Vital functions of the academic advising profession
A common misconception about academic advisors at MCC is that registration is their primary function. It is true, at times the job does allow the opportunity to register students for courses designed to enhance their knowledge, increase their skill level, open their minds, and take them on a path of discovery. It is equally true registration is a very small part of what the advisors do on a daily basis.
So, this begs the question, if advisors spend a small portion of their time registering students, what else do they do? Great question! The list is long, and the hours too few to adequately articulate all the duties and responsibilities of the profession, but here are three vital functions of the position at MCC: serving as a resource for faculty, focusing on the basics (i.e., what is a credit hour) and discussing all items transfer-related. This article will focus on serving as a resource for faculty.
A large part of an advisor’s time is spent building relationships with faculty and working in tandem to best assist students. In real terms, advisors do this by discussing course selection and planning with students to keep them on track toward graduation, assisting with career exploration and bringing faculty into the conversation to answer the more in-depth industry questions. Advisors also help by coordinating services such as tutoring and/or disability support and exploring solutions to students’ academic and personal issues. This all helps impact their ability to succeed in a specific course and, longer term, in degree completion.
Here are what faculty state about the services advisors provide for them and the importance of building a relationship.
Larry Gawel, photography instructor and program coordinator:
“The advisors at EVC have always been helpful in coming up with creative ways to meet the needs of my students and keep them on their educational path. Working closely with both students and advisors, I’ve been able to lead numerous students to the completion of their degree in a timely and efficient manner. Meeting with the EVC advisors individually several years ago, and discussing the needs of my program specifically, has led to a better understanding of what we both do and how the synergy of this working relationship can ultimately lead to student success.”
Other faculty members echo the sentiment of Gawel. Bob Maass, VACA faculty, notes the importance of the advisor/faculty relationship:
“Advisors who work with my students always send them to me if the student has more specific program questions. The relationship works both ways; when a student has questions about general and graduation requirements, I send them to the advisors.”
Ryan Newton, psychology faculty, highlighted the advisor/faculty relationship in terms of coordinating services for students:
“When advisors and faculty partner together, students succeed. I’ve worked with advisors to help place students in appropriate sections of psychology and to coordinate other services, such as DSS accommodations. Having personal relationships with advisors helps tremendously as I can refer my students to specific individuals who can help them with course selection and getting access to other needed services.”
Nanci Stephenson, program coordinator and lead instructor of interior design, comments about helping keep students on track for graduation:
“I try to remind the students each quarter of the importance of establishing a relationship early on with their advisor, as this is the person who can answer questions regarding financial aid, keep them on track as to course requirements and offerings, and conduct the most important “grad check” as they near graduation. The benefit to me is the assurance that our students can go to them at any time to have their questions answered or advice given, but that I can also do the same!”
Diana Sjuts, director, Criminal Justice traditional program, also notes the importance of building a strategic partnership with academic advisors:
“Seven years ago, I started the CJ program at Elkhorn Valley Campus. I knew my first stop before doing anything had to be Student Services. For the CJ program to grow, I needed to elicit the support and guidance from student services. There is no doubt in my mind that our current EVC program’s enrollment of 100+ students would not have been possible without CJ’s partnership with Student Services. The advisors combined years of knowledge, sound program advice, strategic scheduling and our shared commitment to our students is what has made the CJ program flourish.”
Partnering and building relationships with faculty is critical to successful advising. Without these partnerships, both sides miss critical pieces of information students need to be successful and transition beyond the community college, whether it be to a university or into a career.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on all things transfer-related and explaining the basics.