Peripatetic Advising: How Socrates, Advising, and Running Shoes Influence Student Success
Christina M. McIntyre, Virginia Tech
Advising is about relationships. Relationships are important. Relationships take time.
I recently discovered that my inherent advising philosophy is founded in the Socratic method. While not well versed in Greek philosophy, my influences have been others who were. George Sheehan, dubbed “Mark Twain in running shoes” and the author of Running and Being (1978) and Personal Best (1989), emphasized the connection between the
intellectual life and the physical life. I first encountered Socrates’
phrase “the unexamined life is not worth living” in Sheehan’s writings.
The challenge to examine one’s life is a difficult one. It requires a
balance between solitary thought and intentional dialog with others.
Socratic advising involves a series of questions asked not only to
discover individual answers, but to encourage insight into who we are, what motivates us, what is the basis for our
decisions. In this way, advising is teaching and teaching is advising.
We must continually remind ourselves that students don’t know what they
don’t know. They are limited by the awareness -- or lack of awareness
-- of their own ignorance.
While advising frequently takes place in the office, other opportunities for advising present themselves throughout the day: walking across campus, at the grocery store, eating lunch or riding the bus. Aristotle was known as a “peripatetic” lecturer – he taught as he walked about the peripatoi of the Lyceum gymnasium in Athens. Strikwerda (2007) presented the
image of “students jostling to get close to the teacher, some rushing
to keep pace while asking questions or taking notes and others
distracted by a bird flying overhead” (p. 99). While this complication may be viewed as a drawback, it is actually a strength. As students turn towards one another to ask What did she just say?, they begin to learn from one another. Troop (2010) discusses many in
academia who use running as a way to “help create that classic ‘Eureka!’
moment, an experience common to runners and other athletes who work
their bodies and let their minds wander” (¶ 6).
My peripatos is the Virginia Tech Drill Field, the Huckleberry Trail, or the
cross-country course. I have put out a call on the Honors listserv
for “peripatetic conversations” and students have responded. They have
googled the word, and curiosity has attracted those students who don’t
often “need” advice. Whether one or ten students heed the call, the
first five minutes entail a debate regarding the definition of the word
and how it applies to what we are doing. The pace of the walk or jog
is one that can sustain discussion.
In customary conversation, eye contact is
often encouraged; however, eye contact can be the barrier to addressing
an uncomfortable topic. Having a conversation where eye contact is
not practical (while walking or jogging side-by-side) allows for a
unique openness and flow to the conversation. Awkward topics, such as
struggling with a course and the consequences of dropping, become less
awkward. The terrain can allow for gaps in the conversation. When I ask a
question at the bottom of “chicken hill,” a quarter mile steep hill on
campus, the physical struggle to reach the top allows the student time
to also struggle with her though ts on that difficult question.
In considering advising as teaching, Lowenstein (2005) challenges
academic advisors to make advising an interactive process in which the
student plays an active role. The field of neuroscience supports the
theory that exercise increases the production of neurochemicals
associated with self-control and cognitive function. The mechanisms and
specific type of learning affected is up for debate. Ironically most
research studies on the effect of exercise on the brain involve walking
or running trials (Chodzko-Zajko W., 2009). Walking or running with
another requires an awareness of the other person. Is the pace too fast
or too slow? Pace dictates the rhythm or tempo of the conversation.
Culture can influence pace – a colleague from Nigeria prefers the pace
of a slow stroll. When walking with Biko, I find a calmness I don’t
normally have. These peripatetic walks often lead to follow-up meetings
or emails: an exchange of more information, an application to a
scholarship or program, a campus resource that would be helpful, an
article that seemed appropriate to the student and our conversation.
Academia often touts the virtues of life-long learning; but what about life-long living? Emulating a simple but healthy lifestyle behavior such as walking can complement the goal of life-long learning. We can easily isolate ourselves in our little sector of campus. Striking out on a journey across campus or into the surrounding neighborhood helps students discover areas and community that may otherwise remain unknown to them. The National Collegiate Honors Council offers a program called City as TextTM that encourages applications of this approach toactive learning in various settings, “Small teams investigate contested areas and issues in urban environments, or competing forces in natural ones, these exercises foster critical inquiry and integrative learning across disciplines” ('National Collegiate Honors Council: Honors Seminars and Faculty Institutes,' 2011, ¶ 4). Therefore, City as Text™ refers to structured explorations of places – campuses, towns, cities, communities, etc.(Strikwerda, 2007). Most campuses and their surrounding communities make great locations for this activity. The questions are limitless. Why is the campus located where it is? How has the community been affected by the growth of the college? In discussing these questions we learn more about ourselves and each other.
It is my hope that students’ memory of me is not as an advisor sitting
behind a desk, poring over Banner reports and paper files. I hope the
image in their mind’s eye is of me walking, or running, somewhere on
campus. I hope they remember me conversing with others and having an
open door, because there is no door. I hope my example challenges them
as professionals to be as accessible to their clients, patients, or
students as I have tried to be for them.
Advising is about relationships. Relationships are important. Relationships take time.
Christina M. McIntyre
Chodzko-Zajko W., Kramer, A.F., Poon L.W. (Ed.). (2009). Enhancing Cognitive Functioning and Brain Plasticity (Vol. 3). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Lowenstein, Marc. (2005). If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? NACADA Journal, 25(2), 65-73.
Machonis, Peter. (2010). City as text™, jungle as text: Iquitos and the Amazon. Retrieved from www.nchchonors.org/honors-semesters-2010-Jungle-as-Text.htm
National Collegiate Honors Council: Honors Seminars and Faculty Institutes. (2011). Retrieved from www.nchchonors.org/faculty_institutes.shtml
Selecting and effectively using a pedometer. (2005). In American College of Sports Medicine (Ed.).
Sheehan, G. (Ed.). (1978). Running and Being. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Sheehan, G. (Ed.). (1989). Personal Best. Emmaus: Rodale Press.
Strikwerda, R. (2007). Experiential learning and city as text: Reflections on Kolb and Kolb. Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council - Online Archive, Spring/Summer, 99- 105.
Troop, D. (2010, August 29). Eureka! Running jogs the academic mind. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Eureka-Running-Jogs-the/124164/
Tudor-Locke, C., & Bassett, D. R., Jr. (2004). How many steps/day
are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Medicine, 34(1), 1-8.
The American College of Sports Medicine ('Selecting and Effectively Using A Pedometer,' 2005) endorses the following guidelines (Tudor-Locke & Bassett, 2004) regarding number of steps per day for health and physical activity.
5,000-7,499 Low Active
7,500-9,999 Somewhat Active
>12,500 Highly Active
From the President: Together We Make a Difference!
Kathy Stockwell, NACADA President
I hope everyone had a productive spring, a successful conclusion to the
school year, and a smooth start to the summer term. For NACADA, this
has definitely been a busy and exciting time. At its mid-year meeting
in March, the Board of Directors and the Council received updates from
the various task forces and subcommittees that have been appointed to
assist the Association in meeting its strategic goals. Many exciting
ventures are in the works, and I look forward to sharing the outcomes
of those efforts in future publications and at the Annual Conference in
Denver this October. While at the mid-year meeting, we got a sneak
preview of what downtown Denver has to offer; it’s a great site for our
Annual Conference, and I know NACADA members will enjoy what Denver
and the conference have to offer.
As spring drew to a close, so did NACADA’s Regional Conference season.
This year, these outstanding and highly successful events drew 2600+
participants, a testament to the fact that academic advising continues
to grow in importance on our college and university campuses. I
personally want to thank our Region Chairs, the Region Conference
Chairs and their committees, and all the conference volunteers (and there were many) who made this year’s
conferences a success. NACADA is a grassroots organization that thrives
because of the involvement of our members; these volunteers are true
examples of how groups of dedicated individuals can work together to
plan exceptional learning/networking experiences. As I always state in
my conference welcome comments, it is a pleasure to be around so many
people who are dedicated to the success of our students. I always leave
NACADA conferences re-energized and proud to be affiliated with this
Here are just a few of the many highlights from this year’s Regional Conferences:
- Many networking opportunities were provided, starting with the fabulous welcome receptions.
- The Orientation for New Members sessions
were well attended by very enthusiastic participants. The large number
of first-time attendees is further testament that academic advising is
alive and well on our campuses.
- The Writing for NACADA sessions, which were
held in each region and which focus on the importance of scholarly
inquiry in academic advising, also were very well attended. Look for
increased numbers of new authors in Academic Advising Today, the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources, and the NACADA Journal as a result of these sessions.
- The Region 6 and 8 conferences were held in Canada, strengthening our connections with our neighbors to the north.
- The use of social media was evident in all regions.
