Today’s college students, and the faculty and staff that serve them, face a variety of challenges. One of the biggest challenges any college student faces is getting from their first semester to a diploma in hand. This challenge is also a problem for faculty and staff as declining retention and graduation rates cut into tuition revenues and prevents the fulfillment of their university’s mission. Quality academic advising and personal interaction with professors are the most needed aspects to overcome this hurdle. But, how do we get there with the demanding schedules of faculty and staff and ever-increasing schedules of college students, the majority of whom are nontraditional? Here are three tips to improve academic advising today.
Leveraging Modern Technology
Today’s college students grew up with technology. Social media, email, text messaging, Skype, and other forms of digital communication are second nature to them. By leveraging the anytime-anywhere model offered by digital communication, you can meet your students where they are and save yourself time. Of course, using technology for academic advising and professor interaction with students requires additional considerations for Higher Ed. One platform, Cranium Cafe offers a cloud based, FERPA-compliant software that allows students to connect instantly with their college’s academic advisors, tutors, and also with their professors. With Cranium Cafe, students can virtually meet face-to-face with their student support system and receive answers to their questions immediately, which eliminates back and forth emails and phone messages. Snow College Director of Student Services, Susan Larson, said of the service, “By using Cranium Cafe, I anticipate Snow College’s student advisement will increase by 25% resulting in a 10-15% growth in enrollment.”
To learn more about Cranium Cafe, click here.
Understand the Needs of Your Students
The changing educational landscape has depersonalized education. The current model does not support changing student demographics. Nontraditional students, now the majority, typically work full or part-time, live off-campus and have demands outside of college. Communication barriers exist between students, professors and the myriad of office “silos” (registrar, academic advising, career services, student services, financial aid, etc.) creating a greater strain for faculty and student support staff to engage and retain students. While theses exist for traditional students as well, it is more pronounced for nontraditional students.
Therefore, to overcome these barriers, academic advisors need to figure out a way to synthesize the requirements of the departments and present this to students in a way that is accessible and easy to understand. Breaking down the silos so a student can determine which courses to take which semester, register for them in-time and make sure their financial aid is up-to-date all in one place will make the life of any academic advisor easier.
Employ a Student-based Advising Model: Appreciative Advising
You need to help your students by empowering them to help themselves. Appreciative advising is based off the appreciative inquiry model. By asking positive, open-ended questions, you can help students discover their own needs and potential. This information can then help your decision-making as their academic advisor. This strengths-based approach promotes academic success by allowing students to take ownership over their educational journey. Again, this process requires more interaction with your students, in both time and quality. To achieve this, you can refer back to the first tip in this post and leverage modern technology (like Cranium Cafe) to increase student interaction in scalable and manageable way.
To discover more on Appreciative Advising, check out Higher Ed Hero’s webinar “Empower Students Through Appreciative Advising: Keys to Student Success”
With the greater demands being placed on Higher Education to improve retention and graduation rates (from both the federal government and in most cases, the university) it is imperative to improve academic advising. Students who feel lost in the process and aren’t getting the answers they need are much more likely to drop out. These tips should help you improve student success and retention.
We hope you enjoyed these tips on Academic Advising. Please check out our upcoming Higher Ed Hero live events to learn more on what we can do for you.
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