ONT-Advise, Winter 2011
A Newsletter About Post-secondary Academic Advising in Ontario
Published by the Ontario Academic Advising Professionals (OAAP)
In academic advising, now is the time of year when students begin to look forward to the end of the academic year. Perhaps some will be attending advising appointments to ensure that all is well with their programs so that they can graduate. Others will be coming in for advice when midterm grades are posted. Some may be looking ahead and seeking information about courses, volunteer placements, or work in their field over the summer. Whatever brings the students to your office during these cold weeks, here’s wishing everyone success!
$$CONTEST$$ – Win Cash$$ for a Logo!
The Ontario Academic Advising Professionals is looking for a logo. Any academic advisor in Ontario is welcome to submit ideas for our new graphic. Logos should be representative of academic advising at colleges and universities in the province. If you have an idea and want to stretch your creative muscles, submit a logo idea in jpeg or pdf format to Jo Stewart (email@example.com) by 4pm on Friday, February 18th. Up to three logo ideas can be submitted per person. All logo ideas that are submitted will be considered by the steering committee. If the steering committee selects one of the submitted logos as representative of academic advising in Ontario’s post-secondary institutions, we’ll award $250 to the person who has designed the logo! So, all closet graphic designers or advisors with a creative streak, put your thinking caps on and get busy with your design ideas!
Ontario Conference – October 27-28, 2011
The Ontario Academic Advising Professionals’ conference will be held at Huntington University October 27 and 28, 2011. Huntington is confederated with Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. We are excited because this is the first conference to take place north of Highway 401! More details about the conference and about Huntington University will be available shortly, but in the meantime, please save the date. This will be a beautiful time of the year to travel to Sudbury to learn more about academic advising in Ontario, and share best practices with colleagues from across the province.
OAAP Steering Committee
The steering committee has adopted the Terms of Reference that were printed in the last newsletter. There will be two seats on this committee vacant this spring. These seats are open to any academic advisor in the province. The committee aims to have representatives from francophone institutions, institutions in the north, colleges, and universities. If you may have some time to sit on this committee to help guide professional development for academic advisors in the province, please consider applying for one of these positions. If you have any questions about the duties of members of the committee, time commitments, or anything else, please feel free to contact any current member (Shari Dorr at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jill Johnson at email@example.com; Marty Lowman at firstname.lastname@example.org; Annette Rondeau at email@example.com; Jo Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Tracey Szarka at Tracey.Szarka@uoit.ca).
NACADA Allied Membership
OAAP recently applied for, and was granted an allied membership in the National ACademic ADvising Association (NACADA). This will allow us to use some of their resources as we continue to promote professional development activities for academic advisors in the province. One of the opportunities for professional development offered by NACADA is the Clearinghouse (see www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/index.htm). The Clearinghouse has a multitude of relatively short papers that can be reviewed during your lunch hour, or between appointments while you are waiting for your next student. It can also be checked if you or your department has a specific topic that you would like to learn more about. Even more importantly, NACADA accepts articles from current academic advisors. NACADA is now taking a more Global Perspective on advising, so Charlie Nutt, the Executive Director of NACADA has recently asked that more Canadian advisors submit articles. These are relatively short submissions, and can be on any topic, but if you have an idea for something that is specifically related to Canadian advising, all the better. Some ideas include advising Aboriginal students, advising students in isolated communities, advising immigrant/refugee students, advising students who transfer between our colleges and universities (a much different process here than in the US), or any number of other topics that may have a different, Canadian focus (as opposed to the American focus of most of the articles in the Clearinghouse). If you’ve ever thought about writing an article or want to dip your toe in the publishing waters, you are encouraged to submit an article using the directions that are listed on the NACADA website (see www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Writing-Guidelines.htm). Note that NACADA accepts Clearinghouse articles from full members and invited authors only. If you are not a full member of NACADA, but have an idea for an article and want to contribute, you can submit an article abstract with the proposal for your article to Marsha Miller (email@example.com). If NACADA feels that the topic would fill a niche, the association will invite you to submit the full article for publication in the Clearinghouse.