Region 2 had a conference blog and did online streaming of several
sessions. Comments on activities were “tweeted” from conference sites
and numerous pictures were posted on Facebook. One of our annual goals
is to increase the use of social media within the Association, and
based on its use at the regional conferences, I believe we are well on
our way to achieving this goal. Thanks to the “techies” in our midst
who help us make this a reality!
- Also in Region 2, Heather Patterson from
James Madison University, a first-time attendee who also was a
first-time presenter, won the Best of Region award for her presentation
“Connecting with Students Using a Syllabus and a Blog.”
Congratulations to Heather and to all other Best of Region winners. We
look forward to seeing your presentations in Denver.
- In Region 4, long-time NACADA leader Nancy King was honored as the winner of the Joyce Jackson Volunteer Award. Congratulations, Nancy, and thanks for all you do for NACADA!
- In Regions 3 and 5, the Research Symposiums were well attended,
and participants left energized and ready to tackle their individual
research-related projects. Many of these same individuals attended the Writing for NACADA sessions to learn how to publish the results of their research.
- In Region 8, which was held in Calgary, keynote
speaker Andrew Brash, a world renowned mountain climber, related his
quest to climb Mt. Everest to our students’ quest for success. It was
an inspirational speech that left the audience in awe. Thanks to Andrew
and the keynote speakers in all regions.
These are just a few of the many exciting things from our Regional
Conferences that help make NACADA a premier Association for those
helping students succeed.
As spring exits and summer approaches, I encourage each NACADA member to consider attending one of the two NACADA Summer Institutes to be held in late June in Colorado Springs and early August in New
Orleans. The NACADA Summer Institute is like summer camp for advisors!
It is an intensive, weeklong experience where participants network with
colleagues from like institutions, interact with experts in the field
of academic advising, and develop Action Plans that enhance advising on
their campuses. This is an invaluable experience not to be missed!
I hope each of us has a great summer. Take some time to enjoy the great outdoors, have some fun, and rejuvenate!
Thanks to all -- NACADA is strong because of the contributions of each member.
Kathy Stockwell, President
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Fox Valley Technical College
From the Executive Director: Making a Difference: High Impact Activities that Enrich Advisors and Promote Student Success
Nutt, NACADA Executive Director
As I enter my 10th year in the NACADA Executive Office, I am excited to see the continued expansion of the Association and the academic advising profession. While our steadily growing membership demonstrates NACADA’s financial health and stability, I am most proud of the work done by our NACADA leadership and Executive Office staff to expand our vast resources, services, and events that support our members and the profession. In the first five months of 2011 we have held two Institutes, a Seminar, ten Regional Conferences (including two in Canada), and two Academic Advising Research Symposiums. We have broadcast a series of highly cost effective and professional webcasts, published numerous member authored articles in the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources, NACADA Journal, and Academic Advising Today, and conducted a national academic advising survey. Currently in production are two monographs for publication this
fall, and we have expanded our partnership with Jossey-Bass Publishers
to include work on an upcoming text on effective academic advising
approaches. NACADA has recognized and supported a record number of our
members through our comprehensive Awards Program, a variety of graduate
student scholarships, and grants to support research in the field. We
also have continued implementation of our online membership,
registration, and purchasing system and expanded the Association’s utilization of social media technologies to increase
member participation in the Association and to enhance the impact for
both event attendees and non-attendees. Last, but not least, the Board
of Directors has continued our important initiative in global awareness
and expansion supported by NACADA leaders visiting Australia, Hong
Kong, and the Netherlands to work with colleges and universities on the
importance of academic advising to student success and the importance
of NACADA to academic advising globally. All of this and more has
happened in just five short months!
As we know from the work of John Gardner and George Kuh, student
success, retention, and persistence is enhanced by student involvement
and participation in a variety of High Impact activities. NACADA enhances the success of academic advisors and the academic advising profession in higher education by supporting High Impact activities for academic advisors no matter their institutional type or
size, their role (professional, faculty, peer, graduate student, or
administrator), or their location in the global community of higher
High Impact activities for academic advisors and the academic advising profession are:
- involvement in comprehensive on-going professional development
which includes research, theory, practice, and information – not just
institutional issues and policies – through a variety of formats,
activities, and events.
- development and implementation of assessment
plans for academic advising, including student learning outcomes and
- involvement in research in the field of student
success and academic advising, including reading, analyzing, and
utilizing research as well as conducting research on our campuses and
utilizing results to enhance student success.
- rewards for professional growth and development through institutional advising career ladders or career growth paths.
- involvement in a common reading experience in
an advising unit, institution, or within the international academic
- attendance and participation in NACADA’s
professional development opportunities. This may include attendance at a
NACADA institute, seminar, or conference and utilization of technology
to participate in a NACADA webcast or one of NACADA’s growing social
- submission of an article about the profession,
institutional/unit advising success, or individual advising interests
for consideration in a NACADA publication.
- construction of a professional network across
the globe for common scholarship, support, and encouragement within the
academic advising field.
The High Impact activities listed above are just a few of the things we
must do to grow in our profession if we are to become recognized as
experts in student success initiatives in higher education. There are
many more high impact activities that advisors can share with their
colleagues through a presentation at a NACADA state, allied
association, regional, or annual conference or through an article in
one of the NACADA publications.
As we end one academic year and begin preparations for a new academic year, I propose a challenge to each of you. Set Three Goals for the 2011-2012 academic year. Make one goal focus on a high impact
activity, either from the list above or from your individual
professional development plan. Share your goals and how you will
achieve them with colleagues – in your unit, at your institution, or
through Facebook or Twitter. Then carry out atleast one activity each
week to help you achieve these goals. Each month discuss your progress
(or lack of progress) toward your goals with colleagues so that next
year at this time you can celebrate your achievements, analyze the
challenges in reaching your goals, and make plans for changes or new
goals for the 2012-2013 academic year. I hope many of you will consider
choosing me as one of the colleagues with whom you will share your
goals, achievements, and challenges during the next year. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, “Charlie Nutt” on Facebook, or @charlienutt on Twitter.
Take some time this summer to rest and re-energize before moving into a
new, exciting, and challenging year. Please remember that NACADA is
always here to support you and the profession!
Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Reinvigorating the Role of the Personal Tutor
Sheila Pankhurst and Jacqui McCary, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge and Chelmsford, UK
In a research project funded jointly by the Higher Education Funding
Council for England (HEFCE) and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we found
that more than 40% of current students had thought about leaving on at
least one occasion. These doubting students, however, continued with
their studies. One of the key research findings was that students want
advice from their Personal Tutor (academic advisor) on a range of
specific issues related to their thoughts about leaving, (e.g.,
academic failure). This project highlighted the importance of the role of the academic Personal Tutor. Part of our response to the
research findings has been to consider how we can reinvigorate this
role at Anglia Ruskin University so that all students have access to
the strong support they want.
Before looking at our findings in more detail, it is worth saying a little about how we carried out our research. We asked a sample of more than 6,000 undergraduate students to complete an online survey entitled ‘Staying the Course’ that was advertised widely within our university. The survey,
which consisted of 22 free text and 29 multiple choice questions, was
made available to all first and second year students in their second
semester. Questions in the first part of the survey covered a range of
issues identified from the literature as being important in student
retention, including thoughts about leaving, expectations, social
integration, and sources of support (Tinto, 1993; Benn 1982; Johnes
1990; Pascarella & Terenzini 1991). These questions focused on the
student experience, but we also wanted to hear the student voice. A
separate survey section, therefore, was presented as a ‘Big Grid’ which
asked students to tell us where they wanted to go for support on a
range of issues from sources both internal and external to the
We were very pleased with the 10% response rate to the survey as this
represented over 700 students; in total 559 students completed the
entire survey, giving us a rich dataset with which to work. This
allowed us to investigate many factors affecting a student’s decision
to consider withdrawing, and the sources and types of support within
and outside the university which helped them decide to stay.
Our results confirmed that the role of the Personal Tutor was an
important influence in a student’s decision to stay, especially in
relation to academic and study issues. We found that, where students
had study concerns, 60% wanted to talk to their Personal Tutor; 32%
wanted to speak to other academic staff; 27% would like to speak to
their Student Adviser (a non-academic student support role), and 29%
wanted to talk to friends and family. More specifically, answers to
the question ‘What did you do when you thought about leaving’ indicated that when students have difficulties with assessment they approach their Personal Tutor for support.
The guidance students receive can have a strong positive influence on their decision to stay:
“I spoke to my Personal Tutor who assured me that I could turn things around.”
“I spoke with my tutor about my concerns and then I
set in place very strict timetables for my work to make sure that it
was all completed on time.”
“When I spoke to tutors we decided that I could re-take and I have made lots of effort and I am doing really well.”
