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Professional Advisor or Professional Dream Crusher. When Student’s Goals and Expectations Collide with Reality 2012 NACADA National Conference Concurrent Session 215 Jessica Bigger, Jessica Kelso, Betsy Loe, Courtney Brafford University of Memphis. Have we all been here?.

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professional advisor or professional dream crusher

Professional AdvisororProfessional Dream Crusher

When Student’s Goals and Expectations Collide with Reality

2012 NACADA National Conference

Concurrent Session 215

Jessica Bigger, Jessica Kelso, Betsy Loe, Courtney Brafford

University of Memphis

have we all been here
Have we all been here?

You Can Do Anything!!

  • Three “generalist” advisors from the Academic Counseling Center
    • Undecided, pre-nursing, pre-major
      • 70% of incoming freshmen are advised in the ACC
      • Various departments (i.e. Biology) do not allow freshman to declare until specific coursework is completed
  • Pre-Health advisor to the entire campus
pre health defined
Pre-health Defined
  • Students planning on entering healthcare focused on direct patient care
    • Pre-Nursing
    • Pre-Med
    • Pre-Dental
    • Pre-Pharmacy
    • Pre-Physical Therapy
    • Allied Health
profile of pre health students
Profile of “Pre-health” Students
  • Summary of New Student Orientation (NSO) data of pre-health students

- 1,987 new freshmen in fall 2012

      • 548 “Pre-health” (27%), and of that, 333 Pre-nursing
      • ACT Average = 23
      • 224 with an ACT subscore below 18

- Transfer, Post-bac, second degree

profile of pre health students1
Profile of “Pre-health” students
  • Motivation
    • Money
    • Prestige
    • Help people
    • Parental expectations
    • Assumption of a guaranteed job
    • Pop culture depictions of medical field
  • Challenges
    • Lack of knowledge
    • Inflated sense of self
    • Poor academic preparation
    • Lack of support
    • Obligations outside of school
    • Parental pressure
profile of successful pre health students
Profile of Successful Pre-health Students
  • Admissions criteria
    • National admissions data for medical school
    • U of M data
      • 41% of “pre-med” students were admitted to medical school between 2009-2011
        • When looking at competitive applicants (3.6+ GPA/27+ MCAT), our success rate jumps to 77% during that same period
    • Nursing
      • Average GPA of 3.5
      • Required coursework
characteristics of a successful applicant
Characteristics of a successful applicant

External Factors

  • High overall GPA/science GPA
  • Clinical experience
  • Volunteerism/Community Service
  • Research experience
  • Student involvement

Internal Factors

  • Empathy
  • Commitment to serve
  • Good judgment
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Life-long learning
pre health students
Pre-health Students
  • The Innocents
    • New student with few (if any) college credits
    • Initial meeting during Orientation and/or pre-matriculation
  • The Farsighted
    • Continuing student making poor progress toward major/career goals
      • Current or transfer student
    • Earned GPA, coursework, etc but no major officially declared
  • The Last to Know
    • Upperclassmen with a declared major evaluating post-secondary options
    • 2nd degree students
advising pre health students
Advising Pre-health Students
  • Discussions with the Innocents should include:
    • Motivation for major/career choice
      • May be used later for redirection
    • Interests, strengths, abilities, etc
    • Explanation of specific requirements
      • Manage expectations
    • Personalized educational plan
  • Keep upbeat, positive demeanor
    • This is NOT the time for dream crushing!
advising pre health students1
Advising Pre-health Students
  • Advising the Farsighted students
    • Reality check
      • Academic standing vs. academic requirements
      • Reiteration of successful student profile
    • Reassessment of motivation and goals
      • Understanding the student’s susceptibility to change
      • Putting a different spin on previously stated goals
    • Introduction of parallel plan
      • Objective is to find an alternative path that achieves a similar goal
advising the last to know
Advising the Last to Know
  • The Ultimate Dream Crusher/The Enforcer
  • Advising typically includes:
    • Repeat of “far sighted” advising techniques
      • Reality check
      • Reassessment of goals and skills
    • Deal with the fall out
    • Identify resources to help students cope with loss
    • Solidify new plan for success
dealing with a negative reaction
Dealing with a Negative Reaction
  • Be comfortable with tears (have tissues in your office)
  • Be confident in your ability and don’t take their reaction personally
  • Practice delivering bad news
  • Recognize/Acknowledge loss
  • Refer to counseling services if necessary
  • Keep detailed notes from meetings
  • Be prepared for fall out
    • They may request new advisor
    • May try to apply anyway
    • Parental reaction
advisor challenges
Advisor Challenges
  • Rollercoaster of negative student emotions
    • Angry
    • Arrogant
    • Depressed
    • Indignant
  • Pressure from administration
    • Retention!
    • Satisfied alumni
  • Information overload
    • Admissions requirements and statistics
    • Developing and maintaining relationships with cross-campus and community partners
pre health toolbox
“Pre-health” Toolbox
  • Knowledge of requirements and admission policies for majors and programs
    • Have handouts available, snap-shot profiles
  • GPA Calculator
  • Upperclassman connections
  • Community resources and volunteering
  • Job-Shadowing opportunities
  • Network of resources on campus
    • Faculty and advisors from other departments
    • Career Counseling and career assessments
pre health toolbox1
“Pre-health” Toolbox
  • Developed sense of empathy
  • Keep student’s best interests in mind
  • Ability to deliver bad news
    • Take a counseling class if available
  • Professional development
    • Listservs and professional associations
what we re doing
What We’re Doing
  • Fresh Connections/Learning Communities
    • Pre-health and Pre-nursing
  • ACAD – Academic Strategies
  • Discover Your Major Day
  • Health Professions Fair
  • Lunch and Learn
  • Pre-health Workshops
  • Pre-nursing Seminar
  • Pre-health Listserv




contact information
Contact Information

Jessica Bigger

Courtney Brafford

Jessica Kelso

Betsy Loe