From the President: Paving the Road for Change
Dana Zahorik, NACADA President
Do you recall the phrase, "some things never change?" In an ever-changing world, it is hard to believe this statement has relevance, especially in the advising field. Like our own institutions, NACADA is on a pivot, needing to change with advising trends, student populations, institutional initiatives, and events that impact our students and the profession. At the 2016 NACADA Annual Conference opening address, I mentioned a subcommittee that would be looking at the various facets of the association to keep us on track in terms of meeting member's needs. As an association, we need to continuously assess our organization, including our governing units within NACADA and how we conduct business, or we risk becoming ineffective. Based on feedback from members, Board of Directors members recently identified the need to focus on assessment of the association from an internal lens as a starting point. They have created a framework to begin this process, and this important work will continue to progress throughout the upcoming year. Member driven changes such as this demonstrate the importance of the voice of our members. Stay tuned for updates on this important endeavor as we move into the new year.
As part of the process of change, I have also challenged members to consider NACADA leadership as a next step in involvement within the organization. A lack of diversity on our ballots and in leadership positions limits the scope of members we can reach. Our leadership needs to reflect our diverse NACADA membership in order to engage members, create a culture of inclusivity, and ensure that decisions being made reflect our member’s needs. If you have not considered becoming involved in leadership in the past, now is the time to step up and become involved to represent NACADA and your fellow members. Have you considered running for an elected position or serving on a committee in an area of your expertise? The association is looking for members of all experience levels and backgrounds to serve on the Board of Directors, committees, advisory boards, commission and interest groups, region and administrative leadership, and more every year. If you are interested in representing the association in a leadership role and want more information, contact any current or past NACADA leader for more information on how to get involved. A list of current leadership and contact information can be found on the NACADA Leadership webpage.
In addition to getting more members involved in leadership, the Sustainable Leadership Committee is also changing the way we prepare our new leaders by creating a leadership academy. Creating a program that delivers consistent information and training eliminates confusion. The academy will give clear expectations and defined roles for leaders, making the leadership experience more positive and making our leaders more prepared as they serve our members.
The assessment of the organization, charge to increase diversity in leadership, and the development of a leadership academy are just a few examples of the proposed changes you will see addressed over the next year within the organization. Keeping in mind that change can lead to new opportunities leads us to take on new challenges and question whether our current practices are effective. Imagine the impact if NACADA had not changed the way we did business in terms of the following opportunities:
- A few years ago, a small group of individuals had the idea of creating a research center. Earlier this spring, we “cut the ribbon” on the NACADA Research Center at Kansas State University, which will serve as the hub for scholarly writing and research for the academic advising community.
- A movement beyond the annual conference to our first international conference has expanded our professional development opportunities to our members across the world.
- The addition of our tagline in year 2009, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, created an inclusive environment for all diverse members.
- We are no longer bound by travel and budgets due to the flexibility and creativity of virtual professional development opportunities offered by NACADA in a variety of formats, including webinars, etutorials, zoom meetings, and more.
These are just a few examples of the amazing changes that have helped shape this organization of over 12,500 members. Continuous reflection of what is happening in the world of advising and the students we serve keeps us thinking about what we can change to continue moving forward. Like many of you, 2016 has been a year full of change for me. My commitment to you all as NACADA president will be to serve as a change agent, along with the Board of Directors and other NACADA leaders, gather continuous feedback, represent the needs of our members, and identify challenges and opportunities to keep us moving forward. One thing I can assure you that will never change is NACADA’s commitment to the advising profession and its members and its contribution to the scholarship of advising, thus earning the title, the global community for academic advising.
Dana Zahorik, President, 2016-2017
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Counselor/Academic Advising Council Chair/Peer Advising Co-Chair
Counseling and Advising Services
Fox Valley Technical College
From the Executive Director: Building Collaborative Partnerships to Support Student Success
Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director
Each fall term I have the great honor of teaching a graduate course here at Kansas State University in the College of Education called “The History of Philosophy of Higher Education.” Now is that not just a course you are all running out to register for? It’s only 2.5 hours week on Tuesday night. I am not sure what it says for me (well I can guess . . . ), but I love teaching this course each fall. This class allows me to discuss collaboration and increase my own connections in a way that mirrors some of the strides we are making in the NACADA Executive Office.
First, it gives me a chance to connect with the next generation of college student personnel professionals, including academic advisors. It would be too easy to focus on just the growth in numbers and finances of NACADA, but teaching this course keeps me grounded in what our new professionals are thinking, what they value about higher education, and what they will need NACADA to provide for them as they move in to the field. Second, I enjoy leading my students through the history of American higher education from a focus on what brought about changes and how these changes impacted students of the time and today. The most important emphasis is how my students must be able to use what they know about our historical path to aid them in dealing with the present and give them the knowledge and desire to predict the future of higher education.
One of the issues that my students always find interesting is that competition of some type has always been a part of the higher education culture. Institutions have been competing in regards to which institution opened first, the campus facilities and buildings, enrollment numbers, and of course on the athletic fields and courts. Today we see competition in the issues of research as well as student retention, completion, and graduate rates. But we also have seen competitions within our institutions in regards to funding issues, facilities, and perceived value of a unit on a campus.
The competition between academic affairs and student affairs is a part of this history we discuss in my class. I can proudly say that one of the outcomes of NACADA since our beginning has been to assist in building bridges between these two units for collaborative partnerships that support student success. It has been easier for us than some other associations because academic advising/personal tutoring globally has had a foot in both academic and student affairs and we are seeing thankfully these bridges expand as colleges and universities are moving toward institutional campus-wide plans to support students.
As a part of this outcome and an extension of our collaborative efforts, I am excited to publicly announce that the NACADA Board of Directors and Executive Office is focusing this year on building an intentional plan to develop strong relationships with other higher education associations and groups who are actively focusing on student success. We know how important it is on our campuses to connect with the chief decision-makers to provide the research concerning student success, initiatives we all are implementing to support the institution, and support for building a culture of success campus wide that is supported by technology. Just as higher education is complex, the work we do across campuses to increase student success is complex and cannot be done in isolation or in established silos. Working in tandem, NACADA and our highly-regarded colleagues can begin to work together in more intentional and practical ways.
Watch for more information as the year moves forward; I wish you all a wonderful end of term and hopefully some time to re-energize for an exciting new term in 2017!
Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Diversity, Culture & Identity in American's Research Universities
The 2016 convening of the Reinvention Collaborative focused on the theme of Diversity, Culture, & Identity in America’s Research Universities: Research-Based Initiatives that Promote Shared Discovery and Learning by Students, Faculty, and Staff. Wendy Troxel, Director of the NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University, attended the convening and reports the following for NACADA members.
The third plenary session of the 2016 Reinvention Collaborative was a panel titled Unpacking the Student Life Cycle. This session addressed an analysis of the research on initiatives that promote successful transitions into majors, efficient degree completion, and visible pathways to post-baccalaureate educational experiences and careers.
Peter Doolittle, Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning, Virginia Tech
Wendy Troxel, Director, NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University
Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation
The moderator, Archie Holmes, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs for the University of Virginia, began the session with this question:
Based on your experience, what do you see as the main challenges at these transition points and how have they been addressed effectively, especially for under-represented students?
The three panelists gave opening remarks before engaging in a discussion with the audience. Wendy Troxel’s opening remarks are shared below.
Thank you! I am honored to represent over 14,000 members worldwide, all with one primary goal: to help students succeed according to their goals and aspirations.
I would like to frame my brief remarks initially under three areas with regard to the work in helping students navigate these critical transition points toward becoming what professionals view as productive members of society:
- the worlds professionals create,
- the languages professionals speak,
- and the players professionals involve in making sense of how to reinvent the undergraduate experience.
In a conversation about the critical transition points from an academic lens, filtered by critical experiences from a human lens, it does not take long to acknowledge the research design challenges. I started my doctoral work earlier than I should have, with a focus on quantitative methods that had beautifully constructed, tightly controlled statistical models.
Then I actually WORKED in higher education.
I got into the world of student learning and developmental outcomes assessment, and I saw the difference between practical significance and statistical significance in working with students. These differences showed the truth in the phrase I first heard from Barbara Walvoord, that “A classroom is a place where every possible variable is actively varying.”
This is certainly true when considering the students who come through advisors' doors, students who experience the worlds professionals create for them in many ways in and out of the classroom. Tensions arise when those worlds are inconsistent with, and often counter to, the worlds students thrive in otherwise.
The talent approach to working with students, as opposed to the deficit models (note: please do a search and destroy of the term “at risk” on your websites), gets to deeper and more meaningful reflections of advisors' role in, as Amy Burkert posed yesterday, “contributing to a transformative educational experience for each student.” Individuals get “transformed” when they build upon what they already bring to the table, I would argue, and when they are faced with situations that cause them to rebalance and stabilize.
