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Voices of the Global Community


2004 September 27:3

A university's senior leadership cannot interact with every student as much as we would like to. Our best course as a university is to maintain a strong academic institution and to support advisors and advising programs. As a public university whose mission is improving the economic and cultural life of our state, we depend on the important contributions academic advisors make to student success.

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By now, each of you have received a copy of the 2004 NACADA National Conference Brochure in the mail or have reviewed the information on the Association’s web site. I hope you are clearing your calendars and making plans to attend our 28th National Conference where we will celebrate NACADA’s 25th anniversary! Over the past 25 years, NACADA has grown from a young organization with a charter membership of 429 to an association with over 7,800 members, serving critical roles in the development of the profession and the implementation of quality academic advising on our campuses that focus on student learning.

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Happy New Year! Yes, those of us in academe get to celebrate a second time as we begin the new academic year. This is a time of renewal also, as the majority of our memberships renew in September, and our leadership “renews” at the end of the national conference when our newly elected leaders assume their responsibilities and begin their work for the New NACADA Year.

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Advising higher education students is important work and is fast becoming stressful work. Students have higher service expectations while administration applies cost containment pressure: ’do more with less, faster, with higher quality’. Information technology conversions, new releases, and upgrades constantly challenge us to use IT to better to serve students. The positive power of humor can help us avoid stress, stay balanced and ready to have fun designing and building bridges to success for our students.

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Diversity, interdisciplinarity, and professionalism are gauges by which we measure improvement over the last several decades. Part of the improvement is due to faculty and professional advisors who support these changes. The classic relationship between a faculty research supervisor and a master’s, doctoral or professional student is still the essential relationship. Built around that, whether at the large research institution, a small college, or the professional school, those who advise strive to meet the needs of today’s graduate and professional students.

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What makes advising at a rural, isolated community college different is that the advisor does it all. You are the guide, the coach and the cheerleader. You do the placement testing because there is no testing center; you interpret the Strong Interest Inventory and MBTI because there is no career services specialist; you do the orientation program because there is no separate department for that. The whole student services process from recruiting to graduation is in your hands. The job requires good listening and problem-solving skills, organization and communication, and the exercise of good judgment when faced with counseling situations that are beyond your training and expertise. Most importantly, it requires genuine care for students. The advisor is really on the front lines, but the rewards are great. When you see a student achieve his or her goal—which may or may not include graduation—the experience is priceless. 

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It is well known that retention of every student is simply not possible. As academic advisors we understand that, for some students, transferring or stopping-out is a legitimate strategy for attaining long term personal or professional success. Yet, on many campuses, talk of retention focuses on retaining “all” students. As a result, some colleges have developed overly-broad retention strategies that disjoint campus units and ignore the role of identity in the retention of at-risk ethnic and cultural minorities. A more effective alternative is the development of a focused retention framework that utilizes assessment to identify those most at risk for early institutional departure and then seeks to develop culturally relevant programmatic interventions for their success.

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Students who transfer from one institution to another constitute a significant portion of the current college population, and they consume a considerable amount of the time and effort of advisors at both two-year and four-year institutions. While transfer students bring some higher education experience with them, they are new to the (receiving) transfer institution. They are, in a sense, an anomaly in that they are first-year students with some experience in higher education. This article serves as an overview and provides a brief description of the forthcoming NACADA monograph about this important student population.

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From it's debut online in June 2002 through February 2005, this publication was titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity.  News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.

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