Making effective career planning adjustments in college
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MAKING EFFECTIVE CAREER PLANNING ADJUSTMENTS IN COLLEGE. Harriet Cornachione, Civil Engineering Marla Edge, Registrar Kathleen Sale, Natural Sciences. Value of Higher Education. Should everyone obtain a college degree? Situation: multiple credits; no degree

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Harriet Cornachione, Civil Engineering

Marla Edge, Registrar

Kathleen Sale, Natural Sciences

Value of Higher Education

  • Should everyone obtain a college degree?

    • Situation: multiple credits; no degree

    • Student Query: Should I go to college?

  • What is academic success?

    • Situation: Certificate? AA? BS?

    • Student Query: What do I want to do [in life]?

  • How is student retention improved?

    • Situation: [develop ]commitment to career goal

    • Student Query: What is my educational path?


  • Review OIT Student Success Approach

  • Review OIT advising system & training

  • Showcase current advising approaches

    • Biology / Health Sciences

      • Retention rate: 83.3% (Fall, 2007)

    • Civil Engineering

      • Retention rate: 90.5% (Fall, 2007)

    • Workshop / Discussion – “The Hard Talks”

Deterrents to Student Success

  • Inadequate academic preparation

  • Inadequate (or no) support network

  • Insufficient financial resources

  • Unrealistic personal expectations or goals*

Typical Interventions for Student Success

  • Academic interventions

  • Career guidance

  • Counseling

  • Financial assistance

  • Advising & mentoring*

How does OIT compare?

Six-year graduation rates

(Fall 2001 first time freshmen)

U of O68.7%



National average (public, 4 yr.)52%





Source: OUS Institutional Research Services

Associate degrees are counted if earned within 3 years.

Includes students transferring within OUS after initial enrollment.

Freshman Retention

One Year Retention Rates Fall 2006 FTF

U of O84%


OIT76% System average: 78%

WOU73%National average: 71%




Source: OUS Institutional Research Services

Transfer Student Retention

One year Retention Rates – Fall 2006 Transfers


Civil Engineering 100%


Health Science 90%



OIT Students

  • Older population –average age ~ 25

  • Often first generation college students

  • Higher than national average disabilities

  • Primarily non-residential – all campuses

  • Typically multiple competing responsibilities

The OIT Advising Model

Strengthening advising across the curriculum to improve student retention rates


  • Require mandatory advising each term

  • Use alternate PIN registration (faculty provides)

  • Require signatures to add or drop after 2nd day of the term

  • Provide departmental faculty advisors for new students during summer registration events

Advising Personnel

  • Advisors are departmental full time teaching faculty

    • in most of the departments all or large percentage of faculty advise

  • New faculty do not advise for first year

  • All new faculty attend advisor training during Winter term – begin advising Spring or Fall

Advisor Training

  • Time commitment: 1.5 hours each week for term

  • Covers developmental and “nitty-gritty” of advising

  • Features guest speakers on resources and partnering with academic affairs and student service

  • Provides numerous discussion and scenario experiences

Training Resources

  • Dedicated faculty trainer

  • Advisor manual – printed and on-line

    • Incorporates NACADA standards and best practices

  • Class resource notebook

  • Enthusiastic guest speakers

  • Good models in departments

Summer Registration Resources

  • Students meet with Departmental faculty

  • Writing and Math Faculty available for consultation

  • Advising folder with student assessment

  • Group briefing of all advisors prior to each event

    • New policies covered

    • New courses pointed out

    • Notebook with all reference materials, forms

    • Discussion opportunity

Student-Advisor Relationship

  • Get to know each other from the first term

  • On-going relationship

  • Advisors know the field and the student potential/weaknesses

  • Many faculty become strong mentors when needed

  • Ability to change advisors easily when relationship not productive


  • Though the campus recognizes the value of advising has not found a good way to evaluate advisors and to reward good advisors

  • Some departments have overload of advisees

  • Not all faculty make good advisors

  • Time intensive process for faculty – competes with other responsibilities

  • Students have to be taught how to be an advisee and to also utilize advisors

Advising – One Faculty’s Approach

…Under Construction

Advise for Two Majors

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology

    • Pre-medical Professions Emphasis

    • General Biology Emphasis

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences

Before I Meet With the Student

  • Examine transcripts

    • Grades

    • Courses completed

    • Trends

    • Type of courses

    • How transfer courses populate the degree program and possible substitutions

  • Look at math and reading placement tests

  • As well as ACT and SAT scores

Initial Appointment

  • Begin by explaining what an advisor does

    • My responsibilities to the student

    • The student’s responsibility

    • College lingo and structure

  • Encourage students to come in and talk to me any time they are having academic or personal/social problems that impact their academic progress

Initial Appointment

  • Advisee Questionnaire

    • What is your major, and what do you plan on doing with your degree?

    • How many years do you plan on taking to get your degree?

    • What responsibilities do you have outside of school, i.e. work, family, etc.?

    • If you work, how many hours per week are you working?

Initial Appointment

  • Student is sure of career choice

    • Discuss what is required to reach desired career

    • Reality check using transcripts and questionnaire

  • Student unsure

    • Referral for career counseling

    • Show website:

    • Discuss options

Subsequent Advising

  • Students that are having academic difficulties (we are notified by the Registrar’s office at the end of each term)

    • Follow up with appointment

    • Discuss options with student

Subsequent Advising

  • Reality check for student’s who are not achieving at a level to pursue their goals

    • I.e. starting with a 2.09 GPA for the first term when they want to be a reconstructive surgeon.

    • Have the hard discussions early in the student’s career

Advising in Civil Engineering

A Departmental Approach

Advising System in Civil Engineering

  • Advising Coordinator

    • Administrative issues

    • Student Advising Handbook

    • Transfer student evaluation

    • Summer advising

    • Advisor mentoring

  • Selected Faculty Advisors

    • Current with program changes

    • Follow consistent policies

Advisor Responsibilities

  • Prerequisite checking

    • 1st & 2nd week

  • Scheduled advising appointments

    • 7th week for following term

    • Review course progress (recommend path)

  • Academic distress

    • Beginning of following term

  • Drop-in mentoring

Typical 7th Week Session

  • How are things going?

    • OK, details, chat

    • AARGH! details, probe (what, why & how to fix)

  • What are you planning?

    • Coursework

    • Extracurricular check

    • Goals check

    • Provide PIN number

Supporting Retention Efforts

  • Academic Progress Petitions

    • Hard discussions – why did you fail, goals check, how will you improve / change

    • Term planner & advisor support memo

  • Freshman Sequence

    • Student success approach

    • Three term sequential

  • Student computer laboratory facility

  • Holistic departmental career mentoring


  • Many facets to institutional student success

  • Role of advising critical to retention

  • Institutional support crucial to successful advising

  • Effective advising necessitates initiating “thehard discussions” with students

Thank You!

“THE HARD DISCUSSIONS”( …. Practice probing & mentoring)

  • Three person teams

    • Student

    • Advisor

    • Observor

  • Advising scenarios

    • Summarize “student” experience to share

    • Summarize “advisor” experience to share

  • Wrap up review & discussion

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