Advising Office of the Future

Presenters

  • Ed Venit, PhD, Managing Director, Strategic Research, EAB
  • Jammie Wilbanks, AVP for Academic Success, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

EAB provides consulting services and products around enrollment, student success, and student services. To kick things off, Ed shared a quote by Rutherford B. Hayes from a letter about his advisor to his family. This introduced the topic of advising pretty well.

Millennials are now adults. We’re now working with Gen-Z and “post-traditional” students. Some broad generalizations about these groups were shared, i.e. Gen-Zs more independent, financially savvy, never known a world without wifi, etc. Post-traditional are older, work, attend part-time, etc. The nature of the advisor has changed. Traditionally they helped with registration and some specialization. Today, they’re more likely to also help with career prep, academic performance, financial well-being (aka overall success and holistic guidance).

Today, advising is a network of centrally managed success advisors committed to driving measurable student outcomes. Proactive case management: approach student first, assigned caseloads, access to data and technology. Five steps in comprehensive and continuous approach to student support:

  1. Advisor identifies risk factors
  2. Identifies critical times for outreach
  3. Executes outreach
  4. Advises students in person and refers as necessary
  5. Closes the loop and monitors whether students have improved

Jammie talked about Wiregrass Technical College; they’ve been an EAB campus since 2016, and a Navigate customer since 2017. Shared how some students were making multiple visits to various campus offices unnecessarily. My thinking is that perhaps their internal processes are bureaucratic and students aren’t getting the answers they need? But I digress…

Wiregrass’ journey to coordinated care: in 2014 was a decentralized faculty advising model. In 2015, we moved to a centralized, professional advising model. In 2017, we added Navigate to improve the student experience in advisement sessions (recording notes about each encounter). In 2019, we added coordinated care to add workflow and student support.

We also modified our Change-of-Major and Dual-Major requests. The original process involved a paper-based process that took up to two weeks to complete. Old workflow: advising > financial aid > VA office > registrars > admissions > advising. New workflow: advising creates a case and the exact same workflow occurs, only electronically. This eliminated 5,904 student office visits. A similar situation existed for SAP appeals. Old process had at least six steps and could take days or months to complete. The new process takes just days with much less student “hustle.”

How does advising cross over to other departments and how can technology break down existing silos? One answer provided by an audience member: better integration of systems can help. Sharing information between advisors was also suggested as a means of avoiding student delays because of wrong advising.

61% to 72% retention improvement in two years.

Next priority is working toward fully coordinated care using Navigate: advisors scheduling students with any services to provide case management and more holistic support.

Lessons learned: every interaction should improve the student experience; flagging isn’t enough; reduce the number of steps in student processes (remember, the processes themselves did not change).