Conversely, we found that students who had thought about leaving were
less likely to say that their Personal Tutor was easily approachable.
Prior to the start of our research project, the role of the academic
Personal Tutor was in place at Anglia Ruskin, and had been so for many
years. Our research verified this by identifying that more than 80% of
students who completed our survey knew that they had a Personal Tutor,
and only 9% had never met their Personal Tutor. The operation of this
role, however, was not consistent across all departments and faculties.
As a result of our findings, we have taken a number of steps to ensure
the consistency of the role, and that students receive the support they
want and need from their Personal Tutor.
All students, on arrival at Anglia Ruskin University, are now assigned a
named member of academic staff as their Personal Tutor to ensure they
have access to an academic experienced in their subject area and a
friendly face within their Faculty. All of our academic staff are
required to undertake the Personal Tutor role and must be available for
a minimum of three hours a week, during teaching weeks, for students
to book appointments or sometimes just to drop in. This ensures that
students should not find it difficult to meet with their Personal Tutor
or with other members of academic staff.
As a minimum, students are required to meet with their Personal Tutor
during Freshers’ Week, then regularly within their first semester and
at least once a semester after this. Students are also given a leaflet
which explains that the Personal Tutor is there to support them during
their studies at Anglia Ruskin University; this leaflet outlines the
key issues students may wish to discuss with their tutor, such as
accommodation, finances, part-time employment, social life, study
skills, and any personal challenges experienced during their studies.
Additionally, when students meet their Personal Tutor, they are asked
to complete a study skills self-assessment exercise to help them to
identify any areas that may require additional support. Their tutor
then guides them in accessing appropriate support.
Within Anglia Ruskin, we have identified many areas of best practice
that go beyond the minimum required of the Personal Tutor programme. In
the Department of Life Sciences, for example, first year students meet
weekly with their personal tutor during their first semester, and
these meetings are linked to tutorial sessions for a core skills
The module covers a range of topics including how to access our online
systems and facilities, as well as referencing, good academic practice,
giving a presentation, and writing a scientific report. Personal
Tutors work with their tutees to improve these skills, and provide
direct feedback on assessment. These weekly tutorial sessions provide
both personal and academic support.
Our research has provided new insights into the relationship between
undergraduate student retention (persistence) and the Personal Tutor
support role. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of
this role, to implement best practice across our university, and to
disseminate the findings of our project to a wider audience within the
Higher Education community.
Department of Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Technology
Anglia Ruskin University
Cambridge and Chelmsford, UK.
Faculty of Science and Technology
Anglia Ruskin University
Cambridge and Chelmsford, UK.
Benn, R. (1982) Higher education: Non standard students and withdrawals, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 19(3), 3–12.
Johnes, J. (1990) Determinants of student wastage in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 15(1), 87–100.
Pascarella, E. T. and Terenzini, P. T. (1991). How College Affects Students: Findings and Insights from Twenty Years. Oxford: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Tinto, V. (1993).
Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition (2nd ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Advisors on Location: Expanding Advisors' Role in International Education
Vickie Morgan and Terese Pratt, University of Utah
Higher education in the United States is going global. U.S. colleges
and universities are eager to increase their involvement in
international education and many exciting new programs have sprung up
at institutions across the country. These programs serve as access
points for an increasing number of interested students from abroad.
671,616 international students studied in the U.S. last year, and the
number of new international students (those studying in the U.S. for the
first time) went up 16% from the previous year (Witherell and Soman, 2009).
U.S. institutions have many reasons to be responsive to international
student interest. International students add diversity to our campuses
and provide a global perspective in our classrooms. These students
contribute valuable economic resources to schools and the surrounding
communities. The Institute of International Education calculates the
net contribution to the U.S. economy by foreign students in 2007/08 was
over $15.5 Billion (Witherell, Soman and Gardner, 2009).
Advisors can play an important role in the success of international
students, and the long-term success of international education, well
before students arrive on our campuses. Many schools have international
recruiters who promote their institutions to students across the
globe. These recruiters often are part of an international center or an
international admissions office. They usually have in-depth
knowledge of admissions, immigration, and ESL resources and can speak
confidently about their institutions. These recruiters usually are not
accustomed to providing detailed advice about specific programs and
requirements or to sitting down with individual students to discuss
major options, envision future class schedules, discover involvement
opportunities, or help students see the connections between their
upcoming educational experiences and their future lives. These tasks
are left to advisors who do not begin their work with international
students until they arrive on campus. Yet, this kind of in-depth information is just what these
students need as they decide which U.S. institution is their best
choice. Why not get advisors involved with students before they arrive
at our schools?
We began thinking about the value of advising in the early stages of
students’ international educational experiences because of a newly
created international bridge program in which our school, the
University of Utah, is involved. The U of U became part of a consortium
of four U.S. institutions working in a program called the US-Sino
Pathways Program (USPP). Students participating in this three-semester
program begin their college studies in one of eight centers in China.
They take rigorous courses including English, math, science, and
general education classes. Students receive college credit from a
consortium university for the classes taken in China. During their
second semester, students must select one of four consortium schools at
which they will complete their bachelor’s degree. The third semester of the program consists of
a summer bridge experience in America, after which students are off to
finish their final requirements at their chosen schools.
In the program’s initial year, representatives from consortium schools
participated in a recruiting tour in China. A second recruiting tour
was planned after the first student cohort had completed their initial
semester of classes. This was when students made their final decision
about which school to attend. At our institution, there was
discussion about who to send on the second tour. Given that these
students would have three semesters of transfer credit by the time they
entered their chosen institution, and that the students were headed
into a number of different majors, it was important that our
representatives were equipped to evaluate what had been completed and
offer an in-depth look at what would be left for each student. Many students
were unsure of their majors and needed help exploring possibilities.
The tour format included sessions where school representatives met with
students individually to discuss their specific situations. None of
the services needed were things our recruiters were accustomed to
providing, but of course, it is what we as advisors do on a daily
basis. Four advisors from University College Advising and the Transfer
Center were sent as the U’s representatives on the second USPP tour.
Between two advising teams, we visited eight cities in China and
advised 160 students. In addition to working individually with the
students already in the program, we participated in public fairs
promoting USPP to interested students and their parents. In both
situations, our in-depth knowledge of curriculum, majors, involvement
opportunities, and resources was invaluable. Even at the information
tables, parents and students spent 20-30 minutes talking to school
representatives. The decision about which school to attend and what
major to pursue is important; of course, the more information students
and parents could collect, the better their choice.
Advisors have much to offer prospective international students. Our
academic knowledge and experiences providing developmental interactions
with students make us valuable team players in our schools’
international programs. The challenges that international students face
are great. The U.S. academic system is often completely new to them
and their knowledge of specific U.S. schools can be limited. The cost
of attending school in the U.S. is high, and the international
admissions process is long and involved. Much rests on each student’s
institutional choice; their initial decision should be as solid as
possible. Advisors can provide in-depth information, and lots of it, in
an individualized and personal way. This information can help students
make their decisions, arrive prepared to have a great experience, and
successfully reach their educational goals.
Advisors, get out your maps and suitcases! Approach deans and
vice-presidents with ways advisors can help international students
succeed in your educational programs.
Assistant Director, Transfer Center
University College Advising and the Transfer Center
University of Utah
Coordinator of Campus-Wide Advisor Development
University College Advising
University of Utah
Witherell, S. and Soman, S. (2009, November). Record Numbers of International Students in U.S. Higher Education. Retrieved from Institute of International Education, www.iie.org/en/Who-We-Are/News-and-Events/Press-Center/Press-Releases/2009/2009-11-16-Open-Doors-2009-International-Students-in-the-US
Witherell, S., Soman, S. and Gardner, D. (2009, November).
Institute of International Education:Open Doors 2009 Fast Facts. Retrieved from www.iie.org/en/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors
Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh, My! Identity in Crisis: Students Finding Their Way in Life
Christine Chmielewski, Indiana University South Bend
Editor’s Note: Christine recently completed the NACADA-Kansas State
University Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising. This article was
adapted from a paper written for the Multicultural Aspects of Academic Advising course and recommended for publication consideration by her professor, Doris Carroll. Learn more about the NACADA-K-State Graduate Programs.
Just like the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, students often feel lost; they need guidance and reassurance to
succeed in college. The critical component to academic success, other
than student will, is advising. Without the support of an experienced
navigator, the institution can generate obstacles; with the help of a
“Wizard,” students can discover and develop their natural gifts.
Moving forward in spite of fear to confront challenges is part of the journey. It is easier to navigate through an unknown and magical world with a support structure in place.
