Firstly, think about it from a student’s perspective. This is such a significant jump! University or College alike, students are suddenly thrown in with less structure, studying with people they do not know of different ages and so many deadlines to cope with.
The role of a personal tutor/student support advisor is severalfold: A counsellor, a motivator, a disciplinarian, and most of all an encourager. Essentially, the underrated angel in human form assigned to guide students along their educational journey.
Nothing is more precious for them than that proud, smiling face of them walking in telling they’ve made it past the finish line and completed the year, or handed in that gruelling dissertation. This begs the question; how can we make the most of personal tutors and student support to help students?
More Communication With Different Departments
When you meet the students that get given to you or indeed voluntarily come your way, they may come with issues that are perhaps out of your expertise. Besides the talk of how grades and deadlines are getting on, they may choose to enclose details about other issues bothering them, such as mental health or poor financial management to name a few.
It is essential to help the students out by having close connections with other departments in the university, such as the mental health or finance advisory. It could be as simple as a short phone call, or brief email, but the effects could be profound and could play a part with that student not dropping out.
With this one, it is ideal to have a balance. Whilst it is a fine motivator for some students, other students may prefer to deal with the ‘here and now’. A lot of students come with the very‐common ‘I’m scared about not knowing what I want to do in the future’, we’ve all been there haven’t we? The cloud of uncertainty comes over our heads and pours such unhelpful, negative thoughts our way.
As this is a typical phenomenon, there are things personal tutors could do, for example send them towards the careers department, be up‐to‐date with all various events and workshops throughout the campus, to helpfully suggest going to one of them.
International Students Department could assist with leading some workshops to pass on some advice regarding studying life from different cultures. Some countries have a very different approach to learning, perhaps it might be very strict, closed, and traditional, then they come to your institution with so much freedom, and calling staff by their first name could bewildering to some! Other students may have parents who pile significant pressure on their children to do better than they are able to and even study subjects they might not want to.
With this in mind, the role of the personal tutor is to help students a lot, and they are paramount to the student retention. With this in mind, a massive thank you to the unsung heroes, the institutional inspirers, the sensational supporters.