Using Professional Industry Partnerships for Advising Students at a Two-Year Technical College

By Willoughby, David A. | NACTA Journal, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Using Professional Industry Partnerships for Advising Students at a Two-Year Technical College


Willoughby, David A., NACTA Journal


Abstract

In an effort to strengthen relationships between higher education and industry, and support student success, an industry partnership program for advising Turfgrass Management students at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute was introduced four years ago. Golf course superintendents from a regional chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America were recruited to form advising teams to complement and support college faculty in providing quality student advising services. This paper will focus on the implementation and early assessment of this program. Preliminary results have indicated that student participants have established a closer relationship with industry personnel resulting in quality employment opportunities. Students have also gained a stronger sense of appreciation for the career path they have selected.

Introduction

Effective student advising helps students make critical decisions ranging from course selections to choosing a career path. College advisors must possess in-depth knowledge of complex curriculum paths, along with a thorough understanding of present and future trends in industry and employer expectations. College student success if often measured as a result of gaining employment in their major field of study soon after graduation. For many years colleges and universities have successfully required students to participate in industry internships to gain valuable on-the-job experience. Providing industry-related advising opportunities for students is another means of using these same valuable resources to enhance student success.

Quality academic advising has often been identified as an important facet in the retention and enrichment of college students, and when conducted effectively, both the student and the learning institution benefit (Bedker & Young 1994; Chernin & Goldsmith 1986; Crockett 1985; Habley 1982; Miller 1985; Morehead & Johnson 1964; Trombley 1984). Declining enrollment at colleges of horticulture and agriculture has resulted in these institutions seeking and developing new, more effective ways to recruit and retain students (Fernandes & Jimmerson 1988). Therefore, an increased emphasis has been placed on college faculty to provide more personalized, top quality academic advising in order to enhance student success, and provide a smooth transition throughout the entire educational/learning experience. The most important key to good quality advising is the academic advisor (Dillsi & Jimmerson, 1992).

Recent trends have led administrators to view the college educational/learning experience as a marketing /product concept. (Baldwin 1994; Shupe 1999) In addition, academic consumerism at institutions of higher learning has evolved to the point where students can demand more personalized attention, a quality education, and individualized guidance towards satisfying individual career goals (Bedker & Young 1994). Therefore, college advisors must possess in-depth knowledge of complex curriculum paths, along with a thorough understanding of present and future trends in industry and employer expectations. Academic advising has a direct relationship with a student's progress through college. seeking and acquiring quality advising is crucial from the first few days of course selection and scheduling, through adjustment to the college experience, on into career planning and placement, and future goal setting. Strong relationships established between a student and his/her advisor can be a union, which makes the college experience meaningful and worthwhile (Houpt 1985).

Participation in industry internships has also been found to be an important link to student success and retention (Bekkum 1993; Horner 1994; Zimmerman 1990, 1995, 1996). Active participation in cooperative industry internships can help students select satisfying career paths and gain valuable career-focused advising from their industry mentors (Demetry 1997). …

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