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Remote Advising Resources

Mentoring and Advising Graduate Students in a COVID-19 Environment

As campus adjusts to remote work and instruction, graduate programs are also transitioning to providing remote advising and mentoring.  Below are some resources to help faculty and staff adjust to advising students online and guidance on topics to discuss as we face new challenges with the pandemic. Based on resources from Advising in Times of Disruption and NACADA COVID-19 Online Discussion Resources.

Workshops for Virtual Advising

Communicating with Students

Please communicate with students regularly - perhaps even more often than ever before. Since graduate students can no longer come by your office or run into you down the hall, it will be essential to check in more often with students virtually.  Consider sending weekly updates or reaching out to students individually. One way to engage with students that you can no longer see in person is to email out short videos using Loom. Loom allows you to make videos of yourself presenting updates or walking through a process. Loom is free.  If you want to assess resource needs or how your students are doing, consider creating a survey to send students to get feedback. You may also consider using Slack and creating a Slack channel.

If a student is not responding and/or you feel concerned about a student, submit a CARE report and a campus case manager will reach out to the student to help. Whenever submitting a CARE report, it is a best practice to also notify your SAA so they are aware.

Advising Appointments

With an incoming cohort of new graduate students, it will be important to structure advising appointments so students receive the advising they need. We encourage offering weekly drop-in Zoom office hours, where students know they can visit your Zoom waiting room to speak to you. Alternatively, you could schedule regular appointments with each student or offer group advising sessions (no FERPA-protected information can be shared). Sessions could also be themed to attract students on various topics (coursework/degree requirements, campus resources, professional development, etc.).

Be sure to explain to your graduate students how best to make an appointment with you during this time. You may wish to create an email template with appointment and Zoom instructions. We have included tips and resources below on how best to manage virtual advising appointments.  We recommend Academic Advising Amid Social Distancing (article).

Calendars with Outlook Integrations

Zoom Resources

Zoom offers a help centervideo tutorials, and live and pre-recorded training webinars.

Also helpful:

Tips for Remote Difficult Conversations

  • A lot of the skills you have developed still apply (active listening, asking questions, validating, etc.).
  • Approach all difficult conversations from a supportive place. We want to assure graduate students that their mental and physical health and well-being are the top priority. We want to offer support and flexibility during this time.
  • Try to have this conversation with the student via Zoom, if they are comfortable. It is easier to understand tone and communicate with visual cues.
  • If student isn’t sharing their screen or is communicating over the phone, ask questions where you might usually rely on physical cues. (“How are you feeling right now?”)
  • Let the student know the topic for the meeting in advance and your intentions of support.
  • You can acknowledge how the conversation might be awkward or difficult over Zoom. 
  • Try to keep the number of faculty/staff on the Zoom call to a minimum as not to overwhelm the graduate student. 
  • Allow the student to take a break or step away for a moment if helpful.
  • Share your screen when referring to resources, so the student can see the staff members, contact information, resource etc. directly. 
  • If the student may need mental health support or resources, consider contacting Crises Consultation Services or inviting Dr. Bai-Yin Chen or OSSJA Case Managers to wait in the waiting room to enter as needed or after the conversation to provide support.
  • Regarding sensitive situations or conflicts, try to stick to the facts as much as possible and avoid subjective statements, emotional reactions, or predictions for the future. 
  • Summarize the conversation and resources to send to the student after the meeting.
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting while on the meeting to ensure additional engagement and support. 

*Thank you to e Coté, Case Manager, OSSJA for contributing to these tips.

Remote Oral Exams

Thank you to the MCIP graduate program and the College of Biological Sciences for sharing their remote oral exam instructions (adapted for general use).

Key Campus Resources