#106 – Academic Advising Matters: What You Need to Know

Vicki and Sarah spent some time recently at the Region 1 conference of NACADA – the National Advising Association. There’s a lot to learn about how staff and faculty advisors work to guide your student throughout their college career. In this episode, Vicki and Sarah compare notes and share some of the themes that bubbled up at the conference. It may help you understand a little more about your student as you hear what some of the people who work with students every day had to say. The more you understand about how college academic advising works, the better you’ll be able to understand some of your student’s academic decisions.

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Spending a few days at a conference and focusing narrowly on one subject can often be not only educational, but also inspiring. Vicki and Sarah recently attended a conference focused solely on Academic Advising. We learned a lot about how to do that portion of our jobs, but we also gathered lots of information that can be helpful to parents. It’s important to understand who is guiding your student through academic decisions (and sometimes personal issues as well), how they go about working with your student, and what these people who work with students every day are seeing in today’s college students.

We think sharing some of what we heard will help you understand more about how your student is being guided through college – and maybe understand a bit more about your student as well.  You know your student best, but these college professionals can view the bigger picture.

In this episode, we discussed some of the bigger themes we pulled from the conference – struggling students, career planning, transition (for both students and parents,) autonomy and learned helplessness, and meeting students where they are.

If you’d like to follow up on some of the topics we covered, we also mentioned some earlier podcast episodes and College Parent Central articles that can help you dig a little deeper.

Academic Advising

#061 – Exploring the Role of Advising in Student Success: An Interview with Dr. Lynn Zlotkowski

What FERPA Means for You and Your College Student

Who Is Advising My Student About Academic Issues?

Struggling Students

#008 – Helping Your Student Take Advantage of College Resources

#017 – How to Move Forward After Academic Probation or Dismissal

#028 – Signs of Trouble: How Do You Know If Your Student Is Struggling?

#064 – Supporting Students Who Struggle – Continuing the Conversation with Dr. Lynn Zlotkowski

Career Planning

#056 – Using the College Years to Prepare for Career

#059 – Preparing for Internships and Career: An Interview with Bob MacNeil

When Your College Student Changes Major


#009 – The Importance of Anticipating the Key Differences Between High School and College

Autonomy and Helplessness

#074 – Fostering Your Student’s Independence and Self-Advocacy: An Interview with College Counselor Judy Bass

#097 – Why Do Students Have Trouble Asking for the Help They Need?

Does Your Student Know How to Advocate for What They Need?

Don’t forget that you can listen to all of our previous podcast episodes here or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also go to followthepodcast.com/collegeparentcentral to add our podcast (it’s free!) so that you’ll receive each new episode as we release it.

Let us know what you’d like to hear about on future podcasts! Leave a comment below or email us at podcast@collegeparentcentral.com.

You can also email Vicki directly at vnelson@collegeparentcentral.com

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Thanks for joining us!

Transcript of this episode


Welcome to the College Parent Central Podcast. Whether your child is just beginning the college admission process or is already in college, this podcast is for you. You’ll find food for thought and information about college and about navigating that delicate balance of guidance, involvement and knowing when to get out of the way. Join your hosts as they share support and a celebration of the amazing experience of having a child in college.

Vicki Nelson: 

Welcome to the College Parent Central Podcast. This is the podcast where we talk about just about everything we can think of that has to do with being a parent of a college student, parent of someone who is getting ready and thinking about going to college, and sometimes students who have graduated from college because we’re still working at parenting them. My name is Vicki Nelson and I am one of the co-hosts of this podcast. I am the mother of three daughters, who have all gone to college and graduated, and I am also a college professor of communication and I am here with another co-host. I will let her introduce herself.

Sarah Shane: 

Sure, hello, I’m Sarah Shane. I’m the director of advising and academic success at a small liberal arts college and I’ve been in the field of advising for over 25 years now.

Vicki Nelson: 

Wow, that’s a long time. And you are also a mom.

