Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Academic advising preparing for return to normalcy

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Graphic by Alisha Reisenbichler

As the fall semester approaches, students at Southeast will start to see things return to normal. Academic advising is one aspect making the return to pre-pandemic guidelines in the fall.

Director of academic advising Carol Heisserer said prior to the pandemic, they liked to advise students face to face or by email in certain circumstances, but due to COVID-19, they added Zoom to their list of options for advising.

“I think [Zoom] is something that regardless of what fall looks like, we’ll keep it as an option because it has worked well,” Heisserer said.

Heisserer said they are hopeful to return to all options they used previously in addition to adding Zoom conferences to those options. Heisserer said the goal is to be sure all students get what they need and are comfortable.

Heisserer said students didn’t miss out on much in terms of the types of advising appointments received in the past year, but said advisors were engaged differently because students needed more support and guidance with remote advising.

“I think the content of what we talked about might have become more involved than normal,” Heisserer said. “The actual advising piece remained the same because we could share our screens and show students what we wouldn’t normally show them here. I think the part that did change the most was just our role in connecting students to the rest of the campus became more critical.”

Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success, said the university’s emergency response team has been meeting weekly to discuss guidelines for summer and fall operations.

“Weighing all of that and thinking about the individual interactions that we have with our students, we very much want to get back to in-person interaction as frequently as we can,” Below said. “I want to be sure that all of our services [are done] in a coordinated way across campus so students have a consistent experience.”

Heisserer said group advising is something that is up to each department if they want to advise in that setting.

“I’m sure that whatever those departments choose to do will be according to the guidance we receive from local officials, from our own emergency response team, and hopefully they can continue doing what they’ve done before,” Heisserer said.

Below encourages students to stay the course and work closely with their advisors if they need to make adjustments to their course load. Below credits the faculty for making in-person instruction a priority.

“I am so thankful our faculty have come together and said in-person instruction is the priority for fall,” Below said. “At the same time, I see there will be more flexibility in the academic environment. And so again, stay the course, talk with your advisor, but continue with your plans.”

Heisserer said students should stay alert with how their advisor will operate, as all advisors will approach things differently heading into the fall semester.