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On the CAESS: advice on advising from an expert

Soj Sirivanchai, retention and success advisor, shares tips and best practices for helping students connect and succeed.

By Kristy Lyons, Ph.D., on behalf of the Council for Academic Excellence and Student Success

September 23, 2020

MSU Denver sign.Are you looking for ways to improve your advising? Soj Sirivanchai, retention and success advisor with the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy has some great suggestions:

  1. Advising starts during the first interaction you have with a student. In a lot of cases, this is on the first day of class (or when you send out your first announcement). Make sure those first impressions show that you are approachable and that you care about students’ success. 
  2. When setting up an advising appointment, find out what the student is looking for to get a sense of how long the appointment should be and what direction the student would like the conversation to take. Some students may not know what questions to ask, so be prepared to offer suggestions if needed. 
  3. Keep in mind that more than half of MSU Denver students are among the first generation in their family to go to college, so many things about the process of college might not be familiar. Faculty members are experts not just in their content areas but in navigating higher education. Share your wisdom with your students. Things that might be obvious to you might not be obvious at all to a student. 
  4. Avoid falling into stereotyped thinking, but be mindful that students with various gender, ethnic and socioeconomic-status identities may be less likely to feel that they can question authority figures (e.g., to ask for flexibility in due dates or ask for help when they are struggling).   
  5. Check your implicit biases, and don’t make assumptions about what a student might need. For example, until you have specific evidence about a student’s writing ability, offer all students information about the Writing Center, the RIDES program and the Immigrant Services ESL Program. Once you know a specific student and their situation better, then you can offer more tailored recommendations.   
  6. Follow up with students. Put a note in your calendar during the meeting to ensure that you don’t forget this important step in the advising process.  
  7. We know our students can succeed, but they may experience impostor syndrome. Work to create an environment where each student knows they belong, they can succeed and that you will be there to support them. 

Our advising colleagues have a wealth of wisdom. Reach out to your department’s advisors to see what ideas they can share and stay tuned for more ideas and tips on retention from the Council for Academic Excellence and Student Success Retention Council.

Topics: Best practices, Retention, Student Success

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