Mentoring and discipleship, core to the APU experience, give depth and purpose to every aspect of education—classroom dialogues, athletic contests, student life, spiritual encounters, and even academic advising. Tracie Burt, Ed.D., director of undergraduate student success, and her team in the Office of Academic Advising and Retention believe that these critical advising sessions can encompass more than mere course selection and present an ideal opportunity for connecting with students on a much deeper level. To facilitate that, the office recently created a set of checklists to guide conversations beyond course requirements, equipping every student and advisor with a comprehensive view of the resources, goals, and opportunities available to help students thrive in college.

“As suggested by the National Academic Advising Association, we aim to approach academic advising as a relationship, not a transaction,” said Burt. “Our faculty advisors are undeniably invested in their students’ well-being; we want to give them the tools and knowledge that will enhance the holistic impact of those important relationships.” The new checklists cover a wide range of topics pertinent to each stage of academic development, one for each of four years, including categories such as spiritual and physical well-being, educational success, career and calling, active citizenship, advising and registration, finances, graduation, alumni relations, and postgraduation planning. Within each category, specific items prompt advisors and students to explore each area more deeply in a way that personalizes the education path and experience.

While these checklists streamline the process for students and help them navigate their academic journey, they also represent a framework for Azusa Pacific. The Office of Academic Advising and Retention’s strategic plan to develop a network of ongoing holistic support involves collaboration between multiple departments and offices. This cross-campus approach will continue to engage faculty advisors to support student success while also offering opportunities for enhanced equipping and development of their advising practice. While the team works toward developing the specific details of that plan, an important first step occurred in fall 2015. Academic success coaches visited GE 100 First-year Seminar classes, an academic seminar required of all incoming first-year students with fewer than 30 units of completed coursework, to teach the benefits and responsibilities of student participation in the academic advising relationship. As a result, nearly 1,200 students received the checklist “Are You Ready to Be a Sophomore? A Recipe for Success.”

All undergraduate students received the checklists during preregistration advising for spring. While advisors help students comply with curricular and other requirements, these new tools will build students’ confidence in their preparation for the future, help them to optimize their time at APU, and ready them to engage the world as fully prepared disciples and scholars.