Sarah Shane: 

Yes, yes, very good point. I have a junior in college and a senior in high school, so we are yes,

Vicki Nelson: 

You are in the thick of it. It’s in the rear view mirror for me, but because we work in college, we see college students every day and we know what’s going on with them and we both have opportunities to deal with parents of college students. So we want to talk today a little bit about academic advising, and part of this is because Sarah and I have both just returned from a conference on advising which we can describe a little bit more. But I think, before we do anything else, it’s probably a good idea to just make sure we all understand what we’re talking about when we talk about academic advisor, Because when your student is in high school you become very familiar with a guidance counselor, but it’s really different. So when we’re talking about academic advising in college and we’re talking about an advisor, first of all, the system may be very different at different schools. Some have faculty advising, some have staff advising, but essentially it means that students are assigned to a faculty or a staff member who’s there to give the student guidance on making the academic decisions that they need to make. They can also help with personal and professional educational goals and also helping them choose their classes and track their progress and do all of that. So there’s an overlap a little bit with what might happen in a guidance counselor, but there are some differences. This is your field, Sarah. Do you want to talk a little bit about some other things about advising?

Sarah Shane: 

Definitely and, as you mentioned, it’s different at every school in terms of some schools have faculty advisors, some have professional staff advisors, some have a combination of both. It really depends on the size of the school and different majors and how the individual schools are set up. Sometimes the advisors in the student’s academic major, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they’re in a professional advising center, which may be divided by years, or a first year academic center with advisors, or again it could be faculty advisor within the major. But some of the key things that for the most part don’t change are that it’s really up to the student to reach out. Some again, some colleges have different models in which the advisor initially may reach out a little more to try to encourage the student. But for the most part it’s up to the student to connect with the advisor. There may be some mandatory meetings, especially around registration and course selection time, just to make sure that the student kind of knows what they’re doing and they reach out for help so that the advisor is confident the student will register for the courses they need to stay on track for graduation.

But the advisor is essentially a facilitator, so the responsibility stays on the student to know and understand the requirements, to track their own progress, to meet deadlines, keep records and notes. The advisor is there to help and facilitate and encourage and answer any questions along the way, but it’s really to make sure the student keeps driving the bus. And this is a little bit different from high school, in which most things are, I think, initiated again, and that can depend on the size of the school as well in high school, but most things are typically initiated by the school, by the guidance counselor, by the administration, something like that. They often are the ones who prompt students to do things, and that isn’t always. It’s usually not the case in college. It’s up to the student, because at 18, the student’s an adult and this is their rodeo. So that’s kind of a big difference and the students need to keep track. They really should have an advising folder so they keep track of their different meetings, so they remember, because you may not meet with your advisor very frequently, although we certainly encourage students to do that and sometimes students feel, oh well, I don’t want to bother them and no, no, no, no, no. That’s what the advisors are there for. Please do, please reach out, but to keep all your information kind of in one place, to make sure that you’re not missing anything and you’re the student themselves and remembering things from a meeting to meeting.

Vicki Nelson: 

And it’s why I think we’re called an advisor. We advise, but then the students have to do. They have to and it’s up to the student to reach out to us if they have a question or a problem.

So then I can imagine parents out there listening are saying, ok, that’s all very well and good, but what does that matter to me? I’m a parent and really, as with so many things that we talk about on the podcast, the more that parents can understand, the more they know what questions to ask their student. They are able to guide their student a little, to encourage a student to take advantage. Have you talked to your advisor about that? Well, maybe your advisor could help you with that. So what we want to try to do is help you understand a little bit about how advising works.

But, as I mentioned earlier, Sarah and I just came back from the National Academic Advising Association Regional Conference. That’s sometimes called NACADA. We like acronyms of everything and it was really fascinating because you know they’re. This is regional, this isn’t national, that would be out in a whole other level. But you know, a thousand people maybe give or take who are all academic advisors at all of the institutions in the area and they get together for three days and they just talk advising and it’s you know. I think one of the takeaways for me is recognizing that you know, these are professional people and they’re taking this seriously and the advisor isn’t just somebody who says, oh yeah, go do this or go do that, but it’s really, it’s a profession, or, for some of us who are faculty members, it’s part of our job. And so everybody was talking advising. And you go to a conference, you go to all of these things, and what we don’t wanna share today, this isn’t about tips and tricks of how to be a good advisor, because you know we’re talking to parents, we’re not talking to advisors. But what we’d like to share is some of the themes that we saw bubbling up as we went to, oh, these many sessions. These are the people that work with students every day and what are they seeing? What is important, what can we as parents learn about our students by listening to the people who are working with parents? And, along with that, what are some hints of things that parents can do to help this process work? So that’s kind of what we wanna do.