Academic Advising Needs a Professional Degree: Reflections From A Budding Advisor
Submitted by Matthew Tremblay, MA, MLIS, a budding academic advisor who is looking to gain experience in academic advising (and student services in general) through volunteering and completing Seneca College’s Student Affairs & Services Certificate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quick test—tell me what university degree such professions as medical doctors, lawyers, or teachers require to practice their craft? How about engineers, social workers, or psychologists? Not too hard, is it, even if it requires a quick perusal of the Net. Let’s get the neurons working a bit with our next question: what degree do academic advisors at Canadian post-secondary institutions need to acquire? Not so easy, is it, even after combing the Web for hours. You will find many advisors have an undergraduate degree, but you are as likely to see a B.A. in history as a B.Sc. in biology. Unlike many professions in Canada, academic advising has no one terminal or professional degree required for certification or licensing.
Like other professions, advising requires the practitioner to possess the trio of a base of theoretical knowledge, specialized skill sets gained through practice and a strong sense of ethical practice. Without that prized professional degree and certification or licensing of practitioners by a professional body, however, academic advising in Canada is a profession de facto, but not de jure. I am interested in academic advising as a possible career choice, and this lack of a required professional degree was surprising to someone who had to complete a M.L.I.S degree to venture into librarianship. Beyond a lack of a terminal degree, most of the advisors I talked to about this were left without a compass to provide solid directions about the best way to enter their own chosen field. There were a few obvious givens, like possessing an undergraduate degree and gaining experience in student service areas, but later I realized why advisors are rather vague when it comes to this subject. The field’s reigning professional association, NACADA, advising the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, penned the Standards for academic advising. These standards advise what education credentials staff members should have:
AAP professional staff members must hold an earned graduate or professional degree in a field relevant to the position they hold[italics mine] or must possess an appropriate combination of educational credentials and related work experience.
Excuse the insolence from someone so new to this field, but how bizarre is it that the field’s Standards refer to other fields’ graduate or professional degrees when recommending education credentials. This, to me, is tantamount to resigning the field to second best. Academic advising is a profession and needs a dedicated professional or graduate degree. Perhaps the educational standards will change soon, given that Kansas State (working closely with NACADA) has remedied this situation when it recently introduced a Masters of Science in Academic Advising degree. There are a few important reservations, however. Most obvious, it is an American degree designed with American interests and requirements in mind. Perhaps most important, this degree is still not the terminal or professional degree that other fields have, in terms of certification or licensing…yet. Over time, and with other universities offering their own version of the degree, a Masters in Academic Advising may come to be seen as the degree to have to enter the field, and NACADA may be able to push through its status as the legally required degree professional academic advisors need to practice.
If, in say, ten years, the Masters in Academic Advising has become doctrine in the United States, where will that leave Canada? NACADA can represent academic advising much stronger than a purely Canadian association because of its size, but a Canadian association or professional body will be required if the field wants to evolve in Canada—it can offer its opinion on how exactly a Masters in Academic Advising will function as doctrine north of the border. As for me, I do not have ten years to wait on a Canadian version of this degree, and the cost to pursue the Kansas State option in terms of time and money is prohibitive until a Masters is required to enter the profession. It will happen, it must, or academic advising will never gain the respect it deserves as a important profession in the educational field.
Reaching All Academic Advisors
After a recent review of the list of academic advisors who receive this newsletter and other information about professional development, it was determined that some institutions are very underrepresented on that list. We have mainly relied on a “word of mouth” approach to pull together this list of Ontario Academic Advising Professionals, so please help by sharing this newsletter with others at your institution who may not be receiving it. If anyone does receive ONT-Advise from another advisor and wishes to go on the mailing list, please contact Jo at email@example.com.
Ontario Advising Website
Did you know that we have our own website for Ontario academic advising professionals? (www.ontarioadvising.webs.com) Information and links on that site may interest you in your role as an academic advisor. If you have any feedback, or would like to post any resources for your colleagues, please send ideas, articles, and links for posting (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note from the Editor
This newsletter is prepared by Jo Stewart a few times each year, but it depends on you, colleagues from around the province (and across the country – some who receive this are from other provinces). If you have an interesting idea for an article, a question that will spark some dialogue amongst your colleagues, or any feedback about the newsletter, please contact Jo at email@example.com.
 Academic Advising is to be understood in its broadest sense and may include those involved in providing academic advice, career advice, counseling, liaison services, and/or learning skills opportunities in order to promote student success and retention.
 Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). (2005). Academic Advising Programs: CAS Standards and Guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.cas.edu/getpdf.cfm?PDF=E864D2C4-D655-8F74-2E647CDECD29B7D0