by Susan Ohrablo (Valencia College)
Online students are at significant risk for attrition as they experience isolation and a sense of disconnect from the institution, as well as find themselves lacking resources and information. Advisors can greatly impact students’ perceptions of their online experience by providing ongoing support and information to students.
Advising online students can be challenging, however, as academic advisors are responsible for providing quality advising to students they may never meet, relying on phone and electronic communication as an alternative to face-to-face advising. Advisors who have traditionally worked with students in a face-to-face environment may experience frustration, dissatisfaction, and a lack of connection with the students with whom they work. Advisors run the risk of eliminating critical, comprehensive developmental advising strategies as they attempt to manage a seemingly unmanageable amount of emails and phone calls.
It's important for advisors to remember that online is not a type of student, rather, it is a mode of delivery for academic coursework.
Students study online for a variety of reasons, including geographical limitations, learning style, work, and personal commitments. The needs of these students are no different from those of any other students, although students in an online environment often perceive a sense of isolation, a lack of structure and support, and lack of information.
7 Strategies for Engaging Online Students
Here is how academic advisors can make a difference: