Advisors are the First Step to Success for PACS Students


Advisors are the First Step to Success for PACS Students

The advising needs of distance learners can be quite different from those of traditional college students. But whatever your individual situation may be, the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies advising team is more than ready to help you succeed.

Still not convinced? Take a look at these comments from a few of our former students:

“Even though I had a football advisor, I had to go through PACS when I was getting that degree. They made sure I had everything I needed.”Caleb Kelly, Master of Arts, Administrative Leadership, 2021

“I had Jennifer Gatlin as an advisor for both my undergraduate degree and master’s. She went well out of her way in her role as an advisor and continues to offer guidance.”Evan Underwood, Master of Arts, Administrative Leadership, 2020

“PACS has helped me with my unique circumstances, and I’ve been able to go from surgery or medical procedures back to studying and my work without delay. This made college possible for me.”Emily Holladay, Bachelor of Arts, Lifespan Care Administration, 2020

“As academic advisors, our ultimate goal for every student is to assist them in achieving theirs. More specifically, we want to see them walk across the stage at our PACS convocation every spring and fall semester. We will be on the sidelines cheering loudly along with their family and friends.”

“Traditionally, the role of an academic advisor has been transactional. A student is in need of enrollment suggestions, permission to enroll in a certain course, or degree program updates, so they contact their advisor for help,” said PACS academic advisor Emily Arias. “However, advisors here at PACS have always taken a nontraditional approach that pairs well with our nontraditional student population. We take time to develop working relationships and become an integral part of our students’ academic journey.”

PACS advisors realize their students are adult learners who have more to contend with on a daily basis than just attending classes.

“The balance they must practice between home, work and school obligations provide an added layer of difficulty when advising them,” Arias said. “What makes PACS advisors great at their jobs is that we recognize these potential roadblocks to success, and we have real conversations with our students about expectations and the best way to navigate through their programs.”

Arias said when a new student begins their journey at PACS, their relationship with an advisor usually starts with a series of welcome emails. The student can then build that relationship and make the most of their advisor.

“We make sure to reach out many times within those first few months to ensure our students have everything they need to begin their program successfully,” she said. “Just like any other working relationship, the first steps are always about building trust. Over a short period of time, our students begin to see that we are here to help them in any way that we can, because we want them to be successful here at PACS.

“I can say that, just like the rest of our PACS faculty and staff, we advisors are student-centered and service oriented,” she added. “On top of those core principles, we have an added layer of service we employ with our students – we work diligently at building trust, we connect through active listening and engagement, we respond to our students within a 24-hour timeframe, and we act to effectively convey important information.”

Arias said with the addition of virtual meeting capabilities such as Zoom, advisors can now develop even deeper connections with students.

“The majority of interactions we have occur through email, as we have many students joining our programs from around the globe,” she said. “However, now that we have Zoom capabilities, I’m always so excited to be able to speak with my students ‘face-to-face.’ The majority of my week is filled with Zoom advising appointments, and I enjoy having that added level of connectivity with my adult learners.”

Through this type of frequent communication and relationship building, advisors can keep students on a path toward success, Arias said.

“We find that we can head off most problems by just reaching out. We reach out with degree plan updates, we reach out when we notice low participation in a course, and if we know a student has been struggling, we reach out just to check in and see how they are doing,” she said. “This is all part of building trust that I mentioned before. Our students can see that we care enough about their success to keep in contact, and in turn, they begin to feel as though they can come to us with any questions or concerns that they may have.”

Arias said by building trust and helping students solve these daily challenges, advisors can help students reach their end goal – finishing their degree.

“As academic advisors, our ultimate goal for every student is to assist them in achieving theirs,” she said. “More specifically, we want to see them walk across the stage at our PACS convocation every spring and fall semester. We will be on the sidelines cheering loudly along with their family and friends.”

If you haven’t been in touch with your advisor recently, reach out today and let them help you make the most of your time at PACS.

The College of Professional and Continuing Studies offers University of Oklahoma degrees 100% online. Learn more at PACS.OU.EDU, or bookmark the Resources section of the PACS blog for regular news and updates about the resources available to you as an OU student.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.