Constant checking of the influences of power and privilege on the worlds professionals innocently create is necessary as we as educators ask students to move through our view of their identities (from first-year students to the often forgotten second-year students, to the “you are no longer a newbie here” world of the major, to the “now you must leave the nest” outside world).
Reflection about that should truly be all mirrors and no smoke. I have learned so much from Shaun Harper (2015) and his work through the concept of being “minoritized.” It is powerful because of the implications of a dynamic and intentional action from one person on another or even the unintentional effect of a policy on a person or on a group. Each of us can experience what it feels like to be put in a space of powerlessness. And words do matter, as everyone knows all too well.
There are hot topics right now that have both intended and unintended consequences on working with student sub-populations at each critical transition:
One is the explosion of technology and the capacity to capture data and to use multiple ways to intervene in our students’ world. The new student information systems will reframe the role of advisors on campus from transactional to transformational. To make that shift, institutional decision-makers have to intentionally commit to different approaches to professional development for professional advisors (who are really good at helping students with reflective goal setting), faculty advisors (who are really good at connecting the dots for students who seek to become professionals), and with other co-curricular mentors (who are really good at holistic student development), as well as collaboration between them.
A second hot topic is the completion agenda, which is a noble attempt to help families (and in many cases lone students without support systems) get more quickly to career exploration and decisions and to minimize the massive debt load often deemed an investment in a professional life after college. Impressive and important work is being done to explore what that all looks like, especially for traditionally aged students.
Conversations are common, in increasing volume from both ends of the political spectrum, on the value of choosing majors that will lead to high paying careers. And to do it early, in some places even before high school is over, but certainly soon after matriculation in college.
But as Dr. Hughes shared yesterday, there are both heads and hearts at work. Heads often make major choice decisions (and these are 17-year-old heads, mind you), and then once in college often the heart kicks in.
I wonder, as this generation of students also begin to develop a sense of community engagement and service, how many engineering students become educational psychologists (as Dr. Doolittle just shared)? Or computer scientists drawn to ministry? Or business students who commit to public service? And it hurts my heart when an empathetic, caring, brilliant student decides not to go into teaching because the current system makes it is so hard to be successful, much less wealthy, in the public school classroom.
As professionals at higher education institutions, it is our ethical obligation to help students unveil their hearts and passions, which happens in a deeper context than mere schedule building.
So back to the language educators could use to reframe the narrative. In higher education, leaders have to be careful of the language they use, because it brings with it landmines from not only cultural contexts, but power and privilege in the systems and worlds in which students exist.
One is the difference between persistence and retention. These are not synonyms, though they are related. I have heard both terms used in helpful and not so helpful ways already. We know this: students decide to persist and institutions count whether or not they were retained. Which is the more powerful notion? Retention is not a learning outcome. It is a binary indicator that comes at a point where it is often too late to do anything about it.
This convening and this network of professionals is about acknowledging the power (and I do not use that term lightly) that students have to stay or go at each critical transition point, and the role that professionals have in helping them through every step of the educational and personal journey toward their goals.
When institutional success hangs on the construct of retention, professionals ignore that journey. In a recent roundtable discussion about deficit terms like “at risk,” the group instead tackled the term “struggle.” Where and how do students struggle? I heard an individual respond to that by saying, “Our retention rate is 92%. Our students don’t struggle.”
I know this: every single student struggles at some point, in some way, and if an institution is lucky, despite those struggles these students may show up as a positive retention number.
So that brings me finally to some cautious optimism about the emergence of predictive analytics.
I mentioned that I started my professional training as a quantoid. But getting deeply into the world of student learning and developmental outcomes assessment turned me into a qualitative researcher. When I teach research methods courses, I talk with students about the false dichotomy of the qual/quant debate and the beauty of the marriage between inductive and deductive approaches to generating and testing theory.
What an opportunity our profession has missed if we do not at some point capture the expertise of the question that Amy Burkert (2016) posed yesterday when talking about authentic interactions with a student: “Your face isn’t looking quite the same today. . . . What’s going on?”
It has been said that capturing evidence of learning and how professionals prepare students in higher education institutions is too complex because of the three curricula in colleges and universities:
- the one that is in the catalog,
- the one our faculty members teach, and
- the one our students take.
Even if the term curriculum is defined in its most narrow sense (the path of courses that efficiently leads to a degree), I would argue that there is one group of professionals who see ALL of the definitions of curriculum at play and the connections and tensions between them, and this group is academic advisors.
The research agenda within NACADA is built under the “scholar-practitioner” framework presented by Kezar and Eckel (2000), which encourages collaboration in systematic inquiry. Methodologists know how to design complex studies that can handle the intricacies of education, but practitioners ask the best research questions. Students can also be included as effective co-Principal Investigators in the design and analysis of research studies.
So given the complexities of the educational process, and the importance of the outcomes, I represent an emerging and growing population of professional and faculty advisors who are ready to be at the table, as many of you are here, in framing studies that will inform the important decisions professionals will make in reinventing the undergraduate experience and honoring our students’ cultures and identities.
Burkert, A. (2016, November). The multiple intersections between culture, identity, learning, and discovery in research universities. Panelist remarks presented at the meeting of The Reinvention Collaborative, Arlington, VA.
Harper, S. R. (2015). Black male college achievers and resistant responses to racist stereotypes at predominantly white colleges and universities. Harvard Educational Review, 85(4), pp. 646-674.
Kezar, A., & Eckel, P. (2000). Moving beyond the gap between research and practice in higher education. New Directions for Higher Education, Vol. 110. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
On Being an Advising Professional
Erin Justyna, Advisor Training & Development Commission Member
It is an exciting time for the field of advising. As a result of the diligent work of NACADA staff and volunteers, the last 37 years have seen advising move from an afterthought to a recognized, crucial contributor to student success. Progress has always been steady, but in recent years, the momentum of the association and its work has been markedly palpable. Today, the efforts to professionalize advising can be seen rippling across the association—in the Core Values Review Committee’s work to update the core values that guide advising practice; the Professional Development Committee’s work to develop an Academic Advising Core Competencies Model; the establishment of the NACADA Center for Research and the hiring of its inaugural director, Wendy Troxel; and the multitude of efforts designed to improve our effectiveness as an international organization. NACADA members have a unique opportunity to be a part of the incredible work being done by and through the association.
In the June 2016 edition of Academic Advising Today, NACADA Executive Director, Charlie Nutt, and NACADA President, David Spight, challenged members of NACADA to consider their role in and their contributions to the profession of advising. Nutt (2016) and Spight (2016) urged the membership to become students of and change agents for the association and the field of advising. Their appeal may seem like an enormous undertaking for a group of individuals who may feel inexperienced and who typically have a great deal on their plates without enough time or resources with which to accomplish it all, but with intentionality, their charge is attainable. The work that lies ahead for NACADA members comes with the challenge of an evolving profession, and NACADA members will need to work collaboratively and steadily to capitalize on the momentum that has been created.
Challenges of the Advising Profession
In a field working toward true professionalization, it is quite natural to experience growing pains. In a recent phenomenological study of academic advisors, Aiken-Wisniewski, Johnson, Larson, and Barkemeyer (2015) asked participants to describe the general term “profession” as well as the specific concept “occupation of advising” (p. 60). The data revealed four outcomes that illustrate participants’ perspectives on the academic advisor position: inconsistently defined advising practice, internal and external frameworks, responsibility dichotomy, and a perceived lack of power. As indicated above, NACADA has both anticipated and acknowledged these lived realities of advisors and continues to provide support and resources for advisors and the students whom they serve. The revised core values and the core competencies model will continue to define the advising profession and provide a solid conceptual framework within which advisors can work and will allow for more consistency in advising practice. As advising practice becomes more consistent and professionalized, the lack of cohesion in advisor responsibilities and the feelings of powerlessness should also subside.
Another perceived challenge for the professionalization of advising is the experience level of the majority of NACADA members. Many professional disciplines benefit from the expertise and permanence of their members (e.g., medical doctors, accountants), but academic advising has traditionally been a field whose members have less longevity. While this trend may be changing, partially as a result of the growth of academic programs aimed at preparing professional advisors, data from the NACADA Executive Office indicates that approximately one third of NACADA members have been advising for less than three years (NACADA, 2016). Roughly half of members have been advising for less than five years (NACADA, 2016). It is understandable that individuals new to the field of advising may not feel prepared or empowered to contribute to the body of knowledge or take on positions of leadership. Perhaps advisors believe they need more training and experience before they can do so. Advisors may reexamine this belief and consider that advisor training and professionalization occur in tandem. One of the strengths of NACADA is its ability to plug individuals in to the work of the profession as soon as they join.
