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Benefits of Academic Advising at a Distance Concerns of Academic Advising at a Distance Ideas/ Comments/Possible Solutions
Ability to work with prospective students who can't walk into the office 1. Website information is out of date Resources devoted to a web development and  management team
Be available for inquiries and send out lots of information 2. no eye contact, body language or tone of voice in e-mail messages except for the limited value of emoticons Video conferencing, phone, audio
For transcript evaluations, I can embed links in email to direct potential students to helpful information our our College web site and their home institution website 3. some value in experiencing the dynamics of the potential student with the accompanying spouse or parents who often are there complicating things when they come in to the office.
 
 
It's nice that I can't see or hear family influencing the student during e-mail exchanges, but I may miss crucial family dynamics that may get in the way of working effectively with some people. (concern & benefit) 4. One of my concerns...or should I say outright fears...is that a student is going to misinterpret something that I write in an email. ...if you email info there is really no way to tell if a student understood what you wrote. I often wonder the same thing when they are in my office.  Those who feel freer writing rather than speaking might be more likely to share confusion via email.
It is more convenient for students 5. Very time consuming to craft a perfectly worded email and provide a written explanation vs a verbal one. Many times it seems it would be so much easier to pick up the phone or speak in person.
 
Create stems for commonly asked questions and add to personalized responses.  Create a frequently asked questions sheet.
if a student has a simple, straightforward question or two, and I would actually prefer that to blocking off a 30 minute appointment slot and having the student jump through hoops to arrange to come in. 6. FERPA is another thing that comes to mind regarding distance advising and how much detail we should go into in an email- especially in situations where students may not have much privacy due to prying parents, siblings, spouses, etc. Develop weasel statements, (disclaimers, suggestions) rather than declarative statements.
to reduce the number of in person contacts for students who may only need to receive or confirm academic information 7. Also, while I think it is possible to develop a "connection" or "relationship" from a distance (as many discussion boards will illustrate), I think that something is definitely "lost" when that f2f aspect is missing.  
I am able to discern through the email contact if a student should come in to see me and, if so, will schedule an appointment right then for them to confirm. I have found this process allows me to provide timely responses but yet not short-change a student. 8. Distance advising may be very difficult (or in some cases impossible) with students who are struggling with English as a Second Language, disabilities, or other issues.  
allows me as well to respond to inquiries by referring students to the college website/transfer credit screen navigation so they can see for themselves what transferred in in a timely fashion 9. a response being taken as the "official" and final response "in writing" when, in fact, changes could occur that would make our response inaccurate. Develop weasel statements, (disclaimers, suggestions) rather than declarative statements. 
we may reach more students if we open up to the idea of advising by email 10. sometimes we are not all on the same page as Deans, Faculty and Administrators when it comes program requirements and grad requirements, so we have to be careful what we put in writing. Perhaps this is another place for weasel statements
the more we can meet students half way, the better we can serve them. Part of this means reexamining how we offer services (hours, locations, etc). Because we are not a residential campus, we mainly have commuters we need to be able to offer advising in a way that makes it easy for students to use. 11. Making sure staff and students are trained in acceptable use policies of email or of the tool you are using to advise from a distance is important. Yes, yes - well worth the time and effort
helps to make students feel like they are connected. But, it has to work, be backed up by policies and trainings as advising online is very different. 12. making sure you have logistics in terms of student record keeping and staff time in person versus online is important to making sure things run smoothly.
 
 
  13. talking to advisors and training them about how to make the online or distance environment seem like a virtual campus is key, as it can be hard for relationship to form at a distance.
 
 
  14. the expectation that students may have that we can provide any and all answers immediately upon reading an email or at least within a day.  Making appointments with students allows for more time management.
 
