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Academic Advisor of the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) Stacy Dorsett

Academic Advisors Adapt to Virtual Advising During COVID-19

April 7, 2021


MACOMB, IL- Since COVID-19 began spreading in early 2020, academic advisors have changed the way they interact with students by transitioning from in-person advising, to virtual advising. Academic advisors have found new ways to continue to meet students' needs during the pandemic.

Academic Advisor of the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) Stacy Dorsett, focuses on advising for students who are law enforcement and justice administration, health sciences and kinesiology majors. Dorsett said this transition started to be a challenge when advisors began working from home in March 2020. There were plenty of phone call appointments taking place at the time to communicate with students. However, Dorsett said her biggest concern was that she was not able to present degree plans to students and struggled to give the students visuals.

Assistant Dean for Education Preparation and Continuous Improvement of COEHS Gregory Montalvo, recognized the advisors needed technology upgrades to allow them to work from home or on campus. The upgrades included new laptops with software to help advisors present students’ information from a safe distance. To further support this work, the Registrar worked with advisors to convert WIU's audit in requirements for degree reports (WARD) to an electronic format. The conversion was completed by Administrative Information Management Systems (AIMS).

WIU Interim Provost William Clow approved the upgrades and the technology was implemented as soon as possible. The COEHS was the first group of advisors to use the new system. Due to its success, other advisors are now being added, having the ability to do Zoom meetings, Google Meets and phone calls.

During COVID-19, Dorsett finds presenting WARD reports the most helpful because she is able to go through it with students line-by-line to come up with a plan for classes for the next semester.

Dorsett said working in a virtual format has been comfortable for students because they are still able to meet their advisor and make sense of the information they are viewing. She is still able to cover all the same information that she would cover in person, doing virtual appointments, such as GPA calculations and discussing job opportunities. Also, all information discussed in the meeting gets shared with the student through email.

"In the beginning, it was nothing like an in-person appointment, but now with Zoom and Google Meets, presenting PDF Files and emailing information has got a lot easier. We are still able to do everything," she said.

Dorsett's advice to incoming freshman or transfer students during COVID-19, is to contact their advisor as soon as possible and feel comfortable asking questions.

"We are happy to sit down and have a discussion, even if it is not class-related we are more than willing to work with all students," said Dorsett. "Do not be afraid to talk to us, we are student advocates and can get students the right information."

Appointments to meet with an advisor are made through Calendy. To make an appointment, visit bit.ly/3fNV2Fd.

Posted By: Lissette Cavazos, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606