Quality academic advising is critical to the success of the adult learner. In their webinar, Quality Academic Advising: Key to Retention, available on-demand, Saint Leo University senior administrators Dr. Edward Dadez, Vice President for Continuing Education and Student Services, and Dr. Beth Carter, Associate Vice President for Continuing Education, provide insights into building a quality academic advising program that has a student-centered approach in which advisors build strong relationships with students. Beginning with hiring the “right people,” Saint Leo University ensures that advisors are fully prepared to equip new and current students with the tools they need for success by providing a thorough orientation followed by customer services and skills training. Through this process, advisors learn how to motivate students and guide them in achieving their learning goals. By supporting student success, Saint Leo University also produces “raving fans” who become the most effective recruiters of future students.
Below are Dr. Dadez and Dr. Carter’s responses to the questions submitted by attendees that were not answered during the webinar:
- Do you have a centralized director of advising at a main campus? How do you supervise advisors at each center?
Saint Leo University does have a Director of Advising on our University campus for our traditional students. However, the academic advisors at the centers are supervised by the directors at each of the education centers.
- What is your student to advisor ratio and how was that number determined? How about advisor to student ratio for online?
The student to advisor ratio at our education centers is based on the # of students which impacts the number of staff. Additionally, ratio is based on the size of the education center. The ratio of students to advisor ranges from 75 to 1 all the way up to 300 to 1. This is why we advise in person, by email, by phone, and also online.
For our online students with the Center for Online Learning, the ratio ranges from 300 to 700 a year. Per 8-week term, it is 150 to 250, depending on the major. The goal is to have each advisor at about 250 overall per year. We are currently at 253 students per advisor.
- Can you explain the Advisor checklist and what would be included?
The checklist is a list of policies and procedures we want our advisors to review with each new student. The list helps the advisor remember all the items he needs to cover during a one on one advising session.
The orientation contains 35 slides and takes about 15 minutes for a student to review.
- What are some of the current activities for community building for online/non-traditional students to drive engagement and retention that you use?
As far as community-building in online courses, our students are asked to provide an introduction (a short biography) and welcome one another during the first module. This process provides students with the opportunity to get to know one another. Many of our online courses include group work which also encourages relationship-building. One of our values is community, so we want to ensure students are comfortable and get to know one another, and we continue to explore ways to do this in an online environment.