Managing time is a real challenge.  Many have said the computer has made us available to students 24/7 - becomes even more important to establish health boundaries between work and home
Benefits of Career Advising at a Distance Concerns of Career Advising at a Distance Ideas/ Comments/Possible Solutions
May feel less like a test initially and therefore less anxiety provoking the student follow up with a counselor/advisor regarding the results of the self assessment tool they utilized online. Otherwise, they may not be interpreting the results correctly. Self assessment should not be a one step process. I think it is a journey that requires guidance. Additionally, many students are pressured by family members to pursue a degree and career that does not suit them. Using only the internet for self assessment would deny the student and counselor the chance to meet f2f to discuss these issues and how it is impacting them.
 
 
It is nice to be able to surf around and find information that may be helpful, useful and give insight into skills and abilities not previously recognized. I think the self assessment tools online are a good initial stepping stone that should be followed by a f2f meeting with a career counselor and/or advisor.
 
Many students may not feel like calling the career center or taking the time to get the pin, and then will not take the assessment. The ideal online assessment would require the student to set up his or her own username and password without having to take the time to contact the office for just a pin.  
students who do not like the "pencil and paper" approach feel more comfortable with completing an assessment online required that the student sits down with a career counselor for a conversation about the assessment results. I think that students may receive a print out and glance at it but not understand some of the interpretations or implications. I think that a conversation that stems from the assessment can be a real opportunity for the career counselor to understand the students career goals and may foster additional questions/concerns.  
many online assessments offer a "help" option which can offer the student self-servicing assistance I wonder if traditionally aged students take the internet so for granted that they may not give real credence to career counseling done online.  
Convenient - students do not need to schedule an appointment and can take an assessment at their own leisure or in their dorm room.
 
students do not understand the implications of their findings. They are so close to the problem that they cannot see the general trends or patterns which a counselor can identify through an interpretation. There is also no interpersonal exchange to educate the student on the role of the assessment and some of the biases that play into the result. I will have students come in with results which they do not understand and through a guided conversation, they are able to get to the epiphany moment.  
Directing students towards on line resources has its' advantage because it allows them to conduct some self directed research to assist them with clarifying the questions they have prior to meeting with a professional. It also allows them access to resources when they have not been available due to geographic proximity or the time of day. We once examined the number of hits our website received and found that it was accessed most between midnight and three in the morning! Also, it provides a resource for students at our regional campuses throughout the state. This allows them the ability to conduct some preliminary work and determine whether their findings would warrant a one on one appointment at the flagship. Privacy and accessibility come to my mind. Privacy as an issue is relatively self-evident. With regard to accessibility, the Campbell Interest & Skills Survey, for example, is available to the user for 30 days, which may be time enough, but may not be ideal. Thirty days is a short time frame when making significant decisions such as a major or career. Some students may wish to return to their results even a semester later. Saving results into infinity is obviously not practical, but perhaps a longer time frame is appropriate for some instruments. Research could indicate the profile of the typical user of a given instrument and policies be put into place relative to that information.
 
 
Our student customers value the internet and may distrust systems not available on line. Anything of the paper-and-pencil variety is archaic and out of the question. Of course, the convenience of completing an assessment on line, wherever access to the internet resides, is a big advantage from the customer's perspective. When I discuss the assessments we primarily use, I often reference others available on the internet such as the Winnie-the-Pooh Profiler. Sometimes this gets a chuckle, which is part of the goal, but I use it also to introduce the ideas of validity and reliability without getting too bogged down in such details.
 
Most of us have had students tell us about the tests they may have taken without every talking with a counselor thereafter. They report, with tongue in cheek, that the main career that was identified was an oil rig operator (i.e they love the ocean and sciences!)
Without the personalization, it is possible for students to not take the results seriously or perhaps take them as written in stone!
 
I believe one of the advantages of students use of Internet based career assessment tools, is that they are required to initiate the process and take some measure of responsibility for following through with the assessment on their own. I found the review of the Rights and Responsibilities of Test Takers as described on the APA Online website to highlight the fact that someone taking an assessment has the right to a valid and professional interaction but that the test taker also has to take responsibility for using the testing process to their best advantage. All too often career assessments are requested or interpreted by the student to be the ultimate answer to their career questions or the Magic 8 Ball. Using an Internet assesment tool does require the student to be involved throughout the testing and evaluation process, rather than complete the assessment and now you tell me what I want to know.