That’s why it’s so crucial for me as the students’ adviser to stay in contact and to encourage them to take care of their business.
(At our school, an adviser gets 16 new freshmen and works with them until they all, hopefully, graduate.)
But keeping in touch is not the easiest thing. Calling takes a lot of time. And no student is going to check her email. That’s why group texting is so crucial.
Up until last March, because my phone (Palm Pre!) didn’t allow for group texting, I used to text my advisees over email. The problem was, students liked to change their numbers, and each time that happened, I had to make sure to get the correct phone carrier.
Google Voice makes things a bit easier, but GV lets me text only five people at a time, and I have 16 advisees to track.
Then, thankfully, came TXT Group, a Palm app that lets me group text my advisees all at once. Even better, I can create different groups, so if I need to text the students’ parents, that can happen, too.
But I’ve found that even with TXT Group, students don’t necessarily text me back, especially in the summer. I’ve gotten pretty good at writing messages that require a response (rather than just giving information), and sometimes, I’m successful in tricking my advisees into thinking that my message was intended for them alone.
Still, I’m not always successful. For example, I recently sent out a message, and I didn’t get a response from four of my advisees. This was infuriating. Guess who the four were? Yep, the four who are struggling the most and may not graduate on time unless things turn around.
Sure, I can call these students (and I did), but it’s fascinating to me that denial and avoidance are so strong. (Of course, it’s up to me to build a better relationship.) Meanwhile, summer is vast, and there is a lot of space to get lost.