So. One of the I’ll start. One of the themes that I heard a number of people talking about is how to help students who are struggling academically or have struggled big time and are now on possibly probation or warning or something like that, and I think that matters, because parents can really be helpful in this case. This is when parents sometimes excuse me, when students sometimes don’t wanna go to their advisor because they’re embarrassed or they think it won’t help, and parents can perhaps step in and help students, these struggling students. First of all, encourage them to go to an advisor who can help. But really thinking about I don’t know if your student is on probation, let’s say and we had an earlier podcast episode on probation, I think it was episode #17, way back and we’ll put it in the show notes, but it was all about probation but your student has had a tough time, bad semester, maybe something like that. How can you help them? And there were a couple of suggestions that they had.

First is, help them take ownership of what has happened and to reflect on what happened and why it happened, and then help them think about what kind of support they need and what the resources are that can help them with that. So that’s one way to look at it. Another suggestion was to help them think about self-assessment Really, what were my challenges, what skills and strengths do I have, what are my goals and what are the obstacles that are going to get in the way? I think we often talk to students about having goals but we don’t talk about, well, what could get in the way of you reaching those goals. So they talked about that and thinking about executive function skills and organization, study time, self-regulation.

Sarah Shane: 

Yeah, definitely. I mean just to jump in a little bit on that. We certainly, as our office, is advising and academic success, so we have in our college we’re called academic success coordinators and they work with students on all kinds of things and from time management to study skills and test taking strategies and all kinds of things, because students often don’t quite realize that studying is a skill and many students kind of skate by in high school for a million different reasons because they’re bright and they have different expectations from high school and because of the workload they may have been able to skate by by doing things at the last minute and some don’t realize they are high functioning procrastinators, of which I am very guilty myself for back in the day.

Vicki Nelson: 

Me too, I’m part of the club.

Sarah Shane: 

Yes, yes, 100%. And I think I almost had a nervous breakdown my first year and I had a history test a month or six weeks in and had about five books I hadn’t quite gotten to yet in the night before and I was like, uh-oh, I did this fine in high school but didn’t seem to be working out so well this way, and then kind of struggling and it was an eye-opening experience to struggle when I hadn’t before in high school. And this happens often to our students Because so I think, so they many don’t know how to handle that. And especially because they feel like they’ve let themselves down. They maybe have let their parents down because they did very poorly on a test and they’re kind of very nervous about how they’re going to do for the rest of the semester in the course because that was the first test which they feel like they bombed and they may have. But they need to kind of learn.

The best way to understand and recover from that it’s a understand that they are not alone. This is not a unique experience, it’s very common and so they shouldn’t kind of take it to heart too much in terms of, oh, don’t want them thinking they can’t do this. It’s just reframing how they kind of got into this position and what can they do to get help, and re-examine how they can succeed. And I think so many students grow up without asking for help as a sign of weakness which we say we try to undo from day one a million times over.

Vicki Nelson: 

They come to college and they want so much to be independent and they think that independent means you don’t ask for help from anybody, and that’s exactly the opposite.

Sarah Shane: 

We have tutoring, we have the Writing Center, the Math Center, we have all kinds of help, but and we’re here to help and people are paid to help students but we can’t help them if they don’t show up or email us or reach out to us in any way and we understand what they’re struggling with and just trying to get them to know that we’re on their side and we can help them. They just have to be open to it and reach out to us and then help make their lives so much easier. And so if they don’t take it kind of personally so much, it’s not a the end of the world. Let’s just see what we can do to help them reframe how they’ve kind of gotten into this place. But the sooner they do that the better. Often students just feel overwhelmed and what do many people do when they feel like they don’t know what to do. They don’t do anything.

Vicki Nelson: 

They retreat, they retreat.

