Topic from October 2004

Do you really treat all students equally? Or do you give special consideration in your advising to certain types of students (student-athletes, honors students, underrepresented students, personable students, etc.)? Do you go out of your way to accommodate the needs or wants of certain types of students? Why or why not? Is it fair to give some students more than you give to others? If so, when? What's your opinion?

Your Responses

My philosophy is consistency. Thus, I attempt to relate to students in a fair and equitable manner. For me, this has not been a problem because I see all of the students as students first, then given the circumstances in which we are in communication, I proceed with assisting them. I believe that at this point, after the need is identified, there is always going to be a slight difference in approach because each circumstance will not be identical.

-Mya Bowen, University of Hartford, October 5

I do tend to give more to some students than others, but not based on any of the categories listed. If I have a student come in ranting and raving about how the college has messed them up, their professors are awful and unfair, etc., etc., I help them to one extent. Generally, I try to help them see how they can change their own situation through a change in their behavior or beliefs. If I have a student who comes in knowing their own role in their situation and is willing to work on their actions and beliefs, I have been known to bend over backwards for that student. Is that fair? Perhaps not. But often it seems that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”—that is, the students who complain loudest and longest get the rules bent for them. I want to reward those students who are trying to work within the system; who see their own role in whatever problem has come upon them.

-Terri Downing, Franklin Pierce College, October 5

At the risk of “outing” myself as a former Star Trek geek, I would say I am a mesomorph when I advise. In other words, I become whoever my advisees need me to be. If they need a verbal kick in the pants, I'll be blunt. If they need some encouragement, I will be their cheerleader. Special populations have particular needs, but all developmental stages are represented in all populations. I think it is more important to identify as quickly as possible (it's not always easy!) what a particular student needs to move toward ownership of his or her academic goals. Once I can identify that, I know how to proceed.

-Jackie Skrzynski, Ramapo College of New Jersey, October 5

Of course I don't. Approximately 1/3 of my students are really motivated and mature. Approximately 1/3 have potential, but are drifting through adolescence with the least resistance possible. And approximately 1/3 are here for the parties and to avoid real work. If budget cutting by clueless politicians requires academic triage, where do you think it is wisest to concentrate your efforts?

-Bill Barnes, Clarion University, October 6

Unfortunately, my answer is no. I try, but with advising caseloads of 800+ students, there is no way to be equal. I get 'em in, get 'em out while trying to develop relationships. I meet what needs I can and am able to meet with the memory I have. I attempt to provide a means that will accommodate the end. And unfortunately, often, the “squeaky wheel does get the grease.”

-Kara E. Lattimer, Virginia Tech, October 21

I believe in equal treatment for all students and openly invite my students to come to me for academic advice. When I started my academic career, I felt that college students were adults and should not be “summoned” when I noted they were having academic difficulties. However, I have found that some failing students would never come for assistance if I did not personally invite them. Consequently, students who are having problems receive the extra (unequal) assistance they need because they make the time to come for the extra help.

-Danette Wood, Georgia Southern University School of Nursing, October 30

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