How eAdvisers Create Impact for Students

As a first-generation college student, I have experienced the frustration, anxiety, stress, and doubt when applying to college.  I overcame my fears and applied to college with the help of a teacher who believed in me. Unfortunately, many of my high school classmates were not as fortunate and did not even apply to college.  I am confident that had these classmates received consistent, adequate advice and support, their life trajectory would be very different.It has been a privilege to help further the mission of College Advising Corps by serving as an eAdviser to reach more students virtually.

It has been amazing to see some of the early impact that we can have by being invested in our students. To date, I am proud that I have helped revise over 50 scholarship essays for my cohort of 60students.  We are anxiously awaiting college acceptance and financial aid award letters, but it is gratifying to know that my support has directly helped 10 of my students get accepted into over 20 of our nations most competitive schools.

How do we eAdvisers create such an impact? To illustrate, I wanted to outline how we eAdvisers spend a typical day.

As a team, we start with a Google Hangout or conference call with my fellow eAdvisers who are dispersed across the country. We discuss innovative ways to communicate with our students and to share resources and best practices. The technology we use helps us collaborate and work together, but it also allows us the flexibility to advise students wherever and whenever they need it. We are not robots – we connect with our students on a human level.

My view on eAdvising has changed dramatically. For example, I have learned that distance does not mean I am alone in my day-to-day work.  I have 14 outstanding colleagues, many of whom have previously served on a high school campus withCollege Advising Corps. These colleagues provide me with resources, support, and encouragement.

Throughout the day, I continuously text, email, and call my students to help them through their college process. My responsibility to my students is not only to advise them about the college and the financial aid process but more importantly to be their cheerleader, coach, and teammate. Consequently, I spend a lot of time preparing and motivating them to submit college applications, scholarships, and financial aid forms by the designated deadlines. We connect on many online platforms: email, text, Facebook, and video conference.

Here are some examples of conversations I have had with students on these platforms:

Example 1: When helping Brooklyn with her college essay, we used the screenshare function on Skype so that I could provide her suggestions and edits in real time and explain my suggestions thoroughly.

Example 2: My student, Benny, tends to forget deadlines for scholarships and he never checks his email on a consistent basis, so I text him weekly to remind him of approaching scholarship deadlines.

Example 3: Elizabeth’s academic and extracurricular activities often mean that it is hard for her to connect via Google Hangout each week, so we email back and forth.  Most recently we worked on the completion of her CSS/Financial Aid Profile.

To end my eAdvising day, I spend time researching scholarship opportunities and other resources. Every student should be able to attend college without fear of finances.

I make sure I have a flexible schedule, because my students live all across the nation and need my help during the day, night, holidays, and weekends. For instance, November 30th was a big day for my California students because the University of California (UC) application was due by 11:59 pm PST.  Due to the time difference, I read and edited 25 essays between midnight and 3:00 am EST, so that my students could make the deadline. This is just one example of how I try to be there for my students whenever they need me.

It is always such a joy when I get that email from a student informing me that he/she has been accepted to their perfect dream school. Most recently, three of my students -Brenda, Saul, and Wendy – wrote me to tell me that they were accepted into their respective dream colleges. News like this assures me that I am making a difference in my students’ lives. With a bit of technology, and a lot of humanity, I am helping improve the futures of America’s students!

Amber Simmons is a first-year eAdviser with College Advising Corps. eAdvising is a new initiative of College Advising Corps in which well-trained, recent college graduates help increase opportunity for underrepresented students through virtual college advising. College Advising Corps’ eAdvising initiative is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and America Achieves.