January 16, 2017
We all have that go-to person. The person we approach for advice, the person who is understanding and listens, the person who is encouraging and supporting. Say hello to that person (or people) for PathwayConnect students — the Pathway Advising team.
With the student as their highest priority, the advising team puts much effort into having a personal tone with every student they speak to — and in so doing, transforms into much more than a phone call, an item in the Student Update, or a faint “good idea” in the back of your head.
A Little Background
Represented in the Pathway Advising team are individuals from more than 15 different countries, most of which answer calls from the same area where they were born. Take Kenia Smith, for example. She grew up in Mexico and is now responsible for meeting the advising needs of all PathwayConnect students in Mexico.
Kenia, like many Pathway advisors, learned English as a second language. While in elementary school, half of her daily classes were focused on reading, writing, and speaking English. But when her family moved to Northern Mexico, her English education was put on hold. When she was 18 years old, she moved to the United States for university. That, coupled with much hard work, helped her become fluent. Because of her background, Kenia, like many other student advisors, personally understands the challenges that many students overcome on a daily basis.
Though sometimes confused with Pathway’s Student Support, Pathway Advising has a different purpose all together. Student Support focuses on assisting students with basic PathwayConnect functions, such as questions about the program, how to apply, pay tuition, and general information. Pathway Advising focuses on helping students interested in joining BYU-Idaho Online, providing support, actively reaching out to students worldwide, and advising on other after-PathwayConnect options.
Pathway and BYU-Idaho Online Advising Manager, Steve Thomas, shares the goal of Pathway advising: “We have two main objectives — to make sure the students are successful while they are in PathwayConnect, and as they exit PathwayConnect.”
Prepared and Ready
In the midst of enrollment, PathwayConnect students are led to a new and helpful tool called the “Advising Profile,” which is a series of questions specially formulated to aid in the advising process. With the questions broken down into three subjects — personal information, educational history, and after-Pathway plans — advisors are able to pinpoint the goals and challenges of each student they advise.
Megan Dibble, a student advisor over the southwest United States, said, “The advising profile helps us know who the students are, their background, and their goals for the future. With this information, we make a plan with them that will allow them to accomplish their goals.”
Questions such as: What are your plans after PathwayConnect?, Are you a first generation university student?, Are you employed?, and What following challenges apply to you? give advisors a helpful glimpse into the students lives and what support and advice they will need to provide.
Once completed, students are allowed to update their profile with any new changes that occur throughout their time in PathwayConnect. With current information, advisor and student work together to ensure that the students’ goals aren’t only in reach, but accomplished. By creating action plans, hope becomes visible and success becomes tangible.
While trained to provide assistance and guidance with education, the advisors also understand the humanistic side of dealing with and figuring out what’s next.
“It’s good that the student advisors show the Pathway students their options and programs offered,” said Steve, “but what is better is that they give them hope and faith. Yes, we are going to tell students how everything works. Yes, we are going to tell students how to apply to BYU-Idaho Online. But we are going to be with them the entire time. This whole thing is for the students to reach their goal, for them to have some type of vision and focus, and for them to realize that they are not alone.”
Melissa Ratliff, a student advisor from Colombia, said, “I was talking to a man from my home country, and I was able to see where he lived. Because I know the country, I knew right away that he was two hours from the PathwayConnect site and that it must be very hard for him.” Because of the cost and time it took to travel to the weekly gatherings, the man was about to withdraw from PathwayConnect when he received a call from Melissa.
“I was able to give him the support and encouragement to stay in the program,” Melissa goes on. “I would call back regularly, just to see how he was doing. When the semester was over, he thanked me for the support to finish. He is now in his third semester and doing great! I am still his advisor and talk to him often.”
Israel Silva, a student advisor from Curitiba, Brazil, said, “I feel happy when I talk with the students, and my testimony increases when I am able to hear what PathwayConnect is able to do for them. The more students I talk to, the better I am able to understand what they are going through, and that makes me want to help them the best that I can.”
Friends with Direction
When a PathwayConnect student is interested in getting in touch with a student advisor, an email is sent, including a time that they would be able to converse, and an appointment is made. The advisors then call, email, or Skype the student, at the time mentioned, to discuss the goals and opportunities that lay ahead.
Blessed with a multitude of resources, PathwayConnect advising is for every student as they pursue higher education. With the insights of the the Advising Profile, experienced and caring advisors, knowledge, options, and guidance, Pathway advising raises the bar and provides the student with hope, a renewed vision of excellence, and a supportive friend.
Pathway Advising can help students discover their pathway today! By checking the student to-do list and filling out the “Advising Profile,” students are ready to set up an appointment with an advisor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the After Pathway help page for more information about options once students finish PathwayConnect.