Sarah Shane: 

So then the second test. If nothing much has changed, the second test doesn’t tend to go any better. So then, by the end of the semester, the sooner they come to us and the sooner they kind of open their minds to different ideas and suggestions and all the resources we have that are so much better than back in the day when we were in school. They’re very easily accessible and things they can do online in their own room, and they don’t have to sit in our office for hours. By any means. We show them the resources and they can work on them in their own time in their own space, and it just makes for a much better experience.

Vicki Nelson: 

And I think for some students and their parents, it’s that surprise that those students as you’re talking about big ones that breezed through high school and then suddenly they aren’t doing it. And I think sometimes parents jump to the conclusion well, you did well in high school and now you’re bombing your tests. You must be not serious, you must be messing around, you’re not doing your work, and so it’s really helping explore and doing that . . .

Sarah Shane: 

How that happens. And I think too, that a lot of students and parents don’t realize too that time management is a learned skill also and, again, depending on however much the student was involved in high school there’s. So for many students is so little free time in high school because you’re there from whatever it is 7 to 2.30. And then you have sports or activities or whatever it is after school, and so you have to do your homework. You don’t really have much flexibility or leeway. And then you get to school and you have one class three days a week for 50 minutes and you’re like, oh, I got all day, I have all night. And just learning to structure that time and building that in, because students often think, oh, I got plenty of time for that and they just kind of forget to build that in and really make the time, because what they also don’t understand is they’re expected to be reading all of the material before class and the professor or the faculty are not going to go over every little thing like they did in high school, where students may not have read it ahead of time, but it’s fine, because the professor’s going to tell them everything they need to know. That does not happen. The student has to be prepared for class, and so they have to build in the time, and often that’s literally looking at the student’s plan or making sure they have a plan, or whether it’s on their phone or an actual notebook type or whatever it is. We have all kinds of things we help students with, depending on their learning style, but really structuring that in and saying, listen, yeah, you’re quote free time from 9.30 to 10.30 in the morning between classes, that’s not free time, that’s when you’re going to, you know.

Vicki Nelson: 

So parents can help students understand how different college is going to be from high school and really think about helping students who are struggling, analyze a little bit by thinking about how they got there, what’s going on and all of that and that’s going to help. I mean, you just laid out all of these resources and things for them to think about, so that’s really helpful. I know, Sarah, when we were talking earlier a little bit, and at the conference, there were a couple of things that you went to that had to do with careers and career advising. You want to talk a little bit about that, because that was really interesting.

Sarah Shane: 

Sure, sure. So I mean one thing I think that students aren’t super familiar with, understandably, but is that every school will have a career services office, whether it’s called career development, career services, whatever the title is. They are so helpful to students and students often don’t think of them as a resource until junior or senior year, when, oh, I need someone to look at a resume, I need to write a resume.

There’s 10 million other things that they do that can be so helpful to students before that, and we strongly encourage students to go to career services and talk to them about things they might be interested in, and in conjunction with their academic advisor as well, because there are so many misconceptions students come into college with in terms of thinking well, I have to pick the right major because this only one major is going to get me this one job, and I can’t make any mistakes because I won’t get that one job. And it is so much more fluid and flexible than that. And there are so many things at the college level that the student will never have been exposed to at the high school level All different kinds of majors the students would never even have heard of and have no idea what they mean and that’s often why the statistics are that students change their majors. You know, the average is about two to three times, and sometimes much more than that. It’s not uncommon, because they come in thinking well, my mom’s a nurse, I want to be a nurse, or my dad’s in business, I want to do that, that’s great. But they don’t even know what that means or what that entails. Or there could be multiple other things that would fit them better, but they’re so laser focused on that they don’t pause to think of other things. And then, when they’re in the courses and they’re like, oh, this isn’t really what I thought it was. And it’s challenging. It’s challenging often to do well anyway, especially your first semester, your first year, but especially in courses that aren’t your strength and you don’t realize that.

Vicki Nelson: 

And especially if it’s been your dream all along to give that up is hard. And then sometimes, parents, we don’t always accept the news really well. Sometimes you know well what do you mean. You’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Yeah or a doctor, and now suddenly you’re saying something else.

