Advising Online Students: Innovative Techniques, Community Building & Retention.


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Presentation that outlines the advising process at CUNY SPS

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  • Welcome!As per NACADA’s theme today’s presentation will focus on the “New Age” of Academic Advising. The academic advising that is still holistic but fully supported and utilizing current trends in technology developments. Thus advising at the “new hights” or advising with an altitude comes to play.
  • I just want to make sure everyone has the handouts selected for this presentation. My name is Alexandra Yanovski and I have been an academic/admissions advisor at the School of Professional studies for the last year. I have three passions in my life technology and working with students are the first two and I am lucky to be able to combine those in my job as an advisor. My third is my dog Prior to my position at the School of Professional Studies I have been fortunate to work with wonderful mentors at Parsons and Florida State Programs. And my path began as a work study student at Rutgers University in the Academic Advising department.----- Meeting Notes (10/4/11 11:41) -----Who am I?Where I've been
  • The questions I am going to try to answer in this presentation will mainly focus on what does it mean to be an advisor for online students and how do we do it.The Online Program at SPS is relatively a new program, but it has tremendously in the last few years. As a part of this presentation I will also discuss our application and admission cycle, the role advisors play in the day to day running of the program. Some of the initiatives currently in place and feedback we have received from students. Most importantly I will introduce some of the technology that we utilize to streamline academic advising and make our lives easier.
  • Hand Out About MajorsThe Online BA program started out with one Major in the fall 2006 semester. Communication and Culture was the first major introduced. Courses in the program draw from the areas of social sciences, the arts, and communication studies. In the Spring of 2008 we added a major in Business and in the Fall of this year students were able to select sociology or health information management. Next spring we will add Psychology to the major line up. One of the challenges was to keep up with the rapid growth of the programThere currently 5 full time advisors and 4 part time advisors that work with online students. In addition to advisors, inquiry specialists are on staff from 8am to 8pm to answer questions from students. Some of the inquiry specialists have transitioned from their roles into the academic and admission advising role.
  • The program is competitive and in the past year we have raised the minimum GPA from 2.0 to 2.5. In order to apply students need to have a minimum of 30 credits (with a maximum of 90 that can be transferred into the program). One of the most important pieces of the application is the personal statement. (The online baccalaureate program has been called many things including the online Bachelorette)Students also must submit official copies of all transcripts. We run on a traditional semester schedule and have Fall, Spring and Summer terms. One of the greatest successes so far has been seeing students develop alternate plans. We work with students who have not been admitted into the program by providing them guidance of what they need to do in order to have their application reviewed again. At least 5 of my students have been able to follow through with their plans. “One Student at a time” “Second Chance”We ask that our students devote 9-12 hours per week, per class. While logging in at least 3 to 4 times a week. Ideally I ask my student to log in at least every other day.
  • Two of the tools that we use for admissions purposes are Live Person and Camtasia. I will show you a little bit of both.
  • One of the most unique things about the SPS advising model is that we do both admissions and academic advising. What that means is when a student has applied they are assigned to an advisor. That advisor is with that student throughout the entire process and will be the person who hands them their gown at graduation. The advisor will also work with rejected students to help them become eligible. ----- Meeting Notes (10/4/11 11:43) -----Many students become attached to their advisor and sometimes it is difficult if an advisor leaves. Although rare, there is a possibility of a personality conflict and since the advisor is somewhat of a gate keeper for a student, there is a likelihood the student can request a different advisor. Advising competencies – reading the tone, the pitch, the words. Challanging = finding out too much information and not knowing how to help. Too much self disclosure in an online setting
  • Some of the technology that we use includes Blackboard IM. Blackboard IM is an application that allows advisors, students and faculty to interact with one another. Instead of e-mails we have sent out voice memos. To record a voice memo, I use my iphone and just read the e-mail. After that I download it into I-tunes and e-mail to my students as a attachment to their regular e-mail. Academic directors of each of the programs have done podcasts to talk about each major, academic policies and expectations.X-marks is an application that synchronizes bookmarks. It allows the same bookmarks to be saved on all of the computers at the advising center. Useful for setting up workstations.
  • One of the issues we were facing is relatively poor enrollment numbers only 45 – 55 % of admitted students used to register for classes. So a few major changes were implemented to increase those numbers. One of the tasks was to come up with an academic advising syllabus that outlines the mission of the academic advising center, student and advisor roles. We also introduce a series of e-mails to maintain lines of communication open with the students. The registration for the fall and spring has increased dramatically with spring registration at 80% and fall at around 70%We found that that students who do not register are usually unsatisfied with with transfer credit evaluation, have had a major life event, or choose to attend a traditional university or college.
  • The following is a copy of our advising syllabus.The key to note is that we strive to teach our students and adhere to the model of “Advising as Teaching”
  • Since it is an online program, the majority of the communication that does happen, is through e-mail. The correspondence is sent out in different formats, primary we rely on PDF, since it allows students to open documents on the go. For students that are interested in the program we provide many ways to learn more about us. As I have previously mentioned live person and camtasia videos are great tools, but nothing works as well as face to face interaction. And even though we may not see any of our students through the duration of their academic career, some choose to come in and meet. Students who do make it in to our offices can ask to have their credits evaluated on the spot. Once the student has applied, they receive a welcome letter from their advisor, indicated which transcripts are missing, and also if their application is complete. The those who are admitted, we send out a welcome letter and then a series of 5 e-mails spaced out. The first one is the official transfer credit evaluation, the second a checklist of what is to come, third is the advising syllabus and the last two are registration and orientation start dates. In order to make sure that students register for correct classes, they are given an option to call in or chat with an advisor and have a 20 minute advising appointment. For students who are registered we reach out during the first week to make sure everything is working with blackboard and then monthly with deadline reminders. Because blackboard allows the functionality to check attendance, a report is generated every two weeks with students who haven’t been logging in. The advisor then follow up.
  • Primo PDF has been great in the overall process of sending out correspondence, most new computers are equipped with a PDF converter, however for those that are not, it is a great and free way to convert files. We currently use Outlook and Lotus notes (hopefully transitioning to outlook fully soon) to send out e-mails. MailChimp is another application that can be used to send out e-mails. It is a free service that allows you to set up a mailing list and a list of HTML e-mails that are set out at pre-determined intervals. MailChimp is going to be implemented this semester. As with any new technology it is trial and error and it may take a while to get used to the new system and set up.
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  • Advising Online Students: Innovative Techniques, Community Building & Retention.

