Academic Advising Supports the Success of Students
The Center for Student Success (CSS) is William Peace University’s hub for student support. It is made up of three areas: the First Year Experience, the Academic and Tutoring Center, and Academic Advising. We’re diving into the value of Academic Advising at WPU with Kasha Klinegores, Director of Advising Services.
“I love being on a college campus and being around the creativity, hope, dedication, and fun that college students bring. To be a part of their story and have an impact on their lives is extremely rewarding. I love seeing them their first year, sort of unsure about college, unsure of themselves, and then witnessing the growth that happens… watching them graduate and move on to great things. That is special, and I’m happy to be part of this important journey.”
Academic Advising at WPU fosters a culture of mentorship and close student-advisor relationships to provide students with high-quality advising and a clear path to graduation. The office shares the second floor of Lucy Cooper Finch Library with the First Year Experience, the Academic and Tutoring Center, and the Center for Immersive Learning. The First Year Experience engages students in academic and social communities during their first year of college, focusing on student success and best practices. The Academic and Tutoring Center offers a variety of individualized support services to help students find successful learning methods suited to their needs. Together, these areas contribute to university-wide academic success initiatives and student support.
“All three areas in the CSS work closely together‒and with many other departments across campus‒to provide individualized support for students and connect them to the resources they need,” says Kasha Klinegores.
Klinegores oversees academic advising for WPU’s entire campus. New traditional first-year students receive academic advising from a first-year advisor. After declaring a major, students receive a faculty advisor in their discipline. Klinegores helps to train and support faculty advisors, advises a handful of students directly and works with University co
lleagues to support student success initiatives such as onboarding and orientation, to name a few. Klinegores also works directly with CSS staff members Jennifer Anderson and Dawn Dillon to advise first-year students.
“Even when students declare a major and move to their faculty advisor, they still have access to our services for their entire time as a Peace student. We are there to support them throughout any stage of the process … We want to connect with students early and often, starting that relationship right away so they learn about and utilize this important resource,” Klinegores says.
Gina Garera is the Academic Success Coach for the School of Professional Studies (SPS), which offers accelerated and flexible degree programs for working adults. Garera advises all SPS students from their first semester through graduation. She and Klinegores work together on advising, support, and student success initiatives for the SPS population.
Despite common perceptions of academic advising, Klinegores says that advising students on what classes to take is just a small part of their jobs as advisors.
“Advising is about relationship building. It’s about [providing] personal support and access to services, helping students learn and grow in different situations, helping them navigate the complexities of being a college student and helping students see the connections between their academic and non-academic experiences,” Klinegores says. “Advising is about support, growth and learning.”
Research has shown a strong relationship between quality academic advising and student success. Advising Services has data that affirms the high quality of advising at WPU. Each year, the University administers a national survey to assess the quality of services across campus (including advising), identify areas for improvement and evaluate its standing among similar institutions. Results from spring 2020 indicate that Pacers are not only satisfied with their advising but also have strong relationships with their advisors. Klinegores says that this is par for the course at WPU.
“Our results are higher than the national average year after year. That is something that I am proud of. Not only am I proud of the fact that we have excellent advising, but that it’s all for students — our ultimate goal is student success,” she says.
Klinegores attributes such positive results to WPU’s dedicated faculty and advisors.
“Academic advising is not easy — it’s not something that comes naturally to everyone. You have to work at it. But when you have faculty and staff in advising roles who are 100% dedicated to students, it makes a huge difference. We are very lucky at Peace to have such fabulous advisors, not only in the CSS but also with our faculty, who are extremely dedicated to mentoring and supporting students. That in itself is special and unique to Peace.”
Students who struggle to make the adjustment from high school to college can especially benefit from quality advising services. Klinegores has witnessed that when these students utilize support services, work with professors outside of class and shift their learning strategies, they can be successful.
Klinegores says working with students and watching this growth take place is the best part of her job.