Mandatory advising looks more like social work as colleges try to meet student needs

Partly because the pandemic created so many obstacles for students, more colleges are taking time to re-evaluate the needs of their student body and then taking more deliberate stepsto meet those needs — and for Charlie Nutt, the executive director of the National Academic Advising Association, it’s about time.

At San Antonio College in Texas, for example, students are required to meet with an advisor at four points during the pursuit of an associate degree; a case management approach supports students in and out of the classroom; and a new program to bolster advising and support students who have earned fewer than 15 credits.

Robert Vela, the president of San Antonio College, said it’s a departure from the longstanding belief that because college students are adults, they should be able to independently decide whether to seek guidance and support.

“We took a parent approach, that we know best for our students. And because we know best, we need to take the word ‘optional’ out,” Vela said. For its efforts, San Antonio College this week won the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, an award given by the Aspen Institute.

Read more from The Hechinger Report.

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