ELI Insights: Advising Remains Vital During the Pandemic

This graphic features a head shot of ADS Instructor, Robert Bushong. To Bushong's right is text that reads, "ELI Insights With ADS Instructor Robert Bushong."

By: Robert Bushong, ADS Instructor

What does a typical academic advising session at the UD ELI look like during the pandemic? It looks much the same way as it has for years, with the student and advisor sitting across from each other while discussing how to best meet the student’s academic needs. The conversation might focus on class selections or university applications. The biggest difference between now and a year ago, however, is that now the student and advisor connect through Zoom.

When the University of Delaware closed its campus in March and shifted operations online, the ELI’s Intensive English Program (IEP) advising team moved swiftly to ensure that students would receive the same level of support virtually as they had while still among brick-and-mortar.

One of the first resources to undergo a digital makeover was the IEP Academic Success Center. An integral part of advising, the Academic Success Center provides on-demand advising at designated hours throughout the week. Students can drop in unannounced to talk with an advisor about a range of issues. Normally located just down the hall from neighboring ELI classrooms, the Academic Success Center quickly found its new home on Zoom, where students are now encouraged to bring their questions and concerns.

In some ways, with the spread of COVID-19, academic advising has become more important than ever. Initially, the unfolding events provoked a sudden flurry of questions and concerns among students. Since then, many students have been coping with uncertainty and isolation. Some students have made plans to travel so that they could continue studying online from their home countries. Given the disruption, it has been important for students to have a place to turn for support, and academic advising is one such resource.

With all the uncharted issues that have arisen during the pandemic, however, many of the same basic student advising needs remain, and the IEP advising team has continued to be proactive in providing support to meet these more routine needs. At the core, advising services at the ELI have remained constant. Advisors continue to be proactive in reaching out to students to schedule individual appointments, frequently meeting with students to provide help planning course progression, revising personal statements for university applications, and filling out student forms. When a student has slipping grades or misses a few too many classes, an advisor is there with a gentle nudge to help them get back on track.

The strength in IEP advising has been, and continues to be, its accessibility to students.

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