Looking Ahead

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since our Faculty Advising Community Meeting and the AC poster session in Phoenix.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who joined us for the Advising Community Meeting on Monday 10/1!  The room was full of diverse ideas and viewpoints, and I hope that the community will be able to explore those ideas and concerns with you over the next year.  As I review my (many!) pages of notes, I’ll be sharing a summary of the meeting soon via email and in this space.  I will also be contacting those of you who were interested in being more involved with this advising community.

Similarly, thank you to those of you who dropped by our poster at the AC Poster Session during a very early breakfast on Tuesday 10/2!

Last but by no means least, MANY thanks go to my fellow steering committee members, Andrew Millin and former Chair Calley Stevens-Taylor for working with me in coordinating the meeting and the poster session.

Before I close, I want to share one takeaway from the Phoenix meeting:  In one session I attended, the presenters talked about advising as an ecosystem, with all of the different advising roles supporting each other or working in parallel to meet the various needs of students.  That really struck me, because nowhere is that more evident than in our own community of Faculty Advising, which encompasses advisors and advising administrators in many roles including University/College administration, faculty advisors with large and small case loads, full-time advisors, and college/department/program level advising administrators (and more!), each with their own unique role.  What a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other and share and adapt our best practices across many different kinds of advising models!

I look forward to working with you all this year as we support and build our advising ecosystem!


Do you want to be more involved?

Whether you are joining us at the NACADA annual meeting or not there are plenty of opportunities for you to interact with the Faculty Advising Community!  Here are four easy ways to get involved:

  1. Be social with us: subscribe to our listserv, check out our website, and follow this blog!  If you’d like to contribute to the blog, email me at samantha(dot)gizerian@wsu(dot)edu.
  2. Tell the Steering Committee how you’d like the community to serve you!  Take the Faculty Advising Community Survey.
  3. Join the Steering Committee!  Talk to me or another Steering Committee member at the NACADA meeting or email me directly.
  4. Share ideas for new programs or outreach that you’d like to create for the community on this blog or our listserv.

Are you ready for Phoenix?

Yeah, I know.  It’s been a while.  But it has also been a couple of crazy semesters!  I have started and completed four major projects (including a book chapter and a curriculum redesign!) in the last 11 months, so please forgive me for not writing more often.  I am very much looking forward to things settling down a little and having more time to engage with other faculty advisors  and those interested in faculty advising through the blog.

The 2018 NACADA annual meeting is coming up fast, beginning with the Awards Ceremony and then the Welcome Reception on Sunday, September 30 before the meeting sessions begin on Monday October 1.

If you aren’t planning to attend, please comment below and let us know which sessions or topics you’d be interested in knowing more about so that we can try to share highlights on the blog after the meeting.

If you are coming to Phoenix, please don’t miss our Faculty Advising Community Business Meeting in the VERY FIRST SESSION after the keynote address.  We meet Monday 10/1 at 10:15 am in room N 127 B/C (not Ballroom 120 A-D as indicated in the email).  We will be discussing the Community’s goals for the year and soliciting YOUR input and concerns.  We will also be asking for volunteers for the steering committee.  If you are interested in helping shape the activities of the Faculty Advising Community over the next year or more, let us know!

You can also join us at the Advising Community Division Fair during breakfast on October 2, beginning at 7:15 am! (so early…)  We will be there to answer your questions about Faculty Advising and what our community does for Faculty Advisors, plus I hear there will be plenty of candy for those post-breakfast sugar cravings!

We’ll also be having an informal meet-up during breakfast on October 3, beginning at 7:00 am. (even earlier!)  Grab your breakfast and join us for networking and socializing on the last morning of the conference!

You can also learn more about Faculty Advising by attending one of the Faculty Advising Community’s sponsored sessions:

An Online Course for Faculty Advisors: Demystifying the Art of Academic Advising. Sean Bridgen, Dawn Coder, Julia Glover, and Theresa Musser. October 1. At 11:30am in N 229 A/B


How One Advising Theory, One QEP Initiative, and One Weekend Can Change the Culture of Academic Advising on Campus. Tiffany Griffin, Jennifer Queen, Gabriel Barreneche, and Tricia Zelaya-Leon. October 2 at 11:15am in N 128 A/B

If you see us in Phoenix, please say hello and let us know you read the blog!  I am looking forward to meeting with all of you and learning how to make this community more useful for you.

See you in the sunshine!

Advising Time

The middle of the semester is always rough for me as an advisor.  It’s the perfect storm of anxiety-making things happening to our students: midterm grades, illness and injury, personal and relationship problems, the consequences of bad choices, and of course, registration for next semester.  All of which seem to end up in my office at the same time.  Not to mention my responsibilities that are related to the other hats I wear as a faculty member.