One of the most powerful things advisors can do to contribute to the professionalization of advising is to deliberately develop their own identity as an advising professional. The concept of professional identity among academic advisors was previously discussed in an article titled, “Developing a Professional Identity” which appeared in the March 2014 Academic Advising Today. The article suggested advising professionals chart their professional development/career path using the analogy of a brand. In considering their brand as an advising professional and establishing a presence for that brand, advisors can be intentional about the projects and activities in which they engage (Justyna, 2014). It would be very powerful for the field if advisors consciously reflected on their professional identity and built that around the NACADA brand (as outlined in core values, core competencies, strategic goals, etc.). As each individual considers their professional identity, they can then turn their thinking toward their own strengths and goals within the profession—considering what areas of scholarship (e.g., research, writing, assessment), teaching (e.g., presentations, webinars), and service (e.g., volunteering, task force/advisory board/committee work) they can most effectively contribute to the advancement of advising as a profession.
Being a profession of advising requires a great deal of work and commitment, and every NACADA member has a role to play. There is a near limitless amount of work that needs to be done, and as Nutt (2016) and Spight (2016) pointed out, opportunities to contribute are infinite. Though the task of being a profession of advising is great, advisors should not become overwhelmed by the enormity of work to be done. There is strength in numbers, and no one individual need feel as though the contributions they choose to make must be done alone. Author Bruce Larson, speaking of the behavior of sandhill cranes, reminded readers that leadership is not a solitary endeavor:
These large birds who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle the turbulence. And then, all during the time one bird is leading, the are honking their affirmation (as cited in Maxwell, 1993, p. x1).
NACADA is a large association of thoughtful, hardworking advising professionals. Each NACADA member should strive to be a leader in the work towards being a profession of advising—one who handles the inevitable ups and downs occurring in our roles as advising professionals in stride. However, advisors should not feel pressure to be at the front of the charge at all times. Creating and relying on a network of other advising professionals allows each advisor to take the lead when they can/where appropriate, but also allows them to move into the background and support and applaud as others take over for a while. It is a time of unprecedented progress and a time to continue the push toward the professionalization of advising, and NACADA members are equipped for the challenge given by Drs. Nutt and Spight.
Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement
Texas Tech University
Aiken-Wisniewski, S. A., Johnson, A., Larson, J., and Barkemeyer, J. (2015) A preliminary report of advisor perceptions of advising and of a profession. NACADA Journal, 35(2), 60-70.
Folsom, P., Joslin, J., & Yoder, F. (2005). From advisor training to advisor development: Creating a blueprint for first-year advisors. NACADA Clearinghouse. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Training-Blueprint-for-New-Advisors.aspx
Justyna, E. (2014, March). Developing a professional identity. Academic Advising Today, 37(1). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Developing-a-Professional-Identity.aspx
Maxwell, J.C. (1993). Developing the leader within you. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2016, February). NACADA Member Demographic Information [Handout]. Board meeting of The Global Community of Academic Advising (NACADA), Manhattan, KS.
Nutt, C. (2016, June). From the executive director: Are you a student of academic advising? Academic Advising Today, 39(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-Executive-Director-Are-You-a-Student-of-Academic-Advising.aspx
Spight, D. (2016, June). From the president: Change perspective. Academic Advising Today, 39(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-President-Change-Perspective.aspx
Standing Up by Sitting Down: A Teachable Moment for Academic Advising
Cornelius Gilbert, Chair, Advising Administration Commission
By now, many have probably heard, and may have even forgotten, about the protest San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick initiated at the beginning of the 2016 NFL preseason. Kaepernick stood up to the injustices experienced by marginalized groups in American society by deciding to take a seat during the singing of the American National Anthem. Kaepernick has continued the protest well into the regular 2016 NFL season, and along the way has garnered support from fellow NFL players. Now, one may quickly wonder, what does Kaepernick’s protest have to do with academic advising?
To answer this query, let’s first consider the fact that Kaepernick had solidified his identity as a professional football player by helping to take the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. However, Kaepernick seems to have recently formulated his identity as a man in America. His racial sensibilities seem to not only have been acutely awakened, but he has embraced and expressed more of his African American racial identity. Simply consider the fact that Kapernick has had his photo taken via the media with a baseball styled cap with an “X” on the front, no doubt an ode to the slain Black Freedom movement champion, Malcolm X. Malcolm X is significant because he is the archetype of taking delight in being Black, Black racial strength, and Black self-determination (Van Deburg, 1993). In addition to the ball cap, Kaepernick has had his photo taken with him sporting an afro hairstyle, which is a dramatic departure from his low to the scalp, even-keeled hair cut that he used to wear.
As we explore how Kaepernick’s demonstrations impact academic advising, it is important to keep in mind that perhaps Kaepernick has experienced what a number of 20-somethings encounter: identity development. Maybe as a student-athlete growing up and at the University of Neva-Reno, Kaepernick’s racial identity did not develop as a result of his athletic duties and responsibilities. Consequently, a delay may have occurred in his identity development. William E. Cross Jr.’s (1971) racial identity model provides a possible framework to explain.
Cross, in the early 1970s, captured the transformation Black Americans were experiencing as they were forging their own distinct racial identity as a result of a social movement that began in the summer of 1966. Cross outlined five distinct stages that a Black person would go through as they developed their Black racial identity. The stages are as follows:
- Stage One: Pre-encounter. In this stage, the individual has not developed a distinct racial consciousness that is self-determinate and self-empowering. Cross acknowledged that individuals are therefore beholden to the status quo in terms of racial identity. In the case of Kaepernick, according to a 2010 New York Times article, his adopted mother stated, “We've always been really open about the adoption, and we were always very open about the skin colors. We pointed it out as a positive, and he saw his difference and was comfortable with it” (Himmelsbach, 2010). Although Kaepernick was aware of difference, he was seemingly content.
- Stage Two: Encounter. Here an individual encounters a situation where their viewpoints regarding race become not only shaken, but altered. Of this, Cross (1971) wrote, “[t]he encounter is a verbal or visual event, rather than an ‘in-depth’ intellectual experience.” Cross continued by stating that the “[e]ncounter entails two steps: first, experiencing the encounter, and; second, beginning to reinterpret the world as a consequence of the encounter (p. 17). In the case of Kaepernick, he seems to have taken notice of societal ills, or perhaps he or a love one had an encounter that the public is not unaware of which awoke him to demonstrate against America’s societal ills.
- Stage Three: Immersion-Emersion. In this third stage, an individual immerses themselves into their racial culture, or more specifically, their Blackness (Cross, 1971, p. 18). A disconnect, or a riff, occurs from that of the European mainstream and the values the individual now embraces about their race. Cross (1971) wrote that “[d]uring the immersion-emersion stage, the individual develops an idealistic, superhuman level of expectancy toward practically anything ‘Black’ (p. 21). Within this stage an individual develops a powerful sense about their race by taking delight in their race and racial identity and therefore surrounds themselves with racially relevant trophies and artifacts that represent their racial culture. Perhaps this stage can explain why Kaepernick changed his appearance and wore a Malcolm X baseball cap.
- Stage Four: Internalization. In this stage, individuals “became more secure in their identity and more receptive to concrete plans to improve the [B]lack community through group effort” (Van Deburg 1992, p. 54). Kaepernick is calling for change to occur not necessarily in one community, but seemingly for America to make change: “I'm going to stand with the people that are being oppressed” Kaepernick said. “To me this is something that has to change and when there's significant change, . . . I’ll stand” (Dubin, 2016, para. 6).
- Stage Five: Internalization-Commitment. Cross (1971) wrote that the person in this stage “is actively trying to change his community” (p. 23). Kaepernick is taking action beyond that of the Black community by standing up to injustice by sitting down, an act through which all can witness his demonstration to make America better.
Cross’s (1971) original racial identity development from over 40 years ago remains relevant today, particularly for Black collegians attending predominantly white colleges and universities. The nexus that exists between Cross’ racial identity model and Colin Kaepernick’s protest is germane to today’s college students. While Kaepernick is not between the traditional college ages, his current age of 28 is actually in alignment with those who are coming to and currently attending America’s institutions of higher education. Bell (2012), for instance, informs us that “the reality is that the traditional 18–22 year-old student is now the minority in higher education. . . . Thirty-eight percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and 25 percent are over the age of 30” (para. 5). Kaepernick has applicability appeal to current college students, particularly for young Black men, because he was a traditionally aged student during his collegiate football career and because of his current age and profession.
So what can advisors learn from Kaepernick’s protest? Seemingly that he is developing his identity, which many college students do during time on campus. Moreover, Kaepernick can serve as a guide toward gaining an understanding of racial identity development. To assist with that understanding, Cross provided a framework which advisors can use, especially when they work with African American students on predominantly white campuses.
Given that an overwhelming majority of academic advisors do not resemble African Americans, and even for those advisors who may resemble Black students, knowing about racial identity development is quintessentially important not only for academic advisors, but for all stakeholders of higher education. Consider that “[r]etention and graduation rates of racial and ethnic minority students continue to be a major concern for higher education researchers, policy makers, and practitioners” (Museus & Ravello, 2010, p. 47), especially with “two thirds of all Black men who enter higher education leav[ing] before completing their degree—the highest attrition rate among all races and both sexes” (Museus & Ravello, 2010, p. 6). Higher education needs to be concerned with the fact that most student personnel workers, and faculty members, do not resemble minority students because to further assist in student achievement, all students can benefit from diversity. Particularly minority students because they will, not only see, but also experience perceived educational authority figures, which in turn, can be inspiration and motivation to achieve.