I make choices
The Scarecrow was poised atop a pole in the field. He
longed to be anywhere else, but had been placed on a post to “work” a
job he had not selected. He believed he had no brain and was therefore
incapable of learning or experiencing happiness. Of course, after some
self-pity he figured out how to get down from the pole: “Well, I may
not be very smart about things, but if you bend down the nail in the
back, I may fall off.” This is exactly what Dorothy did, and it worked!
The Scarecrow’s ability to reason was made clear with that statement.
Although he walked through life as a victim of circumstances, the
Scarecrow eventually found happiness when he defined his own path.
When the Wizard presented him with a diploma he said, “Every
pusillanimous creature has a brain. But what you don’t have is a
diploma.” The Wizard points out that while the Scarecrow reasoned his
own path, he had not done the work to face his perceived inadequacies,
conquer his fear, and claim his domain.
Students often make statements not unlike those of the Scarecrow.
They doubt themselves, make excuses, have poor study habits, and
procrastinate until they sit on a pole in a field alone and uncertain
how to succeed in class. They need advisors to listen and help unveil
options while they learn how to comply with the coursework expectations
and discover ways to stay motivated. Managing time and juggling
multiple deadlines simultaneously is often as important as information
retention and application – all brand new territory, just like the quest
to the Emerald City.
I become connected
The Tin Man was doing the work he was designed to do, but had frozen
stiff. He was so focused on his “job” that he forgot to take care of
his long-term needs. He felt insecure and questioned his values
(because he had no heart), so rather than planning his future he stayed
occupied with his daily tasks. Without belonging to something bigger
and with no sense of connection, he resigned himself to the way it was
and eventually rusted. Only after Dorothy and her companions arrived
did the Tin Man rally and discover that fulfillment comes in
relationships with others.
Students often are in a similar place. They come with earlier successes
defined, an established social network, and set priorities. Then
everything changes, and that can be unsettling. Doing day-to-day tasks
might seem overwhelming and developing connections ambiguous, but
without creating community and forging a way to their future, students
only stay occupied. As was the case with the Tin Man, students can have
an identity crisis. They must discover a passion for knowledge and
figure out how to promote their strengths through faculty engagement
and professional opportunities. Being connected beyond the academic
realm through volunteerism, a part-time job, study abroad, and
service-learning provides context and application for learning,rounds out the college experience, and helps define humanity. Often
making these connections requires assistance. Just like the Wizard
gifted the Tin Man with a heart, advisors gift students with bridges to
I create my future
The Cowardly Lion put up a front when he met the group in the forest saying, “Put ‘em up, put ‘em up! Which one of you first?” His false
rhetoric was born of fear and was exacerbated by heightened anxiety.
He acted strong to cover his insecurities and the loneliness he felt,
but these actions only reinforced his solitude. Peeling back the masks
that students present can be exhausting. They come from diverse
backgrounds and experiences, often making it difficult for us to
understand and recognize their motivation. The one certainty is that
they are here to increase their opportunities.
A good advisor recognizes that presenting clear expectations and
boundaries, providing positive reinforcement, and unveiling options
provides the safety and security students need to lessen vulnerability.
The Lion was able to face his fears and confront the Wicked Witch
while defending his safety net, Dorothy. The journey of self-discovery
is scary and it is difficult to make alone. Students often wonder if
they are good enough to succeed. Thoughtful, intentional advising,
coupled with honest communication and compassion, help students see
their merit and figure out appropriate ways in which they can move
I define my character
The Wicked Witch is the biggest obstacle that can stop student
progress. She can be killed or managed. Students who are
intrinsically motivated overcome obstacles through fortitude,
determination, intelligence, and ingenuity. Others need guidance to
find their way and create their destinies. As the Good Witch tells
Dorothy, an advisor begins with simple instructions: follow the Yellow
Through practice and repetition, patterns emerge and
confidence grows. Personal strengths, clear identity, thoughtful
community, and meaningful contributions are often discovered through a
robust and well-rounded college experience. Advisors serve as a road map that guides students
through this process. With the support of talented “Wizards,” students
persevere and succeed in finding their way to the Emerald City.
Sr. Academic Advisor
CLAS Advising Center
Indiana University South Bend
Fleming, V. (Director). (1939). The Wizard of Oz [on DVD, 2009, 70th anniversary ed. Warner Brothers, Burbank, CA.]
Academic Advising in the Third Era: The Whole Foods Market® Approach
Carol Antill, Angelo State University
“We seek the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture” (Whole Foods Market, Inc.).
The mission statement behind a company that grew from one grocery store
in Austin, Texas in 1980 to over 300 stores in the United States and
United Kingdom is analogous to the goals of academic advising. Light
(2001) noted that results from a Harvard Assessment Project that
spanned ten years and surveyed faculty and students at more than 90
colleges showed that “good academic advising may be the single most
underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience (p.
81). Whether serving students at a community college of 5,000 or a regional
university of 25,000, good advising can be defined by a model that
mirrors the approach of Whole Foods Market: seek the best path,
maintain quality of contact, and commit to an attainable goal for each
student we advise.
Key to advising students at the start of their college
matriculation is identifying strengths and weaknesses. In order to
point each student down the most relevant path toward a degree, the
intake process must help us articulate these strengths and weaknesses
for the student. Allowing adequate time for advising the student
during the intake process builds rapport between advisee and advisor
and can help pinpoint significant elements in the student’s life that
will help determine the best academic path. Identifying lifestyle
factors, such as job and family commitments, is vital to scheduling a
realistic course load and recommending support services such as
tutoring and workshops.
With an increasingly diverse student population, the best path is one that meets the needs of the individual. Identifying an advisee’s outlook as predominantly positive or negative can provide valuable insight. Understanding the basic principles of positive psychology and defensive pessimism can help advisors “promote excellence by building on students’ natural talents to increase confidence and self-efficacy” (Schreiner et al, 2009). Defensive pessimism, coined by Nancy Cantor, President of Syracuse University, defines an individual’s worry about outcomes and the future in a constructive paradigm. Julie Norem, an early proponent of defensive pessimism as a healthy coping mechanism, differentiates between the strategic optimist—a term for one who subscribes to positive psychology—and the defensive pessimist according to the way they achieve their goals: “A strategic optimist’s unconscious goal is not to become anxious. A defensive pessimist’s unconscious goal is not to run away” (Stewart, 2002, ¶13). An interactive questionnaire for differentiating between strategic optimists and defensive pessimists (Quiz, n.d.) is one of many tools available online to assist the advisor in building an advisee profile.
To maintain quality of contact with the advisee, academic advisors can take a cue from Whole Foods’ emphasis on a “decentralized, self-directed team culture” (About Whole Foods Market, n.d.). The nature of the third era of advising (Frost, 2000) lends
itself to a decentralized structure, where each phase of the student’s
academic progress, from declaring a major to seeking a graduate degree,
is carefully handled by an advisor who specializes in that phase. Such
a flexible environment encourages advisors to be intuitive and
enterprising yet always mindful of being part of a team in guiding the
student through the college experience. To some extent, intuition
drives the advisor to devise enterprising ways to meet with the advisee
after the first advising session. Presenting interactive workshops
relevant to the student’s stage of matriculation and attending
student-centered events on campus complement the advisor’s intuitive
Like most successful enterprises, interactive workshops require careful
planning and inventive marketing strategies. Advisors must be
creative, not only from the standpoint of attracting students to a
workshop, but working within limited budgets. Again, the team effort is
advantageous on many fronts: when advisors collaborate, their shared
resources and ideas often result in a more polished and
deeply-explored presentation and ultimately increased participation, due
to word of mouth among students.
Attending campus-sponsored events allows the advisor to observe
students in a more relaxed environment and project a support identity
outside that of advisor. The student who enters work in a campus art
exhibit appreciates recognition from a familiar face showing up at the
event and is more likely to initiate future contact with the advisor.
Scanning campus news sources for articles by or about advisees and
sending a congratulatory note when the student is cited for an award
likewise strengthens the connection between advisor and advisee.
Finally, whether associated with Whole Foods or academic advising, the word commitment evokes trust. No matter what phase of the student’s college
experience, the advisor’s commitment to the student’s short-term and
long-term goals fosters trust from the student and ultimately a
realization of attaining these goals. Networking is essential to
building the advisor’s resource cache and strengthening commitment.
Emails channeling pertinent information between colleagues, student
surveys from software programs such as MAP-Works® and Blackboard©, and
internet sites like www.testtakingtips.com exemplify just a few of the networking opportunities; the challenge for
advisors today is not as much what to use as how to use it. With the
current generation of students often referred to as digital natives for
their immersion in technological media, advisors can also benefit from
instructional technology webinars and workshops.
In the world of retail groceries, Whole Foods takes the tenets of its
mission statement beyond simply being a quality market; it strives to
create a respectful workplace (Whole People) and a support structure
for sustainable agriculture (Whole Planet). In the academic world,
advisors should strive to do no less.
