Monday, August 29, 2011

Self Serve Advising?

Though it may be really dating myself there was a time when a man even two sometimes came out and asked how much gas I wanted and at times even checked the oil level. This service would be hard to find nowadays I fear and we have lost as a result.

But then colleges and universities actually had a somewhat similar service when it had students actually sit down with an adviser on a regular basis and complete a registration form.

There was a time and perhaps even still are a few schools in which a student doesn’t just go to the self-service line to choose courses for a semester.  At most schools students do their own course selection without real interaction with a faculty or major adviser. They may have to get someone to sign off on the courses they have chosen but that is most normally a perfunctory action by an “adviser” who really does not know the student. And the advisers have been seen to may not really be aware of the courses and requirements needed by that student.

When I was attending the University of Massachusetts in Boston way back in the 60’s, I had to meet with my advisor on a regular schedule such as after mid-terms. We had to meet to sit down and review my progress (or lack of it). This forced me to see my advisor, get to know him and he got to know me. We also went over such things as academic and career goals as we discussed grades and progress. This system though labor intensive was a sure way for each of us to know one another and for the students to get a level of academic customer service that was superior.

By making me meet with an adviser I had to come to grips with my performance and needs. By meeting with me and going over my file the adviser got to know me as more than just a number or registration form to be processed.  The result was a more intimate service level that would most often lead to some clear understandings as well as registering for the right courses. Not only did I have to select the courses I had to explain the why’s of my choices at times. Moreover the adviser knowing me could also advise me into and out of curses that might not help me to proceed along a clear line to my goal of graduating on time. It took more time but the results were excellent.

This forced advising also created another level of engagement between the school and the students. By making me get together with my adviser the University was also making me engage with it on a higher and more consistent level. It was saying it cared enough about my success to make me engage with it on the advising level. I was being forced to realize that the school cared enough to demand I meet with an adviser on a regular basis.

So the old system which yes was labor intensive and took away from research time and did require enough full time faculty to be advisers to meet with students was better than the self-serve checkouts and gas stations that we are supposedly asking for today. 


The author of the article is Dr. Neal Raisman the president of AcademicMAPS, the leader in training, workshops and research on increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through academic customer service solutions for colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as businesses that seek to work with them.
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Neal is a pleasure to work with – his depth of knowledge and engaging, approachable style creates a strong connection with attendees. He goes beyond the typical, “show up, talk, and leave” experience that some professional speakers use. He “walks the talk” with his passion for customer service. We exchanged multiple emails prior to the event, with his focus being on meeting our needs, understanding our organization and creating a customized presentation. Neal also attended and actively participated in our evening-before team-building event, forging positive relationships with attendees – truly getting to know them. Personable, knowledgeable, down-to-earth and inspiring…. " Jean Wolfe, Training Manager, Davenport University

“Neal led a retreat that initiated customer service and retention as a real focus for us and gave us a clear plan. Then he followed up with presentations and workshops that kicked us all into high gear. We recommend with no reservations; just success.”
Susan Mesheau, Executive Director U First: Integrated Recruitment & Retention University of New Brunswick, CA

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Shelly S, Faculty Member, Lincoln Technical Institute

“We had hoped we’d improve our retention with Neal's help by 3% but with the help of Dr. Raisman, we increased it by 5%
Rachel Albert, Provost, University of Maine-Fort Kent



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