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Academic Advising, Student Retention and Career Counseling  


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Over the summer of 2016, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UW-Eau Claire) began its transition to a centralized advising model with the opening of the Advising, Retention, and Career Center (Center). This model will help students remain on track toward completing their degree, provide them support needed to graduate in four years, and connect them with campus expertise and programs to promote career preparation and academic success. New students in summer 2016 were assigned to advisors in the Center; current students on campus continue to be advised as they have been. Each subsequent incoming class will be included within the Center so that within four years all students will be advised by centralized advisors.

The new advising model is collaborative in nature. Each student will partner with an academic advisor, a faculty advisor, and a career counselor as represented in the Blugold Advising Triangle. Academic Advisors will provide comprehensive academic and career advising to approximately 300 undergraduate students per advisor, while working with campus offices to provide up-to-date referral information regarding their advisees. Advisors will also increase students' awareness of campus resources and participation in high-impact practice opportunities such as study abroad, undergraduate research, and internships.

Recently, I was speaking to prospective students and their parents about Materials Science and Engineering. In general, conversations about engineering go well because I don't have to work very hard at "selling" it.

I described the requirements and pre-requisites for the major, how many credits were required and how "structured" it is, and the great interest local companies have shown in developing new internship opportunities, all to parents who were nodding enthusiastically and smiling as well as the prospective students who smiled politely and sort of drifted off.

Almost as an afterthought, I switched to talking about "The Power of [AND]" and was amazed to see the students light up. Suddenly they were talking about other things that interested them, how they could see connecting different areas of learning, and that "no one major defined them".

Marc Mc Ellistrem

The academic advisors will work in one of seven Program Clusters. Each cluster consists of five to ten academic majors developed through an analysis of major changing patterns of students over the recent ten-year span. The goal is that once a student declares a major or cluster, they will have the same academic advisor through graduation. Students who are not ready to declare a major in their first year will start in an exploratory cluster. Advisors in this cluster will provide specific programming and resources to help students choose a program cluster by the start of their second year. Lead advisors will supervise one or two program clusters, maintain their own advising caseload, serve as the primary liaison between academic departments and the advising staff, and oversee the administrative needs of their cluster.

Career Counselors are also part of the Advising, Retention, and Career Center. While academic advisors will lead first-year students through the initial major and career exploration process, career counselors will partner with students to prepare them for internships and job searches, readying them for life after UW-Eau Claire, as well as providing alternative career advising.

Faculty Advisors will continue to provide ongoing consultation to help their students develop comprehensive, long-range academic and career plans, especially the selection of major specific courses that align with the students' career goals. Additionally, faculty advisors will collaborate with academic advisors to monitor the student's progress toward fulfillment of all applicable degree requirements and connect students to opportunities for high-impact practices, especially those opportunities available in the faculty member's department or academic discipline.

All academic and faculty advisors on campus will have access to predictive analytics and intrusive advising tools supported by new software, Student Success Collaborative Campus. This tool will help identify students who are off track or potentially at risk, help facilitate and track referrals to campus support resources, and streamline communication processes to improve our advising and retention efforts.