September 12, 2012
For many new students, Texas Tech University Advising (UA) is the first stop on the journey of their academic careers. What these students may not realize is that advisors take very literally the idea that an undergraduate education is a “career.”
“We are here to help students dig into what they want to study by considering who they are and what is available to them,” said Joshua Barron, unit associate director for University Advising & campus advising liaison. “Then we help them pursue their goals relentlessly and confidently while taking advantage of every resource that Texas Tech has to offer.”
While many students come to college knowing what they want to study and pursue as Red Raider alumni, many others need guidance and assistance in exploring the options that Texas Tech has to offer.
While declared students work with assigned departmental and college advisors to make the most of the options within a degree plan, UA’s Discovery! program assists students who are not yet confident in or qualified to declare their choice. The program helps students pinpoint what they want to study and enables them to make informed decisions about their academic careers. However, UA does not simply present these students with their options. Rather, advisors guide students through an exploratory process that may take up to three semesters.
“We are famous for asking students hard questions,” Barron said. “What are you pursuing? What is it going to take to get there? How’s that working for you so far? First, though, we offer tips and tools for practical things like building schedules and registering for courses. The next step is to help make students more aware of what is available. Most importantly, though, we prompt them to approach academics strategically.”
Texas Tech advisors use four criteria—values, interests, skills and abilities—to help students through the exploratory process. They use a variety of tools and techniques including the values and interest assessments provided by University Career Services. Students also are encouraged to undertake their own investigative process to discover if a certain career is right for them.
Texas Tech advisors use four criteria—values, interests, skills and abilities—to help students through the exploratory process.
“The Discovery! Action Plan is key,” Barron said. “Students need thoughtful and deliberate exploration outside of class time to confirm the academic choices they are making. In many cases Discovery! helps students confirm their declared major choice. When necessary, we help them to thoughtfully explore one of the other 149 majors available at Texas Tech.”
In addition to assisting undecided and uncertain undergraduate students, UA also assists undeclared students as they prepare for their next academic home, including the Rawls College of Business and the Whitacre College of Engineering. UA facilitates the PreLaw program for students pursuing an education in law school. According to Barron, UA also exists to help students answer any questions they might have about Texas Tech, or to point them to the appropriate contact.
Barron and his team of advisors see their role as ensuring every student achieves success at Texas Tech.
“We know that there are a lot of students that start college degrees across the country and never finish,” Barron said. “We find that a lot of students, especially looking back, don’t look at their schooling as a full-time job.”
Looking at school as a career is a common theme at UA. In fact, what many students do not realize is that the U.S. Department of Education expects students to spend two hours outside of the classroom for every one hour spent in class with a professor. For the average student taking 15 credit hours, that adds up to 45 total hours of school work during the week.
“What we are trying to help students see is that they are the CEOs of their own entrepreneurial companies,” Barron said. “The ‘business’ outcome of their academic effort is either a future filled with wild success, enjoyment and contentment, or academic bankruptcy.”
The advisors explain to new and returning students that success in their academic endeavors can be achieved through a real-world perspective.
The advisors explain to new and returning students that success in their academic endeavors can be achieved through a real-world perspective. If a student attends class and does school work between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the week, the total time spent on their education adds up to 45 hours. Evenings and weekends are then free for leisure. The payoff comes at the end of the semester, in the form of a high GPA.
“If we can engage with students and make them realize that the real world is here and happening right now, then we’ve done some good,” Barron said.
UA can help students in many areas of their undergraduate careers, but according to Barron, the advisors’ most important role is helping students to better understand themselves and fully embrace their opportunity for learning.
“In the world we live in, you have to know how to do all kinds of things,” Barron said. “Texas Tech and University Advising are teaching students to be lifelong learners and accomplished researchers, to value themselves and the people around them, and to discover that the more engaged they are with learning and scholarship, the more successful they are likely to be in every environment.”