Academic advisors would be wise to do as Colin Kaepernick did and to take a stand by sitting down, exercising their unique and influential position to be a positive change agent in the lives of their students.
Cornelius Gilbert, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Adult and Higher Education
Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
College of Education
Northern Illinois University
Bell, S. (2012, March 8). Nontraditional students are the new majority | From the Bell tower. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/03/opinion/nontraditional-students-are-the-new-majority-from-the-bell-tower/#_
Biography.com Editors. (2016). Colin Kaepernick biography. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/colin-kaepernick-21132801#synopsis
Cross, W. E. (1971). The Negro-to-Black conversion experience: Towards a psychology of Black liberation. Black World, 20, 13-27.
Dubin, J. (2016, August 28). Colin Kaepernick: I'll keep sitting for anthem until meaningful change occurs. Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/colin-kaepernick-ill-keep-sitting-for-anthem-until-meaningful-change-occurs/
Himmelsbach, A. (2010, August 28). Not a household name, not even in Nevada. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/sports/ncaafootball/29kaepernick.html?_r=0
Museus, S. D., & Ravello, J. N. (2010). Characteristics of academic advising that contribute to racial and ethnic minority student success at predominantly white institutions. NACADA Journal, 30(1), 47–58.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2013). What role does grit play in the academic success of black male collegians at predominantly white institutions? Journal of African American Studies, 17(3), 6–15.
Van Deburg, W. L. (1992). New day in Babylon: The Black power movement and American culture, 1965 – 1975. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Advising from the Heart: Six Strategies for Working
Jinglin Guo, Western Oregon University
The number of international students who enrolled in colleges and universities during the 2014 to 2015 academic year in the United States was 974,926, and in the past ten years, this number has increased by 300,000 students (Institute of International Education, 2016). The increased presence of international students means academic advisors must be aware of the unique issues facing international students in order to support and ensure success across the range of students they serve. Not knowing where to find help is one of the main reasons why international students face challenges on and off campus. When international students are asked why they do not seek immediate help when they encounter problems, most students will answer that they do not know where to go to seek help. Also, many international students never ask or speak out because they do not want to share feelings of insecurity (Wanning, 2009).
At Western Oregon University (WOU), one of the main duties as an international learning specialist (a position which supports international students in transitioning into the university) is to help international students acculturate to American higher education. At WOU, most international students are required to take a 10-week orientation course designed to help them understand American higher education rules and expectations as well as assist them in adapting to American life. From my experience of teaching new international students, most have academic problems and challenges due to culture shock. First-generation international students especially may not know where to find useful resources or how to do things that most domestic students find to be simple (Pedersen, 1995). The same advising applied to domestic students may not work well for international students. Understanding international students will help advisors find more appropriate ways to serve them. The following six strategies can help advisors working with international students.
Build Trust. For advisors trying to help international students, the first priority is creating an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable sharing their true concerns. International students may be shy when confronted about missing assignments or other problems that might embarrass them. Advisors need to create trust with students or students may think that speaking out will make things worse and stop talking to advisors. The advisor toolkit for building trust includes non-judgements, authenticity, and transparency.
Listen. When international students start to tell their stories, it is crucial that advisors listen and let them finish without interruption. When international students feel they miscommunicate with advisors, the most common reason is “my advisor never listens to my explanation.” Those students also say they do not want to talk with the same advisor again. Sometimes advisors may hear unverifiable reasons such as “my computer crashed” or excuses like “I felt tired so I didn’t go to class.” But it does not matter if advisors decide to believe excuses or not, what matters is that advisors listen to the student first. Listening to international students shows that advisors support them and care about everything they experience.
Communication. Most international students come from a different educational system, which has different academic requirements than American institutions (Hyun, 2014). When international students first engage with a new academic environment, they are confused and have lots of questions, but they may not know the terminology or concepts to express these concerns. In these cases, advisors need to build international students’ academic language. Some students face language barriers or do not know how to communicate with professors and domestic students (Lipson, 2008). When international students try to explain their questions, advisors can list and write down options. In this manner, international students can gain a broad academic vocabulary to better express themselves. For example, if students ask about courses, advisors may list different categories of courses, such as major courses, minor courses, or core curriculum.
When communication is an issue, advisors may be asked the same question repeatedly. International students easily forget what they have heard in an unfamiliar academic environment, and they may need to confirm that they understand and/or have been understood. To help students retain information, advisors can encourage students to take notes during advising in order to move information from short term memory to long term memory (Takač, 2008).
Challenges can be overcome for student’s learning and adjustments if advisors are patient in helping students learn new rules and methods. Miscommunication between students and advisors happen frequently, and advisors need to offer selections and prompts to guide international students to ask for what they need. Usually international students know what they want, but they do not know how to ask.
Sensitivity. Some international students face great challenges using English and these make them feel defeated, afraid to make mistakes, and humiliated when asking for help. Because of this, slight reactions can be very hurtful. One international student who I worked with felt hurt because her team partner (a domestic student) could not understand her writing. That international student stopped doing work for the class since she thought she would not get a good grade and was never willing to work with the same partner again. Explaining to students that using a second language to study abroad is not easy and that mistakes are a necessary step in language learning is reassuring and builds self-confidence. Advisors can suggest that the student think another way: if domestic students needed to finish this class in another language, how many of them could do it well? Advisors can encourage international students and help them feel comfortable by acknowledging their feelings and trying to be positive.
Advising Styles. Most international students want advisors to tell them how to do things with details, so advisors should clarify their main function as guides, where students take personal responsibility (NACADA, 2003). Since international students feel insecure when they enter a new environment (Pedersen, 1995), advisors need to point out how to do things step-by-step during the first advising session. Over time, students will become acclimated to the American advising style, but advisors can show them the way.
Importantly, advisors need to give international students credible answers and responses when encountering something new. For example, in one criminal justice course, the class discussed whether a police officer should ticket a friend. One international student said “no” and did not believe the professor or the class when they argued against him, creating distrust in the classroom. When cultural perspectives clash in the classroom, an advisor can explain American culture and laws to the student. After that, the student can better understand his class’s reaction and begin to trust the professor. Different cultures have different values, laws, and customs, and advisors must help students navigate differences to succeed in the American education system.
Encourage Students. According to data from 2014-2015, 63.5% of international students come from Asia (Institute of International Education, 2016). The biggest difference between Western and Eastern education is that “silence” is a general characteristic of most Asian students. For them, talking with professors can be a daunting task. Often, students at risk of failing are referred to advisors by instructors. Those students often have the same question: “why did my instructor not point out my mistakes until I had missed the deadline?” Students do not often check with instructors about their assignments. They feel strange when they do not receive feedback from instructors, but they choose to wait. Obviously, “no news is good news” does not work well in American contexts. That is part of the culture shock students experience. International students think that things are okay if professors never contact them, but they have no idea that professors are too busy to point out mistakes for every student on time. Advisors can encourage international students to break their silence by starting discussions and communicating with professors during office hours to make sure they are on track.
Working with international students is complicated and often requires more patience than working with domestic students. Advisors may encounter many different problems such as culture shock, communication misunderstandings, and insecurity among students. Advisors not only advise students on academic related topics, but also care about students’ cultures, reactions, and values. Knowing how to better advise international students will not only bring more benefits to international students, but also bring deeper learning to domestic students, the campus, and community.
International Learning Specialist
Academic Advising and Learning Center / International Student Academic Support
Western Oregon University
Hyun, J. (n.d.). 4 big differences in American and Asian education norms. Retrieved from http://www.realclear.com/world/2014/05/01/stark_differences_in_american_and_asian_education_6735.html
Institute of International Education. (n.d.). International students in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/Services/Project-Atlas/United-States/International-Students-In-US
Lipson, C. (2008). Succeeding as an international student in the United States and Canada. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
NACADA. (2003). Paper presented to the task force on defining academic advising. NACADA Clearinghouse. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Definitions-of-academic-advising.aspx
Pedersen, P. (1995). The five stages of culture shock: Critical incidents around the world. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
Takač, V. P. (2008). Vocabulary learning strategies and foreign language acquisition. Clevedon, NY: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
Wanning, E. (2009). Culture Shock! USA: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Tarrytown, NY, US: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.
