Published: Sept. 5, 2018 By

It’s a fair bet that most students would be happy with, say, a 95 or 97 percent on a test, or professors with a 95 percent approval in student evaluations.

This is the case for the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Center (AAC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, who found, through an ongoing survey,that 95 to 98 percent of students served are positive about their experiences. 


Kathryn Tisdale

The advising center scheduled 23,677 appointments with 15,004 unique students between August 2017 and April 2018. Just 640 students at the college, about 3.5 percent, did not see an advisor in that time, and there was a 9 percent no-show rate for student-initiated appointments.

The survey finds that:

  • 97 percent of students served feel positive about their advising experience
  • 98 percent feel welcome
  • 97 percent feel their advisors answered their questions
  • 95 percent feel their advisors went above and beyond
  • 96 percent feel their advisor helped them organize their goals

But the AAC has no plans to rest on these stratospheric laurels.

“As good as those numbers are, at end of the day we’re still speaking to students and parents who were not satisfied or didn’t get what they needed,” says Kathryn Tisdale, director of advising quality at the AAC. “We can always improve, and feedback from this survey helps us identify where we need to improve.”

First-year students are often surprised, according to Tisdale, by the difference between the interactions with their academic advisor versus their high school counselors. Academic advisors also play a distinct role from faculty as advisors work with students on a much broader range of issues and concerns. 

“The power dynamic is different than with faculty; this isn’t someone who is grading you,” Tisdale says. “This is an adult on campus students can trust and who is focused entirely on providing student support.”

The AAC has 40 full-time professional advisors, from field-specific PhD or master’s-level specialists to experts in student-development theory.

“We engage each student as a whole person, academically, socially, with an individual path toward success,” Tisdale says. “We focus on having transformational discussions every time we meet with students, as much as possible.”

 Several new efforts are underway to help the AAC meet every student’s needs, including academic coaching for individual students, more attention on students who are neither excelling nor failing, but just getting by, hiring more advisors to reduce caseloads and working with the School of Education to implement a new graduate-student internship program.

“We are helping students navigate not only the curricular side of college life at CU Boulder, but also co-curricular life,” Tisdale says. “This is a huge and resource-rich institution, and academic advisors help students find their place.”