Taking advice from advisors

  1. 3
    this may not be a very popular thread, but it involves something that has been bothering me for a few weeks now. it is my hope that maybe it'll change the way some students may feel, and help them if they are (or ever will be) in this position.

    as a faculty member, i am also an academic advisor. it seems that advisement is not as big of a role as it should be in our school, because many students do not seek advice. it is not been mandatory, and each faculty member has different beliefs about the process (forcing students to come in and talk to us). i do, however, do a lot of informal advisement (as a theory and clinical instructor, and often to those who are not my assigned advisees).

    i can't say for sure why students do not come to advisement. maybe they feel they don't need it (if they are doing well in their classes), some do not want to face their advisor and admit they are not doing well, and might be of the belief that they will pull themselves out of the hole they are in. and this one i know to be true: some students are not comfortable with their assigned advisor (some have told me this, and have informally sought advice from others, like me).

    but the thing that has been bothering me is when students are not doing well, and vow to stick with it, despite the things that are going on in their lives, and then fail. many are outright offended at the mere suggestion of withdrawing from the class, or even taking a leave of absence. it doesn't cross their mind that maybe, just maybe, we don't want you to fail, and are suggesting alternatives to it. it is often perceived as "she is telling me to give up". this semester, the themes i heard were "i can do it, i know i can", and "i was just going through a rough time that week (or month), or "i just didn't study for that last test because i had (fill in the blank) the night before. and from almost all of these students, there was something else going on: illness, family member (either parent or child), job stress, or just a general "taking on more than i can handle".

    please do not misunderstand me: i am well aware of the issues that adult students face. i was one myself during my grad school, and i too had 'issues' i needed to overcome. so what did i do? i took less credits than i was planning on each semester, i went to my professor (it took a lot for me to do that), and took an incomplete on a course... twice. the first semester i tool the "i", my prof asked me if i had sought help. she put the ownness on me. she guided me in the right direction (the student assistance program), and i took advantage of the school's services. i eventually completed the course, and ended up graduating a semester later than i had hoped to.

    being that my degree was in nursing ed, and knew i would face this issue (being on the other side of it), the experience taught me some valuable lessons:

    • i was not invincible,
    • i was not just going to pass,
    • i had too much going on in my life that was standing in my way of succeeding
    • i could not devote 100% of time and effort into my studies at the time
    • that being in school another 6 months out of my life would not make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things.

    i also realized that my professor was not just going to pass me because i did the right thing by going to her, and because she felt bad for me. i still had to work for my grade. and i feel like with some students, there is this sense of entitlement: "she is a single mom, she is pregnant, he works full time and has three kids and a wife to support, her mother just died". i apologize if this comes across as heartless, but the point i am triyng to make is that things happen for a reason. and if you happen to get through the semester withe a barely passing grade, is that enough for you?

    also, one more thing. if an adivsor or an instructor says to you "you can do it", it doesn't mean you can go back and use that as the reason you chose not to withdraw. that expression is often used as a term of encouragement. it is not a promise, or a crystal ball reading. i have learned to be care very careful with my words
    hikernurse, llg, and domal02 like this.

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  2. 12 Comments...

  3. 0
    Also, in this day and age, it's all about being self sufficient. You can't be self sufficient if you are going to an advisor and asking for help. There is this mentality of I can and need to do this on my own...without help from anyone. It's not shameful to ask for help or seek advise.
    I don't have any extenuating circumstances and we are only forced to talk to an advisor if we fail a test but I did seek an advisors help over a math problem that I just could not get for some reason...I have 2 nursing math books and they just did not have these problems (mcg/kg/day) in them. So I did ask for help, she helped, and I'm grateful for her.
    Advisors are another wonderful nursing student tool!
  4. 0
    Great post, nurse educate. I have seen the same things myself, many times -- often here on allnurses. We experienced nurses will advise people to take a little time off or move forward as a slower pace and some react as if we had just insulted them terribly. The interpret it as meaning that we think they are worthless and NEVER going to be able to succeed.