Graduate Student Success: A Model that Works
Brittany Sheehy, University of South Florida
One of the ten recommendations given in the National Academies report (2012) was the need to reform graduate education and address issues such as high attrition rates, long time-to degree lengths, and career placement. The Council of Graduate Schools (2010) has made an effort to impart the message that if the United States wants to be competitive among the world’s innovators and leaders, it starts with a strong graduate education system (Barnes & Randall, 2012). Practitioners have also made pleas for more institutional efforts to be made to understand and support graduate student success with the same attention and focus that is provided to undergraduates (Hardré & Hackett, 2015). What research has come to find is that the ball starts and stops at the department of the program for initiating and implementing change in the graduate student experience. The attrition rate has been spotlighted as high as 33 percent in some disciplines with no explanation provided from the departments (Gardner & Gopaul, 2012; Ivankova & Stick, 2007; Kim & Otts, 2010). Several studies have shown that attrition results from poor academic support, mentoring, lack of integration, and lack of socialization with the student's home department (Solem, Lee, & Schlemper, 2009). Times are changing though: the federal government and national organizations are starting to take notice and ask questions regarding attrition rates, graduation rates, publication rates, and employment rates after investing large dollars into graduate education (Golde, 2005).
The purpose of this article is to present ten activities that one college at a large Southeastern University has done to maintain an attrition rate between five and seven percent and a time-to-degree of 6.5 years for doctoral students and 3.5 years for master’s students over the past three years. USF’s College of Marine Science (CMS) offers only master’s and doctoral degrees in the following disciplines: biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and marine resource assessment. The 10 activities have been implemented based on the research that presents strong student persistence and outcomes.
Recruitment Weekend. Recruitment weekend happens every spring and is a three-day long event where faculty advisors invite prospective students to come to the College for a meet and greet with themselves and their laboratory group, other students in the College, College faculty, and administrators and staff. This gives the advisor an opportunity to see if the student would be a good fit for the program and the college. It also allows the student to assess the program for fit, making the overall decision to enter the program a mutual one. Lott, Gardner, and Powers (2009) state that one reason for such high attrition rates in graduate programs is because there is a mismatch between the student and the type of program he or she enrolls in to study. They suggest better recruitment strategies like CMS’s Recruitment Weekend to ensure a closer line between experiences and expectations.
New Student Orientation. The research is clear that when students are initially immersed into a department’s academic and social community, they are much more likely to succeed than if they are left to navigate graduate school alone (Lovitts & Nelson, 2001). The College of Marine Science hosts a specific orientation for its new students in addition to the university graduate general orientation. This allows the new students to be academically and socially integrated into the college and program from the start. The academic administrator meets with each student one-on-one during orientation week to ensure each one understands the college policies, college processes, and to make sure each student’s individual academic questions are answered (i.e., funding situations, class registration, and office space). Included in the orientation are lectures from the college dean, the director of academic affairs, and several other faculty and staff that will be resourceful for students to interact with during the program. The college also provides a formal Presentation Bootcamp workshop presented by NSF Program Director, Richard Tankersley, to set the new students up for success in creating and presenting posters and their graduate work. The workshop also makes for an excellent ice breaker for the new cohort as it consists of several group activities where the new students collaborate with one another.
Student Group. The College of Marine Science has a student group that does education outreach as well as Friday gatherings in the student lounge with food and drink provided. This is an opportunity for students to come together and establish a social network. Faculty attend these gatherings as well, making the setting more causal and family-like.
Lunch with the Dean. Every month the dean of the college meets with the students for a pizza lunch. Students are able to submit an anonymous survey with their concerns, be it faculty relationships, no parking spaces, or lack of resources in their laboratory. The dean answers all questions and works to ensure the students have the resources they need to be successful in their graduate program.
Spring Fling. The Spring Fling is an event where the college administration partners with the student group to create a large event and social. The dean gives an Annual Report to all faculty, staff, and students. This presentation is followed by an event for all faculty, staff, students, and their families to gather for food, drink, music, and fun activities.
Annual Student Workshop. This workshop is hosted by the Academic Affairs office where speakers are invited to present on topics that are most desired by the current students at the time. Topics include applying for academic and non-academic jobs, tax preparation, and networking. It is a full-day event and is always review highly by the students.
Student Participation on College Committees. Student participation is included on all of the college committees, including the Dean’s Advisory Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and the Honors and Awards Committee, along with others. This integrates students directly into the administration of the college as colleagues and voices the concerns of students, making them feel like a significant piece in decision-making.
Graduate Student Symposium. The College organizes its own research symposium each year, allowing each student the chance to present their research to other students and all the faculty in the college. Faculty also serve as judges of the presentations and provide feedback. These opportunities help prepare the students professionally and instill a sense of connection among the faculty and the disciplines within the College.
Weekly Seminars. The College of Marine Science holds weekly seminars hosted by marine scientists from across the globe to come and give a seminar to students, faculty, and staff. As part of the first year at CMS, students take four core courses in Marine Science: one in each of the four disciplines. A requirement in each core course is that the students attend ten of the seminars a semester. This practice unites socialization with academics, allowing maximum integration of the students. Research has confirmed the importance of this action, especially in the first year when attrition is at its highest (Golde, 1998; Lovitts, 2001; Tinto, 1993).
Progress Reports. Progress reports are required by every student each October. The progress report tracks and holds the student accountable for academic benchmarks, deadlines, awards, and publications. It also requires that the major advisor for the student provide a written statement on their student’s academic progress for the year that is reviewed by the Dean as part of their annual review. This process holds both the student and the advisor equally accountable to the student’s academic success.
In summary, research has clarified that it is not what the students bring with them into the graduate program that causes them to depart, but what happens to them after they begin the experience (Nelson & Lovitts, 2001). Administrators and advisors of graduate programs should recognize and acknowledge the significance of academic and social integration and work to implement some of the programming above that have contributed to the success of the USF’s College of Marine Science.
College of Marine Science
University of South Florida
Barnes, B. J., & Randall, J. (2012). Doctoral student satisfaction: An examination of disciplinary, enrollment, and institutional differences. Research in Higher Education, 53(1), 47-75.
Gardner, S. K., & Gopaul, B. (2012). The part-time doctoral student experience. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7, 63-78.
Golde, C. M. (1998). Beginning graduate school: Explaining first‐year doctoral attrition. New Directions for Higher Education, 1998(101), 55-64.
Golde, C. M. (2005). The role of the department and discipline in doctoral student attrition: Lessons from four departments. Journal of Higher Education, 76(6), 669-700.
Hardré, P. L., & Hackett, S. M. (2015). Understanding the graduate college experience: Perceptual differences by degree type, point-in-program and disciplinary subgroups. Learning Environments Research, 18(3), 453-468.
Ivankova, N. V., & Stick, S. L. (2007). Students’ persistence in a distributed doctoral program in educational leadership in higher education: A mixed methods study. Research in Higher Education, 48(1), 93-135.
Kim, D., & Otts, C. (2010). The effect of loans on time to doctorate degree: Differences by race/ethnicity, field of study, and institutional characteristics. The Journal of Higher Education, 81(1), 1-32.
Lott, J. L., Gardner, S., & Powers, D. A. (2009). Doctoral student attrition in the STEM fields: An exploratory event history analysis. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 11(2), 247-266.
Lovitts, B. E. (2001). Leaving the ivory tower: The causes and consequences of departure from doctoral study. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Nelson, C., & Lovitts, B. E. (2001). 10 ways to keep graduate students from quitting. Chronicle of Higher Education, 47(42), B20.
Solem, M., Lee, J., & Schlemper, B. (2009). Departmental climate and student experiences in graduate geography programs. Research in Higher Education, 50(3), 268-292. doi:10.1007/s11162-008-9117-4
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
The Case for a Case Management Approach for Advising Academically Underprepared Students
Lindsey Pierce, South Seattle College
When thinking of case management, one might draw associations with social work, healthcare, or even customer service rather than academic advising. However, advising departments and other student services units are increasingly implementing case management principles, especially with targeted populations, to improve student retention and support. The Case Management Society of America (2016) defines case management as “a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s . . . needs through communication and available resources” (para. 1). Translated into advising practices, case management might include the following: targeted outreach to specific student populations, creation of individualized student success plans, intentional referrals to other departments and services, maintenance of detailed advising notes and student records, advocacy for student-centered policies and procedures at all institutional levels, and continual evaluation of the advising process and its effectiveness (Richardson, 2008).
A case management approach to advising is especially important when working with academically underprepared students, who are more likely to stop out before finishing an educational program (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011). Academically underprepared students are those who lack basic skills in reading, writing, and/or mathematics upon postsecondary enrollment (Miller & Murray, 2005). The National Center for Education Statistics (2009) reports that one third of students entering college require some amount of developmental coursework, and this number is more significant for students enrolling in two-year colleges, at 44 percent. Furthermore, academically underprepared students, which often include English language learners and non-traditional students, require more hands-on advising assistance and relationship-building to succeed in college (Carmack & Carmack, 2016; Miller & Murray, 2005; Peters, Hyun, Taylor, & Varney, 2010; Richardson, 2008; Rios Erickson, 2007; Skorupa, 2002). In considering the implementation of a case management approach to advising, it is important to consider the advising model, theories, and challenges that characterize it.
