Monday, July 30, 2012

Meet Our Academic Advisors

We’re only four days away from welcoming our largest group of first-year students!  On Friday, 24 new students will be driving up, unloading their vehicles, moving into their dorms, meeting with the Nursing and Business office staff and then getting introduced to their Academic Advisors.

The role of Academic Advisor at Shepherds College is a key one.  Students are assigned to an Academic Advisor after they enroll in their first year of college, and they stay with the same advisor for all three years of the program.

The advisor has an important part in the success of each student and, since we treat all our students as individuals with unique needs, their role might look different from student to student or group to group. An advisor might be dealing with a homesick student one day while another is working on helping a student find balance in her emotional disability. Another advisor could be counseling her group through personality clashes at the same time a different advisor is teaching her group how to comfort someone during grief. 

Even though the day to day “stuff” of advising might vary, each advisor has common responsibilities:
  • Every advisor is also a classroom instructor - proof of the “awesomely, other-worldly multitasker” title.
  • Here’s an obvious one: Each Academic Advisor provides academic advisement to their assigned group of students. This might involve creating a plan to help the student stay organized for each class, or talking through classroom expectations.
  • The advisors also serve as counselors for their students. There are a lot of new things happening in the students’ lives once college starts. The students aren’t expected to handle it without friendly guidance.
  • The advisors work with the students and other instructors to set achievable academic goals.
  • The advisors communicate regularly with the parents and serve as their first point of contact.
  • This one is so important: the advisors gain a complete understanding of the medical needs of each student and work with the nursing staff to ensure those needs are met.
  • The advisors maintain confidential files on each student.
  • I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes we might have behavioral issues among the students. The advisors work with the students to develop behavior plans. They communicate regularly with the residential life staff with regards to the behavioral issues and the plans that were implemented to solve them.
  • Each advisor also offers assistance to their students in the areas of finances, personal care and health management.
This isn’t the end of the list or of their responsibilities, but, unless you want to hear about all the evaluations and assessments they have to perform and meetings they’re required to attend, I’ll stop here and leave you with a personal observation of the Academic Advisors -

They are a tireless, dedicated, loving group of people who are determined to see their students grow toward Appropriate Independence™. They are the ones who come in early to prepare for lessons and stay late to talk with their students. They are the comforting voice on the other end of the phone when parents see “Shepherds College” on their caller IDs.  They are skilled at offering discipline and encouragement in the same sentence, and they’re usually the ones crying the hardest when it’s their students’ turn to walk up the aisle in cap and gown to ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’

I’d like to introduce these special women to you:

Laura Pollard
Top: Lori Konopasek
Bottom: Karli Luchterhand, Erin Luchterhand, Elyse Fye

Sarah Kolkman

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

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