Who is the most important guide on your academic journey? Many Bethel University graduates say “My academic advisor” – and with good reason.
At the start of the journey, an academic advisor is there to explain the program, including credit requirements, transfer credit information, and testing options that can make the trip to graduation even quicker. He or she can answer questions about financial aid and billing, guide students through the registration process, and even trouble-shoot computer or V-Camp issues.
But along the way, an academic advisor often becomes something even more: A friend, a confidante, a coach, and a cheerleader.
Lisa Davidson, an academic advisor at the Clarksville campus, sums up her role this way: “In addition to assisting students with the program’s requirements, I build a relationship with them and offer emotional support when it’s needed.” Lisa adds that she has talked students through “significant life changes” by encouraging them to focus on their goals. “When they hit a roadblock, I ask them to think about who they’re earning a degree for, and why. I remind them of why they’re here at Bethel. This can help ease the tension of whatever’s going on.”
It’s important to remember, though, what academic advisors cannot do: offer extensions for assignments, or answer specific questions about homework. “The first person to turn to when it comes to the classroom is the facilitator,” Director of Undergraduate Online Advising Amanda Knutson says.
Academic advisors do monitor academic progress, though, and have been trained to recognize “signs that a student may be at risk,” Amanda says. In this case, the academic advisor can serve as a liaison between the student and Academic Achievement specialists who can offer additional resources for success.
Online Advisor Jennifer Torrence says that advisors quickly become involved with not only student academics, but personal lives as well.
“Yes, we’re there for support and guidance at Bethel, but the bond deepens as students share milestone moments — from new marriages and babies, to promotions at work,” Jennifer says. “We root for their successes and are willing to help them in any way we can to make sure they reach their goals. There’s nothing more rewarding than their excitement come graduation day!”
PR Director, College of Professional Studies
Cindy Smith Chambers has 40 years’ experience in public relations and journalism. She serves as PR Director for Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies, and is a fulltime faculty member specializing in college writing and marketing