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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Academic advisors offer insights into their responsibilities

Academic advisors are some of the first faces students will see as their university careers begin and often among the last people students meet with before graduation. Advisors perform a vital role in the academic lives of Aggies, but they also provide advice and support in all areas of student life.

 

Advisors are located in academic departments or colleges and, among their many responsibilities, often help students with scheduling courses, completing their degree planners, and finding the best career options.

 

Ann Pool, academic advisor at the department of entomology, explained the wide scope of an advisor’s role in student life.

 

“Not only do we tell students you need to take these courses to take this degree, but we also fill in a role as mom or dad sometimes,” Pool said. “We fill in the role of bouncing ideas off of us, so we’re involved in a lot of ways and I try to develop a relationship with them.”

 

Pool’s passion for advising led her to serve as 2016-2017 president of the University Advisors and Counselors, a professional advising organization on campus.

 

“I was encouraged to be the president and nobody ran against me so I kind of fell into it, but there’s something about giving back to your profession and there’s something about wanting to make a place better than the way you found it,” Pool said. “It can be time-consuming but it’s fun and it’s very rewarding.”

 

For Suzanne Rosser, senior academic advisor at the college of geosciences, having parented three children before beginning her advising career proved to be a different kind of asset.

 

“When my kids grew older I did substitute teaching and I taught preschool, Sunday school,” Rosser said. “Kids and students have always been part of my life, so it’s been a good fit. I have three children and so working with them, dealing with them, knowing their issues it’s been really easy to be able to help out students because I’ve watched my children go through different things since they’ve gone through school.”

 

For Jaclyn Upshaw-Brown, senior academic advisor at the department of english, the best part of advising is the impact she can make in students’ lives.

 

“I think that education is a factor that really changes people’s lives and it’s also a really difficult time for a lot of students — a lot of adjustments, a lot of soul-searching and uncertainty,” Upshaw-Brown said. “Being able to support them and make sure that they have the resources they need to get through that successfully and have it be a positive experience is probably what keeps us coming in every day.”

 

However, Upshaw-Brown said it is difficult knowing how much to help a student since you get emotionally involved, and is one of many challenges as an advisor.

 

“The hardest part is that you get really emotionally invested in and sometimes students have situations that are just beyond their control and really not fair when it comes to illnesses and situations with family,” Upshaw-Brown said. “That can be very emotionally draining because you feel for the students so much and you want to help but there’s not a lot you can do.”

 

Kristy Kulhanek, academic advisor II at the Department of Communications, explained the difficulty of advising when bad news must be delivered.

 

“The hardest part is probably delivering bad news just because I’m a happy person and I don’t like giving bad news because as a person I understand that students are people and there’s a lot more that goes into education than going to class,” Kulhanek said. “It’s personal life, social life, all of that good stuff, so I empathize with them on that level but I still have to give them bad news.”

 

Kulhanek’s understanding of students’ struggles to balance their academic and extracurricular lives stems partially from her being a recent graduate of the communications school herself, which has proven to be an asset.

 

“It definitely makes it easier because students know that I understand where they’re coming from,” Kulhanek said. “I’m not just telling students, these are the classes that you have to take, whether or not you like it—I can say, oh, I took COMM 210 and it was wonderful and here’s why, I can give that first hand experience of what they’ll be learning.”

 

Jill Raupe, academic advisor II at the department of visualization, explained her favorite part of advising—the growth she witnesses in the students she advises.

 

“The best thing I like about it is working with students,” Raupe said. “So you see them come in at 18 and they leave as 22 year olds and they grow and mature so it’s kind of like watching your children grow up. Having students say thank you to me—that means a lot. At graduation they’ll say thank you, you helped me manage the process of being a college student so I love that part.”

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