The majority of postsecondary institutions operate on a shared advising structure wherein a combination of centralized and decentralized advisors provide advising services (Pardee, 2004). Pardee (2004) suggests that this structure is also the most sensible for serving a large number of underprepared students. Utilizing a case management approach within a shared advising model, new students may be directed to a centralized advising department for initial intake and then assigned to a specific advisor with whom they continue to meet until certain goals have been reached (e.g. starting college-level Math/English, reaching a certain credit threshold, finishing a program of study, etc.). Case management advising requires the ability to get to know students on a deeper level and follow up with them regularly to monitor their progress and address barriers they may face. Therefore, advisors must be well-equipped to meet students’ needs through reasonable case load numbers, sufficient time allotted to appointments, specialized knowledge and training about underprepared students, and diverse service delivery methods (email, websites, social media, etc.).
A shared advising model can include a combination of professional and faculty advisors—evidence suggests that incorporating faculty into advising is key to students’ learning and retention (Allard & Parashar, 2013; Chakrabarti, 2013; White & Anttonen, 2012). Faculty are able to see how students function in the classroom, review their academic work, and provide guidance in program or career areas in which they specialize, giving them a valuable perspective for advising. As Allard and Parashar (2013) put it, “Faculty advisers play a critical role in student development that professional advisers may not be able to fill” (para. 26). In many postsecondary institutions, students meet with a professional advisor when they are new, undecided, or in transition between programs, and they are assigned to a faculty advisor once they have embarked on a particular program of study. While this may be the most practical model, it often does not allow for advising relationships between faculty and academically underprepared students, who usually must complete developmental coursework before entering a program of study. Professional advisors, being dedicated mostly to advising rather than teaching, are better positioned to provide case management, but it is critical that they communicate consistently with faculty who teach underprepared students. This may take the form of reaching out to faculty at key points in the term to check on students’ progress; conducting in-class advising sessions or presentations; creating intentional referral systems between faculty, advisors, and other student support services; and/or facilitating regular meetings between faculty and advisors to build relationships and share information.
Many advising departments favor a strengths-based approach to inform their practice, especially when serving academically underprepared students (Chakrabarti, 2013; Miller & Murray, 2005; Peters, Hyun, Taylor, & Varney, 2010). This approach encourages advisors to let students’ strengths, skills, and passions, rather than their limitations and mistakes, guide advising interactions. Applying a strengths-based approach to practice in a case management setting can include a variety of tactics. An important starting point is to frame basic skills coursework positively, such as describing it as “preparatory” or “foundational” rather than “remedial” and helping students understand that they will be much more successful in their college coursework with a stronger footing in math and English. Additionally, the use of an intake questionnaire asking students about their goals, interests, strengths, and challenges can lead to more meaningful and uplifting conversations and plans of action, as opposed to the more punitive conversations that tend to result from reactionary advising.
Another approach that many advising units advocate is proactive advising, also known as intrusive advising. Proactive advising promotes reaching out to students to explain how advising and other support services can help them before the student initiates contact or encounters barriers to their success. Belmont College (2010) and Richardson (2008) emphasize the importance of proactive advising in a case management approach, especially in the form of reaching out to students at crucial points to ensure they are making steady progress toward their goals and addressing challenges before they become problems. For example, an advisor might send emails to their caseload of students a few weeks before registration begins to not only ensure they register for the next term, but also to make referrals to tutoring, counseling, or other student services if they are struggling. Taken a step further, proactive advising within case management might involve following up at the end of the term with students to inquire whether they actually pursued the recommended referrals and what the outcome was. This kind of follow-up requires detailed advising notes for each student and sufficient time for the advisor to follow through.
Adopting a case management approach to advising underprepared students does not come without its challenges. One such challenge is a large student population and too few advisors. Many colleges and universities today admit an increasing number of students but do not adequately fund advising services to serve them effectively (Applegate & Hartleroad, 2011; White & Anttonen, 2012). Employing a case management approach takes significant time and effort for each advisor to make personal connections with their students, and yet Robbins (2013) conveys that the median case load of advisees per full-time advisor is 296—and for large institutions, it climbs up to 600. Institutions with such advisor to student ratios wishing to implement a case management approach must seriously consider increasing their advising staff, whether through funding new positions or integrating more existing faculty and/or staff into the advising process. Additionally, such institutions might try targeting case management advising to a specific subset of students and/or piloting it with an even smaller subset to determine its effectiveness before bringing it to scale.
Another challenge of case management advising with academically underprepared students is that the latter represent very diverse identities and backgrounds and, therefore, cannot be served with uniform advising methods. For example, many underprepared students, especially at community colleges, are English language learners (ELL) coming from diverse cultures. Rios Erickson (2007) notes that advisors must be trained to work effectively with ELL students through intercultural responsiveness and understanding their specific needs. ELL students represent merely one subgroup in the underprepared category, which also includes non-traditional students, first-generation college students, and students who are undocumented, to name a few. Advising administrators must create ample opportunities for professional development around serving diverse student populations and also recognize the importance of continually assessing advising services to ensure they are meeting all students’ needs. In addition, a commitment to hiring diverse advising staff who represent the identities of their students is imperative to effective case management advising.
Academically underprepared students are attending college in increasing numbers and represent a proportion of the student population that cannot be ignored or marginalized. Fortunately, there is evidence to suggest that underprepared students can be just as successful as their more prepared counterparts, as long as they receive proper support (Miller & Murray, 2005). Implementing case management strategies in advising is a promising way to increase the retention and completion of underprepared students through a personable, proactive, and strengths-based approach that emphasizes communication, collaboration, and accountability. It can create a more meaningful experience for students and a more fulfilling vocation for advisors.
Lindsey Pierce, M.Ed.
Student Success Specialist
Advising/Basic & Transitional Studies
South Seattle College
Allard, F. L. & Parashar, S. (2013, August). Comparing undergraduate satisfaction with faculty and professional advisers: A multi-method approach. The Mentor. Retrieved from https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2013/08/comparing-satisfaction-faculty-professional-advisers/
Alliance for Excellent Education. (2011). Saving now and saving later: How high school reform can reduce the nation’s wasted remediation dollars. Retrieved from http://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/SavingNowSavingLaterRemediation.pdf
Applegate, D. Y. & Hartleroad, G. (2011, March). Effective ways to deal with large advising loads. Academic Advising Today, 34(1). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Effective-Ways-to-Deal-with-Large-Advising-Loads.aspx
Belmont College. (2010). Student success plans: Rate of goal attainment [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://www.belmontcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2010-04-rate-of-goal-attainment.pdf
Carmack, A. L. & Carmack, H. J. (2016, June). S-PASS: Using hand-off communication strategies for academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 39(2). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/S-PASS-Using-Hand-off-Communication-Strategies-for-Academic-Advising.aspx
Case Management Society of America. (2016). What is a case manager? Retrieved from http://www.cmsa.org/Home/CMSA/WhatisaCaseManager/tabid/224/Default.aspx
Chakrabarti, L. (2013, December). Reflecting on academic advising in the English language program at Kansas State University. Academic Advising Today, 36(4). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Reflecting-on-Academic-Advising-in-the-English-Language-Program-at-Kansas-State-University.aspx
Miller, M. A. & Murray, C. (2005). Advising academically underprepared students. NACADA Clearinghouse. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Academically-underprepared-students.aspx
National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). 2007-08 national postsecondary student aid study [Data file]. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009166.pdf
Pardee, C. F. (2004). Organizational structures for advising. NACADA Clearinghouse. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Organizational-Models-for-Advising.aspx
Peters, L., Hyun, M., Taylor, S., & Varney, J. (2010, September). Advising non-traditional students: Beyond class schedules and degree requirements. Academic Advising Today, 33(3). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-Non-Traditional-Students-Beyond-Class-Schedules-and-Degree-Requirements.aspx
Richardson, R. (2008, December). A case management approach to academic advising. The Mentor. Retrieved from https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/old/articles/081203rr.htm
Rios Erickson, A. (2007, March). A new trend in advising: ESL advising. Academic Advising Today, 30(1). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/A-New-Trend-in-Advising-ESL-Advising.aspx
Robbins, R. (2013). Implications of advising load. In Carlstrom, A., 2011 national survey of academic advising. (Monograph No. 25). Manhattan, KS: The Global Community for Academic Advising. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Advisor-Load.aspx
Skorupa, K. (2002, September). Adult learners as consumers. Academic Advising Today, 25(3). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Adult-Learners-as-Consumers.aspx
White, M. M. & Anttonen, R. G. (2012, March). Reinvigorating faculty advising on your campus. The Mentor. Retrieved from https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2012/03/reinvigorating-faculty-advising/
Deena Williams Newman, Darton State College
An honest person is often difficult to find. Officials at an automobile company lie and skirt emissions standards. Sports figures are caught using performance-enhancing drugs and employing other dishonest methods to win. Politicians misuse statistics, twist facts, and retell known lies about their opponents in order to win an election. Even in the academic world, plagiarism and cheating are significant problems on college and university campuses. Unfortunately, a few academic advisors have even been caught up in scandals involving academic misconduct and fraud and aiding students improperly.
