Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies recognizes
academic advising to be a critical component of the educational experience
of its undergraduate students. Through individual, collaborative
relationships with our team of knowledgeable and highly skilled Academic
Advisors, students are best able to define and implement sound educational
plans consistent with their personal values, academic goals, and career
plans. While academic advising chiefly occurs as part of the
advisor-advisee relationship, the wider network of CAUS faculty and staff
support the College’s overall advising mission. We recognize our obligation
to provide undergraduates with timely and accurate advising delivered
through our academic departments and CAUS Academic Affairs, and we welcome
the opportunity to discuss our degree programs with any current or
prospective Virginia Tech student who is considering a major in our College.
The College of Architecture and Urban Studies has established the following specific academic advising goals that align with our desire to provide the highest quality assistance to our students. CAUS Academic Advisors are committed to our responsibility of:
- Helping students clarify their life and career goals;
- Working with students to develop their most suitable educational plan;
- Guiding students in their selection of courses and educational experiences;
- Accurately interpreting institutional policies and requirements;
- Raising student awareness about educational resources such as internship and independent study opportunities, interdisciplinary study, and study abroad programs;
- Regularly evaluating student progress toward established goals;
- Encouraging students to complete degree requirements in a timely manner;
- Supporting the development of decision-making skills;
- Seeking out and using support services across campus.
Overall student success is the ultimate goal of every educational institution, and it is the role and responsibility of the Academic Advisor to promote student success and cultivate student development through individualized support, knowledge-sharing, empathy, and open-mindedness guided by appropriate and effective application of university policies, procedures, and curriculum. While students are ultimately responsible for designing their own future, the developmental diversity that exists among the population of traditional college-age students requires attentive monitoring by advising staff. Individualized attention encourages personal and academic success, informs students that they are important people to the university at large, and guides students as they move toward planning for their future, whether that includes starting a new job or pursuing an advanced degree.
In his publication titled The Seven Vectors, 20th century student development theorist Arthur W. Chickering establishes a framework from which university faculty and staff can shape their understanding about the developmental transitions that today’s college student experience. The journey through young adulthood is teeming with challenges that include self-identity, developing non-familial interpersonal relationships, time management, experimentation, and decision-making along with the intense learning inherent of post-secondary education that makes this passage all the more formidable. An attentive and effective Academic Advisor understands the many dynamics at play in a college student’s life and will determine the most appropriate manner by which to assist and support a diverse population of students who present a variety of issues and concerns.
Owing to the demographic complexities of today’s student, Academic Advisors must have extensive knowledge of various advising strategies that are as diverse as the students they serve. The proliferation of special student populations today includes veterans, non-traditional age students, students with physical and mental disabilities or limitations, gender and sexual identity, international status, first generation, and socioeconomic status. These evolving characteristics have added complexity to the knowledge base required of today’s Advisor, yet the underlying Advisor responsibilities remain intact. My personal academic advising philosophy revolves around the following five key components, all of which favorably promote student success.
An effective Academic Advisor will:
- Provide students with current curriculum and university policy and procedure information as well as direction to campus resources that support academic success and facilitate academic and career planning.
- Ensure that students follow a path that will lead them toward successful completion of their degree program while exploring opportunities for personal and academic enrichment along the way, including internship, study-abroad, and extra-curricular activities that foster personal, professional, and academic development and promotes holistic well-being.
- Provide effective guidance and support to at-risk students including those who are undecided, first generation, international, and students in academic recovery from a low grade point average, probation, or suspension status, and guide at-risk students toward identifying their challenges while working closely with them toward resolution.
- Work cooperatively with all university entities to ensure consistent and sound support for the entire student population.
- Promote student retention and completion, the probability for which increases as students develop close connections within their academic community, and through the development of an sustainable plan for achieving academic and career goals.
Far more importantly, all students must be treated justly, always without prejudice. Each student arrives on campus bearing highly diverse life experiences. No two students are alike. Advisors will encounter students who have conquered monumental challenges as well as those who have enjoyed a comfortable, protected youth. Regardless of personal history, all students are comprised of unique characteristics and have reached different developmental stages of their lives, yet all require the support of an Academic Advisor throughout their college career. It is both a responsibility and a privilege of today’s Advisor to embrace students for their individuality and provide support in every manner possible while these young adults are crafting their own futures.
Finally, it is extremely important to recognize that the most successful students are actively involved in their academic program, have developed close relationships with their faculty and peers, and have a solid academic plan developed in meetings with their Advisor. These key elements provide students with a sense of belonging and they are key to retention and program completion and, ultimately, student success.