Academic Advising: The Volunteer Experience is a new university-wide advising model that integrates academic and career advising with self-development and experience learning. During the 2015 – 2016 academic year, the University engaged in an extensive review of its strategic plan, VolVision. Through the process of soliciting feedback from students, faculty and staff, it became apparent that academic advising was perceived as being central to student success and persistence to graduation. Improvements in advising programs had been implemented under the VolVision plan but it was obvious from assessment and student/staff/faculty focus groups that gaps persisted in the consistency of advising programs across the University. Believing that advising is critical to achieving the undergraduate goals of the university, the Provost charged the Associate Provost for Student Success and the Directors of Advising from the nine colleges to develop an advising strategic plan that not just improved advising but would transform advising at the institution.
The new model consists of four major components: Self Exploration, Career Exploration, Experience Learning and Academic Planning. Central to the model is the design of a common experience for all students. The common experience will be achieved by assigning all students a professional advisor for their entire UT career and engaging students early in exploring majors and careers and with their chosen discipline. Support for the model includes consistent student-to-advisor ratios, a new unit to support students in transition between colleges, focused retention strategies and increased advisor effectiveness through improved technology, reporting, processes, advisor development and assessment.