Foundations of Excellence: Centralizing of academic advising progressing

June 24, 2013  


Peter Vasher

Academic advisor Peter Vasher counsels an incoming Purdue student during STAR on Thursday. (Purdue University photo/Steven Yang) 
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The standardization and centralization of academic advising is taking place on Purdue's West Lafayette campus as part of the Foundations of Excellence initiative, which seeks to enhance first-year students' success.

Sandra Monroe was named director of university undergraduate academic advising last fall. Since then, she has been working to further strengthen academic advising at Purdue, and she has striven to provide a centralized resource to foster academic advising best practices.

Monroe's has followed the recommendations of a steering committee, which met last year and was made up of faculty and staff, as she has pursued her efforts to standardize and centralize academic advising.

As of June 17, through Summer Transition, Advising and Registration (STAR) -- a one-day program for new undergraduate students -- academic advisors are introducing incoming Purdue undergraduates to the academic choices available in Purdue's core curriculum, Monroe says. STAR runs through July 11.

The advisors are taking a holistic approach to helping incoming students explore their career options. Advisors ask students  questions about why they're pursuing their chosen major and how certain they are about that major. These questions help the students determine their skills, abilities, interests, goals and values.

This initial connection with advisors, Monroe says, is important because it most likely will begin student-advisor relationships that will last the entirety of the students' academic tenures at Purdue.

"Academic advising is the only structured activity on campus in which all students have the opportunity for ongoing, one-on-one interaction with a concerned representative of the institution, and so the relationship is key to students' success," Monroe says.

"Academic advisors can help students learn who they are, what they value, and what it takes to succeed academically and socially here at Purdue. Academic advisors focus on teaching, learning, and caring for students."

In May, Monroe sponsored an appreciation event for all academic advisors. The event, which is part of Monroe's efforts to underscore the value of academic advising and support all academic advisors on campus, will be held yearly.

In addition to serving as a central point of contact for academic advisors, Monroe has been representing advisors at campus-wide committee meetings in which decisions that affect advisors and their students are determined. Previously, that representation did not formally exist, Monroe says.

Monroe also has been working to define and standardize academic advisors' roles, which historically have depended upon the academic college or program in which they work. These efforts have included classifying the existing academic advisors on campus and coming up with a proposal to reach a desired ratio of 225 students for each advisor.

Student-to-advisor ratios now vary according to each academic unit on campus, and many units' ratios are higher than the recommended standard, Monroe says.

All of these efforts are meant to elevate academic advisors' ability to provide high-quality, centralized and standardized services to students across campus.

Monroe will continue these efforts as well as her efforts to promote academic advising as a key factor in student success.

"One of academic advisors' most important roles involves teaching students how to engage and get the most out of their higher education experience," Monroe says. "Students who receive strong support from an academic advisor are much more likely to persist in these endeavors."

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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