Center for Academic Excellence
Angelo State University
About Whole Foods Market (n.d.). Retrieved from www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company
Frost, Susan H. (2000). Historical and philosophical foundations for
academic advising. In Gordon, Habley, and Associates (Eds.) Academic Advising A Comprehensive Handbook(pp. 11-13). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
Light, Richard J. (2001). Good mentoring and advising. Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds (pp. 84-85). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Quiz (n.d.). Retrieved from www.wellesley.edu/Psychology/Norem/Quiz/quiz.html
Shreiner, Laurie A., Hulme, Eileen, Hetzel, Roderick, and Lopez, Shane
J. (2009). Positive psychology on campus, In C.R. Snyder and Shane J.
Lopez (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (p. 573). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Stewart, Sharla. (2002). The worst of all possible worlds [Electronic version]. University of Chicago Magazine, 95(1). Retrieved from http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0210/features/worst.html.
Actively Including Online Students in the College Experience
Sharriette Finley and Jeanna Chapman, Georgia Perimeter College-Online
Life obligations have resulted in more students continuing their
educations online. Our observation at Georgia Perimeter College
(GPC)–Online is that even though students continue their education
online, many still want aspects of a more traditional college
experience. GPC is the third largest college within the University
System of Georgia (USG). With more than 9,000 online students, GPC
has the largest online program within the USG. To better serve our
growing online population, it has been necessary for us to develop and
maintain consistent, high-quality student services with a specific
focus on online academic advising. The GPC-Online Student Success
Team (SST) has as our mission partnering with online students to
promote a campus experience in an online atmosphere: providing online
academic advising, complementing advising with online resources, and
creating an inclusive community among online students. These strategies
encourage retention and lead to student success
Online Academic Advising
Wagner (2001) declared that advisors
are to “nurture, encourage, inform, and support” students during their
academic careers (¶ 2). Online learners still require this “high touch”
level of service in a “high tech” environment. Effective academic
advising is holistic, involves others in the advising process, and
helps students integrate information to make well-informed decisions
(NACADA, 2005). SST members advise online students and guide them
according to their individual interests, goals, and life obligations
while helping them meet graduation and transfer requirements.
Advising for online learners should respond to their unique needs,
instead of requiring them to fit within an established organizational
structure (NACADA, 2010). Online tools like email, Advising Request
Forms, Academic Plans for Success, and an Online Student Success Course
(OSSC) connect advisor and student. Students submit advising requests
via email or OSSC and receive a response in one business day or less.
The Academic Plans for Success aids in documenting progress and
charting a course for success. The OSSC provides a foundation for
building a stronger online community.
Online Student Success Classroom and Resources
Accessibility to resources is essential to the success of online
students. When we partner with students in a developmental manner,
advisors aid students in achieving educational, career, and personal
goals by using a full range of resources (Winston, Miller, Ender,
Resources created and utilized by the GPC-OL SST are an online Student
Success Backpack and an Online Student Success Course (OSSC).
Furthermore, an Online WIMBA Classroom is accessible from OSSC and via
Web. The Student Success Backpack provides guides that help meet
student needs in the areas of academic, life skills, and career
development. Through OSSC, students have access to learning modules
that focus on succeeding in college. Included in the modules are
lessons on researching and communicating effectively online. OSSC also
serves as the “home-base” for Online Student Life, as well as career
news and updates. The Online WIMBA Classroom is the setting for
workshops on finances, stress reduction, goal-setting, and open house
Building an Online Community
Many students have a great deal of experience in the
online world and expect high quality online interaction (Lorenzetti,
2006). In GPC’s online environment, this need is met through a
discussion blog created in OSSC. The discussion blog serves as an
outlet for students to express thoughts on various issues. SST members
initiate and participate in commonly discussed topics including
tutoring, organizing, and relieving stress. Though we initiate the
discussions, the online students guide them.
Team members continue to be impressed with the level of knowledge of
students and their willingness to share thoughts, information, and
advice with each other. Recently, students shared their thoughts on
social networking. Among their comments were how social networking may
benefit people who are introverted and people with disabilities, and
how age factors into using social networking for academic purposes.
Students also noted that excessive social networking could have a
negative impact on academics.
Online students have much to offer. They are the present
and the future of education. As technology continues to evolve, we
must allow it to enhance the way we interact with students. Email,
discussion blogs, and Webinars have elevated the ways we communicate
with our online students. SST advisors understand that we are a crucial
link between students’ virtual environment and the physical
environment of college-wide services. We provide the link to the
well-rounded education our online students seek.
We want online students to stay, succeed, and graduate. That result
is best achieved when we include them in the college experience. Online
advising tools, online success resources, and secure online chat
options are necessary components for the delivery of holistic online
student services. These tools actively engage online students in the
whole college experience.
Georgia Perimeter College-Online
Georgia Perimeter College-Online
Lorenzetti, Jennifer Patterson. (2006). Developing effective online
student services. Distance Education Report. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com
NACADA. (2005). Statement of Core Values of Academic Advising. Retrieved from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Core-Values-Declaration.htm
NACADA. (2010). Distance Education Advising Commission Standards for Advising Distance Learners. Retrieved from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Commissions/C23/Documents/DistanceStandards_000.pdf
Wagner, Linda. (2001, Fall). Virtual advising: Delivering student services. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.Retrieved from www.westga.edu/%7Edistance/ojdla/fall43/wagner43.pdf.
Winston, R. B., Miller, T. K., Ender, S. C., Grites, T. J., & Associates (1984). Developmental Academic Advising. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Encouraging First Generation College Student Success
Cynthia Demetriou and April Mann, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Students whose parents did not attend college are at a disadvantage when it
comes to postsecondary access. For those who overcome barriers to
access and enroll in postsecondary education, first generation college
students (FGCS) remain at a disadvantage with respect to staying
enrolled and attaining a degree (Choy, 2001). Furthermore, lower-income
FGCS are disadvantaged not only by their parents’ lack of experience
with and information about college, but also by other social and
economic characteristics that constrain their educational
opportunities (Lohfink & Paulsen, 2005).
Collier & Morgan (2008) found that for
undergraduates the ability to understand course material is necessary,
but, alone, it is not sufficient for success. Students must also master
the “college student” role. FGCS have been found to have variations
from non-FGCS in understanding the college student role. This can
negatively influence their ability to meet expectations and succeed in
There are many ways in which academic advisors, faculty,
and staff can work with FGCS to help them understand the college
student role as well as to academically and socially integrate into the
What can academic advisors do to encourage FGCS success?
- Define. A first generation college student is not the same on
every campus. Some institutions define first generation as a student
who is first in the family to attend to college. Advisors on campuses
that, for example, choose this definition, must carefully consider
questions like: What if an older sibling attended college? Is a student
FGCS in this case? What if one parent earned an associate’s degree but
the other parent never attended college? It is important to be
consistent across campus regarding the definition of a first generation
student. Because student needs and campus culture differ, the FGCS
definition may be different at other schools.FGCS definitions must be shared across a campus. It is also important that terms be consistent. How do campus constituents refer to these students? Are they “F-G-C-S” or “first-gen”? Is there a name that can be used as a point of pride at the institution? For example, at UNC-Chapel Hill, we proudly call our FGCS “Carolina Firsts.”
- Model. Providing role models is imperative for FGCS success.
Start by identifying FGCS role models. Role models should include
experienced students who have mastered the college student role. These
students are academically and socially engaged and frequently utilize
campus resources. Academic advisors, faculty, and staff who were FGCS
also should be identified. These individuals may serve as mentors to
new FGCS. Sharing the stories of these former FGCS can model success.
Consider posting such stories on a website, in the school newspaper, as
part of orientation programs, or in advising workshops.
- Connect. Connect FGCS to other FGCS as well as to faculty and
staff who were FGCS. Introduce new FGCS to experienced, successful FGCS
through peer advising and peer mentoring programs. This will help
students master the college student role. We also recommend connecting
parents and FGCS families to the campus and to each other. The more
parents and families know about the expectations and demands of college,
the more likely it is that their students will succeed.
- Support. Many FGCS are unaware or reluctant to utilize campus
resources. Make sure FGCS are aware of available support services and
encourage FGCS to take advantage of these resources. When academic
advisors make referrals to campus services, we should communicate to
students that taking advantage of such services is normal. Furthermore,
students should be commended for seeking help. Asking for help should
be viewed as a sign of strength. Through their daily interactions with
students, advisors can convey the message that smart students take advantage of institutional resources.
- Celebrate. Celebrate the successes of FGCS
on campus. This should be done from admissions recruitment events
through to graduation and beyond to FGCS alumni. Make the success of
FGCS a point of pride.
