenada, India, Jamaica, Kuwait, Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, and United Arab Emirates in leading the global expansion of NACADA beyond North America. It is evident that NACADA’s resources and expertise are becoming widely known throughout the world as higher education systems face similar issues in these evolving times.

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Academic advisors tell and listen to stories every day...narrative theory—found mainly in literature, film studies, anthropology, and nursing—recommends itself as an example of how theory from outside academic advising may help us better explain academic advising and make us better practitioners. 

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High achievers characteristically appear to know what they are doing and where they are going. But this is often far from the truth. Many honors students have been programmed and pushed from so many different directions that they hardly know what to study and what they really want to do with their lives....From my perspective, I see the work of advisors as helping these students break away from parental influence so they can find their own desires and professions. Advising high achievers is something like training a thoroughbred. Here are some suggestions I hope will be helpful.

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Is it time for a ‘program review’ of your academic advising unit? Would an evaluation by external reviewers be just what is needed to jump-start significant changes in an advising program? A fresh perspective on the situations we see day-in and day-out can help us assess practical matters such as routine processes, forms, procedures, staffing, and physical arrangements. An external review can help us more closely align our efforts with institutional strategic plans and provide the evidence needed for additional resource allocation.

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As more and more Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines return home from war, there is a greater need than ever for educational institutions to provide these students with resources and support. Academic advisors are in an ideal position to both advocate for this student group and to provide the support services these students need to transition to academia, persist through their programs, and reach their graduation goals.

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Our relevance assures student engagement, and engagement assures student success. Therefore, our relevancy will ensure successful students (Prentiss, 2007). Are we, as advisors, acting irresponsibly by avoiding FacebookTM? Building on Julie Traxler’s (2007) article, Advising Without Walls: An Introduction to Facebook as an Advising Tool, which focuses on the benefits of using this social networking Web site, I hope to show that, with proper care and an eye toward maintaining relevance, Facebook could be one of our most valuable tools for student engagement.

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One of the most important learning objectives an advisor can have for students is to teach students to become responsible advisees. While advisor development programs seek to ensure that advisors fulfill their responsibilities, often a vital link is overlooked. Students do not instinctively know how to be responsible advisees. We must teach students the value and process of advising and how to fulfill their advisee responsibilities.

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Intrusive Advising involves proactive interactions with students, with the intention of connecting with them before a situation occurs that cannot be fixed. Intrusive Advising is not “hand-holding” or parenting, but rather active concern for students’ academic preparation; it is a willingness to assist students in exploring services and programs to improve skills and increase academic motivation (Upcraft & Kramer, 1995).

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First generation students often require more attention than other students. Academic advisors can help ensure the success of these students when they are prepared. Advisors who apply the six practical suggestions listed in this article can guide first generation students through their toughest and most rewarding years and in turn help them graduate.

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It is not realistic to expect every academic advisor to know the particulars about the financial aid world. However, when it comes to dealing with students whose aid is jeopardized or lost because of previous academic performance, advisors at both public and private institutions should be able to discuss all of the ramifications so that students are able to make informed decisions about these potentially life-altering matters.

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Achieving in college is the proverbial mountain that so many students face. For some students, specifically those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, the mountain presents a daunting task and they are unsure about whether they have the tools or ability to reach the top. These students can be called our “at risk” students or students who are on the edge of academic failure. As a new advisor in the College of Education, I was responsible for creating a success plan that would address the needs of students having academic difficulty. So here I was, standing at the top of the mountain and attempting to map out a plan that would support the students in their climb to success.

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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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