Advising during the pandemic

Virtual advising appointments replace face-to-face meetings in the College of Liberal Arts

College of Liberal Arts advising team sits on stairs in Pennington Achievement Center

Advising during the pandemic

Virtual advising appointments replace face-to-face meetings in the College of Liberal Arts

College of Liberal Arts advising team sits on stairs in Pennington Achievement Center

College of Liberal Arts advisors sprang into action when the notice came out about working remotely during the Coronavirus pandemic. Within 48-hours, the team of 11 began accepting appointments over the phone and online. The team’s quick work to move advising online was vital in these stressful times.

Prior to the Coronavirus situation, the liberal arts advising team hadn’t worked remotely. Other than having computers and tablets, they weren’t really prepared. Like everyone else in the world, the advisors also had to learn the intricacies and nuances of holding a Zoom meeting and a Microsoft Teams chat. Director of Advising, Recruitment and Retention, Kristi Van Gorder said she appointed a tech point-person for the team to learn how to use the new remote-working platforms and report back to the team on how to use the technology or address any questions. This saved a lot of time, so not all 11 members were searching for tutorials on their own.

“Communication is and will always be key. We really had to triage certain areas,” Van Gorder said.

Van Gorder said the most important thing was that her team was still available to students while in-person interaction wasn’t permissible. In one day, the advising team changed their voicemail message, updated the website and posted to social media how to reach advisors remotely. Advisors also checked in with students on their preferred method of communication. And they continue to make sure students have the necessary technology they need to continue with their regularly-scheduled courses.

“We are asking students questions beyond the general scope of advising. Do they have access to their course materials, a computer, internet, etc.? Their success is paramount; however, we have to be mindful that there is so much more going on in everyone's life,” she said.

The team’s dedication to students' success has always been apparent, but was made even more so with their quick action to maintain constant contact with the students.

This shared dedication to student success is how Van Gorder’s team works so well together in-person; so adjusting to the new remote methods has been somewhat of a challenge. “Our new practice is checking in via Microsoft Teams or Zoom – which is so different than being able to just walk down to someone's office,” Van Gorder said.

The team continues to work together remotely and is staying positive during these difficult times with morale boosters. The advising team’s popular office paper towel toss is now a virtual event where the team is keeping track of points from home. Van Gorder said, “Bonus - it encourages hand washing!” Let’s just hope they’re conserving the toilet paper for this challenge.

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