How can we accomplish all of this? Start small. Bring together a
concerned group of individuals within a department or program to
consider working on some of the following initiatives:
- Start an institution-wide committee to work on initiatives for FGCS success.
- Train academic advisors about the needs of FGCS.
- Create an advising workshop for new FGCS.
- Start a FGCS student organization.
- Create campus traditions specifically for FGCS (e.g., homecoming and graduation events).
- Work with campus communications (e.g., newspaper, websites, public
relations office, alumni office) to publicize stories about the
successes of FGCS.
- Partner with faculty.
- Work closely with the institutional research department. Find out how many FGCS are on campus.
- Determine the retention and graduation rates of
FGCS on campus. What are the majors most frequently chosen by FGCS? How
many FGCS take advantage of academic advising on a regular basis?
- Identify FGCS, determine what they need, and how they can best be served. Hold a focus group with current FGCS to do this.
- Utilize technology to connect with FGCS (e.g. website, Facebook group).
- Outreach to FGCS alumni.
- Incorporate FGCS families and parents into campus events.
- Provide information on FGCS at Orientation.
- Many FGCS are also students from underrepresented
populations and/or students from low-income families. Partner with
campus groups including the diversity office and student aid.
- Develop a FGCS mentoring program.
- Stay current on research and best practices for encouraging FGCS success.
When starting any new student success initiative, for FGCS or any
other student group, start by identifying FGCS students, telling their
stories, and celebrating their strengths. As we understand this
remarkable group better, we can develop more specific academic
Director of Retention
Office of Undergraduate Education
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Director of New Student & Carolina Parent Programs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Choy, S., (2001). Students whose parents did not go to college:
Postsecondary access, persistence, and attainment. In Findings from the
Condition of Education 2001: Students Whose Parents Did Not Go to
College. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics.
Collier, P. J., & Morgan, D. L. (2008). 'Is that paper really due
today?': Differences in first generation and traditional college
students' understandings of faculty expectations. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 55(4), 425-446.
Lohfink, M., & Paulsen, M. (2005). Comparing the determinants of
persistence for first-generation and continuing-generation students. Journal of College Student Development, 46(4), 409-428.
Academic Advising and the Underprepared Student: Finding a Degree of Success
Paul Fowler, Louisiana State University Eunice
Editor’s Note: The Pathways to Success program was honored with a NACADA Outstanding Advising Program Award in 2008.
Between 19% and 33% of students entering two-year institutions require developmental education coursework in every subject in order to prepare for their first general education courses (ACT, 2007; McCabe, 2003). Given that these students may not have the opportunity to attend college without such programs, the question becomes how best can we address their needs and increase learning. Louisiana State University Eunice’s Pathways to Success program utilizes a structured approach that has proven effective by
addressing a trio of student factors, any one of which may actually
become a barrier to success (Boylan, 2009; Lotkowski, Robbins, &
Noeth, 2004). The academic factors relate to coursework and tutoring;
nonacademic factors deal with a student’s motivation, goals,
socialization, and transition to higher education. Personal factors
include any issue in students’ lives that may require time away from academic work (e.g., transportation, financial responsibilities,
children, work, or medical issues) (Boylan; Lotkowski, et. al.). The
Pathways program focuses on orientation and transition, class
attendance, tutoring, and academic advising – all of which are mandatory
for these students. While all program components are important, the
relationship developed with the academic advisors is crucial to helping
students through the various issues they face during their first year.
For example, the advisor-student relationship begins at orientation,
where prescriptive academic advising takes place one-on-one as students
are enrolled in classes based upon their assessment results and
personal schedules. Students who work, have family obligations, or have
medical issues are advised to attend part-time their first semester to
determine how their college and personal schedules will interact with
one another. Very simply, advisors set students up for success by
listening to “what else is going on in the student’s life” while keeping
in mind that their class and personal schedules do not operate in
isolation of one another.
Prescriptive advising becomes developmental advising during the three
out-of-class advising visits required for students in the study skills
and transition course. The preprogrammed visits play a major role in
detecting and assisting students through nonacademic or personal issues
that may threaten their academic success. The first advising visit
coincides with the goal setting, learning styles, and temperament units
discussed in class. The process is repeated again during the second
advising visit as course instructors and advisors cover registration
and midterm semester issues with students. Lastly, the first semester
transition course concludes with an in-class career inventory where
results are discussed personally with each student. It is in this
advising session where frank conversations take place about students’
choices of majors. This may be as simple as pre-nursing students saying
they cannot stand the sight of blood or as subtle as the same students
having difficulty in the first semester biology course. Three advising
visits also are required in the second semester college reading class,
but those visits are more general and do not correspond to prescribed in-class objectives.
Academic advising may become “intrusive” for some students as the
director and advising staff visit students in class, phone students, or
visit them in the residence hall during the early warning period.
Faculty let advisors know if students are not doing homework, not
attending or arriving late to class, or causing any disruption.
Advisors email faculty after discussing the issue with the student.
Various lessons have been learned since the Pathways to Success
implementation six years ago. First is that most students follow
directions if they know what to do and when tasks are to be completed.
For example, approximately 90% of the Pathways students comply with the
academic advising policy every semester. In addition, approximately
70% of program students comply with the attendance policy missing less
than a week of classes.
Next, the program is labor intensive. For instance, the total number of
students in the Pathways program at all sites was 445 in fall 2010;
students logged 1,400 advising visits that required one administrator,
three full-time advisors, and eight faculty advisors. Students enrolled
in the program know that someone is “watching their back” and that the
advisors are there to help as needed. This level of advising may not
be practical at larger institutions without additional support.
However, advisors could pilot a program for a small number of students
and enlist peer advisors to help. Then they could examine the results to
determine whether expanding such a program would prove useful.
The third lesson learned is that communication, cooperation, and
consensus-building are crucial. Program faculty and staff must have a
positive attitude and seek to help students. Professional development
opportunities and frequent open discussion regarding what is working,
and what is not, are musts. Communication with the institution’s
executive team is also necessary since institutional resources are
required if the program is to be effective. Communication must occur
with those who may disagree with program policies; this provides
opportunities to present evidence that the program positively affects
Finally, program administrators must realize that some environmental
issues are beyond their control, (i.e., budget cuts that drive up class
sizes can affect program results). Larger class sizes can affect
statistics from success rates in individual classes to program
completion. It is also worth noting that a small percent of students
will not accept any assistance; program data indicates that less than
10% of students eligible for the program fall into this category.
The Pathways program has demonstrated that learning, course
completion, and retention for students needing developmental coursework
in all subjects can be improved through the use of a structured
program combining best practices from the orientation, transition,
academic advising, and developmental education literature – at least on
a small scale. Given the economy, the challenge is discovering which
program elements can be applied to larger institutions in order to
increase learning, success, and retention. Further information on the
Pathways to Success program is located at http://pathways.lsue.edu.
Office of Developmental Education
Louisiana State University Eunice
ACT. (2007). Rigor at risk: Reaffirming quality in the high school core curriculum. Iowa City, IA: ACT
Boylan, H.R. (2009). Targeted intervention for developmental education students (T.I.D.E.S.). Journal of Developmental Education 32(3) 14-18, 20, 22-23.
Lotkowski, V.A., Robbins, S. B., & Noeth, R. J. (2004). The role of academic and non-academic factors in improving college retention: ACT Policy Report. Retrieved from http://www.act.org/path/policy/pdf/college_retention.pdf
McCabe, R. H. (2003).
Yes we can! A community college guide for developing America’s underprepared. Phoenix, AZ: League for Innovation in the Community College and American Association of Community Colleges.
Helping Students with Asperger's Syndrome Navigate the College Experience
LaDonna Bridges, Advising Students with Disabilities Commission Past Chair
Students with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) are arriving on college campuses
in greater numbers. While the reason for this increase can be debated,
the need to develop skills to work with these students cannot be.
Advisors – whether professional or faculty – can play a significant
role in helping these students realize success both inside and outside the classroom.
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder that falls on the
mild end of the autism spectrum. It is characterized by a pattern of
social and interpersonal behaviors that can range from mild to severe.
Because symptoms and behaviors vary in severity, individuals with AS
may present very differently, making “one size fits all” accommodation
plans difficult. Although many with AS have normal to superior
intelligence and no significant deficits in communication, almost all
have difficulty understanding social conventions or reading social
cues, and they often engage in stereotyped or repetitive behaviors.
Nonetheless, with the proper support, most people with AS have the
potential to function independently; they can attend college and attain
Typical behaviors of individuals with AS include avoiding eye contact,
starting and ending conversations awkwardly, and failing to regulate
interpersonal distance or space. They may seem rude or tactless; they
may be unable to take hints, keep secrets, or understand metaphor,
irony or humor. Individuals with Asperger’s may speak with an odd
syntax and often cannot conceive that other people process information
differently. Some are unusually sensitive to sounds, smells, and touch.
