By Anita Bruzesse
Student advisors are dedicated to their jobs, often putting in long hours to ensure that students are successful in reaching their goals and have all the resources and support they may need. But in the time of COVID-19, the challenges – for students and advisors – are even greater.
That's why it's more important than ever that advisors have helpful resources at their fingertips that will not only make them better at their jobs, but also enable them to offer students information that can empower them to reach their full potential.
"Even the most seasoned advisor should not be afraid to send a student somewhere else for help. Effective referrals help students develop self-advocacy and awareness as they obtain the most valid information," explain Erin Justyna of Texas Tech University and Rebecca Daly Cofer, formerly of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and now with Georgia College & State University.
For advisors who want to not only grow their professional knowledge but offer some helpful resources to students, consider:
McGraw Hill Education, the text book and digital education platform, has created a comprehensive new learning environment, McGraw Hill Redi, that provide students with study tools to help them tackle college subjects with confidence. MH Redi includes a digital success center, study guides, adaptive practice, flash cards, and guided study solutions – as well as free or discounted resources for students and advisors.
Through Redi, McGraw Hill provides a variety of free and discounted offers from their partners that you can can use to share with students for success, including: 2 months free of Aleks Math Ready, a discount for a free course at StraighterLine, an hour of free tutoring in more than 300 subjects from TutorMe, support for student mental health support from Jed, and a free month of premium access to PowerNotes, plus a host of other learning solutions in a variety of disciplines.
Based at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, NACADA is an association of professional advisors, counselors, faculty, administrators, and students working to enhance the educational development of students. NACADA currently has more than 13,000 members.
While general membership is $75 a year, there are a variety of valuable resources available free to members such as a compilation of academic advising materials and information, a quarterly newsletter, monthly highlights on advising and a semi-annual advising journal.
Appropriately, since advising is all about building relationships, advisors can participate in online discussions of academic advising issues, and a membership directory allows advisors to reach out to colleagues.
EAB is a best practices higher education firm that uses research, technology, and consulting to address challenges within the education industry, including helping schools help support student success from enrollment to graduation and beyond.
Student advisors can use free resources available at EAB to receive information on virtual counseling groups for vulnerable students; insights on working with students during COVID and how to grow enrollments; and a list of peer policies like remote professional development opportunities and ways to help students with needs beyond the classroom.
EAB offers an impressive collection of resources, including webinars, to help you effectively address a variety of students situations, for example, resources for students who are homeless or food insecure. A search of the site found more than 2,900 entries for information on student advising, such as a webinar on "A Student-Centered Approach to Advising" that's available after registering for a free guest account.
NASPA is an organization which strives to help the entire student support community at colleges or universities from vice presidents, to undergraduate student leaders, and student support professionals, which includes student advisors and counselors.
While there is an annual membership fee ($75 for professional affiliates to $242 for professionals in non-member colleges or universities), members are given free access to online scholarly journals, magazines and an online member directory, including knowledge communities, which can be extremely useful as you look to expand your support network, find assistance in an initiative at your school, and develop mentoring relationships.
For example, NASPA has assembled select resources related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to support student affairs professionals in their response. They’ve also created professional development opportunities around issues of equity, inclusion, justice, and civic engagement.s
The various blogs, articles, and free courses available through NASPA provide an expansive resource for you to learn from, engage with, and provide you assistance in supporting your students. It also provides communities through which you can ask questions and get help related to your career in advising. It is also an excellent platform for you to learn more about other jobs within the higher education field as you look to develop your career over the long term.
Academic Impressions, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., is an education group focused on leadership, personal development and skills-based training opportunities for faculty and staff in higher education.
While an annual membership to AI can range from $7,500 (for a 10 member department) to $15,000 (for 50 members), you do not need a membership to take advantage of the free online resources from research reports to webcasts on student support. For example, just a couple recently published free resources include "Why Professional Development is a Strategic Priority During a Time of Rapid Change," or "Student Success and Retention in the Time of Coronavirus."
Academic Impressions also provides free case studies and reports that can help you take a better look at how your organization works with students and what tools are available for you to improve in specific areas, such as "How Lynn University Became a Best Practice Benchmark for Crisis Communications."
The Chronicle of Higher Education has the nation’s largest newsroom dedicated to covering colleges and universities. It provides expert insight to the latest trends and offers resources that can be of great use to anyone working in higher education.
"How to Prepare for the Coming Flood of Student Mental-Health Needs" is just one of more than 80,000 articles that target student advisors -- and are provided for free when you set up an account. The number of free articles you can receive is dynamic based on your use of the site. If you are working at a college you may want to double check and see if employees have free unlimited access through their institutional site license. Other types of articles an advisor might find useful are topics which include: "What Do Our Most Vulnerable Students Need This Fall To Be on Campus?" to "Students of Color are Not OK. Here's How Colleges Can Support Them."
The Chronicle also provides data from various studies and offers free webinars featuring various experts, with discussions around enrollment during crisis times and ensuring support for diverse students.
In 2001, the University of Texas' College of Education set up the Center for Community College Student Engagement as an umbrella group for survey research, focus group work and related services for community and technical colleges that wanted to improve educational quality and student engagement and success. It’s a clearinghouse for great resources on the student - advisor relationship.
The Center provides free publications for advisors such as "A Mind at Work: Maximizing the Relationship Between Mindset and Student Success," and video testimonies from community college students about why they find their student advisors so important to their success. It also offers focus group discussion guides for those who may want to better understand the student experience with academic planning and advising.
Quizlet is a web-based application developed to help students study information through interactive tools and games.
Quizlet offers completely free study resources that you can share with your students to help them improve their study skills. Students input information about a subject and Quizlet provides study tools, such as flashcards, quizzes, practice tests, matching games and auditory tools. A free app is also available that offers learning to those with limited online access.
While Quizlet helps students, it also helps advisors help students develop the learning method that works best for them.
How to study is a resource hub offering articles, tips, and study strategies for writing papers, time management, working with information, goal setting, and passing exams -- and offers success insight for specific various college subjects.
With How to Study, you can provide your students with free tips and strategies about how to manage stress, deal with procrastination, implement time management and listen better. The site also provides specific tips on how to study for various subjects, Including writing assignments or preparing for exams.
More Helpful Resources for Advisors
If you’re looking for more strategies to be an effective student advisor, check out the StraighterLine, blog. We have practical information for student advisors and study tips for online students, including How to Be a Great Student Advisor During COVID-19 and Stress Tips for Student Advisors.
In a time where everyone is trying how to be effective when working remotely, such resources offer a lifeline that can help student advisors continue to develop in their profession and provide valuable resources to students.
Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning journalist and the author of two career-related books.
Learn how you can reduce stress to be at your best to help students succeed. Click here to read Stress Tips for Student Advisors