Sarah Shane: 

You don’t like science and you want to be a doctor? Yeah, yeah. So, kind of encouraging students that that’s okay, just because they thought of one thing, because they have such a limited foundation of what’s available, and that it might not be what they thought it was and it might not be their strengths, but that’s okay, there’s a million other things they can look at and to encourage that exploration. And I think parents, you know, because they want what’s best for their student they often think, okay, well, whatever’s going to get you a good job, so you should do X, yep, and it’s like without realizing that there’s a million different things they could do to get a quote good job. You know what does that even mean? But you know there’s so many, there’s so many things and it will just make the student’s life so much easier if they get kind of give permission to themselves to explore that and not be hard on themselves If the first thing they try doesn’t end up being what they think.

Vicki Nelson: 

And parents can encourage that and accept that.

Sarah Shane: 

Yeah, and I think students to kind of come in. Sometimes students the undecided are undeclared students, whatever it is. It could be undecided or undeclared at different colleges, but they think that they come in at a deficit and really often those students are more open to exploring and experiencing other things. And then when they, you know, maybe take a class the first semester, they’re like all right, well, I thought I was what else, what else we got? You know, they’re, they’re more open, whereas that the student came in, excuse me, super focused on doing something else and they didn’t do well in it because they didn’t actually like it and it wasn’t what they thought. Then they’re like, oh, I can’t, this is too hard, I can’t do this. College isn’t for me, you know, they go all the way to, you know the kind of spiral, so quickly, without realizing no, no, stop, wait a minute. There’s so many things that you wouldn’t have known about yet.

Vicki Nelson: 

So so, being careful not to also not to say the only way to this career is through this major, or this major can only lead to that career and really staying flexible and working with people.

Sarah Shane: 

Yeah, there are so many ways to get to so many positions. There are very, very few things, very few that are just this one path.

Vicki Nelson: 

So much to think about. All right, I want to. I want to hit on a couple more. You know that we’ve talked about when we talk a little bit together, but just sort of a little. Maybe we’ll speed up a little bit.

You know, one of the sessions that I went to was on family orientation. You know we have orientation for students. Most everywhere has orientation for students. It could be early in the summer, it could be sometime in the middle of the summer, it could be just before they start. And there’s movement now toward not only doing a summer orientation. It used to be, summer orientation was just one big information dump. Here’s everything you need to know. And then you know, by the second week in September students had forgotten everything. And so there’s there’s often a. They use the drip method. Now you know, in little bits along throughout the semester, because there’s a recognition that a transition, because students need to make this transition from high school to college, that the transition doesn’t happen in a moment, it’s not. You know, move in day, and now suddenly you’re thinking like a college student. You know everything, but yeah, you know it all, but it happens over time and and so you know, there’s some, some schools where one of them have a first semester course that students take, sometimes called a first year seminar, a launch course, something like that. But what struck me as I was listening to this about orientation and and family orientation.

So there’s also family orientation, often in the summer too, to help families learn about all those resources that you were talking about earlier, and then that they, so that they know to point their students to those things and for so families can get comfortable with how the college works. But what also struck me is this idea of transition and and what it means. And and they talked in this session about transition means changed relationships the people that you are with or change changed routines. Certainly for college students, that’s a big one you were just talking about. You know all the time they spent in high school and then the free time changed assumptions about how things work and what matters, and changed roles that their, their role, changes from. You know we talked about advising and you, it’s up to the student to to do those things, and those are really important to understand for students.

But what struck me was transition is happening for parents as well. So all of those things that I just mentioned that you know. Probably you know as you’re listening, or saying, yep, I understand, my student will have to do that, my student will have to do that. Well, just flip it a minute and think. As a parent, we’ve changed relationships. Our relationship with our student is completely different. Some of the people. When my kids were in high school, I had other parents that I was really friendly with and we spent a lot of time together and all. But once our kids went off, some of those fell away. Because my relationships in all levels are changing. My assumptions change about what, what’s right, what’s wrong, what my students should do, what my students shouldn’t do, what I should do, what I shouldn’t do. And then, certainly, our roles change. You know, you move from being from caretaking to coaching. You move to that sideline. So I think it’s really important for parents to understand that this transition doesn’t happen right away. It takes time and it’s not just the student who’s going through the transition.

