Crunch Is Over... Now What?
Assistant Director, Resources & Services
term there is a magic moment when advisors realize that 'drop and
add' has slowed to a trickle and enrollment for next term is a few
weeks away. Suddenly there's some quiet time for non-teaching advisors
who have spent weeks functioning in 'high demand' mode. Now what?
How can advisors best use 'downtime' to remain motivated and energized?
debrief. Astronauts do it; emergency personnel do it; why not advisors?
Sit down with your colleagues and discuss what went right and what
issues need to be addressed before the next high stress time. What
information would help you function more effectively? Look for patterns
and delineate what issues, if addressed, could make a difference.
Then ask 'What can we do to make it happen?' and take some of the
precious downtime and research.
- Would an on-line student
orientation help provide information to students in a more timely
manner? Look at the Clearinghouse on-line
orientation sites to see what others have done.
on-line advisor resources and training help advisors stay abreast
of changes? Check out the links to electronic advisor publications linked from the Clearinghouse.
- Would it be helpful to know
enrollment patterns for the students you advise? What student group makes the most schedule changes? What characteristics
best predict students who will change majors? How can you best
predict students who will end up on probation? Are placement test
scores the best predictor for your students? High school GPA?
Time of initial enrollment? Discover which office keeps the data, e.g., Institutional Research, the Registrar, a departmental
Advising Center ? Then, with research questions in hand, visit
with staff in that office. Ask where to find data for previous
years and how best to pull it together to answer your questions.
- Would connecting with another
department help smooth things for you and your students? Visit with other departments, e.g., athletics, disability
services, career services, financial aid, etc. Talk to staff members
and determine what interventions work best with the students they
serve. Then discuss how you can best work together for student
- Are you like the 'little
old woman who lived in the shoe'? Do you have so many advisees
that you just don't know what to do? What is the
'normal' advisor to advisee ratio for advising situations similar
to yours? Begin research of advising ratios in the Clearinghouse and build your case. Check out
the latest national statistics for academic advising in the Clearinghouse. Then find out which institutions your campus considers
as 'peers' and check their advising Web sites for contact information.
Start a dialog with advisors at these institutions (or campuses
within your athletic conference) to discover how your advising
situation stacks up. Compile your research into a report that
can be shared with campus constituencies.
- Which courses are 'high
risk' for your students? Ask your Registrar for
the grade percentages of these courses.Look
at high-risk courses(those classes with a 30
percent rate of grades of D, F, and Withdrawals as defined by Supplemental Instruction )What is your campus doing to support students in these
courses? Check out the Clearinghouse's Academic
Support links to determine if there are other ways
your campus can help students. Report your findings to those who
can make change happen and make lists of support resources you
can give to students enrolled in these courses.
- Use the time for professional
development .NACADA sponsors national,
regional and state events at various times throughout the year that help you develop professionally
and energize your advising. Can't leave campus? Check out the
on-line opportunities offered through the graduate
certificate and masters degree in academic advising. Courses
are self-paced within a semester timeframe so you can work well
ahead during your downtime.
- Use the time to research 'Wouldn't It Be Cool' projects.Conversations that begin with the words “wouldn’t it be cool if..?” can spark research projects that help advisors and students alike. Think 'out of the box' and make a real difference on your campus!
are but a few of a multitude of scenarios that can transpire after
an advisor debriefing session. Look at your campus situation and
pick a proactive research project for your downtime that can help
you better serve students. Embarking on a research project is invigorating.
Too often when we think of research we envision a statistician crunching
numbers in a dusty office. Don't let this mental image stop you.
When advisors use downtime to research, they find practical solutions
to campus issues. Make you next downtime the time to 'Research
Authored by: Marsha Miller
Kansas State University
NACADA Assistant Director, Resources & Services
the above resource using APA style as:
M.A. (2004). The crunch is over...now what? Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Downtime.aspx.