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Advisor of the month: January 2018

Annie Laib, Advisor of the Month for January. Advising Matters at Virginia Tech

Annie Laib

School of Neuroscience, College of Science


What do you enjoy about your role in advising?
More than anything else, I enjoy the students that I work with. My students keep my job engaging and fulfilling because every student is unique and each situation is a bit different from the next. Whether it is discussing with a student how to formulate their career goals into actionable steps, helping a student find the resources to set themselves up for academic success, or providing a launching pad for discussion about how to engage in extracurricular or cocurricular experiences, each conversation makes my job rewarding.

In what ways have you contributed to advising in your department/area?
Since beginning my role with the School of Neuroscience, I have worked to improve assessment initiatives by creating a senior exit survey that that seeks to evaluate students' immediate career plans, involvement while in college, perceptions of learning outcomes, perceptions of teaching effectiveness, and perceptions of advising effectiveness. We will distribute this survey to graduating seniors this year and in subsequent years. I am in the process of creating a School of Neuroscience LinkedIn group that will be used to keep alumni engaged in the happenings of the School and engage current students with our alumni.

To foster engagement among our current students and create a welcoming community, I initiated a “Cookies, Candy, and Course Advising” event at the beginning of this year that served as a kickoff event for our advising office. We had over 30 students in attendance and used the event as an opportunity for students to meet one another, meet some of our faculty, and meet our advising staff.

To improve organization within the advising office, I am creating a more structured process for reviewing exceptions to departmental policy. I am currently working on a standardized “exception to policy” form that will provide written documentation of students’ requests for curricular amendments and the review committee’s decision. Finally, I am working with the other academic advisor in our unit to shift to a digital advising system rather than the paper-based system that was previously used. By digitizing appointment notes and relevant documents on EAB, other advisors will have access to these documents when necessary.

What advice would you give to other professionals who want to a make a difference in the life of their students?
Do not forget what it was like to be a student. As a student, the university can be a complicated place to navigate. Policies put in place to help students may seem like obstacles, faculty may beintimidating to approach, and resources may seem out of reach. As advisors, we owe it to our students to remember what it was like to be in their place. Only then can we take a truly relational approach to advising in which students will feel heard and understood. This need not be to the detriment of upholding institutional policies and procedures, but by managing students’ expectations and allowing a dialogue to occur, students will feel understood and develop a stronger sense of belongingness to the unit and to Virginia Tech as a whole.