    1. 1. HOLISTIC ADVISING  TECHNOLOGY Alexandra YanovskiCUNY School of Professional Studies Online Baccalaureate Advising
    3. 3. Presentation Overview• Historical overview• Application and Admissions cycle• Role of Advisors• Student/Academic Services• Student Feedback• Technology
    4. 4. Historical Overview Growth of the Program: Majors • Communication & Culture (Fall 2006) • Business (Spring 2008) • Health Information Management (Fall 2011) • Sociology (Fall 2011) • Psychology (Spring 2012) Staffing • Academic Advisors • Inquiry Specialists
    5. 5. Admissions & Program StructureAdmissions Requirements• 2.5 GPA• Personal Statement• Copies of All College TranscriptsProgram Structure• Traditional 15 Week Semester (Fall, Spring)• 10 Week Summer Semester• Admissions Requirements
    6. 6. Admissions & Program Structure TechnologyLive Person Camtasia/Jing
    7. 7. Role of Advisors• The joint admissions/advising model• Benefits of keeping the same advisor from admission to graduation.• Challenges & successes Advising Transfer Credit Registration Evaluation Blackboard Orientation Admissions Graduation
    8. 8. Role of AdvisorsTechnology• Blackboard IM• Voice Memos• Podcasts• X-marks
    9. 9. Application & Admissions cycle• New student e-mail outreach initiatives (Advising Syllabus, Checklists)• Reducing summer “Student Melt” (Webinars)• E-mail/Phone Culture• Community/Relationship building early on Prospective Admitted Registered Students Students Students
    10. 10. Advising Syllabus
    11. 11. Advisor Communication Prospective: • Introductory E-mail/Phone Call • Unofficial Evaluation of Credits • Open House follow letter Prospective Admitted: • Welcome Letter • Series of 5 Introductory E-mails • Transfer Credit Evaluation • Checklist • Advising Syllabus • Registration Admitted • Orientation Start Dates • Phone Advising Appointment Registered Students • First Week & Monthly Outreach Registered • Attendance Follow Up
    12. 12. Application & Admissions Cycle Technology: • Primo PDF • Outlook vs. Lotus Notes vs MailChimp
    13. 13. Collaborative Approach Student Support Services Academic Bursar Advising Online Students Financial Aid Faculty
    14. 14. Student/Academic Services Existing: Student Services: Future Goals: Social Media • Alumni • Improved Orientation • Facebook • Career • Academic Resource • Twitter • Disability Center • LinkedIn • Veteran • Degree-Works • Community Blog • Virtual Campus • Peer Advising • E-tutoring • E-Portfolio (Digication)
    15. 15. New Student Orientation
    16. 16. New Student Orientation
    17. 17. Student Feedback: GoogleDocs Survey (Spring 2010) Blackboard Orientation (Fall 2011)
    18. 18. Student Feedback: Spring 2010• Describe the program in one word (Hand Out) Technology: Tagzedo• Describe your overall advising experience Technology: Google Docs
    19. 19. Student Feedback: Orientation“I love the orientation because it had provided me before class with:• the school schedule• awesome website to help me with my studies• practice exams/blogging and wiki. This has allowed others and myself to get a head start with figuringout what is expected for us during the upcoming semester. Did you find orientation informative? Answers Percent Answered Strongly Agree 67.308% Agree 29.808% Neither Agree nor Disagree 2.885% Disagree 0% Strongly Disagree 0% Not Applicable 0%
    20. 20. Student Feedback: Orientation“Iam coming from a full-online University and we never had an orientation, wejust started our classes and spoke with our counselors via email/phone. I alsohave done an orientation at a physical school years ago when I first startedundergrad and I found that it was fun and very helpful. I found this onlineorientation to be much like the physical orientation; it was very interactive. Itoffered me a great "refresher" as well as a preview to what the OLS will be withSPS.” Do you feel better prepared for classes as a result of orientation? Answers Percent Answered Strongly Agree 51.923% Agree 39.423% Neither Agree nor Disagree 8.654% Disagree 0% Strongly Disagree 0% Not Applicable 0%
    21. 21. Student Feedback: Orientation• “I enjoyed the orientation as I felt it was comprised of comprehensive assignments which forced all participants to set aside blocks of study time and apply themselves to the required activities. I enjoyed the writing assignments as they offered a glimpse into the amount of writing that is required at a university level. The orientation also offered a glimpse into the community of SPS and inspired me to become a regular contributor to websites such as, LINKEDIN and CUNY SPS Community Blog.”• “As a full time worker, I am able to complete the orientation at my own time by stopping and starting. I do not have to complete the orientation in one sitting and I can always go back to areas that I may have questions.”
    22. 22. Questions?More Information?Alexandra Yanovski, MS.alexandra.yanovski@mail.cuny.eduCUNY School of Professional Studies101 West 31 Street, Suite 905New York, New York 10001