Group advising benefits Harbert College of Business students because: 1) sessions are tailored to student needs; 2) students are placed in groups with peers with the same major; 3) students get an hour’s worth of advising rather than the standard 15 to 20 minutes 1-on-1 sessions offer; and 4) networking gives students the opportunity to learn from one another.
But don’t just take our word for it.
Harbert College advisors Molly Hulsey, Stephanie Mowaro and Christian Demyan not only presented their research, “Reaching More Students through Group Advising” at the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Southeast Region Conference April 12-14 in Auburn, but will be given the opportunity to take their work to another level Oct. 4-7 at the national NACADA conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
“Going to present at the national conference is a huge deal. I’m a proud momma!” beamed Beth Ann Mabrey, Director of Student Services in the Harbert College of Business’ Office of Academic Advising.
“I hope that we will not only be able to share our best practices with other institutions, but that we will be able to help other institutions design and implement group advising sessions that are unique and tailored to their institutional student needs.”
Mabrey explained that group advising is based on a cohort structure. Finance majors are grouped with other finance majors. Accounting majors are grouped with other accounting majors. Student-athletes are often grouped with other student-athletes.
Internal student survey results showed that students learn more with their peers during advising sessions. “Students network more effectively when they are with their peers and ask more questions that are pertinent to them,” Mabrey said.
Group advising, offered around a 15-seat conference table, gives staff more time to plan, creating more effective, thorough sessions.
“In group advising, we’re not leaving any stones unturned,” Hulsey explained. “The one-on-one sessions can be as quick as 15 minutes. But in a group, you get a whole hour and feel the one-on-one dynamic because you get all of the questions answered and you network with your peers. Some questions students might be afraid to ask one-on-one, but it makes them feel more comfortable when they see their peers have the same issues.”
Subjects often covered include classes, registration, policies, academic goals, procedures, expectations, graduation, etc.
“It’s a great opportunity to build rapport with students,” said Demyan, who advises pre-business students (often freshman and sophomores). “Not only are they able to discuss potential classes, but also network and meet new faces. One-on-one advising will always be important as an option for students, but group advising gives me the opportunity to work more efficiently for both parties involved. Students who sign up for group sessions dodge long lines and increased wait times. This is extremely helpful during heavy advising times – more specifically, registration.”
Mowaro added, “It also gives them (students) the opportunity to interact with faculty members and program coordinators in their major outside of the classroom setting.”
Mitch Weber, a junior in accounting, agreed.
“I feel bad for students who don’t come to group,” he said. “I have a much better understanding of my curriculum than they do.”
The national conference gives Harbert College advising the opportunity to share its success story.
“If we can get together and share ideas, they can take home parts of what works to create their own program,” Hulsey said. “If group advising is structured properly, it can help in every facet of advising. You can have more appreciative sessions, have more time to actually get to know students and disseminate important knowledge in your college.”