College is a time of major transition for most students. Having just left the rigid organization of high school, or the relaxed environment of being homeschooled, or re-entering the academic community after an absence, most college students are in a state of great change and in need of good advice.
Without academic guidance, students can find themselves in college longer than neccessary because they aren’t taking courses that will satisfy a degree requirement. It’s important to have a clear academic path that works towards completing a college degree or higher learning certificate. While having some college education is admirable, employers will most likely lean toward the candidates who have earned a college degree.
Advising Transitioning College Students
Research has found that 75% of students enter college without having final decisions made about their careers, or even majors. Researchers Noel and Cuseo estimate that 50% – 75% of college students will change their major at least once during their college career. In their paper, Advising Students in Transition, complied in the book Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook, Steele and McDonald found that some of the major reasons for students’ changing their major were:
- Lack of information – It’s important to do as much research as possible when selecting an academic degree program and equally important, enrolling in the right courses that work toward fulfilling the degree requirements. Many college students make the mistake of enrolling in a course due to what works with their schedule or out of sheer interest. An academic advisor will guide students to make the best decisions based on their academic major and provide information and options that will help them fulfill their degree requirements without wasting time and money on classes that are irrelevant to their degree.
- Outside influences – Students who are undecided about their major can be quite open to outside influences that could either help or hinder their decision in regards to selecting the right academic course. An academic advisor can help keep students focused on the end goal.
- Developmental issues /Academic difficulties – There could be a learning disability factor that plays into the indecisiveness of selecting the right degree program and/or courses. Not being able to see the big picture in regards to completing the required credit hours needed can be quickly rectified with the assistance of academic advising. Advisors are able to identify such issues and recommend the necessary resources a student can utilize to excel in his or her academic career.
- Involuntary – It is possible for students to enroll into a university as an Undecided Major. The problem is, without academic advisement, students could be aimlessly wandering through university halls and campuses without any direction, due to not being admitted into a degree or certificate program that offers structure and a college degree.
All of these reasons for change are challenges that an academic advisor can assist a student through.
The Key to Student Retention
The answer to retaining and creating successful students is a strong academic advising program. Researcher C.L. Nutt states in a NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising article, “Academic Advising and Student Retention and Persistence,” that:
“Academic advising is the very core of successful institutional efforts to educate and retain students. For this reason, academic advising … should be viewed as the ‘hub of the wheel’ and not just one of the various isolated services provided for students…academic advisors offer students the personal connection to the institution that the research indicates is vital to student retention and student success.”
It is absolutely critical to have academic advisors to serve as a beacon to students who need guidance throughout their career as college students.
Students will stay in school and feel more positive about their college experience if they have access to academic advisors. In Alexander Astin’s research, involving 200,000 students and over 300 institutions, he recorded in his book, Four Critical Years that, “student faculty interaction has a stronger relationship to student satisfaction with the college experience than any other variable.” Using the academic advising services can be the difference between graduating or dropping out, as well as finding the right career for your particular strengths.
Functions of a University Academic Advisor
An academic advisor is not someone who simply hands you a schedule and calls you in if your grades are slipping. Far from that, the reach and influence of an advisor is much greater and far more important. Advisors are the contact, the one person in the huge machine of college who advocates for the individual.
Astin went on to propose the three main functions of an academic advisor:
- The Advisor works as a humanizing agent whose interaction with students occurs outside the classroom and in an informal setting, so the student feels comfortable seeking the advisor out.
- The Advisor works as counselor or mentor who helps guide students through academic policy and procedure, offers advice and listens, and refers them to support when needed.
- The Advisor works as educator or instructor who teaches students strategies for success and helps them understand curriculum, the purpose of their academic program, and encourages problem-solving critical thinking, and decision-making.
Academic advising is a central key to any student’s success in college. Unfortunately, academic advisors don’t get enough good press! Florida National University (FNU), a regionally accredited university in the South Florida region, aims to change this by educating students on the importance of academic advising. The advantage of personally meeting with an academic advisor will:
- Help monitor students’ academic progress
- Offer students a better connection with the faculty and administrators
- Give students the ability to navigate the university policies and procedures better
- Assist students in selecting, changing, adding, or canceling classes
Just a simple visit to the office can make a far-reaching difference in the realization of one’s college endeavor.
Students at FNU can access support from academic advisors easily when they attend either of our college campuses in Miami or Hialeah. If you’re thinking about getting a college education, contact our campus today!