In addition to the social and behavioral difficulties found among
students with AS, cognitive difficulties are also present. Many
students with AS struggle with executive function – the skills
associated with planning, foresight, and organization. They may also
become rigid or fixed in their thinking, unable to see differing points
of view, and abstract or inferential thinking may be particularly
Given the differences among students with AS, advisors can be pivotal in helping these students navigate the many aspects of the college experience. While developmental advising helps advisors understand the strengths and weaknesses of the student with AS, prescriptive advising can be highly advantageous during course selection and registration. Because many students with AS struggle with decision making, registration can be one of the most stressful times. Advisors can help by breaking down the registration process into a concrete timeline with specific tasks: who to meet with (office location, email and phone); what courses or major requirements to consider (including prerequisites); where to go for specific tasks associated with registration; when to register (online, over the phone, or in person); and how to make changes or corrections.
In addition to helping with the process of registration, advisors
can ease the difficulty of course selection by remembering the
- Guide the AS student to courses with professors who are structured and well organized
- Recommend classes and majors that capitalize on the student’s strengths
- Develop concrete degree completion plans
- Connect the student to other campus resources
Once in their courses, many students with AS also face significant academic
challenges, including time management, the writing process, essay exams,
and group projects. Advisors who are aware of these classroom
challenges can help a student choose courses accordingly and seek
support from other campus offices. Time management may be an area that
requires academic support outside the classroom. Dissecting the
syllabus and developing a plan of action to complete assignments can be
overwhelming for a student with AS. Concrete daily and weekly schedules
can provide a structure and necessary framework. Advisors may need to
refer students with AS to the appropriate campus resources – including
disability services -- for this help.
Due to difficulties with abstract or inferential thinking, many
students with AS find the writing process difficult. Discerning the
facts in the reading may not be difficult, yet making connections with
the material and analyzing the information may be extremely
challenging. Students with AS can miss the overarching themes or the big
picture and, as a result, they may write off-topic, go on a tangent,
or generate essays with poor organization. Advisors should be mindful
of these difficulties when helping students choose writing-intensive
courses or when balancing course loads.
Group projects or presentations may be another area of difficulty for
the student with AS. Perfectionism, the inability to negotiate, and
poor social interaction are characteristics of students with AS that
may lead to group projects and laboratory classes being problematic.
Social anxiety is not uncommon among these students, and many students
have an equally strong work ethic. This combination makes it difficult
to interact with other students or to see differing points of view.
Advisors may be able to help AS students select courses where they know
other students thus creating a more comfortable environment for group
or laboratory partnerships.
Advisors should work closely with other campus resources in this
effort. Disability services, writing tutors, academic success mentors,
and counselors are the logical places for advisors to start making
connections. Above all, advisors should follow these basic guidelines
when advising students with AS:
- Speak clearly about expectations (no idioms or analogies)
- Use a multi-modal approach (verbal and visual) for instructions about policies or procedures
- Recognize frustration may occur when AS students try to make
decisions or navigate the social climate of the campus and/or classroom
- Be aware of sensory difficulties and allow the AS student to remove himself from an over-stimulating situation
- Do not communicate through facial expressions
- Create a system for cuing inappropriate behavior
Asperger’s Syndrome impacts a student’s experience on all levels – curricular and otherwise. The more widely information about working
with AS students is disseminated among the academic community, the more
likely the chance for student success. Advisors, in partnership with
other campus resources, can play a pivotal role. As with all advisees,
the individual needs of the AS student are paramount.
Framingham State University
Attwood, T. (1998). Asperger’s Syndrome: A guide for Parents and Professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Kirby, B. (2011). What is Asperger Syndrome? Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS). Retrieved from www.aspergersyndrome.org
Moreno, S., and O'Neal, C. (n.d.) Tips for teaching high
functioning people with Autism. Online Asperger Syndrome Information
and Support (OASIS). Retrieved from www.aspergersyndrome.org/Articles/Tips-for-Teaching-High-Functioning-People-with-Aut.aspx
Wolf, L., Thierfeld Brown, J., and Bork, R. (2009). Students with Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for College Personnel. Overland Park, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
The Challenges of the College Transition as Experienced by a Student with Asperger's Syndrome
Ellyn Schwartzbauer with Janet Tilstra and Michelle Sauer, College of St Benedict | St John’s University
Editor’s Note: Ellyn Schwartzbauer was diagnosed with Asperger’s
Syndrome (AS) in 8th grade. Today, she is a senior at the College of
St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN, with a major in biology and a minor in
psychology. This article is based upon a paper written by Ellyn as part
of a Developmental Psychology course requirement. As a successful
college student with AS, she wishes to promote awareness of AS to
college academic advisors. Ellyn was assisted in the development of the
article by academic advisor Michelle Sauer and department of
psychology member Janet Tilstra.
Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) present “qualitative
impairment in social interaction” characterized by “restrictive,
repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and
activities” (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Many students with AS are intelligent,
highly driven, and plan to attend college (Lawrence, Alleckson, &
Bjorklund, 2010). As a student with AS, I planned from a young age to
go to college and graduate school. Indeed, more individuals with AS are
attending college than ever before (Smith, 2007). In spite of this
strong interest in pursuing post-secondary education, many students
with AS end up failing or dropping out of college. Some are overwhelmed
by the social stresses of residential living. Others are unable to
manage themselves or their homework without parental guidance. Other
issues that can set a student up for failure are lack of self-advocacy,
social rejection, homesickness, and associated transition stressors.
Below I briefly review existing support models for students with AS and
discuss my perspective as a college student with AS.
AS was not officially recognized as a unique diagnosis until 1994
(DSM-IV: APA, 1994). Subsequently, little research has been completed
on the college experiences of individuals with AS. Common models of
support include: specialized first-year seminar classes, specialized
live-in residences, collaboration with an external rehabilitation
agency, and establishment of a working relationship with the school’s
disability services or advising office.
Students with AS who attend the
University of Connecticut can sign up for a specialized first-year
experience class that helps them succeed in
their subsequent college years. Similar to first-year classes for other
incoming students, this class meets once a week to introduce students
to basic skills for college success. Students with AS participate in a
dedicated section taught by staff members from the school’s Center for
Students with Disabilities. Some topics are specifically tailored to the needs of students with AS such as organization, time management, and social skills (Wenzel & Rowley, 2010). I believe a class like this would be beneficial to college students with AS, especially since the model is integrated into the college curricula. This way, students (and their parents) need not worry about arranging and paying for outside services. One limitation of this model for small colleges (such as my school) is that there may not be enough students with AS to warrant creating a separate first-year symposium section. This is unfortunate since the topics covered in these classes are things that I had issues with over my undergraduate career (i.e., time management and social skills). I believe such a class would be one of the best support options for students with AS.
Another support model for college students with AS is private live-in
support within residential settings (Lipka, 2006). Students in this
model attend classes at an area college (usually a community college)
and receive support services such as tutoring and social skills classes
as well as reminders to attend class, personal hygiene assistance, and
assistance with household chores. Advocates and program directors may
question whether students who require this level of day-to-day support
should attempt college. Indeed the level of support within this model
might seem patronizing for a higher-functioning individual with AS. One
prospective student commented, “it seemed sort of like a day-care
center” (Lipka, 2006). This support model would not have been a good
fit for me since I gained independence through living by myself without
such involved supervision and care. However a live-in program might be
helpful for high-needs students.
Dillon (2007) suggested that another option for students with AS
attending colleges that offer limited direct support is to use services
from local rehabilitation agencies (i.e., programs created to aid people with disabilities). Although these
programs are not tailored specifically for the college context, staff
are well-versed on the supports an individual with AS needs to live
independently and function in society. These services usually come at a
cost; details vary by state.
While some specific programs have been developed for students with AS,
most students with AS receive minimal accommodations from their
colleges. The most common accommodations are extended testing times,
moderately reduced course load, registration assistance, and
preferential seating in the classroom. I am one of the many students
with AS who relied on these academic supports throughout college since
my school does not have a center for students with disabilities. Thanks to my academic advisor, my parents, and understanding
professors, I have succeeded in college. I can see how someone in my
situation could give up on college without proper guidance. One of the most important skills I learned in the last four years was
self-advocacy; I learned that speaking with faculty members if I had a
problem or question was essential and not as intimidating as it first
appeared. I would like to see advisors and teachers encourage this
skill in students with AS, as it is highly beneficial.
Each individual with AS has unique needs; these needs may result in
different levels of support. Intensive support programs may benefit
some students with AS, while more moderate support levels may be
appropriate for others (Lawrence, Alleckson, & Bjorklund, 2010).
