Colgate Adopts New Integrated Advising System to Strengthen Student Support

Administrators and faculty met on Friday, April 15 to discuss possible changes to the current advising system. Associate Dean of the Faculty for International Initiatives Nicole Simpson and Director of Operations Ellen Holm proposed a model called “Integrated Advising,” which is supposed to streamline communication between students and members of their support network – advisors, professors, deans, coaches, etc.    

According to Simpson, issues with the current system include the disorganized combination of networks such as DegreeWorks, Moodle, the Colgate Portal and Gmail. In addition, these programs provide professors and advisors with barely any record of student success, and often, a student’s support network is not provided with any real information about the student until a moment of crisis.  

“We know very little [about the students],” Simpson said. “We’ve gotten to know a little bit more with DegreeWorks. Now we see the courses they’ve taken and the grades they’ve received…but other than that, we don’t know too much about [the students], at least at our fingertips.”

After various workshops, inspiration from the types of systems that large, research institutions use and input from various faculty members, Simpson and Holm have narrowed Colgate’s options to two potential programs at the presentation – AdviseStream and the Education Advisory Board’s (EAB) Student Success Collaborative.

“Ideally, we’re going to have something in place that students and faculty can interact with, and staff across various offices can use to pull various information, depending on their permissions and what they have access to,” Simpson said.

Pre-Health students at Colgate are already using AdviseStream, a student-oriented program that integrates a calendar with a goal-tracking feature, as well as tools to record extracurricular activities and improve the course selection process. However, many faculty members at the presentation disliked the pre-professional nature of AdviseStream, and instead preferred the more flexible and administration-focused EAB.

EAB would act as a “one-stop shop” for student and administrative needs, according to Simpson. Some possible features include notes of faculty and advisor interactions with students, appointment scheduling, organization of student data and extensive analytics. These analytics could be used to design Colgate’s course schedules and evaluate grade patterns in certain courses and majors.   

Yet, the transition from Colgate’s current system to a new one may bring many challenges, particularly in regard to privacy and monitoring. Some faculty members were concerned about a “Big Brother” element of the new integrated system, such as questions as to who would have access to what information.  

“As a student, part of it is handling your own responsibilities,” first-year Will Pitkin said. “I just don’t want to feel like anyone’s breathing over my shoulder or constantly checking in on me.”

One of the main reasons that the administration is pursuing an integrated advising system is to give the students’ support network a clearer picture of the student as a whole.

“I think it’s a really valuable idea because it would help the faculty connect with students more, and help them get a better understanding of who each student is as a person,” first-year Michael Bingaman said.

Simpson said during the presentation that if the faculty and administration can agree on a course of action, the administration hopes to begin implementing a new system within the year.