Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why online education isn't successful without strong academic advising

Our students often tell us how their academic advisors made a great impact on their education at Post University. We often hear students talk about how their advisors were a crucial part of their support systems, and mentored them through their educational journeys.

Students in Post University's Online Education Institute have especially told us how important their academic advisor was to their success in college and their careers. Since these students aren't on campus physically, their academic advisors become a strong link to our faculty and staff, and help ensure they are on the right track to reach their academic goals, graduate, and succeed in their careers.

From an industry perspective, academic advising is also a key reason why online programs at universities and colleges are better structured to meets students' needs. They also result in stronger learning outcomes than massive open online courses (MOOCs), which typically have zero academic support services.

We wanted to share a few testimonials from our online students, current and recently graduated, to show some of the things we're hearing about the importance of academic advising in online education.

These are verbatim letters that either I or my fellow academic advising team members have received from our students.

Amy Stevens, Post University
online child studies student
Amy Stevens
Online degree programs: A.S. in Early Childhood Education; B.S. in Child Studies

Choosing an online learning experience was a frightful endeavor. Many people I associate with make jokes about online schools, and the individuals who "try to get in." I made it a point to become involved in a brick and mortar school to establish a more meaningful degree, albeit online.

My fears were put immediately to rest at the start of my online journey when I spoke with my advisor, Marie Russell. I commend Ms. Russell for guiding me on a pathway of higher academic achievement in my beloved interest area and profession, Early Childhood Education. Unbeknownst to me at the beginning, Ms. Russell has a rich background in education both hands on and administrative. After I completed my Associates degree, under Ms. Russell's guidance, I did explore other online college options. I found that her knowledge and experience was superior to other assistance offered to me. Therefore, I chose Post University to continue my studies based on additionally, her stellar communication and valuable customer service.

Marie Russell, Post University
Academic Advisor
Ms. Russell has not only helped me balance my personal time schedule for my online learning (as I work outside the home 50 hours per week), but has also listened (a most important quality) and helped me integrate previous credits earned, making a seamless and quick plan towards to my educational goal.

I often wonder how I can possibly feel that I have a professional relationship with someone I have never met. My employment industry gives me the opportunity to do so with my work hours. I have had the recent and enormous pleasure to meet one of my Professors, Dr. Farquharson at a national conference. The Dr. was chosen by NAEYC to offer current research in my area of learning and professionalism. This validates that Post University is a significant and worthwhile institution to study.

I hope to attend my graduation next year, or just visit the campus one day and meet Marie Russell. She has my great gratitude and I wish her well as she deserves all the best that she does for others.

Amy Stevens

Paul Sullivan, Post University
MBA graduate
Paul Sullivan
Online degree program: MBA, 2012

My Name is Paul Sullivan. I am a licensed practicing pharmacist within the State of Connecticut. I began the inception of my college education at Post University (formerly known as Teikyo Post) in 1990, when I entered in the bachelor's program. Subsequently I graduated with my B.A in general studies in 1994 with the help and guidance of a plethora of talented individuals from all levels of this prestigious University. I then continued my education and received by Doctorate of Pharmacy degree in 2000 from Shenandoah University. However, I felt there was a missing piece to the puzzle which ultimately turned out to be my Masters of Business (MBA) from Post University.

Stephanie Staffey, Director
of Advising for Post University
I began the online MBA program in 2008 and subsequently graduated with my degree in May of this year (2012). The four years I spent in this program were challenging, rewarding and applicable to all levels of my profession career. However, this would not have been possible without the prudent approach and guidance of individuals such as Stephanie Staffey, who was my both my mentor and advisor for the past 4 years. Stephanie not only helped map out my course work, but also was readily available to answer any important questions that needed immediate attention. She gave me that much needed assurance at the beginning of the MBA program which she continued for my entire 4 year journey. I can't speak enough regarding the benefits of this degree. I learned all aspects of business from finances to the components of successful project management.

This MBA degree gave the much needed confidence to pursue both management and directorship opportunities throughout the nation. I would like to thank Stephanie Staffey and the entire Post University administration and staff on all levels for making this chapter of my life so rewarding. Thank you very much.

Paul Sullivan, PharmD, MBA

Daniel Wilkinson, Post University online
computer information systems graduate
Daniel Wilkinson
Online degree program: B.S. in computer information systems, 2011

To Ms. Stephanie Staffey,

To shine light on my background, my academic career has spanned many years over multiple institutions. I attended a community college part-time for 10 years, and another university briefly before attending Post University. I have since graduated from Post University Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in CIS this December of 2011. Simultaneously, I completed two certificate programs at Stanford University and worked full-time for the Naval Postgraduate School (a university in California) under the Department of Defense. During my academic career and at work I have experienced all types of personalities in the academic field. None of them stand out in my mind as much as Emily has. I consider myself very fortunate to have been one of Emily Cole advisees since June of 2010 at Post University.

Emily Cole, Post University
Academic Advisor
Emily has always displayed the highest standards of professionalism throughout my time at Post University. She is a sincere, patient and effective communicator. During the time I've known her she's always made me feel that I mattered and advised me through some very challenging periods in my academic career. She has reached across borders to get answers and find solutions, when in the past others haven't. Her talents, versatility and problem solving abilities know no bounds. She has displayed an unsurpassed level of dedication to the success of her students and Post University as a whole.

These qualities are exceptionally rare in my experiences with academic advisors and most universities. It is because of this that I have recommended Post University to some of my colleagues and friends considering returning back to school. Above all, it is my intent to acknowledge her for her contributions that have led to my successes. She deserves to be rewarded and acknowledged for those contributions. It is my hope, that this will be saved on file for any future promotions she may attempt. Emily Cole is an asset to Post University and any company should be honored to have her as an employee.

Thank You,
Daniel Wilkinson

What's your experience been like with academic advising? What role do you think academic advising should play in online education?