Sarah Shane: 

Yes, yes, no, I 100% agree, and I think one of the ways in which parents can help students with this is I think for many parents, we’re the ones our students often go to, especially when things aren’t going right and it’s a mess, and students come into us and try to help them solve it, which is great, as they were kind of growing up, but now kind of encouraging students how can they use the resources at the school to resolve this?

And I think one big way that parents can help with that. So, for example, you’re mentioning the family orientation sessions at the summer and sometimes different schools do webinars for parents. Those are very helpful for parents to attend if they can, because if anything they can get out of that is take note of the different resources that the college will be kind of sharing, because whether it’s email addresses or contacts, phone, whatever it is about the different offices on campus, because we certainly give this to students 18 times over in a million different formats and in the summer and in different times, but the students it’s too much for them until they need it. So they’re not paying attention because they don’t think they’ll need it, they don’t understand how it’s relevant, they’re not taking notes or paying attention. God bless them. They’re not always on the same page.

So then all of a sudden something happens and they’re freaking out because they don’t know what to do. So then they call them and of course they don’t always check their email. So they have a number of emails from the various offices explaining our roles, which I think probably in some cases can overwhelm them as well. So they may not be checking that frequently enough, but the first thing they do, instead of kind of going to an advisor or looking at their resources or their information, is they call the parents and they’re kind of very stressed and a little not sure Unhinged.

Vicki Nelson: 


Sarah Shane: 

Yes, that’s what I said Very good word and no one’s helping me and I don’t know what to do and now I’m not going to be able to register. I’m never going to graduate on time, you know, meanwhile, their first semester or so. And then the parents sometimes get, because they of course love their child or their student. They’re trying to help them, but their student being in distress puts them in distress, so they go from 0 to 100. And that is not always helpful. It’s often not helpful.

So what they could do is kind of help the student calm down and learn self-regulation and OK, so what’s the worst that can happen? Don’t worry, we’ll help figure this out. And who do you think would be the best person? And if the parent has written down some of these resources and be like, yeah, I think the academic you know, the advising academic center, would be the best place for you. They said they’d be happy to help about any of these things. Here’s the email. Why don’t you drop an email to them? They’re not going to answer it at two in the morning and I know it’s 9 o’clock at night now, but if you send it now, when they open at 8.30, someone should get back to you as soon as they can during business hours and at least they can get the ball rolling about next steps. Because the one thing we don’t expect students to know all these steps and how to follow this and we will help them with that. They just need to reach out. So we know that there’s even an issue and if you can help them, take that one huge step. To reach out to whatever office might be most helpful. And it doesn’t have to be 100% correct either, because if you sent them to the wrong office by mistake, guess what?

Vicki Nelson: 

And it’s possible that parents may not remember those resources either, because they got everything in a big information dump, but maybe wrote it down or put it in their phone or something and that can help. But if not and this is going to lead me right in, this is the segue it’s going to lead me right into the other topic I wanted to talk about. What they can do is help side by side with the student. The student can zoom and share screen or something, and let’s look together, let’s work together and see what we can find out. I think I remember them saying something at orientation let’s go to your portal Now let’s look. I don’t know, try this, try that.

Sarah Shane: 

Yeah, does that make sense? Does that work?

Vicki Nelson: 

familiar, because you’re modeling and you’re teaching them. And I said that leads me into you know. There are just a couple more topics we wanted to touch on and one of them that had to do with what they call learned helplessness. That students just it’s that feeling that they don’t have control, that they don’t know what they can do themselves, and then they just reach out and expect everybody else to do things for them. And one of the ways that parents can help prevent this idea of learned helplessness is to go through things with students to teach them a process of how to learn what they can do themselves. This session talked about Gen Z. With Generation Z, which is our kids, well not my kids because my kids are older college kids now.

Sarah Shane: 

I think it’s 1996 to 2010? yeah.

