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Release: May 16, 2002

UI Academic Advising Center wins national award for orientation presentation

The University of Iowa Academic Advising Center has won a national award for the "Introduction to Academics" program it developed for use during orientation for new students and their parents. The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) gave the award, which will be presented at the group's annual conference Oct. 1 in Salt Lake City.

Lisa Ingram, associate director of the Academic Advising Center, and Diane Hauser, one of the center's advisors, nominated "Introduction to Academics" for the award. Hauser said the four-year-old program was designed to provide incoming UI students and their parents with detailed information about the requirements for specific majors and about the role the Academic Advising Center plays in helping students stay on track to complete required courses.

"We found that many parents and incoming students were worried that in such a large university there wouldn't be anywhere to go for individual attention and assistance," Hauser said. "We wanted to design a program that clearly showed the resources available for everything from course selection, to choosing a major, to counseling for students who run into academic difficulties."

The Academic Advising Center and the Office of Admissions and Orientation Services collaboratively developed the program, which is part of the two-day orientation sessions each summer.

Each orientation program is divided into nine concurrent sessions organized by disciplines. Students and their parents attend the session that most closely fits the students' academic interests. Each session includes photos and stories of current UI students to illustrate such topics as the General Education Program and how students choose these courses; required introductory courses for majors; the components of a degree; placement information; special opportunities for first-year students, such as first-year seminars; student service offices; admission requirements for competitive admission majors; confidentiality; and academic planning and advising.

In surveys conducted by Orientation Services, both parents and students have responded positively to Introduction to Academics (ITA), Ingram said.

"Parents report more positive feelings about the institution because they have an improved understanding of resources and services available for students," she said. "Incoming students gain a clear sense of how advising works. Through the ITA programs, they are made aware of how they are expected to work with professional advisors throughout their first year, and later, how they will be working with their faculty advisor. The ITA programs put a human face on the advising process and the University."

The National Academic Advising Association grew out of the first National Conference on Academic Advising in 1977 and now has more than 6,000 members. The goal of the organization is to promote quality academic advising and professional development of its membership to ensure the educational development of students.