Resources for Advising At-Risk Students
At Risk Students
By Pat Walsh
Students can be considered at-risk for achieving academic success
in higher education for a variety of reasons. Martha Maxwell
(1997, p. 2) states that this group of students' 'skills, knowledge,
motivation, and/or academic ability are significantly below those
of the 'typical' student in the college or curriculum in which
they are enrolled.' In addition, Ender and Wilkie (2000, p.
134-135) state that these students are likely to display any number
of other characteristics such as 'low academic self-concept, unrealistic
grade and career expectations, unfocused career objectives, extrinsic
motivation, external locus of control, low self-efficacy, inadequate
study skills for college success, a belief that learning is memorizing,
and a history of passive learning.'
students may be those who have made poor choices or decisions
that impacted negatively on their academics, or they may be an
adult student who returns to higher education after an extended
absence, or students with academic or physical limitations not
identified before enrolling in higher education. Advising services
must be designed to effectively address the characteristics and
academic needs of under-prepared and at-risk students.
Jones and Becker (2002) identified several academic advising services
for this group of students. These include using peer advisors
and providing a visual means to disseminate information to the
students before they even see their advisor. They also suggest
that advisors be aware that this group of students benefits from
more personal attention from individual advising sessions that
focus on the student's development of self-confidence and their
ability to make sound decisions. Finally they suggest that advisors
evaluate their delivery of academic services. Nutt (2003) suggests
using an intrusive advising approach, insisting upon collaborative
relationships with other campus resources, and encouraging advisors
to invest in the student to help them gain a sense of belonging
and that they matter.
Jones and Becker (2002) identify the need for programs
that teach decision-making skills, promote self-advocacy, provide
curriculum intensive advising, and provide services to support
students during their first year. Ender and Wilkie (2000) include
remedial courses for basic reading, writing, and math skills in
their programming suggestions.
variety of programs exist that provide assistance to under-prepared
and at-risk students. Examples include:
- Specially designed courses for
high-risk students focusing on critical thinking skills, evaluation
of academic goals and identification of realistic strategies to
meet goals (ie: UNIV 101 at the U of Alabama, Birmingham )
programs that includes common courses and residence
Support Services Program) for students who are any
one of the following: 1 st generation, have a verifiable
disability, or have a Pell Grant in their financial aid
package. The program includes tutoring; academic, personal,
career advising; study skills and personal development
workshops; financial aid and scholarship information;
cultural enrichment activities and trips to student conferences.
a tall order for advisors to be all things for all students but
as Jones & Becker (2002) point out, 'We must become experts
in advisor multi-tasking: teaching as well as counseling, being
honest as well as encouraging, and being informed as well as open-minded.'
in order to serve under-prepared and at-risk students well.
Walsh (Student in the Kansas State University program leading
to a graduate certificate in academic advising)
Human Development and Family Studies
and suggested readings:
S.C. and Wilkie, C. J. (2000). Advising Students with Special
Needs. In V.N. Gordon, W.R. Habley, & Associates (Eds.), Academic
Advising: A comprehensive handbook (pp. 118-143). San Francisco:
N.J., Forney, D.S. & Guido-DiBrito, V. (1998) Student
Development in College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
R. and Becker, K. (2002, April) Getting Prepared for the Underprepared. The Mentor. 4(2). Retrieved on September 26, 2003, from http://www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/020415rj.htm.
M.(1997). Improving Student Learning Skills. Clearwater
FL: H & H Publishing.
M.A. & Murray, C. (2005). Advising academically underprepared
students. NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/advisingissues/academically-underprepared.htm
C. L. (2003). Advising Underprepared Students. Unpublished
Resources to aid in advising At Risk students
Nancy K. (1989) Marginality and mattering: Key issues in building
community. In D.C. Roberts (Ed.), Designing campus activities
to foster a sense of community (New Directions for Student
Services, No. 48, pp. 5-15). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Iowa State University
the above resource using APA style as:
P. (2003). At-risk students. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:
. To a degree, the student must seek advising. The students who
need the most advising often seek it the least. What are the most
effective incentive models for getting students to seek advising?
Encouraging students to seek advising, especially those who might
need it the most, is a formidable challenge. To get the student
into the first interview might require personal contact via the
phone or e-mail. It might help to tie the interview to some action
of consequence for the student, such as preparing for mid-terms.
Once the student has come in, the second interview could be set
up as the student leaves the first. Making some sort of contract
with the might help also. Rapport needs to be established between
the student and the advisor so that the student might come to
realize that something beneficial might come out of the advising
session. Giving the student some sort of 'assignment' to complete
might also encourage the student to return for additional sessions.
NACADA '04-05 President