reinventing academic advising

The academic advisor (in its current form) will become extinct in the near future.  Due to changes/upgrades to sophisticated software programs that assist with registration, scheduling, and degree-monitoring, advisors who spend most – if not all – of their time on these tasks will be replaced.  If you don’t believe me, check out these articles:

To compound these technological challenges, many colleges and universities are dealing with decreases in state funding decreases AND increases in tuition and student-associated fees.  It’s only a matter of time before the role of an advisor get minimized or even eliminated.  How do we, as advisors (which includes myself) combat these coming changes in higher education?  Find ways to align work with the teaching and learning mission of the institution, develop initiatives to impact retention and graduation rates, and identify strategies that enhance the personal and professional development of students.  How?

At UNCG, we’ve created the Life Design Program.  The Life Design Program is a process that provides students an opportunity to learn about themselves and create a life that matters.  We’ve created two first-year, 1-credit Design Your Life courses to help students find, then live, their why.  In the Fall, first-year students take the course, “What Could I Do With My Life”; in the Spring, they take “Redesign a Life You’ll Love.”  The instructor/facilitator of the course serves as their Life Design Catalyst Coach – a combination of teacher, advisor, mentor, guide, and career counselor.  The courses incorporates the SPARCK model – Story, Purpose, Aspirations, Reflection, Connections, and Kick-Start; students are engaged in the various processes in SPARCK to create a meaningful, purposeful life and inspiring vision for the future.

Why the Life Design?  At its core, we found that the biggest “pain” for a new student is choosing the right major.  That pain may include:

  • Indecisiveness or fear of choosing any major at all;
  • Inability to choose a major, based on multiple interests;
  • A choice based on the recommendation of others (like parents), but not aligned with their true interests;

And several just need confirmation that they are in the right major.  The Life Design Program helps students align their meaningful work – work that serves others in a positive way to make the world a better place – with appropriate majors.  Activities around personality type, values, strengths, talents and gifts, and interests are all influential in helping students identify their meaningful work.  And once identified, students then create a vision for what that work might look like in the future, including additional graduate/professional schooling, involvement in students and/or professional organizations and associations, and potential employers and/or entrepreneurial endeavors.  All of this within their first semester of college.

We found that the Life Design Program is not only aligned with the teaching and learning mission of the university, but it also increases the retention and graduation rates AND provides an opportunity to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “What am I here to do?”  If you’d like to learn more about the Life Design Program, click on this link – life-design-program-report-rev-3-9-28-16 – to learn more.  And if you like what you see, join other purposeful, passionate individuals interested in one of the most invigorating and challenging professional development opportunities around, centered on your own personal development, the Life Design Catalyst Coach Training Program.

The time is now to create a future in advising that works best for you.  Start today, because tomorrow may be too late.

Do YOU better so you can your work and your life better!

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