First-year students receive academic advising in conjunction with the Colloquium course (IDST 007). In fall semester, all first-year students are required to complete this one-credit paracurricular course that is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Colloquium is designed to assist new students in making the transition to college life. Colloquium faculty are assigned as academic advisors for first-year students until they declare a major.
First-year student advising requires a special approach, particularly because these students are experiencing significant change by transitioning into college, are typically still undecided with regard to academic focus, and are at greatest risk of attrition. Jessica Bigger of Kansas State University wrote, in Improving the Odds for Freshman Success (http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/First-Year.htm), that academic advising plays a key role in the success of students as they transition to our institutions. Tinto (1999) suggested that advising is integral to student development. Advisors must understand the informational, conceptual, and relational aspects of their roles and how these aspects affect their interactions with first-year students.
Academic advisors should possess a clear understanding of the students on their campus. Today's transitioning student may belong to a variety of sub-groups or "special populations". Special populations that often include a large number of students are: students with disabilities, adult learners, at-risk students, students from differing cultures, and students in the Millennial Generation.
The advising of one special population group deserves focused attention; today's traditional-age student represents a new generation of college students known as the Millennial Generation. As defined by Keeling (2003), millennial students are those born between 1982 and 2003. Although many of these students have been protected by parents and society, as a rule they are driven to improve the world, have a positive attitude, and are team players. Advisors should understand and be prepared to handle issues common to this group.
Keeling (2003) notes that millennial students often have lofty goals and high expectations but often lack realistic plans for achieving their goals. Advisors must be prepared to help these students achieve a full understanding of how their educational and career goals align. Advisors should ask guiding questions to determine students' strengths and interests as well as what will make them happy. To be effective, advisors need a thorough understanding of different career development theories e.g., Holland, Super, Myers-Briggs, etc., and how to use and interpret different inventories and tools. Advisors who use these tools effectively can steer students toward appropriate career paths.
Millennial students often matriculate from highly structured elementary and secondary school systems that may place a higher value on conformity than on critical thinking and decision making skills. Students who lack of experiences in these areas can pose a particular challenge for advisors since they need more guidance in choosing a major or career path (Keeling, 2003). Advisors need many tools at their disposal to help these students with decisions.
Often millennial students find the pressures of their first - year daunting. This can lead to extreme stress, depression, and, in some cases, student engagement in risky behaviors. Advisors should be aware of warning signs and know how to refer students to appropriate resources (Keeling, 2003). Parental involvement in the daily campus life of millennial students exceeds that of any previous generation. It is important that advisors understand the implications of this involvement. Advisors should expect that parents will be present at orientation, may ask to participate in student advising appointments, and make phone calls to advisors.