An Atmosphere of Success: A Look at the College of Business Advising Team
"People aren't a success at things they hate," says Collette Niland, associate director of advising and registration in the Emerson Cammack Office of Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Business. Perhaps it is the passion the advising team brings to their jobs that has made the staff so successful. The proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding: the University of Illinois College of Business is well known for producing business leaders. Many recent graduates can attribute their success to Niland and her associates.
The College of Business staff has been growing rapidly in recent years and now has four full-time professional advisors (one position is vacant) as well as assistant deans for recruiting, advising, and the new Honors Program. The office has also adopted a new perspective, shifting from prescriptive to developmental advising. Niland and the advisors view advising as a form of teaching The new focus is on helping students become purposeful decision makers in determining what they want in life. This decision making includes not only academic and professional career choices, but social and personal choices as well. The advising office utilizes a number of resources to reach students. Among them are the office website, weekly email updates, printed information sheets, special events, and the Career Services Center.
In general, the College encourages students to seek learning experiences both in and outside of the classroom. Advisors in the office are the best resource for students to learn about some of the educational and experiential opportunities provided by the College. Advisors direct undergraduates, for example, to student organizations, leadership opportunities, internships, and study abroad programs.
Advising Desk Secretary
The advising office is developing programs to draw the attention of potential students. Each year in March the advisors hosts the "Business Experience," a mini-class designed to introduce freshmen and sophomore to the College. In the testing stage is the "Smart Analyzer" that helps students plan their first semester program utilizing various data such as ACT scores, advanced placement credits, International Baccalaureate, A-Levels, and whether they have completed their foreign language requirement.
Also in development is a buddy program where upper classmen are paired with incoming students to help them adjustment to the College and to campus life. It is also an opportunity to foster a feeling of community. Feedback from upperclassmen willing to participate has been positive. Many realize it is a chance for leadership and mentoring experience as well as a chance to connect to peers.
In light of the Enron scandals, Niland says the College has been working to teach students that in the business sphere they have a moral obligation to act honorably with regard to their employers and their customers.
Niland and her colleagues are the core of the Undergraduate Affairs Office, focusing on academic and personal advice and counsel for College of Business students. The philosophy that she not only preaches, but practices: "If you find a job you love, you'll never work."