District rolls out academic and career advising model in fall

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Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, says faculty advisers work closely with students when they use the academic and career advising model. Flores presented the model at the Academic Accountability and Student Success Committee meeting Tuesday in Killen. Rebecca Salinas

Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, says faculty advisers work closely with students when they use the academic and career advising model. Flores presented the model at the Academic Accountability and Student Success Committee meeting Tuesday in Killen. Rebecca Salinas

By Rebecca Salinas

rsalinas191@student.alamo.edu 

The academic and career advising model will keep students engaged with the college because the pathway to success will be personalized, Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, said.

The model was discussed during the Academic Accountability and Student Success Committee meeting Tuesday in Room 101 of Killen Center, 201 W. Sheridan.

According to the model’s mission statement, academic and career advising will help students explore their “academic and career pathways.”

“This involves all of us collectively as faculty and staff working together. This involves different units working together,” Flores said. “We’re leaving that silo approach; we’re moving to an integrative approach.”

He said the faculty adviser and the student will “establish a pathway” for the student to transition from college to career. He said faculty advising was introduced in December 2011 and employees started working on college specific plans in June. He said employee attendees at the Academic and Career Advising Institute in December developed the academic advising vision, mission and definition, as well as student learning outcomes for students with 0-30 hours.

Flores said the model will be deployed in May with training and is planned to be implemented for the fall semester.

He said there will be a syllabus, such as a course syllabus, required when advising.

“Why not have an academic advising syllabus for the students, that really talks about the relationship, the responsibilities of the advisee and the relationship of the specific adviser, or in some cases a counselor, and, in most cases, a faculty member,” he said. “What are we going to do? What is this all about? What is this arrangement all about?”

Flores said the process starts with connection between the student and adviser by having awareness of career institutes and what they offer. The next step is actual entry into college with orientation and student development. The third step is progress where the introduction and research on the transfer institute begin. The last step is completion with internships, graduation or placement.

“All of our goal is to get the student on the right path, to ensure that they have an internship, they have some sense of what they’d like to do, where’d they like to go,” he said.

The first level, or connection level, would provide the academic advising syllabus, assign an adviser, help with applications and registration, orient students with degree plans and identify major. The entry level would help students validate their chosen major by finding a degree plan and will offer help on advising and registering for the following semester.

The progress level would make faculty advise through a degree or certificate completion.

Flores said Dr. Adelina Silva, vice chancellor for student success, and Dr. Federico Zaragoza, vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, worked on the model.

“It really has been a collaborative effort with the intent that we would enhance our practice,” Flores said.

Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the model is not a traditional advising model, but it is a learning opportunity for students. “They’re going to be gaining part of their educational outcomes as a result of experiencing this model,” he said.

District 7 trustee Yvonne Katz said, “It’s that dimension that we’re not going to let you fail; we are going to have you succeed.”

She said this model would “flip” the traditional model because the traditional model rushes students to graduate. “It’s kind of like, over my dead body; you are going to succeed,” she said.

District 1 trustee Joe Alderete wanted to know if it is possible to track students after they leave the Alamo Colleges. He said if students leave the district without graduating and do find a better job, then the district should know about it.

“How can we capture that information so that we can utilize it, not only tracking the student through their success rate at the community college but tracking the benefit we provided them as a community college,” he said.

District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said students leaving college could have an “exit interview.”

Leslie said it is difficult because the district does not know when students will leave if they do not graduate. He said another problem is that students do not always know where they are going after graduation.

Leslie said when the district does find out the student left, such as a semester later, then they might not hear from them.

Rindfuss said a possibility could be that students fill out a questionnaire at the end of the semester and the student not get a grade unless they fill it out. He said the questionnaire could have professor and course evaluations as well as what the student is going to do in the future.

District 6 trustee Gene Sprague said the board could not invent a system that would catch every student’s plan, but the advising model is the closest system that could do that because the advisers are in constant contact with the student.

In other news, the committee unanimously approved the oil and gas technology associate of applied science degree at Palo Alto.

The degree has specializations in process technology and production technician at 60 credit hours, the Level 1 certificate at 18 credit hours and the career foundation core certificate at 30 credit hours.

According to the minute order, “The Oil and Gas Technology program will prepare students for technical careers in the support of the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas industry.” The program will provide training for students interested in petroleum and natural gas processing operations and production maintenance. Potential jobs include petroleum pump systems operators, refinery operators, gaugers, geological technicians and petroleum technicians. There are 51 projected jobs in the oil and gas market per year.

No other college in the district offers training for oil and gas occupations and the closest colleges that do offer training in the state are Brazosport College in Lake Jackson and College of the Mainland in Texas City.

The five-year projected net income is $75,312.

The minute order is expected to go to the full board at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Room 101 of Killen. For more information, visit alamo.edu/district/board.

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