Academic advisors face the challenge of seeing hundreds of students every semester for topics including:
- selecting a major
- monitoring academic progress
- navigating financial aid and housing
- managing mental health
In many areas, the conversation has to be tailored to the individual needs of each student. These reactive sessions are where advisors need to invest the most time and effort to ensure students get the focused advice they need while protecting their privacy.
Power in numbers
But other types of academic advising sessions can happen in a group format.
These proactive sessions, where information is relevant to a large number of students, might include:
- First-year orientation programs
- Introduction to campus services
- Study strategies
- Mental health signposting
- Study abroad information sessions
- Options for accessing financial aid
Group advising sessions can be a beneficial part of your advising schedule. They
- reduce the burden on staff so they can focus on more personalized advising
- disseminate information more quickly than in 1-1s
- are more interactive and effective than using leaflets and posters
- can help foster a sense of community between students & expose different student cohorts to each other.
Group academic advising sessions are a scalable way to proactively engage with students on issues they need to be aware of. One advisor can deliver a session to multiple students at the same time, giving a consistent message and freeing up other team members’ time.
So how do you get started scheduling them?
Setting up group advising sessions
Gone are the days of using a paper sign-up sheet on the department door. If you already use scheduling software for higher education like YouCanBook.me, setting up a booking page for group sessions will be a piece of cake! 🎂
Just follow these steps:
- Create a new booking page on your dashboard. Paid accounts have access to up to 200 booking pages so you should have plenty of space to add a different page for each group session you’re planning to hold. You might want to have a separate folder for your group sessions so you can find them easily.
- Be sure to update the introduction text to let students know this will be a group session and what it will cover.
- Decide how long you want each session to be and when it will happen. You can create a one-off event using the fixed date feature, or you can have rolling sessions that happen as often as you need throughout the year.
- Turn on Units per Slot. This feature lets up to 50 people sign up for the same time slot and it works just as well for both in-person and online sessions.
Set how many people you want to allow for each time period and your page will show that slot as available and continue to take bookings until the number has been reached.
YouCanBook.me’s version of group sessions has even more flexibility built in! You can either set each booking to take up one ‘seat’, or you can allow students to decide how many seats they need. This is automatically added as a question to your booking form and is a great option if you want to encourage students to bring a friend or family member.
Finally, if you usually create a separate Zoom or Teams link for your academic advising sessions, you’ll need to create a static link instead so that every student gets the same link to join.
Managing bookings for group advising sessions
Taking more than one booking in each time slot might seem like it would be hard to manage. But everything is organized in your work calendar and you can make any adjustments you need right there, too. No need to log into your account to make changes.
In your calendar, you’ll see every booking listed as a different event so you’ll be able to easily see who is coming. And the booking data export will include how many seats they took if you give them that option.
You can even mark a student as a no-show, and trigger emails specific to a student who missed their appointment, directly from your calendar event, or from your emails. This is an easy way to track student attendance, especially for mandatory advising sessions.
If you ever need to reduce the number of people who can attend a session - or cancel it altogether - you can do that by adding a simple phrase directly into your calendar.
On the bookings dashboard, you can adjust the number of spaces that a student has chosen if needed, and you can automatically rebook a student for a future session while you’re speaking with them.
You can even customize your notifications to confirm the number of seats a student has reserved in all your emails. The number is also added to both calendar events.
One for all
Group academic advising sessions can be an efficient and effective way to make sure students get access to the information they need.
Whenever your advising is proactive and the information is generally the same for everyone in the session, consider using group sessions to save time and give students opportunities to interact with you and others in a different way.
Organizing group advising sessions is easy with an online scheduling tool that is designed for higher education.
Why not try creating a group session today?
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