In spite of cultural trends against honest and ethical behavior, academic advisors must stand strong in support of honest practices in the profession. According to NACADA’s Statement of Core Values, students who seek advising have a right to, among other things, honest professional service (NACADA, 2005). Over my 11 years of advising students, I have faced some challenging situations and learned some lessons about what it means to provide honest professional service.
Advisors must be honest about the demands of college life. Advisors, especially at access institutions, need to let first-generation students know the basics. From the beginning, students need to know they need to spend at least two to three hours outside of class each week for each credit hour they are taking. It must be made clear that studying, reading, and writing assignments must take priority if students are to succeed. I’ve had students tell me, “Put me in easy classes.” My tactful, honest response is that college is not meant to be easy and very few classes are “easy.” This is especially true for new students who sign up for online classes, thinking they will be less work than face-to face classes. Without nonverbal clues, it is sometimes a challenge to advise over the phone or by e-mail and combat some myths about the demands of online education.
Advisors must also be honest with students when they communicate about future goals. For example, an advisor cannot mislead an advisee into thinking she can get into a competitive nursing program when her GPA is barely 2.0. An honest response is tough to give because no caring advisor wants to crush a student’s dreams, but it is necessary to tell the truth. Of course, concern and discussion of a more realistic Plan B for the future should be a part of the agenda.
Advisor honesty is key when helping students schedule classes for upcoming semesters. I have advised students who were trying to work 40 hours a week and take 15 or 16 semester hours at the same time. They were disappointed when I advised them against overloading themselves, but at least they were given an honest warning. Students whose advisors do not assist them in developing an appropriate educational plan early on may feel misled when they have to delay graduation a semester or two.
An honest advisor will be open with students about their fears and anxiety about attending college. A few semesters ago in my first year experience class, students had to write their feelings about attending college on an online discussion. I was amazed at their responses, particularly their fear of failing. They felt pressure from their parents to do well and did not want to disappoint them. This fear motivated some new students to do well, while it almost paralyzed others, especially first-generation college students, some of whose families’ hopes and dreams for a better future rested solely on them. Allowing students to discuss those fears in a non-threatening environment may help students realize they are not alone. An advisor who can be vulnerable with students and share in an appropriate manner from her own college experience can also be helpful.
An effective advisor can’t sit back and allow a student to self-destruct. I’ve been honest with some struggling students and have even suggested they may want to consider taking a break and sitting out a semester or two. Of course, I try to do it with kindness. I don’t bluntly tell them they are unmotivated, young, and unprepared for college and need to time to mature, get out in the work world, and think about their future plans. In my 11 years as an advisor, it has been a real joy to see some of those same students take my advice and later return to college with a renewed sense of purpose and a desire to learn.
Honesty is needed when relating to students who are in college for one reason: money. Some think that having a college degree will enable them to get a high-paying job and they will be set for life. Admittedly, statistics on lifetime earnings do show that college graduates earn more than high school graduates; however, money won’t buy happiness. I have known of students who changed their majors from social work, education, or another low-paying profession simply because they yearned to make more money. When I know the student is one who would be successful in a helping profession, I ask questions to make sure he is not chasing money over doing what he really wants to do to make a difference in the world.
As well as being honest with students, advisors need to be honest with themselves. They should be open about issues that may influence their interaction with students, such as issues related to gender, race, socioeconomic status, culture, and sexual orientation. Generational differences may also come into play. An effective advisor must be self-aware enough to realize he is likely very different in many ways from the students he advises. This is not a bad thing unless the student feels he cannot get the support and assistance he needs. For example, Advisor A may have difficulty relating to a student who is disengaged and unmotivated because he never experienced those feelings himself when he was in college. Advisor B, who was not a first-generation college student, may need to work harder to build relationships with his advisees who are the first in their families to attend college.
Wise advisors are honest about their own weaknesses and limitations. I am always suspicious of advisors who think they know everything about every program, policy, and course offering. I much prefer to work with advisors who are not afraid to admit they are not sure about a pre-requisite or requirement and take the time to double check, make phone calls, or refer the student to other resources when necessary.
At times, being honest is a challenge. In an institutional environment that is numbers driven, it is somewhat risky to be totally honest with students. Should an advisor actually tell a high-risk student that she would be better off going to a technical school than attending a state college? Such honesty would hurt enrollment but help retention rates. What does honesty mean when relating to students with extremely low entrance scores? How can I be honest with a student who lists psychology as her major but she can’t spell psychology correctly? How can I be honest when advising a declared pre-engineering major who requires math support classes?
Advisors, then, must have the courage to be honest with students and with themselves. In the long run, an honest advisor will be more respected and trusted than one who avoids dealing with difficult issues. Honest advisors are the role models students need in a society where honesty is often not valued.
Deena Williams Newman
Advising Center Coordinator
Peer Tutoring Coordinator
Darton State College
NACADA. (2005). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. NACADA Clearinghouse. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articleds/Core-values-of-academic-advising.aspx
Demystifying the Emerging Leaders Program
Joshua D. Adams, Brandan L. Lowden, and Kyle W. Ross, NACADA Emerging Leaders
Melinda J. Anderson, NACADA Emerging Leader Mentor
NACADA’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) started its first class in 2007 and has been an opportunity for individuals to seek leadership opportunities within the organization through a two-year mentoring experience with a current leader. Both aspiring leaders and mentors apply to the program and commit at minimum to attending two of the three Annual Conferences during the program period and completing several assignments throughout the two years, and also are encouraged to participate in other regional and association events. Joshua Adams, Brandan Lowden, and Kyle Ross are Emerging Leaders, and Melinda Anderson is a Mentor for the 2015–2017 class. In this article, they share their perspectives on deciding to apply to the program and the application process to help clarify some common myths about ELP and encourage members to consider being a part of this very rewarding experience.
Why Did I Decide to Apply as an Emerging Leader?
Joshua: At first glance, the Emerging Leaders Program appears to benefit most those at the beginning of their career. I was hesitant to apply for the program and wondered if I could benefit from involvement within ELP. At the time of application, I was 14 years into my career. As a practitioner, I felt confident in my ability to navigate my university, have the education and knowledge base to be successful, and enjoy working with professionals at all levels of their careers. What I realized I was missing from my experience and skill set was involvement at the leadership level in NACADA. I had attended and presented at conferences, but I had not yet sought a leadership role. I needed assistance navigating the organization and learning from others who have been NACADA leaders. Taking this into account, I was paired with a Mentor who could assist with these needs while also recognizing my day-to-day needs differ due to my position and years of experience within our field. I have gained insight into NACADA and now have an accountability partner in my mentor who is assisting me with getting involved in the leadership of the organization. To me, what makes ELP so valuable is that while all Emerging Leaders have a similar goal—to focus on leadership experiences within NACADA—the program is nimble enough to adapt to the needs of each Emerging Leader and Mentor.
How Did I Know I Was Ready to Be a Mentor?
Melinda: There is a moment in every advisor’s professional career when they move from being the new kid on the block to becoming a seasoned professional. One minute, they are the new advisor trying to learn curriculum, programs, and campus resources, and the next, they are training other advisors and making sure that they are supported in their role. This is exactly what happened to me when I realized I was ready to become an ELP Mentor. When I first joined NACADA, I took the Associate Director Jennifer Joslin’s advice to heart: “Get a mentor, get a major, and get’a moving.” I became an Emerging Leader, took on a leadership role in the Regional division, and took off in the organization. Then there came that moment when I realized that I could be a Mentor. Now, to be honest, no magic light illuminated my office when I thought about becoming a Mentor, although that would have been pretty cool, but when I realized I wanted to help someone else find their passion in our organization, I knew it was time.
Becoming a Mentor is not for those who are perfect, know-it-alls, or people who never make mistakes; being an ELP Mentor is not related to your job title or function. An ELP mentor is someone who values NACADA and is willing to help others learn how to get involved and discover their passions to lead within the organization. An ELP Mentor is like that seasoned professional who wants to make sure that others are finding their own way. To become a Mentor, applicants must be a NACADA member for at least two years, have current or past NACADA leadership experience, and be willing to provide guidance and time necessary to make a difference in their Emerging Leader’s NACADA journey.
Is ELP an Opportunity for Career Development?
Melinda: ELP is designed to help Emerging Leaders figure out how they want to lead in NACADA. The beauty of NACADA is in its diversity: diversity of ideas, people, and opportunities to engage its membership. NACADA works hard to provide its membership with the professional opportunities needed to grow and develop in the profession. ELP, however, is not intended specifically for an individual’s personal career development or advancement, although sometimes that is a result of growing as a professional. ELP is a wonderful opportunity to learn how to give back to NACADA by actively seeking a leadership role in the many different facets of the organization. If an Emerging Leader or Mentor happens to move up in their organization, career, or into a different role as a result of their growth in the profession, that is a bonus benefit, but that is not the intention or goal of this program.
How Did I Prepare to Apply to ELP?
