University College Advising Toolbox

Case Study and Theory Tools for Advisors

Case Study & Theory Tools for Advisors

Introduction

These case studies are designed to be discussed with Coordinators and other advisors to gain input, support, and possible answers to scenarios.

Disclaimer

These events depicted in these Case Studies are fictitious. These are not the views of UNCW and University College is not responsible for the expressed views of the Case Studies.

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  • Case Study #1 (Helicopter Parents)
  • John is a first semester freshmen who is about to meet with his advisor for his pre-registration meeting. He has thought about what classes he wants to take in the spring semester. He came to the conclusion that he wants to take 12 credits because he will be busy traveling with his adventure club throughout the semester. After talking to his advisor they agree on 12 credits during the spring and then one summer class so he is still on pace to graduate in 4 years. After his pre-registration meeting you get a call from his mom who insists that John take 16 credits because his courses are more important that adventure club. How do you handle this situation with John’s mom? Do you recommend John continue with his plans or suggest he listen to what his mom has to say?

    Diane is a second semester freshmen who is thinking about majoring in History. She has a strong interest in ancient world history and would like to someday work in a history museum. Diane receives approval that she will be able to declare her major after the spring semester, if she received credit for a minimum of 24 credits. After the spring semester you have a drop in from Diane and her Father, who is a CEO of a local company. They storm into your office and he almost forces her to pursue a Business Degree and someday work for his company. How do you explain this situation to her father? Telling him that she has an interest in history and for the past year has been working towards declaring a history major and has not taken the Pre requisites for Business?

    Robert is at orientation and excited to start at UNCW in the fall. During registration his mother and father skip the parent’s portion and decide to join him in registering for classes. Even though there are activities for parents at this time they insist they choose his classes for him, since they both have degrees and know what is best. You finally get them to leave registration because they are not allowed. You show Robert the University Studies Curriculum and suggest a few sections of classes he should take. He tells you he is interested in Marine Biology, however he said both his parents want him to major in business so they want him to take all business classes. Robert is all signed up for classes to prepare him moving forward in Marine Biology. Once registration is over you receive a call from Robert’s parents and they demand he change his schedule to something that will set him up for business. You explain UNCW is a liberal arts institution so he will have to take a variety of different courses, such as history, sciences, creative writing, etc. They don’t agree with what the advisor suggests and they tell him to take classes that will not count for anything but electives. How do you handle this situation? How do you tell the parents that Robert should register for what he wants to take, not what they want? 

    Case Study #2 (Academic Intervention)
  • Sammy Sleeps A Lot is a second semester freshmen that earned a 1.111 GPA his first semester.  He comes to see you at the beginning of the spring semester to complete the Academic Success Agreement and learn more about what he needs to do to get back into good academic standing.  He tells you that he failed most of his classes because he just couldn’t get out of bed most days because he always felt sleepy and so he missed many days of all of his classes.  He tells you that this semester is going to be better because he doesn’t have any classes before 11 on MWF and 2 on TR.  When you ask him what other specific changes he plans to make to be successful in the spring, he says he doesn’t need to do anything else – later classes will fix everything. 

    Is there anything else you would want to know?

    Are there any referrals you might want to make?

    Based on the other information you find out; what kinds of strategies might you suggest for him to help him be more successful this semester?

    What kind of follow up would you want to have with Sammy?

    Work-A-Holic Wilma is a transfer student in transition beginning her second semester at UNCW. After being put on probation for a first semester GPA of 1.87, she comes to see you to complete an Academic Success Agreement before the spring semester begins.  She tells you that the transition from her community college to UNCW was really hard.  She says that the classes were a lot more demanding of her time and she wasn’t able to balance her full time job as a manager of a restaurant, her part time job as a nanny, occasionally teaching fitness classes at her gym and going to school full time.  She said she was able to do that at the other school and doesn’t understand why she can’t now.  She says she is willing to drop the nanny and fitness positions but really likes her job at the restaurant and says she can’t go part time there or she will lose her manager position.  She says she has worked too hard to take a pay cut and a demotion.  She wants to know what she can do this semester to get back into good academic standing. 

    Is there anything else you want to know?

    What advice would you give about her plans to work full time and going to school full time?

    Are there any referrals you might want to make?

    What strategies would you suggest for her to be more successful this semester?

