Academic Advising, Career Services and Social Distancing in a Global Pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has shifted higher education through uncharted waters in 2020, and many colleges and universities are working diligently to advise students through such a time. Social distancing has changed the way people interact physically, and higher education institutions are exploring new creative ways to better serve soon-to-be graduates. Urban Research institutions are uniquely equipped and have reacted rapidly to efficiently serve their students, mission, and community during such a time.

The mantra of “meeting the students where they are” has taken on such a greater effect within student services specifically, and as a result academic advisors are learning new technologies and virtual strategies to mitigate face to face interactions and continue to ensure student success. Giving up is not the first option that college students should think about during this global pandemic with increased access to strategizing for a viable career plan.

Virtual academic and career advising at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA were an option before the pandemic, and an even more popular recourse now. Georgia State has been electronically tracking a variety of student success indicators since 2012 and has performed over 8,000 advising meetings during the first 2 weeks of online courses, mostly as a result of the pandemic.

More urban research institutions such as Florida International University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of California-Riverside are acting similar to Georgia State and fully understand students currently need even more academic support than before. Many academic services at these institutions have always been flexible and continue to remain open to support students virtually with such resources like Writing Centers, the Career Centers, Student Assistant & Support Services, which continue to provide services during this crisis.. Academic & Career Advisors have also worked creatively to implement drop-in advising sessions, work with the administration to give students a pass/fail grading option, help advocate for free online textbooks, and much more. These urban institutions have substantial academic and career advising services and have worked proactively to integrate virtual strategies from the start of the pandemic.

Urban universities continue to provide substantial counseling services to its students, enforce electronic student participation, as well as provide financial support for those financially affected and networking opportunities with the workforce virtually.

Through virtual advising students are learning how to make their academic and career plans more flexible, realistic, and persistent. The best career plan is one that includes several successful paths to the ultimate goal.

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