We have established this Website to keep the NMSU community informed about the centralized advising initiative.
As the land-grant university for the state of New Mexico, it is our mission to serve the educational needs of New Mexico’s diverse population. We are an important point of access to higher education in New Mexico, and although we have focused on retention and graduation at NMSU over the past decade, our student outcomes have not improved.
There is good news, though, in that institutions with student populations similar to ours have made great strides in building the student support systems needed to improve outcomes. Perhaps the most prominent support feature is centralized advising informed by predictive analytics and punctuated by proactive interventions when a student shows signs of faltering.
The organization and delivery of advising is typically categorized by two factors: where are advisors located and who is doing the advising. “Centralized” is a term that describes an advising structure in which professional and faculty advisors are housed in one academic or administrative unit, while “decentralized” refers to a structure in which advisors are located in their respective academic departments. At some institutions, the term “centralized” is used to designate an office where advising is delivered primarily by professional (i.e., full-time) advisors, and faculty serve as mentors within their academic departments. “Centralized” can also indicate a generalist approach to advising in which all advisors are expected to know basic information about all academic programs but are experts in none. Finally, some campuses have adopted a structure that provides professional advising to a particular student population such as first- and second-year students or exploratory students.
The approach we will take in the Center for Academic Advising and Student Support does not fit neatly into any of these commonly used definitions. Our goal is to build on the strengths of each model, as well as the strengths in our current advising approaches, while also addressing some of the challenges students face and the weaknesses of our current approach. By locating all undergraduate professional advisors in one building (Garcia Annex), advisors will be easy for students to find. In addition, academic advisors will be able to easily collaborate with key partners, such as Financial Aid, which will have office hours within Garcia Annex.
In contrast to the generalist approach mentioned above, academic advisors in Garcia Annex will be organized in teams by meta-major and have specific student caseloads. Each team will work with Faculty Advising Liaisons from the departments associated with the group of majors for which they are responsible. Advisors will be specialists as opposed to generalists and most students will be able to keep the same advisor even if they switch majors, similar to the Advising Clusters model utilized at UTSA.
Currently, different models of advising delivery are used across the six academic colleges. In one college, only professional advisors are used. In another college, only faculty advisors are used. Several colleges have a mix of professional and faculty advisors and have both a central office for advising as well as departmental advising. Although there are advantages and disadvantages to any advising model, having this variety leads to unnecessary confusion for students and inconsistency of advising practices.
One of our goals with the new Center is to provide a consistent, integrated, and holistic advising experience for all students in a location that is easy for them to locate. Advisors will be assigned in a way that will allow many students to keep the same advisor even if they change majors. Because many enrollment decisions have financial implications, Financial Aid Advisors will have rotating office hours within the new Center.
Another goal is to use analysis of data and student actions and behaviors to proactively reach out to students before these initial indicators become insurmountable problems. Key to this effort is the purchase of CRM Advise, a predictive analytics system designed to enhance student success by updating student profiles on a daily basis and providing alerts when students show signs of distress.
Leadership for the Center for Academic Advising and Student Support is in good hands with the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Hodges (firstname.lastname@example.org) as Interim Director and Marissa Fowler (email@example.com) as Interim Associate Director. Both will serve in these capacities until next year when we will search for a permanent Director and Associate Director.
Garcia Annex has been identified as the home of the Center for Academic Advising and Student Support, and planning is now underway for renovations.
New freshmen attending Aggie Welcome and Orientation this summer will be the first class to be fully integrated into the new advising center. The transition for students currently enrolled at NMSU will take effect after the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester. Details on this transition are pending.
Academic advising is a collaborative partnership and developmental process that assists students in defining, clarifying, and achieving academic, personal, and career goals. To facilitate this process, advisors must be knowledgeable about the academic options available at NMSU, the most common barriers to success, and the conceptual foundations of academic advising (e.g., advising approaches, student development theory, ethical issues in advising, and career development theory). Advisors will apply this knowledge through activities such as: proactively reaching out to students identified through predictive analytic as struggling; teaching students to develop realistic academic plans that are consistent with their abilities and interests, including choosing majors and minors and creating semester schedules that lead to success; monitoring student progress toward graduation; and educating students about campus resources, academic policies, and financial responsibilities.
Of course. With the new model, students who already have an established relationship with their faculty advisor can continue to work with that person. Faculty are indispensable as intellectual mentors, giving students information about their disciplines and career advice. A number of institutions have chosen to designate faculty as mentors to tap into their unique expertise in working with students outside the classroom. Students who have an established connection with a faculty member will benefit from the proactive outreach from the new Center that will be driven by our predictive analytics.
Faculty are indispensable as intellectual mentors. Faculty build connections with students through avenues such as classroom interactions, conversations during office hours, advising student organizations, and undergraduate research. It is crucial that the new advising model supports, and does not detract from, these faculty connections.
A subcommittee of the Advising Task Force is working to ensure that lines of communication are established and remain strong between the Center and academic departments. The Faculty Connections subcommittee has recommended that each department appoint one regular faculty member as Faculty Advising Liaison. At a minimum, this liaison will meet regularly with the advising team responsible for the department’s majors and maintain communication between the department and the Center, especially with regard to curricular matters. Students will be referred to the Liaison as their primary contact in the department for issues most appropriately addressed by faculty. Advisors are expected to inform faculty members when students in their department show signs of distress so that faculty members continue to be well-informed about their students. In many cases, the faculty member and the advisor will work together to help students access the resources they need.
Navigators will be incorporated into the new advising center and their roles will transition to that of an academic advisor. Navigators will be trained in aspects of advising that have previously been reserved for academic advisors.