An additional complication for me is that all of my advisees (200 future Neuroscientists) are required by WSU to come and see me face-to-face before they can complete the process of registering for spring semester.

Things can get interesting pretty fast.  When you’re trying to accomplish things in short intervals between back-to-back appointments, and everything that walks in the door or lands in the inbox is URGENT!!!!, it’s easy to get focused on one thing to the exclusion of others and completely drop the ball.  Even though “advising season” is never a surprise to me, for a long time I would let it overwhelm me every semester.  As a new advisor, I slogged through and worked 12 hours days and weekends for a month just to keep up with everything because I thought it had to be that way.  I was so naive about the breadth of advising practice, that I thought this was the best use of my time.  In reality, I was so behind that I couldn’t even think about how to get ahead.

This is no way to advise.  When you feel overwhelmed as an advisor, you don’t have the mental energy to work effectively with your students.  Motivational interviewing? HAH, I was lacking my own motivation.  I was working twice as hard because my head wasn’t in the game, so I finally made the decision to work smarter, not harder, and reduce the drain on my time during registration advising.

The first thing I did was change my interactions with students during registration appointments.  I realized that I was spending a lot of my day just repeating myself over and over.  Instead of trying to impart a ton of information to each student individually during a 30 minute appointment, I started holding “group advising” sessions where I could share that information with many students at once without rushing through it. I also decreased the time allotted for registration appointments down to 15 minutes.  Surprisingly, when I’m not instructing students about the mechanics of the registration process, 15 minutes is enough time to deal with classes AND start conversations about career goals, internships, etc.  Further, this opened up a lot of my schedule to continue those conversations later, deal with other student issues, and keep up with my other responsibilities.

The second thing I did was to set boundaries with my schedule.  In addition to blocking out my classes and regularly scheduled meetings, I don’t schedule meetings with students before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm.  This gives me time to work on other things and answer emails every day, so I don’t get behind.  I also block out an hour in the middle of the day for “lunch”, but I will schedule an appointment with a student over the noon hour if their schedule is full, though that happens rarely.  I also make sure to take at least 15 minutes during the day when I don’t work, usually reading or working on a puzzle, especially since I usually eat at my desk.

(Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m still working on it!)

Finally, the third thing that I did was to empower my students to take responsibility for the things they can control.  By scaffolding opportunities for them to use the tools and resources at their disposal before they need to choose courses, they are more confident to explore and plan on their own.  I’ve started being more deliberate about building long term course plans with every student and talking about career goals and back-up plans early in their college career.  I also make it a point to discuss extracurricular opportunities during individual appointments.

These three simple changes have really paid off for me and for my students. Being smart about delivering information in a group setting and reducing my appointment times accordingly has really opened up my schedule to deal with all of the responsibilities that don’t go away during advising time.  Blocking off time to catch up on email at the beginning and end of the day also keeps me on track and able to communicate with students and others in a timely manner.

The majority of my students still only come in to see me because they have to, but now we have a chance to go beyond the basic registration pieces in these brief appointments.  I have also noticed that more students are contacting me about a second appointment for a follow-up conversation than ever before.  More students are coming to registration appointments prepared with a list of courses, and many of them indicate that they are exploring opportunities like study abroad or taking on a minor because they are planning ahead.

So far, making the most of the time that I have with students has really improved the relationships I have with students and the quality of my advising.

How do you make the most of your time to have time for advising?  How do you meet students’ needs during the busiest times of the term?



NACADA 2017 Take-Aways

If you went to St. Louis:

What did you take away from the NACADA meeting?

Did you meet new colleagues or re-connect with old friends?

Learn something that will change your advising practice?

Hear an inspiring speaker?


If you (like me) were unable to go to St. Louis:

What would you like to hear about from others who DID go?

What would you like the Faculty Commission to work on for NACADA 2018 that would make you more interested in going?

Meet you in St. Louis?

If you’re headed to NACADA 2017 this week, there are several faculty advising focused events where you can connect with the Faculty Advising Commission:

  • Thursday October 12:

    • 11:30 AM in Room 241/242 “Supporting faculty who advise: Using findings from Faculty Survey of Student Engagement to activate discussions.
  • Friday October 13:

    • 7:15 – 8:30 AM in Hall 1  Visit us at the Commission and Interest Group Fair during breakfast. If you’re interested in assisting with the Commission table, please email calley.taylor@cedarcrest.edu. Help is appreciated before the conference or at the fair.
    • 11:15 AM in Room 105 “Advisors are from Mars. Faculty are from Venus…or are they? Collaborative advising to support a faculty advising model.”
    • Spend your lunch-on-your-own time networking with fellow Commission members at Gio’s Ristorante and Bar at 12:30pm. If you think you may join us for lunch, please RSVP at calley.taylor@cedarcrest.edu.
    • 4:30 PM in Room 229  “The implementation of a holistic faculty training program to impact student success. “
  • Saturday October 14:

    • 9:15 AM in Room 267 Commission Meeting: Get updates from the Commission Steering Committee, connect with colleagues interested in faculty advising, and help guide upcoming Commission activities.
    • 10:30 AM Room 336 Hot Topic discussion on Faculty Advising and Scholarship

Welcome Back!

