Advising gets pushy

Intrusive advising is keeping students on track at Palo Alto College (PAC), part of the Alamo Colleges District in Texas, reports Community College Daily.

When a student first steps through the door of a college, “You have less than 48 hours to keep them at your institution,” says Robert Garza, vice president of student affairs at PAC.

Garza spoke at the annual conference of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.

Every new student meets with an academic advisor when they first arrive, he said. The advisor will contact the student once a week, in person, on e-mail or over the phone.

If a student doesn’t check in, the advisor will go to the student’s class and leave a note. As a last resort, a hold is put on the student’s record until he or she talks to the advisor.

“Advising can’t be just one conversation,” Garza said. “You can’t hand them a roadmap and let them go.”

Advisors start by checking financial aid and whether the student has the right textbooks. Later, they monitor mid-term grades.

Currently, each academic advisor works with about 350 students, Garza said. The Alamo system is hiring more advisors to lower that ratio.