    What kind of follow up would you want to have with Wilma?

    Case Study #3 (Transition Issues)
  • Margaret, a new freshman, shares with you that she has been experiencing a great deal of anxiety since her second week at UNCW. She recently experienced a panic attack on her way to class which forced her to return to her residence hall, and since then she has skipped some classes for fear of having another panic attack on the way to class. She experienced anxiety during high school, but it had been manageable, so she had kept this struggle to herself. Since arriving to UNCW, she feels constantly “on edge” and is having difficulty concentrating in class. Margaret grew up in a stoical family that believes all problems can be overcome through discipline and determination. Seeking counseling is considered a sign of weakness. She berates herself for her inability to get her anxiety under control, but the more she tries to control it, the worse it seems to become.  How would you broach the idea of counseling with this student? Given her family belief system about counseling, how might you convince her to schedule an appointment with counseling services? Were she to adamantly refuse to seek counseling, how else might you assist this student?

    Sam has enjoyed the newfound openness at UNCW with respect to his sexual orientation. He has become involved with the LGBTQIA Center, and is, for the first time, experiencing friendships in which he can be fully open and honest. Given his positive experience with his UNCW peers, and feeling much more comfortable and open about his identity, he decided to talk to his parents about his sexual orientation while home for fall break. Unlike his experience at UNCW, his parents became angry and attributed Sam’s “change” to his affiliations at UNCW. Since he was beyond the halfway point of the semester, his parents allowed him to return for the remainder of the semester, but they will withdraw financial support for his education unless he returns home at the end of the fall semester and enrolls in the local community college. They forbid him from having any association with the LGBTQIA center for the remainder of his time at UNCW. Sam makes an advising appointment to discuss how to withdraw from school at the end of the semester and how to transfer his UNCW credits to the local community college. How might you steer this advising conversation with Sam? What referrals might be helpful to him?

    Case Study #4 (Transfer Case Study #1)
  • Transfer Trevor

    Trevor is a first semester transfer student at UNCW. He transferred from Cape Fear Community College and has around 30 credit hours. He is meeting with you to discuss he options for registration. He thinks he would like to be a Business major with a concentration in Management and Leadership. He transferred in without completing math 111 and took the math placement test at orientation.  He placed into MAT 105. Trevor insists on graduating as soon as possible but fears that he will not be able to successfully complete the math intensive courses required for a BUS major. 

    1. What does the information given tell you about what might be issues for the student and what type of help he or she might need?
    2. What do you want to know about this student and why? What are possible issues with this student that need to be addressed?
    3. How do we go about helping this student?
    4. What type of approach do you want to take with this student and why?
    5. What are some of the referrals that might be made? What are some of the things you consider when determining whether or not the student is ready for these referrals?
    6. What is the most effective way to make the referrals?
    7. What university policies need to be explained to this student?
    Case Study #5 (Transfer Case Study #2)
  • Transfer Tiffany

    Tiffany has transferred to UNCW just a few credits shy of 80. UNCW is now her third institution and she has her mind set on Athletic Training. She has a few writing intensive courses left and one or two university studies courses to complete but most of her credits are considered elective hours.

    1. What does the information given tell you about what might be issues for the student and what type of help he or she might need?
    2. What do you want to know about this student and why? What are possible issues with this student that need to be addressed?
    3. How do we go about helping this student?
    4. What type of approach do you want to take with this student and why?
    5. What are some of the referrals that might be made? What are some of the things you consider when determining whether or not the student is ready for these referrals?
    6. What is the most effective way to make the referrals?
    7. What university policies need to be explained to this student?
    Case Study #6 (Early College High School)
  • Ashley is an incoming early college high school student with 26 transfer credit hours and a 3.78 cumulative GPA from Below The Surface Community College (BTSCC).  Ashley and her parents do not have an appointment but come during walk-in hours to meet with you (UC Advisor or Faculty Advisor).  During the meeting Ashley shared that she plans to major in theater and psychology.  However, Ashley’s parents insist that she major in business and/or a pre-health profession instead.  While enrolled at BTSCC Ashley successfully completed several psychology pre-requisites and believes she is ready to enroll in PSY 225 at UNCW.  Ashley’s parents demand she enroll in math and science courses and complete the degree in two years or risk losing their financial support.  Ashley communicated that she dislikes and struggles with math and science.

