NSights Blog

Academic advising: Supporting students from afar

An update on how academic advisors are using alternative methods to support students

For those of you who have not met me, my name is Dr. Emilly Borthwick-Wong and I joined the University of Nevada, Reno Advising Community in August 2019. As we all continue to navigate supporting students during this pandemic I wanted to share with you some things that are happening within the advising community.    

In mid-March as campus shifted to alternative methods of supporting students due to the campus closure, every academic advisor began advising students during peak advising, this is when students are enrolling for future terms, from their living rooms, and kitchens.  They have been and will continue to meet with students via zoom, phone calls, and emails to help our students plan for future terms as well as guiding them on critical decisions such as decisions on S/U grading, modifying internships, changing study abroad experiences, and navigating tough life circumstances that may have led to financial or personal life changes they were not expecting. 

Academic advising will also welcome the new incoming first-year students in virtual format as orientation is moved to a virtual structure.  Like all of you who are working tirelessly to serve students in this new format, so are our campus advisors, and are finding new ways to build connections, maintain relationships, and ensure our students get the support they need in this very trying time. We truly appreciate the herculean effort of our advising community to move to these alternative methods  as our advisors are one of our students’ first line of support.

The second item I would like to share is that the “Undeclared” student designation is now labeled “Exploratory.” This change is representative of what our students are doing when they arrive at the University. They are exploring different majors, discovering their skill sets and figuring out the best fit for their career and personal goals. You can see this change already reflected in MyNevada and SSC, and it will also be reflected in the catalog starting in 2020-2021.

The University Advising Center is also changing its name to more accurately reflect what we do and the students we serve. Starting immediately, the center’s name will be the “Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center” and our acronym will be “EPAC.” Our goal with the name change is to help students find the advising office they need more quickly as our institution utilizes a decentralized model. These name changes align with the new ExplorationFIT program which will kick off this summer. 

The last item is that the Assistant Vice-Provost of Academic Advising role has been empty since November 2019. This role is being reorganized and has been retitled to Executive Director of Advising. This role will be focused on continuing to serve the advising community, building a stronger connections across the campus community and making SSC more user friendly. Due to our current budget constraints, an official search for this role is on hold until 2021. Until that time, I will be serving as Interim Executive Director of Advising. In this role, I will serve as the representative for the Advising Community to the larger campus community. I will also be supporting the continued improvement and utilization of SSC across campus, and will be a collaborator for campus-wide projects.

I look forward to working with you all in the near future. Please feel free to reach out to me with any advising questions or concerns. Stay healthy and safe.

(Emilly Borthwick-Wong Ed.D. is the Interim Executive Director for University Advising and Director for the Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center.)

Emily Borthwick Wong
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