Brandan: Applicants should be actively involved in the association and be looking toward moving into a leadership role. NACADA looks at involvement and leadership from a broad perspective. Examples of involvement include presenting at a state or regional NACADA conference, serving on a commission steering committee, or co-authoring an article for Academic Advising Today!
How does one get involved in these and other areas of NACADA? Just ask! One great resource is the Region Chair in each respective region. Those folks can provide information about initiatives that are taking place and they might need people to help in different areas. For members who have a specific area of interest, NACADA has many different Commission and Interest Groups that are always seeking volunteers. Presenting and publishing as an advising practitioner is another way to get involved and demonstrate readiness for leadership by sharing insights and best practices. Many advisors struggle to find the time to prepare a conference presentation or write an article; collaboration with colleagues across the association can be an effective way to “share the load.” Most Regions, Commissions, and Interest Groups within NACADA have e-mail listservs and social media pages to help facilitate networking opportunities to share ideas. All of these involvement opportunities further our profession and are actually a lot of fun!
There is not an ideal set of experiences that makes one ELP applicant better than another. Applicants should not fall for the myth that there is someone better suited to the program. Remember, this is a program committed to diversity in leadership.
Kyle: While preparing my responses in my application, I had some misunderstanding of this question: “How will your involvement in the Emerging Leaders Program support the program goal of providing increased representation from an underrepresented constituency in NACADA?” The organization has a very broad statement of diversity, which includes race, gender, institutional type, employment position, and many other factors. What I did not understand at first was that the question was asking about member representation within leadership rather than the makeup of membership at large. Fortunately, I had a conversation about this with my colleague Susan Poch, who has served as an ELP mentor, and she clarified that for me. ELP participants Carol Pollard, Michelle Sotolongo, and Mark Nelson also discussed this in the September 2016 issue of Academic Advising Today, where they explain:
“One of NACADA’s goals is simply to have our leadership appropriately reflect our membership. For example, in NACADA’s definition of diversity, institution type is one of the diversity areas considered; therefore, since our analytics tell us that at this time our membership includes 15% advisors at two-year institutions, a goal is that our leadership also be about 15% members from two-year institutions.”
I had initially assumed that being male would be a good piece to include because the large majority of membership is female. However, as I thought more about it following my conversation with Susan, I realized that, from my perspective at least, it seemed that males are actually over-represented in the association’s leadership. I then needed to think much more critically about this piece and ended up tailoring my response to my institution type and regional representation.
The Emerging Leaders Program is a wonderful opportunity to network with other members who also share an interest in giving back to NACADA in leadership roles that fit them best. Anyone with this interest in mind is an excellent candidate for the program because it is so flexible to each participant’s needs, and all it takes is the time and willingness to learn from others. For those interested in becoming an Emerging Leader, the first step is to demonstrate commitment to NACADA by being involved with the association, so get going now and then apply for ELP. Excellent ways to start are with the Regions, Commissions and Interest Groups, a conference presentation, or a brief article. For Mentors, we recommend anyone who meets the qualifications who wants to commit their time to helping an Emerging Leader forge their leadership path. We hope our insights are helpful to readers, and we are happy to talk with anyone who has more questions.
Joshua D. Adams
Pioneer Center for Student Excellence
Texas Woman’s University
Melinda J. Anderson
University of North Carolina – Wilmington
Brandan L. Lowden
Instructional Liaison to the Division of Business, Public Service & Social Science
Lead Advisor for Public & Human Services Programs
Career Planning & Advising
Pikes Peak Community College
Kyle W. Ross
College of Nursing
Washington State University
Pollard, C., Sotolongo, M., & Nelson, M. (2016, September). Why we serve on the NACADA diversity committee. Academic Advising Today, 39(3). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Why-We-Serve-on-the-NACADA-Diversity-Committee.aspx
NACADA Summer Institute: A New Advising Professional's Perspective
Anna Lincoln, Wesley R. Habley NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient
The NACADA Summer Institute has been the most valuable and beneficial professional development experience I have had so far in my career. Being new to the field of academic advising, I have really embraced the connections, knowledge, and opportunities provided to me by NACADA. I attended the 2015 NACADA Annual Conference in Las Vegas and I joined the Region 9 Peer Engagement Program. Having enjoyed both experiences, I was looking forward to my next professional development opportunity with NACADA. I am fortunate to work with colleagues who had attended past NACADA Summer Institutes, including Blane Harding who was a faculty member for this year’s institute. Blane presented the institute as a unique and rigorous training opportunity, which peaked my interest and excitement. The honor of being awarded the Wesley R. Habley Scholarship made attending the NACADA Summer Institute possible, and I am forever grateful for the experience.
The main objective of the Summer Institute was to create an action plan to be implemented upon my return to campus. This opportunity could not have come at a better time. My campus was rolling out a new advising software to aid in retention, and I was selected to train our faculty. I welcomed time away from my office to focus on an action plan for this new project. I attended the institute with four colleagues from my advising team. On the first day, we were organized into a workgroup with other advisors from our university and advisors from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and New York University Shanghai. I enjoyed being able to network and collaborate with advisors I never would have met if NACADA had not brought us together. I was also fortunate to work under the mentorship and guidance of my group leader, Jayne Drake. Jayne has vast experience in Liberal Arts advising being the Vice Dean for Academic and Student Affairs and Associate Professor of English Emeritus at the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University. It was an honor to share ideas with such an expert and receive her feedback. Jayne has a humor about her that makes working with her just as much fun as it is productive. She gave out her cell phone number on the very first day and insisted that anyone could contact her at any time to discuss their action plans. I could tell that she genuinely enjoyed leading her group and that she wanted to see everyone succeed.
I was so impressed by the amount of thought and effort that NACADA put into organizing the Summer Institute. Each day consisted of foundational, workshop, and topical sessions that I could attend as well as time in my work group to collaborate with my team and work on our action plan. While Jayne was our group leader and most of my faculty interaction was with her, NACADA did a great job of providing participants time with other expert faculty. Each group was allowed to sign up for a 30 minute consultation session with a different faculty member. My group chose to work with Jo Anne Huber who spent 28 years as the Academic Advising Coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. Jo Anne helped us work through the challenge of how to motivate Liberal Arts students to take math and she affirmed that our action plan was on the right track. It was unbelievable how quickly the 30 minutes flew by. The session with Jo Anne left me confident about our plan and excited to move forward.
Foundational sessions started off the first three days of the summer institute and provided more opportunity to learn from expert faculty. Charlie Nutt, the Executive Director of NACADA, gave a session titled Handling Change: Leading from Your Position. This was the first time I witnessed Charlie speak, and he was completely inspiring. Charlie’s motivational words made me feel like I could change the world through academic advising. This was the perfect session to launch the summer institute.
Another foundational session I attended was Assessment of Academic Advising: An Overview given by Rich Robbins, the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bucknell University. I appreciated this session because I believe there is a need for research and assessment in academic advising, but it can seem like a daunting task for which finding time is difficult. Rich’s presentation helped me figure out that research and assessment can easily be incorporated into the retention efforts we are already doing and more importantly become a necessary piece of my team’s action plan. Later on in the institute, I was able to further my learning by attending Rich’s Making Decisions with Data topical session and Blane Harding’s Research in Advising; Just Do It. This is why the summer institute is so much more than a traditional conference. At traditional conferences, participants acquire best practices and helpful information about a variety of topics to act upon once they return to campus. At the Summer Institute, the foundational, workshop, and topical sessions all built upon each other and provided me with information I could utilize immediately in our action plan, making them an incredibly productive use of my time. And for the sessions I could not attend, NACADA provided a guide with every PowerPoint presentation and a resource section consisting of example action plans, CAS standards, and other helpful information.
In addition to all of the rigorous work and learning, the Summer Institute provided many opportunities to socialize and have fun with other participants. There was a dinner and mixer on the first night and a networking reception later in the week. Breakfast and lunch was served on each full day of the institute with beverage breaks in the afternoons. The meals were a welcomed break from work group sessions spent creating our action plan and a great time to meet other advisors who were not in my work group. I found myself sitting with different participants each meal and learning more about other institutions. We were well taken care of and well fed at the summer institute.
The NACADA Summer Institute provided me with a rare opportunity to step away from my desk and focus on an action plan that our team could take back to our campus. The sessions I attended gave me new ideas but also affirmed the hard work I have put in so far. The experience was a perfect blend of hard work and productivity with networking and socialization. I accomplished a lot, I learned a lot, and I had fun. And the experience has not ended. Jayne already emailed my team to check in and see how the implementation of our action plan is going. I appreciate the support and the gentle reminder to not lose focus. I am looking forward to catching up with Jayne at the next NACADA conference and continuing to work with her throughout my career. I am so thankful for the Wesley R. Habley Scholarship for making this wonderful experience a reality. I recommend the NACADA Summer Institute to any advisor who wants to learn, create something positive for their campus and students, and have fun meeting and collaborating with advisors from around the world.
College of Liberal Arts
University of Nevada Reno