Academic Advising and Coaching
For the Alt Ac Speaker Series, I did roughly thirty informational interviews with PhDs in various non-faculty and non-instructional positions around the Stanford campus. Through these interviews, I realized that one area that was of particular interest to me was academic advising. I really liked the idea of developing one-on-one relationships with students that had the potential to persist throughout their time at Stanford.
In Winter 2014, I took a position as an Academic Advising Fellow at Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR). In this position, I do drop-in advising twice a week for students who come in with a variety of questions and concerns, from petitioning to take more than 20 units to wanting advice on course selection to needing to talk about a tricky situation with their faculty advisor. At first this was very intimidating; like any institution, Stanford has a lot of moving pieces, and it took me a long time to figure out how they all worked together. But now that I'm in my second year, I feel that I have really grown into the role and found my voice as an advisor. As a result, I am far more willing to have hard conversations with students.
Part of my new willingness to have those hard conversations is my work as an Academic Skills Coach and Advisor (ASCA), which I began in Fall 2014. As an ASCA, I work closely one-on-one with students who are returning from academic suspension. We work primarily on issues of time management, since those are paramount in students' success or lack thereof. But sometimes students also need someone who is willing to be honest with them and say, "You're not doing what you need to be doing." Students often know that, but the power of rationalization should never be underestimated.
Change is hard, and as an ASCA it's my job to help students change the behaviors that led to their suspension, even while keeping or enhancing behaviors that have allowed them to be successful in the past. Fortunately, most Stanford students, even ones who have struggled, are extremely motivated to improve and be successful. Very often it's just a matter of helping them think about what they're really doing with their time, providing a dose of reality when necessary, and helping them pick themselves up when things don't go quite as well as planned.