After three years of being a student advisor, there are many areas I love and aspects I'd like to see improved. This is not to bash the Student Advising program, but to give some insight to potential advisors on what to expect. Student advising has been an integral part of my student leadership experience at Meredith and I wouldn’t change it for the world. That being said, let's cover a few pros and cons of the program.
Meaningful connections are the first positive I have witnessed from being a student adviser. My faculty advisor during my first year of the program has become an indelible resource to me as I have advanced through college. Additionally, several of my past advisees are thriving in college and still check in with me frequently. It is awesome to see your advisees grow during their time at Meredith.
Lifelong friendships are also a benefit of being an SA. Whether it be through a connection with an advising student or as an adviser themselves, most of my closest friends were made through the student advising program. Two of my best friends were made through long days of training and connections I made through fellow advisers. Without student advising, one of my best friends and I may have never met.
Opportunities to learn about yourself as a leader are my final notable positive of Student Advising. When I came to Meredith, I knew about the mantra “Going Strong.” But it never made sense to me until I joined the program. When you start the Student Advising program, they often stress to you the importance of your role as students’ first connection and friend at Meredith. Through my time as an adviser, I’ve learned how to harness my top strengths to better others’ experiences as well as my own. None of this would have been possible without the hard work that Chrissie Bumgardner and the Student Adviser Leadership Team do to ensure that student advisers get the training they need.
Despite the fact that student advising has some great positives, there are some big negative aspects that are worth discussing.
Long trainings are a major part of the student advising process. Training days start early and end very late. During orientation, move in day is an entire 10+ hour experience from start to finish for student advisers. Students with jobs are expected to take time off work for meetings during the year and training over the summer, including the week of orientation. It is a huge deal to ask someone to take a hit on their paycheck with no promise of compensation.
Imposter syndrome is a major part of student advising. Whether it be through self doubt when you don’t have the resources an advisee needs or when your hard work and actions aren’t recognized during advising awards, this job is not for those who seek constant recognition or believe that every good deed immediately deserves compensation. There are over 60 Advisers in the program each year and the recognition of our work for the campus often comes as group recognition instead of individual recognition. This is not a job for people who require constant reassurance; the reward for your efforts is seeing your advisees succeed.
Expectations for student advising are different from reality. When I first started advising, I expected to become friends with every advisee and to gain insight into the college experience by assisting others. That was not the case at all. My first year, all of the advising was done online and several of my advisees wanted next to nothing to do with me beyond orientation week. It can be difficult to make the necessary connections at times, and you may need to seek assistance in connecting with your advisees.
Additionally, student advisers are expected to plan and pay for Connection activities out of pocket. But at the same time, Advisers are expected to plan the best and most engaging activities, which often means incurring personal costs. The position being a volunteer position means that several expenses are left on the student advisers to shell out cash on their own dime. The flowers freshmen receive at orientation are an out of pocket expense that advisers are told are “optional,” but we don’t want our group to be left out. The only time advisors are reimbursed is for the Advisee gifts, which only allows $2 per advisee.
I am hopeful that sharing my experiences will make it easier for those applying to make the decision that is right for them.
By Rachel Van Horne, Senior Associate Editor