Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education

Department

Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Whitney Webb

Third Advisor

John Holleman

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

In today's market for higher education, students are often viewed as consumers. Institutions rely on the revenue from these tuition-paying students as the primary form of funding. Additionally, institutions are accountable for their students retention and graduation rates, thus must ensure that students are able to efficiently progress from new freshmen to graduating seniors in a timely manner. Academic advisors are often the front-line campus professionals that interact with these students. Academic advisors are presented with the opportunity to offer academic support and guidance to students. This support is very important throughout a student's academic career, but no time is greater than during the first-year while students are trying to successfully transition from high school senior to college freshman. Advisors have the potential to impact both students' academic experience and satisfaction with the institution as a whole. This qualitative case study focused on first-year students who were undecided in their major while attending a high research activity institution in the Southeastern United States. The study explored the participants' expectations and experiences with academic advising throughout their first year of college. Five themes emerged from the data analysis: (a) High school advising experiences: A mixed bag; (b) No major, no problem. Or is it; (c) So many choices, so little time; (d) Learning to crawl before you walk; and (e) If only I would have known. College academic advising was well received by the participants in this study. From first-hand student accounts, participants articulately revealed how they made meaning of academic advising. Students acknowledged both good and bad experiences with high school advisors, they noted key people in their lives who helped them with academic decisions, and even addressed being an undecided student while in college. Participants went on to discuss their thoughts on college advising expectations and experiences from when they first entered the university to how they changed over time. Additionally, students were able to provide self-reflection and offer direct insight to help future first-year students and academic advisors and administrators. Findings from this study allowed for recommendations to be made for future practice, policy, and research.

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