    I sometimes wonder if that reaction is due to having little experience in the world and rarely having to deal with any negative feedback before -- even kind and constructive negative feedback. Are they products of a culture that never said "No, not now" to them before? Have they never had to overcome adversity before? etc.

    In fact, a lot of us have been through hard times in our lives and have learned through experience that it is often wise to reduce our stress and give ourselves a better chance to succeed by stepping back for a while or slowing our pace a little. That's not the same as "quitting" or "giving up." It's stepping back, reassessing, and doing the necessary preparations that will enable us to succeed next time.

    I hope people read you post and take it to heart.
  5. 0
    The first time I was in school I was very young. I started taking courses at 15 at our local CC and graduated from there when I was 18 shortly after highschool. At one point I was taking 14 credit hours at the college, still taking two courses at my highschool, working a full time 3-11 job and living on my own all at the age of 18! I was stressed to the max and def had a sense of "I have to do it on my own" and at that time was resigned to just taking my C and calling it good.

    Going back to school now almost 10 years later some of those C's (and one wretched F I took instead of w/d-ing) are coming back to bite me in the tush. I've leared in the last 10 years that asking for help DOESN'T make you a weak person and admitting you have too much going on to handle it all is okay! I'm doing so much better in school this time around (4.0 actually) and have no problem taking advince and asking for help this time around.

    As parents, I think we need to make sure to tell our children that despite how they feel they are NOT invincible and it is OKAY to admit you need help!
  6. 2
    I meant to say that ITA on the "sense of entitlement" some (not all) people seem to have (and I include people my own age in that statement as well - I'm 26). The sheer # of people in my A&P class that thought they should be catered to because they have children or other responsibilities amazed me. I work FT and have a family and those are MY choices/responsibilities not those of the instructor, school, or other students.
    Last edit by peytonsmom on Jun 4, '09 : Reason: clarity
    Chapis and ProfRN4 like this.
  7. 0
    At my school all first year students have to see an advisor. Then the student makes the desicion to either self register ar keep seeing the advisor. I do self register but anytime I need help I e-mail my advisor. She is the best. She gives me wonderful advice! To all the advisors out there- Thank YOU!!!
  8. 0
    At my school, my advisor always calls to find out if I have issues. She is a sweet lady. I trust my advisor and would tell her about my life but I do not trust nursing instructors because sometimes they pretend to be sympathetic then turn around and try to weed the student out of the program. My advisor is super. She knows when I am happy or when I am sad. I genuinely love and respect my advisor. "Advisor, I know you visit allnurses sometimes, just remember that I love you and you are the only one in the school with whom I discuss my concerns. Love you lady!"
  9. 0
    What an awesome post! I hope every student on these boards finds it and reads it.
  10. 0
    Quote from goodnursingstudent

    I trust my advisor and would tell her about my life but I do not trust nursing instructors because sometimes they pretend to be sympathetic then turn around and try to weed the student out of the program.
    I guess your advisors are not faculty members then. Or not even nurses? Interesting.

    I also guess if you were my advisee you wouldn't trust me then? You know, sometimes they are not pretending to be sympathetic, and trying to weed the student out of the program. Hence, the whole point of this thread.
  11. 0
    Very interesting thread. I have to say, that I haven't really taken advantage of my adviser....just because I'm not really sure what I'd ask them for advice on.

    In the past, I generally went to advisers to help plan my course selection, but in nursing school I don't have much choice about course selection (we don't have a part time option, each cohort goes through each class together) at the most it's a decision between what day I want to have clinical on. Most of my non-nursing classes are finished with the exception of my upper level electives and since I'm getting a minor as well, those classes are pretty much chosen as well. I'm doing well grade-wise in my nursing classes, so I haven't felt the need to have a conversation about my progress.....but I think I would start with the course instructor if I had a concern there.

    I talk to my profs all the time about questions in class, or a clarification of an assignment....but not with my adviser.


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