Welcome to the CLS Advisingsaurus

Each Tuesday the staff in the CLS Dean’s office will be sending you a link to our latest advising nugget. Our blog will be a potpourri of advising information, advice, testimonials, and other relevant content. We hope it will be interesting and useful for both new and seasoned faculty. In addition to our weekly morsels we have created an advising portal chalk full of advising information for your perusal.

Check out the Advisingsaurus website as well!

Our first topic is brought to you by Kathy Elgin. Kathy advises in both the CLS Dean’s office and in the Psychology Department. Kathy begins our blog by discussing the advising relationship.

This week’s blogger – Kathy Elgin

With a counseling background, no surprise to find that I think Academic Advising begins with creating a relationship. As the advisor you are responsible for starting and defining the relationship with the student. It could be as simple as inviting your advisees to come meet and talk with you. From your WINGS Advisor Center you can click all the buttons and send one email to all your advisees inviting them to stop in to talk. They will need to know where and when to find you and when you want to talk about academic advising. They might even wonder if they could use technology to ‘meet’. Can they instant message, Skype, text, or phone you?  If they have you for a class they may ask you if it is all right to inquire about drop/add dates during your lectures? The only way they will know is if you let them know your preference.

The first time I email, phone, Skype, or meet face to face with a new advisee I begin defining the advising relationship. I like to do this even if I know the student in another context: they are a student in a class I teach or they dog sit my dog. Those are relationships with different boundaries and different purposes. I might say: The faculty in the department of psychology believe it is important for you to have someone who knows the psychology coursework, the requirements for graduation from UWL, and the value of liberal arts education to assists you as you make decisions about your education here at UWL. I hope I can also direct you to university resources when you have concerns and questions outside of the academic arena. I play around with different versions for different settings and different students. Find a few versions that work for you and your students. All of my versions include a reference to the student as decision maker, me as an expert on the course work in the department, and the possibility of referring the student to other resources.

A relationship is about personal exchange. Now that you are talking or emailing, ask the student a relevant open ended question, listen to the response, and follow up by connecting what you heard to academics. It helps if you ask a question that is related to academics. One of my ‘go to’ questions is:

What draws you to psychology as a major?

Student: All my friends tell me I am a good listener they are always telling me their problems.

Me: Wow, you know you could build on those skills by taking a course like Empathic Listening.

Another Student: I want a job like Halle Berry had in Gothika.

Me: She plays a psychiatrist, which is a specialty field in medicine. Psychology is a strong choice for pre-med but you will want to make sure you have the science foundation courses. Can I make a suggestion?

Student: Yes

Me: (looking up contact on UWL website) Make an appointment to meet with Scott Stine, the advisor for pre-med, and take a look at this web page about pre-med when you have a minute

Like magic you having a meaningful conversation about the student’s interests, ideas, and hopes while connecting it to academics. The next meeting where you converse about registration now has a context for each of you.

Kathy Elgin

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