Vicki Nelson: 

We’re approaching the next generation, but the kids that are in college now, whatever you label them, this idea of learned helplessness is a little bit on the rise and and they’re attributing it to things like the internet. I mean, we blame everything on the internet, but but it is taught us all of us. Really. For immediate answers, you just Google something, you’ve got the answer, and, and what do we do when it doesn’t work that way? And and it’s also shortened our attention span, and so you know, students have trouble with that.

You know we have to blame ourselves in some cases. We as parents and families have worked so hard to remove obstacles for our kids. It’s all through all the way as they’re growing up. We’ve, you know, we there’s a reason they call us snowplow parents. You know that we’ve pushed things out of the way To smooth the path for our kids and so they haven’t learned how to work through challenges. They haven’t learned how to do that If, if you have a student who is the first generation student, who was the first really to go to college in your family, they don’t have experience and background that they can fall back on, so they struggle, and then you know, the last factor that they talked about is COVID.

That during COVID, students got a higher grades for less work and Attendance was pretty spotty and that was okay. I mean we were all just trying to survive, but they it’s. It’s taught students to To behave in certain ways and we need to help them get out of that. So what can we do? We can model how to advocate for yourself and how to you know how to look for information, how to search for information, when to ask for help, what kind of help to ask for. I mean, that’s what you’re pleading for. The resources that just come, we’re ready to work, and then and then by walking through with them, to get together and sometimes we just need to say no to the student when they say will you do this for me, can you? Just I’m in, I’m crunch time. If you could just do this for me, just find this out for me, or just write this email for me, or whatever. Sometimes we just need to say no and they’ll learn to be self-sufficient

Sarah Shane: 

100%. And I think so often sometimes students don’t even ask their parents to do it, but the parents jump in because they want to be helpful and they want to solve it for the student and they want to make their student’s life easier and it’s so well intentioned it is, it definitely is, but unfortunately it does the opposite, because we have parents call our office all the time oh, can you just tell me where to find? and I, you know, gently say we can. But we’d love to hear from your student and we want them to know we are a resource and you know we don’t have eight heads and green horns we’re, we’re very helpful and happy and we will make sure the student has a very positive experience and the thing is, then the student has so much more confidence.

Yes when they come into our office they feel a little, maybe feel a little overwhelmed or they don’t know exactly who to Speak to her, how to handle it. But we walk them through it and then we make sure they have the next two or three steps very clearly outlined so they know what to do next. And then they walk out of there feeling, feeling like they have great resources, they have a friend you know friend here and they and they know the next steps, they feel empowered to handle it themselves, and you know. Then the next call to the parents is like yeah, don’t worry.

Vicki Nelson: 

Oh yeah, we talked all the time about the 24 hour rule. If you say, okay, let’s just sleep on it and we’ll come back to it and then, and we’ll, we’ll deal with this tomorrow, and then you stay up all night worrying and and then in the morning, you know you talk to the students.

Sarah Shane: 

Oh yeah, I figured yeah, and then

Vicki Nelson: 

You were saying you know they feel braver and they have the self-confidence one of my favorite. I wrote down the quote. The keynote speaker at the at the conference made this statement. He said the willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver every time. And I loved that quote and so you know, sometimes, just just talking to your students saying just show up, just go in, and it’s going to be hard, but you can do this and maybe help them think about what do you say when you get there, whether it’s talk to a professor or whatever. But then you’re a little braver the next time.

Sarah Shane: 

Yep, and you realize it’s not the end of the world If you don’t exactly know what to ask or what to say. I know in our office we have students at the front desk too, so that sometimes students feel more comfortable talking to another student and expressing that they don’t know what the heck is wrong and how to fix it. What do I start? And then the you know our, our trained peer advisor students will help them with the next step. And certainly we’re there for, for support. But I all the time students feel so much better when they come in and handle it themselves.

And also, I mean this is a whole other topic but in terms of FERPA, you know, parents are used to the parents who are often used to trying to help thing again, well intended trying to help support their students in high school and middle school. Um, there’s, there’s also legally a limit to what they can do because the students over 18 and what we can tell them. So we do feel badly when we’re like, yes, sorry, we can, we can give you general information, but I can’t, you know, and so then the parent feels a little uncomfortable or frustrated or whatever, and if again, they just send the student in our direction and we would make sure that they felt super comfortable and know what to do next and can then handle the next thing that comes down the pike without being as overwhelmed or. . .

