U-CLaSS: Advice from traditional and career advisors (Oct 2020)

October 2020’s U-CLaSS (Undergraduate Chat, Learn, and Share Space) featured traditional advisors and career advisors sharing student thoughts.

See below for thoughts from Career Advisors and Traditional Advisors.


Ever wonder what Career Advisors across campus wish you would tell your students? Ever wonder what our students tell them? Read on!

  • Top of the list: Please tell your students about Career Advising Services! Add information about Career Advising to your syllabus, including a link to our services, or make an announcement in class. Advising is more about the process rather than specific career facts. Ideally, Career Advisors would like to see students earlier in the process than they currently arrive at their offices.
  • Check what your students might be thinking of doing in their future careers, stay aware of the landscape in your field, and be aware of hiring trends. Talk with your students about job opportunities outside academia. Help students to realize that there is always more than one path toward a career.
  • Ask your students to reflect on how their coursework connects to their own life and future career.
  • Keep in mind that you may be the only “grown up” that these students can talk to about paths toward a career. Students are surrounded mostly by other students, some students may be the first student in their family to attend college, or they may not be comfortable talking to family members about a potential career.
  • If possible, connect your students to others in the field who can advise them on future careers, including potential employers. Alumni are often willing to share their stories and advice. Or introduce your students to relevant networks and encourage them to explore on their own.
  • Make sure you are accessible to students via different communication routes. Some students are more comfortable using email to discuss career information, others may prefer stopping in during an office hour, and some students may be comfortable approaching you before or after class.
  • If your course has ties to an industry, career, or specific accreditation, connect your learning outcomes directly to those real-world options.

What students tell Career Advisors:

  • Students want instructors to tell them about their own career paths. How did we end up in our current job here on campus? Sharing our stories helps students learn that many of us took more of a winding road to get to where we are today than they might have thought.
  • Students want to know how their work in our courses applies to the real world. This is especially true of courses in their major, but it is also true for even the electives they take. Students often do not understand the value of what they do in the classroom and need us to help them translate those skills and knowledge to what they do in the real world.

Regarding graduate school:

  • Admission guidelines are often not clear to students. Students are often confused about the different paths for graduate school, specifically the difference between a career masters and an academic program.
  • Career Services advisors can help students explore graduate options and programs.


What students have told advisors about their experiences with instructors:

  • Courses taught by multiple instructors can be challenging. This is the case whether the course is one class taught by multiple instructors one after the other, courses where the instructors rotate back and forth, or a class with multiple sections that are taught by different instructors. Students would like us to try to be as consistent as possible in these situations. Adapting to different styles and policies makes it harder for students to focus on course content.
  • Students need prompt feedback so that they know how they are doing in a course. (Check out “If you could tell your instructors anything, what would it be?” on the U-CLaSS page.)
  • Students are not comfortable with grading on a curve. Don’t know what a test score means  when they earn 40’s on the exams and then end up with an AB. (Check out “Grading on a Curve” on the U-CLaSS page.)
  • Students stress that it is very helpful if they feel the instructor is approachable. Instructors could provide suggestions for how they prefer to interact with students. (Check out “If you could tell your instructors anything, what would it be?” on the U-CLaSS page.)
  • Students want course content that is relevant to their future careers or the real world. (Check out “If you could tell your instructors anything, what would it be?” on the U-CLaSS page.)
  • Not all instructors have office hours, but all should. Instructors should be clear about their expectations for office hours, and sometimes too many students are in line for limited office hours. (Check out “From Office Hours to Student Hours?” on the U-CLaSS page.)
  • Students want to be seen as a unique individual, not seen as part of group based on campus activity, race, gender and so forth. Don’t assume they will behave a certain way because they are an athlete etc.
  • It is helpful for instructors to know where to refer students for mental or other health issues and concerns. Instructors should also be aware of how to support students who are having difficulties. Instructors should be familiar with the Dean of Students Office (including the student of concern report), McBurney Disability Resource Center, University Health Services, among others.
  • Learning beyond lecture! Students would like a variety of learning experiences, even in their large lecture courses, that would speak to different learning styles.
  • Students want instructors to share more information about themselves, including their struggles and experiences when they were in college.
  • Students need instructors to provide flexibility/time for students to complete group work. Today’s student may be working many hours so finding time to collaborate with group members can be a challenge.
  • Students would prefer a midterm evaluation to an end of semester evaluation. Students would rather share input when it might impact the current semester that they are in the class.

What advisors would like to tell us:

  • Part of college is learning to engage in challenging tasks and communication issues. Students learn from engaging with different instructional styles, class structures, and activities. The goal should not be to make all instructional experiences more uniform, but to make sure instructors provide their content being mindful of what students have told the advisors about what they need in order to learn, regardless of teaching style or content.
  • Advisors feel very strongly that all instructors across campus should be more involved in exploring and addressing, and attending professional development opportunities related to, inclusivity and diversity.
  • Advisors would encourage us to focus on how to make learning and experience that sticks with the student rather than a score to achieve and a class to check off the list.
  • Advisors question learning on a curve as well. Advisors agree with their students. Consistently low scores across students on an exam mean that the test didn’t match what was covered in the course or the material wasn’t taught well, or the exam wasn’t written properly, or the student didn’t have a chance to actually apply what they needed to know before taking the exam.