It’s been a while, and it’s time to shake the dust off this old blog!  A lot of things have changed for the Faculty Advising Commission since the last blog post in 2014.

First of all,  NACADA has gone GLOBAL.  In addition to serving academic advisors in the US and Canada, NACADA members have the opportunity to interact with advisors from many different countries at the International Advising Conferences held annually.

Also, there have been a few changes in personnel.  My name is Samantha Gizerian, and I’m a Clinical Assistant Professor at Washington State University.  I’m a member of the commission steering committee and the new coordinator for the blog.  Hi!  Thanks for dropping by!

The current chair of the commission is Dr. Calley Taylor, the Director of Student Success and Retention at Cedar Crest College.  Under Dr. Taylor’s leadership the commission’s steering committee is looking to find new and innovative ways to serve your needs as faculty advisors.  We hope that you let us know how we can help you!

Making faculty advising better depends on dialogue, and we hope to start communicating with you (not just TO you!) more often.  Be on the lookout for updates to the commission website, posts on the commission listserv (click the link to join!) and new posts here on the blog with questions, ideas, reflections and more.

If you want to join the conversation, you’re welcome to respond to posts, add comments, or write to the listserv at any time!  If you’d like to submit a blog post, email me (see the About link for my address)



My thanks

Greetings, colleagues. . .

This post will be my last as Faculty Advising Commission chair.  The last two years have been full of joys, challenges, accomplishments and disappointments; on balance, though, I wouldn’t trade the experience for any I’ve had with NACADA.  I really appreciate those of you who have contributed to the Commission over the last two years, whether through writing, reviewing proposals, suggesting activities, helping carry them out or in the countless other ways members have been involved.

In “passing the torch” to Dr. Kristan Venegas of the University of Southern California for the next two years, I’m filled with optimism about the future of the Faculty Advising commission and pride at the things we’ve accomplished together over the last two years.  I hope Kristan will, as commission chair, continue to benefit from your wisdom and enthusiasm for NACADA and the important role faculty advising plays in the lives of students.

My thanks and best regards. . . .


Minneapolis faculty advising sessions

Greetings, colleagues. . .

I hope many of you are making plans to attend NACADA’s upcoming annual conference in Minneapolis this October.  The Faculty Advising commission received nearly two dozen presentation proposals for the conference, and choosing which to recommend was a rewarding and challenging task.  Here are some of the sessions you’ll find at the conference this year:

  • Advising Students about Online Classes:  Questions for Success
  • Collaborating Across Disciplines:  Development and Assessment of Advising Resources
  • Faculty Advisor Training and Development:  A Blended Approach
  • Faculty Advisors’ Perceptions about Advising:  Comparing Faculty in Two Models
  • Faculty Multicultural Competence & Practices:  Lessons for Collaborative Advising
  • New Director of Advising, New Advising Centers, and New Faculty Advising Requirements:  How We Survived One Busy Year

My thanks to all the folks who helped review the presentation proposals, and my congratulations to the colleagues who were selected.  The annual conference will also include the usual Commission and Interest Group Fair, pre-conference workshops, poster session and many other opportunities to expand our knowledge and skill as advisors.  I’ll look forward to seeing many of you there!

NACADA’s strategic goals (8 of 8)

Greetings, colleagues. . .

As we conclude our discussion of NACADA’s strategic plan, let’s consider the Association’s goal to “Pursue innovative technology tools and resources to support the Association.”

Information technology tools are as ubiquitous today as air and water–and, depending on whom you ask, at least as necessary!  The Technology in Advising Commission is a central force in helping NACADA achieve its goal.  The commission’s web site states:

This commission seeks to serve as a central resource and clearinghouse for information about innovations and issues in academic advising technology. Through our commission Web site, listserv (TECADV-L), and our social media platforms including our NACADA Technology in Advising Facebook Group, on Twitter (using the hashtag #AcAdv or #AdvTech), and at national and regional conferences, we actively seek to encourage NACADA members to engage in topical discussions and activities related to the uses of technology in advising. We encourage you to check out information on this web space and our active AdvTech Wiki.

Staying abreast of technology tools and appropriately using them in advising research and practice allows NACADA members to exploit synergies and serve our students better.  Whether via blogs like this one, social media platforms or simple email, technology is an important way to expand the Association’s reach and help our advisees grow into confident, competent professionals in their respective fields.

I hope this series on NACADA’s strategic plan has been interesting and beneficial to you, and I thank  you for reading it.