Vicki Nelson: 

an earlier episode on FERPA and what it is and how it works. So, um, we’ll put that in the show notes so that parents can’t fear. You know, it’s another one of those.

Sarah Shane: 

Like HIPAA for education.

Vicki Nelson: 

Exactly and it’s one of those acronyms and it’s Family, Educational Rights and Privacy Act. So if you’re not sure what we’re talking about, check the show notes and um, we’ll put that there, you know. The last one and I just want to do this real, real fast Was a session that said, meet students where they are, and that’s a, that’s a phrase that we talk about a lot. You know, we have to meet students where they are. We have to figure out, you know, who are these students, um, you know they the students we see today in a lot of ways are are needier, they think they’re special. You know, I know that’s your policy, I know that’s your attendance policy, but you know, I know the deadline for the paper was Tuesday, but I and um, you know I unrealistic expectations sometimes. There are all of that.

That’s where students are and the expression is, you know, we have to meet them where they are and I like that they talked in this session about and this is for for faculty and staff and also for parents in terms of, you know, meeting your student where they are, and they said, well, maybe we need to meet at the corner, but the idea was, meeting students where they are doesn’t mean we have to keep them where they are. And so where are we going to? You know where? Where are we going to lead them, where are we going to take them?

And I think the bottom line and really for all of this I think, is Students need to grow over four years. It’s not going to happen right away and it’s every experience, every brave moment of walking into somebody’s office, every time you know to ask for help, and you figure out who to ask. Every time you evaluate how did I get here, what are my challenges. All of those things, every one of those is a growth experience and it’s not because you just did items on a checklist or because you enrolled in certain classes. It’s so much of it is what happens outside of those things. Students are very what do I have to do? What are the requirements? I’ve got to check that. Okay, I have to take this class and this class and this class, and it’s like running down a checklist and, yeah, you need to do that because you have requirements. But it’s all of these other experiences.

Sarah Shane: 

And how to handle it when, okay, your first class that you chose wasn’t available. Uh-oh, how do I? What do I? You know, learning how to figure out what your next steps are, and be resourceful and not kind of losing your mind when the first step doesn’t work.

Vicki Nelson: 

And we don’t expect them to be able to do that when they’re freshmen and they walk in the door, but it should be sort of like showing up. It should be a little easier sophomore year.

Sarah Shane: 

And that shows so much growth right there and I mean this is another topic that’s related that we could spend a whole other episode on, so I won’t just kind of mention it here. Though is that for students to feel comfortable, you know, go forbid the F word, the fail, be okay to fail, um, that it’s. It’s not the end of the world when things don’t go well and they learn so much when it doesn’t go exactly how they planned and it’s okay.

Vicki Nelson: 

And parents need to help them understand that it’s okay, because that F word, the F on the transcript, is often when parents panic.

Sarah Shane: 


Vicki Nelson: 

And, and so yeah we we. We actually did an episode at least one, there may be two on failure and talking how you know how to talk that through that how students can talk to their parents and how parents can help students understand. So, again, a lot of these topics we have talked about in earlier episodes. So if you go to collegeparentcentral.com/ podcast, that takes you to all of our podcasts and you can look for them there. And if you go to the show notes for this episode, we’ll put links there to a lot of these things that take you to other things, because there’s so much to talk about and so much to think about and it was fascinating to know that advisors are, you know, really working to, to, to help to understand students and then to find ways to help them, and parents can be partners in that, in that whole process.

So it’s fun working with you, Sarah you know, we’ve only done a few together and there will be more. A lot.

There’s so much to cover and so much to talk about and we’re really grateful for people who have stuck with us through to the end of this. Thank you for joining us on the podcast and do please check out the show notes on collegeparentcentral.com, check out other podcast episodes and, if you can and are willing to give us a review, to leave a comment. That feedback is really helpful to us. And if you know someone else who has a college student, perhaps share the College Parent Central podcast with them and see if we can be helpful to them. So thanks again for being with us.

Until next time, thank you.


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