    During the meeting Ashley makes her interests clear.  Ashley wants an advisor to help her declare the psychology and theater majors; make sure her BTSCC 3.78 GPA is calculated into UNCW’s; and help convince her parents of her excellent major choices.

    1. How should an advisor handle Ashley’s major declaration request?
    2. How should an advisor respond to parental influence and concerns?
    3. What methods can an advisor use to update Ashley’s GPA at UNCW?
    4. Which pieces of information are missing that will help inform next steps?
    5. What university policies need to be explained to Ashley? Her parents?
    6. Who else can the advisor communicate and/or connect with to help Ashley?   
    Case Study #7 (Major Change)
  • Sammy is a second year University College student who wishes to pursue a major in Business-Management.  He received a D+ in both MAT 111 and QMM 280 and has failed both MAT 151 and ECN 221 twice and only has one more grade replacement option.  His overall GPA is a 2.3.  Sammy excels in his English courses.  He has earned A’s in ENG 101, 201 and 212.  He is adamant about pursing Business so that he can work in the business field and have a secure future.  Cameron School of Business (CSB) requires a 2.7 cumulative GPA and no less than a C- in all business gateway courses.

    Sammy seeks advice as to what he can do to improve his GPA so that he can be accepted into CSB.  He also shares with his advisor that he must complete his degree within a four year window due to limited finances. 

    1. What does the information given tell you about what might be issues for the student and what type of help he or she might need?
    2. What do you want to know about this student and why? What are possible issues with this student that need to be addressed?
    3. How do we go about helping this student?
    4. What type of approach do you want to take with this student and why?
    5. What are some of the referrals that might be made? What are some of the things you consider when determining whether or not the student is ready for these referrals?
    6. What is the most effective way to make the referrals?
    7. What university policies need to be explained to this student?
    Case Study #8 (Adding & Dropping Courses)
  • Leonardo

    Leonardo is a traditional first-year student. He meets with you (his academic advisor) just before pre-registration and reports grades of all B’s. The midterm report comes out a week after your meeting and it reveals Leonardo is making all F’s. After leaving multiple messages, the Withdrawal deadline passes. Leonardo finally returns your phone call and asks about his options for withdrawing from classes. What are his options? How would you respond?

    Donatello

    Donatello is a student who never meets with his academic advisor. Donatello is a first-year spring admit student who discovers in the second week of classes that his mother and father both lost their jobs. Donatello comes in for an advising meeting. He indicates that he is financially dependent on his parents for tuition and does not qualify for financial aid. Since it is the second week of classes, Donatello does not have the motivation to continue at UNCW this semester. He is hopeful that his parents will get new jobs, but it might not be until later this semester. Donatello says he wants to continue in the next semester, what are his options? What resources are available?

    Raphael

    Raphael is an entering UCT (University College Transition) transfer student. This is his first semester at UNCW. He meets with his advisor during pre-registration and he is taking 15 credit hours. He believes he is failing his hardest class, MAT 151, but he does not know what his options are for leaving the class. He is concerned because the next midterm is tomorrow. The withdrawal deadline is two days away and he doesn’t know what to do? What are his options? Will he lose financial aid if he drops the class? Can he drop the class? If he lives on-campus and drops another class, will he lose his housing?

    Michelangelo

    Michelangelo is a second semester first year student. His academic advisor met with him for his second pre-registration. The student took ENG 101 his first semester at UNCW and was unable to get into ENG 200 or 201 in his spring semester. Michelangelo really needs to take ENG 200 or 201 during his third semester. He emails a professor before the semester begins and they suggest he attend their class and hope that a student drops.

    Michelangelo never lets the academic advisor know about attending this class. He is currently at 14 hours, but was never able to formally register for the class, but is still attending. This is the third week of classes and Michelangelo approaches you (the academic advisor) to ask about his options for adding the class. Is it still possible, if so how?

    Advising Session Techniques
  • Advising First Year Students
  • Developmental Academic Advising
  • Three Ways to Take the Conversation Beyond Registration
  • Tips on Making Effective Referrals
  • Effective Questioning Techniques
  • The Academic Advisor as Teacher First-Year Transitions

    The PDF below is password protected, please contact Michelle Vliem (vliemm@uncw.edu) for password.

    Password Protected PDF