Moving Forward by Making Good Decisions

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Kim Paige
VP Communications, Georgia Tech Academic Advisors Network (GTAAN)
Academic Advisor, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering
kim.paige@bme.gatech.edu

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 Welcome to spring 2014, a new year, a new semester!  After a time of reflection over winter break for students,  parents, advisors, faculty, administrators and staff, comes the time for looking at how to best move forward toward new goals,  how to improve upon previous goals, and the best way to release non-productive goals. It is really all about making informed and productive decisions. For many Georgia Tech students, especially first-year students, this can be challenging because many believe what worked well in high school will work well in college. Even after the first year at Tech, some students continue to struggle with the continuous transformation and making informed and positive decisions about their academics, personal, and social life. 

In the academic advising community, the second semester brings many students questioning their future at Georgia Tech, and how to best go about making decisions for moving (transitioning) forward - “Should I change majors? What major is best for me? How many classes should I take this semester? What extra-curricular activities should I join? Should I take on research?”  This cycle of questioning plays very heavily into a student’s ability to cope with a new learning environment, their understanding of how their academic and personal challenges benefit or hinder their college journey, and the development of their self-identity and purpose. Academic advisors are keen to understand each student’s challenges and address those challenges in order to help students make informed decisions. It is equally essential for parents to help in the development of their student. 

Our goal with the help of our parents is to develop intellectual and academic competence in our students by:

  1. Providing students the tools and resources they need to successfully complete college, and
  2. Developing higher-order intellectual skills such as critical thinking, reflective thinking, and informed decision-making abilities that will assist during and after their college career at Tech.

College can be extremely overwhelming for some students and even more overwhelming for students who lack decision-making skills. But we can foster an atmosphere of self-exploration without the feelings of intimidation, failure, or harsh recourse by implementing the following strategies:

  • Be approachable. When students feel like they have a “safe space” to discuss and openly think through their goals, questions, assumptions, they are more open to receiving help. Students appreciate and seek meaningful interactions regarding their future and success. There is never an exact or easy answer to solve problems, but listening to students, gaining a perspective to provide an atmosphere of goal setting and proper planning, enables them to make decisions based on experiences only unique to their personal journey.
  • Make expectations clear. Students, parents and advisors often have very different expectations in what it takes for a student to be successful at Tech. Often after the first semester, some Tech students are met with disappointment and confusion about their performance and results of the first semester – expectations were not clear on what it would take to be successful and the realities of college can be addressed through discussions about expectations.
  • Support development. Help students build their success path with strategies to become self-learners, self-sufficient, responsible and accountable agents of their actions and choices. Student experiences are affected by their environment, involvement, what they do while attending college, how much energy they put into it and how it all makes them feel (sense of belonging). Student development encourages student and advisor contact, develops cooperation, encourages active learning, gives prompt feedback, communicates expectations, and respects diversity. When students attend college, their learning and cognition, attitude and values, moral reasoning, and independence and responsibility change. As a parent, you can help facilitate these changes in your student through promoting learning, moral decision-making, and logical progression while at college.
  • Paint a “Big Picture.” It is very common for students to change their major at college. Help them to explore the various majors and career paths available to them. And remember, there is more to selecting a major and related career path than potential earnings.

The Georgia Tech Academic Advising Community (GTAAN) is here to help students through every step of the academic process at Tech. Advising is a critical component in student development and academic success because we can help students execute effective planning and decision-making throughout college. Academic advisors seek to understand your student’s challenges and provide guidance, resources, strategies and tools for students to achieve success – academically, personally and professionally. College life can be quite intense and stressful for some students; but when students have support systems (at home and college), they are better equipped to meet challenges and receive guidance and resources in making decisions.

For more information on Academic Advising and how your student can benefit, visit www.advising.gatech.edu.

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Status
  • Created By: Rachael Pocklington
  • Workflow Status: Archived
  • Created On: Jan 7, 2014 - 11:38am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:15pm