Academic Advising is one of the cornerstones of successful matriculation through college. It involves building the necessary academic skills and furthering those skills as students progress. EXCEL utilizes a holistic approach in which advising is used as a tool in the process of student development. Counselors create opportunities for students to develop the abilities to synthesize and critically think through the decisions that confront them academically and personally.
One of the major objectives of academic advising is to help with course selection during pre-registration. Also, in individual sessions Counselors discuss quarterly academic progress and academic plans using General Education evaluations, transfer evaluations, major requirements, and referrals to other campus services. Another purpose of academic advising is to help students understand University rules and regulations which are important in making career/graduate school and scholarship decisions. Finally, advising sessions can address personal issues and information about careers, graduate school, internships, or scholarships. As a result of this dynamic interaction between Counselor and student, an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is developed for each student. This plan is an on-going, changing document that lists student recommended courses, activities, supportive services, and referral services. Every time a student returns for additional services, the plan is referred to and revised.
EXCEL Counselors use a holistic style of personal counseling. In this approach, instead of dwelling exclusively on one aspect of a student's academic work, Counselors focus on any aspect of a student's life that affects academic performance, such as interpersonal issues, financial problems, or health concerns. EXCEL is one of the few programs on campus that addresses the "whole student" and the various issues that impact academic performance. This unique approach allows the counselors to help students confront their problems using all of the resources available in the program as well as on campus. Over time the Counselor may identify personal issues that require more in-depth counseling or, possibly, therapy. In this event, students are referred to on and off-campus therapists or community mental health programs.
Scholarship advising helps students obtain financial aid by exposing them to the various forms of financial assistance available from non-federal, state, and local sources. When students enter the program they are assessed for financial need by an EXCEL Counselor. The outcome of this assessment determines whether the student applied for aid, qualified for aid, or didn't receive enough aid to cover all educational expenses. If a student did not apply or applied but did not receive sufficient aid, Counselors provide information about various forms of scholarship assistance. Also, as students begin to complete applications, Counselors provide support in developing a "personal statement" and obtaining recommendations. Composing a "personal statement" is a valuable exercise for students, because it helps them with their writing skills and contributes to their personal development.
Other forms of assistance provided by EXCEL include emailing scholarship information to participants as the EXCEL office receives it and referring students to other on-campus or off-campus resources.
At CSUEB, all students are required to declare and complete an academic major. To help students meet this requirement, EXCEL Counselors familiarize them with the career development process. This process refers to the continuum that each student follows to select a career, extending from the earliest interest and values clarification to job-preparation and selection. EXCEL focuses on the early phases of the continuum by helping students to get to know who they are through exploring their career related skills and interests. To accomplish this goal, Counselors, once again, use the holistic approach. Together, the Counselor and student consider careers in relation to a student's academic performance, personal values and preferences, financial goals, personal needs, and personal strengths and weaknesses. This exploration may touch upon a wide variety of topics, such as academic and personal concerns, graduate school issues, opportunities for internships and scholarships and career related issues (cover letters, letters of reference, resumes, and personal interviews). Also, General Education courses and major requirements are discussed as an integral part of preparing for a career and/or graduate school.
CSUEB has an excellent Academic Advising and Career Education office that provides career services that include interest/career inventory testing, career workshops, work internships through Cooperative Education, and job placement. EXCEL does not duplicate the work of the Center but works cooperatively with it to expand the services available to EXCEL students.
Graduate School Advising is available to students once they have a career academic plan and become aware that graduate school is a possible option. Graduate school advising is an on-going process. Using the holistic approach, Counselors deepen and broaden the range of topics discussed to include issues involving academic and personal concerns, career choices, and financial and future plans/goals. The depth, intensity, and direction the discussion takes depends on the student's needs and level of development. During individual advising sessions with students, Counselors discuss academic majors, internships, graduate school identification, and the application process. Further, General Education and major course requirements are discussed as one of the fundamental steps in preparing for graduate school.