By Ellie Koewler, IEP Senior Campus Coordinator
When was the last time you critically evaluated your advising process to assess where you can improve? Below are 3 advising strategies that you can implement on your own campus to better serve your students and increase your office efficiency. Each of the models below is aimed at serving a different population/need of students, so you can implement them in combination:
- Scheduled Introductory/Overview Sessions: Do you find yourself giving the same basic advising multiple times a day? Increase efficiency by scheduling 30 minute sessions throughout the week. These session should be no more than 30 minutes and should be scheduled and advertised prior to the start of the academic year. These sessions are for students who have no idea where or how to start planning for an experience abroad. They should NOT be a bland overview of types of programs and should avoid language that does not resonate with students. Instead, these sessions should share positive student testimonials, showcase diversity of experiences, provide resources for students to plan their own next steps, and bust myths about study abroad (it’s too expensive, nothing for my major, not safe) with real data.
- 15 minute Walk-in Sessions: If you host walk-in advising, these appointments should last no longer than 15 minutes, especially if you use peer advisors or student ambassadors. When a student arrives for walk-in advising, be sure to set length expectations. Reinforce that the 15 minutes is theirs to make the most of and that they should be encourage to redirect conversation if the advising is going off course. You can also remind them that they can schedule an appointment if needed. We encourage you to use an actual timer for each session to ensure you’re staying on track! Why a maximum of 15 minutes? Students often feel overwhelmed with information after leaving advising sessions because rather than giving the student the platform to think critically about their goals, the advisor feels obligated to instead go over every possible option. In addition, we know student attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Rather than going over a huge list of next steps, “chunking” the process can help students feel less intimidated by paperwork and processes. In addition, keeping sessions to a 15 minute max will help your office staff better communicate maximum wait times. If the student needs more time with an advisor at the end the 15 minutes, this is an appropriate time to set up a longer appointment. If you use peer advisors, spending longer than 15 minutes in a walk-in session if often a sign that the student should probably be meeting with a professional advisor, or should have been directed to attend the introductory session.
- Professional Advising Appointments: Professional, full-time staff should be available for scheduled advising appointments. If implementing the other models above, these should be minimized (leaving you more time to get to other tasks!) or reserved for unique or specific questions that would not be appropriate for a student advisor to answer. Be sure to train your student advising team regarding when it’s appropriate to have a student meet with a professional. Consider using a booking tool such as Calendly, YouCanBookMe, or Appointlet to create URLs where students can add appointments directly to your calendar.
These approaches may challenge you to get you out of your advising comfort zone and change the “spiel” you’ve been used to giving. Embrace change and see how your processes improve!