After reading literature on this topic, I realize much more research is
needed regarding effective support models for college students with AS.
Indeed, Hughes (2009) noted that more than 50% of high school
graduates with learning disabilities attend college and the percentage
of students with AS attending college may be even higher.
It is exciting that more students with AS are entering college.
Feedback from students who participate in various support models can
help us better address the needs of students with AS and maximize their
College of St Benedict | St John’s University
College of St Benedict | St John’s University
Department of Psychology
College of St Benedict | St John’s University
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Edition). Washington, DC.
Dillon, M. R. (2007). Creating supports for college students with Asperger Syndrome through collaboration. College Student Journal, 41(2), 499-504.
Firth, U. (2004). Emanual Miller lecture: Confusions and controversies about Asperger's Syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 672-686.
Hughes, J. L. (2009). Higher education and Asperger's Syndrome. Chronicle of Higher Education, 55(40), 21.
Lawrence, D. H., Alleckson, D. A., & Bjorklund, P. (2010). Beyond
the roadblocks: Transitioning to adulthood with Asperger's Disorder. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 24(4), 227-238.
Lipka, S. (2006). For the learning disabled, a team approach to college. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(17), A36-A37.
Smith, C. P. (2007). Support services for students with Asperger's Syndrome in higher education. College Student Journal, 41(3), 515-531.
Wenzel, C., & Rowley, L. (2010). Teching social skills and scademic
strategies to college students with Asperger's Syndrome. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(5), 44-50.
Tying Recruitment to Retention: An Advisor's Role in Working with Underrepresented Populations
Christine Lancaster, Chelsea Smith, and Kelsey Boyer, Eastern Michigan University
Advisors have a unique view on recruitment that allows them to impact student retention. Reinarz (2000) noted that “Academic advisors are often the persons with whom undergraduates have a continuing relationship during their undergraduate experience, and as such they may have a key role in successful student navigation of complex academic choices” (p. 211). Continuing a discussion started by Peterson and Kem (2009) in “The Role of Academic Advisors in Recruiting,” we seek to add information on retention with a special focus on
underrepresented populations and second or selective admission programs
in teacher preparation.
Diversity is an essential component of successful teacher preparation programs. Unfortunately, reports by the National Center for Education Statistics (2008a&b) found that minority teachers represent only 16.5% of the teacher workforce, where as minority students make up 40.6% of the K-12 student population. Further, Shen (1998) studied the preparation of teachers and found traditional certification programs are comprised of 87% white students and 13% minority students. While the National Center for Education Statistics (2010) showed a possible
increase in minority teacher candidates, reporting that15.1% of
education degrees in 2008-09 were conferred upon minority students, the
need for an increase in minority teacher candidates remains.
Recruitment strategies can provide a foundation for effective retention
approaches including creation of long-term relationships early in a
student’s educational career, reaching underrepresented populations, and
increasing access to advising via technology.
Early Relationships are Important
In recruiting to retain underrepresented populations, it
is important to develop early and consistent relationships. Advisors
who express that students are valued can create a meaningful and
personal connection early in each student’s educational career. This
connection is especially important when recruiting students from a
culture that is different from the predominant culture on campus.
Building a relationship with parents of traditional aged students
assists in retention and is important to underrepresented students. As
suggested by Peterson and Kem (2009), the advisor who participates in
orientation facilitates meetings that provide parents with information
about employment opportunities and requirements within second or
selective admission programs. In the same instance, advisors who let
parents know that they have their student’s interest at heart will find
that later, when the excitement of orientation wears off, parents are
well informed, able to have
discussions with their student about program requirements, and feel
reassured that someone at the university values their student.
To reinforce the orientation connection, advisors should send a letter
or email to students during their first semester. This contact serves as
a reminder of program requirements, lets students know that advisors
are available, opens a discussion about registration, and provides
information on seminars that encourage students to stay on track and
Go Where the Students Are
When recruiting to retain underrepresented populations,
it is important that we go to the students. In particular, it can be
very effective when we offer advising through organizations, locations,
and support groups already established for underrepresented students.
In order to attract underrepresented populations to the teacher
preparation program, Peterson and Kem (2009) suggested volunteering
time advising students who use these support programs and taking time
to communicate with students about the opportunities an academic
program provides. Suggested target programs should go beyond the
obvious programs for students of color, to include English as a second
language and international student programs.
Aiken-Wisniewski and Allen (2005) noted that going outside the confines
of our advising offices can increase our opportunities to connect with
diverse groups of students. For example, advising can be done in the
student union, residence halls, hallways, or even outside (see McIntyre article this issue). An advising table set up in another campus building allows
advisors to be available with helpful information and facilitate
conversations with students who may never have considered teaching as a
Advisors should take advising to local community colleges. When
four-year college advisors work with community college students, we
build relationships with community college advisors and potential
transfer students. Meeting with students before transfer creates a
lasting advising relationship that continues at the new institution
thus tying recruitment to retention in yet another way.
In recruiting to retain underrepresented populations, it is important
that we find alternative communication modes. As the “Net Generation”
floods our campuses it is important that advisors are familiar with
technologies that can assist in recruiting and retaining students.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook©, provide advisors with the
ability to communicate with prospective and current students.
Information shared on the site can include upcoming recruitment and registration events, student successes, and websites or
other Facebook pages designed to provide information. Advisors should
consider developing podcasts that can be downloaded by prospective and
current students seeking advising information. The NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources links to a variety of institutional podcast sites
that include topics such as how to seek advising, why advising is
important, and what the student can expect from their advising
The ease with which students can retrieve information is important for
retention of underrepresented groups who may have heavy workloads and
family obligations. Advisors should be involved in how information is
shared electronically as many students use these avenues to obtain
information. The accuracy and ease of use of interactive web
applications encourages students to value and respect advising and
other school services—leading to higher retention rates.
When advisors employ relationship-building strategies, go
where students are, and incorporate technology, they impact student
retention. Further research is needed to tie recruitment to retention
and to explore how advisor retention efforts affect underrepresented
College of Education
Coordinator of Advising
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Aiken-Wisniewski, S. and Allen, C.D. (2005). Did Einstein know the date to withdraw? Techniques and activities to educate your campus community about academic advising. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Website: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Einstein.htm
McIntyre, C. (2011). Peripatetic advising. Academic Advising Today, 34(2).
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources. (2011). Institutional Podcasts, Vodcasts, Webcasts, and Audio Downloads. Retrieved from www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/Links/podcasts.htm
Peterson, D. & Kem, L. (2009). The role of advisors in recruiting. Academic Advising Today, 32(1). Retrieved from www.nacada.ksu.edu/ePub/AAT32-1.htm#4
Reinarz, A. G. (2000). Delivering academic advising. In V. Gordon & W. Habley (Eds.), Academic Advising, A Comprehensive Handbook (pp. 210-219). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Shen, J. (1998). Alternative certification, minority teachers, and urban education. Education and Urban Society, 31(1), 30-41.
United States Department of Education. (2008a). Percentage distribution
of school teachers by race/ethnicity, school type, and selected school
characteristics: 2007-08 ]Data file[. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009324/tables/sass0708_2009324_t12n_02.asp
United States Department of Education. (2008b). Percentage distribution
of students, by sex, race/ethnicity, school type, and selected school
characteristics: 2007-08 ]Data file[. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009321/tables/sass0708_2009321_s12n_03.asp
United States Department of Education (2010). Bachelor’s degree
conferred by degree-granting institutions, by sex, race/ethnicity, and
field of study: 2008-09 ]Data file[. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_297.asp.
Dear Career Corner,
I’m getting ready to complete my master’s degree and would like to
find a position in advising. I’m contemplating attending a NACADA
conference to learn about the organization and maybe meet some people
who can help me in the field. Is this a good idea?
Wanna B. Advisor
Dear Wanna B. Advisor,
Yes, that is a wonderful idea! NACADA conferences are a great way to
network and learn. At the NACADA Annual Conference, Member Career
Services Committee members have a booth available with information
about academic advising job postings throughout the country. Committee
members would also be happy to review your resume and offer practical
advice on your job search. In addition, NACADA members routinely offer
conference sessions with tips for conducting an advising job search. We
suggest that you check the position announcements on the NACADA website before you leave for the conference. You may even
be able to arrange a meeting at the conference with a potential
One of the best things about an annual or regional NACADA conference
is the chance to meet advisors from institutions of every size and
description. We all share a common bond of desiring to help students.
This common bond makes it easy to strike up a conversation. In other
words, NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
Best of luck on your job search (and we hope to see you at a conference soon),
Harford Community College
NACADA Member Career Services Committee Member
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
NACADA Member Career Services Committee Chair