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February 21, 2013
By Tovah Goodman
Derek Furukawa is the director of the Advising Center and the coordinator for undergraduate academic advising on campus. He manages the office for the students that are undecided majors, non-degree seeking students and students that are pursuing a bachelor of general studies degree.
Initially it was my fifth grade teacher who inspired me to pursue education as a field. She was so excited about what she did in teaching people that it pushed me in the education direction. It wasn't until college that I realized I wanted to work in a college setting.
While at University of Maryland, my graduate assistant happened to be in an advising office and that's how I picked it up. I ended up enjoying what I was doing; enjoying the students and eventually it became a full time job. I haven't looked back since. I continued to work in advising through my Ph.D. because I had knowledge of it and by getting more involved at UNLV, I was able to get the job up here.
My dissertation was on high achieving students and what influenced their decision of where to go to school, whether it was financial impact, family pressure, location of the school, reputation of the school, etc. This research was focused on a public university setting and the steps these students took to make their choice. Most of the time high achieving students chose a public over a private university because they didn't want to pay thousands of dollars a year when they could go to a university with an equally good program and they would then be in the honors program.
Honors students were very interesting because what I found was most of the ones who were at public school, their first choice was this very high-end Ivy League. Even if they may or may not have gotten into that school, they often times have made a choice before they get decisions back from the colleges. That was really interesting because one of the things it made me think of is how you can never count those students out to recruit them and bring them into the campus.
What it came down to was the personal connection they had with the institution and the people that were talking to them. They felt that they were wanted and not just another smart kid going to this school that has a bunch of smart kids. The key was making them feel they were wanted here and to help them excel at this institution. That feel is really what needs to happen to get them to public institutions.