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Advising

Summary: 

Academic advising is one of the six functional areas in the scope of the Student Services Excellence Initiative (SSEI). Advising interacts with a wide range of student organizations and services, including all other SSEI functional areas. Academic advisors often serve as a natural first line of contact for students, referring students to other resources and services as needed.

Academic advising models across the university divisions and units are diffuse and tailored to the needs of specific populations. By and large, undergraduate advising models tend to be more based on developmental supports and interventions for students adjusting to life in a higher education setting. Graduate and professional program advisors tend to be less prescriptive in advising students, opting instead to focus on connecting students and learners with resources they can utilize to achieve their academic goals. Some units have highly centralized advising models with dedicated academic advising staff and program managers; in other places, academic advising is primarily the purview of faculty. 

Visualization of an academic advisor meeting with a student.

Regardless of advising model, at every division there are student academic management tasks that are required to support the academic experience needs of students – whether these are performed by academic advisors, faculty, academic program managers, student affairs staff, or others. 

Goal:

SSEI is actively working with a group of academic advisors, program coordinators and managers, enrollment managers and other student academic managers from all divisions and levels. The charge of this working group is to gather comprehensive requirements and explore technology solutions that would support the infrastructure necessary for academic advisors and affiliates to perform baseline student academic management tasks.

Student Academic Management:

Advising approaches vary according to population served, as well as nuances particular to divisions and programs. That said, there are tasks common across all programs and levels that are necessary and critical to supporting students and learners as they progress along their academic journeys.

Student Information: photo/bio, major/program, completion date, fin aid / billing info
Retention: enrollment tracking, red flag reporting, comms lists, course progress
Academic Planning: degree auditing, student planning, course enrollment management
General: document storage, IAW/IDR approval, external credit approval, course waivers and substitutions
Advising relationship: meeting notes, appointment scheduling, advisor assignment, advisor roles in SIS
Academic progression: academic staning, pre-graduation audits, graduation clearances, status change requests
Examples of functions that fall within the purview of student academic management.

Throughout the course of Fall 2021, SSEI and working group members worked extensively to gather requirements for baseline functions necessary to support academic advising relationships and overall student academic management. These requirements were then prioritized according to strategic overall importance as well as urgency of need (due to lack of existing support or resources for said function). The recommendations of greatest priority can be categorized into three main “buckets” of work:

  • Workflow development; or greater automation of processes and forms to support student academic management tasks
  • Student academic management workspace; a software that would provide comprehensive access to data and reporting needed to support students. Inclusive of an advisor dashboard, early warning system, and comprehensive advising notes repository
  • Degree audit and academic planning software

We are now in the process of taking these recommendations and planning next steps with regard to systems evaluations, and strategic project planning with existing technology solutions at JHU.

Outcomes to Date:Next Steps:
– Established university-wide working group to gather comprehensive technical requirements in 16 baseline student academic management tasks
– Gathered comprehensive requirements and identified recommendations for investments in three major technology areas: workflow support, advising CRM and degree audit / academic planning
– Evaluation of systems and solutions currently on market 
– Transition existing working group into workflow governance committee from academic advising perspective
– Work with an existing OnBase working group to map common advising workflows from a systems agnostic perspective
– Partnership with Office of the University Registrar in long-term Degree Audit strategy

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    provost@jhu.edu

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