What is Multicultural Advising?
Ask any advisor, and they will probably agree that all advising should be multicultural. This type of advising works with the student in a holistic way, taking into account the many sub-identities that make up the student’s main identity. Students who identify with various groups will face barriers and challenges, and experience joys and successes that are unique to that particular population. Unique populations of student will encounter specific issues, things that experts have known about for decades. Knowing how you will develop as a student is vital to understanding what stages you will encounter, how to move beyond them, what comes next, and how to define success for yourself.
Why does Multicultural Advising Concern You?
When we hear the word “multicultural,” our minds automatically go to people of color. But that kind of binary thinking limits our potential and development because multicultural means so much more. You may be considered a multicultural student and not even realize it.
To understand multiculturalism, we must understand the word “culture.” Culture includes race, sexual orientation, religion, traditions, education, abilities, practices, environment, health, and lifestyle.
So what IS a multicultural student?
… is of a race other than white
… doesn’t have college educated parents
… comes from a family with lower socio-economic status than middle-class
… is learning or physically impaired to any degree
… identifies with one or more of the LGBTQQ identities
… is a member of a non-maintstream religion
… lives in a non-traditional type of community
What other characteristics can you think of to define multiculturalism?
How Can Multicultural Advising Help You?
There are resources such as special advising opportunities and scholarships available to many students who identify with any of these groups. But even more importantly, we don’t realize the impact these “non-traditional” identities have on our studies and academic life. Understanding the impact of our various characteristics gives us awareness and tools to help us circumvent the barriers we encounter. And to be sure, there is nothing you are experiencing that hasn’t been experienced before–probably by more people than you can imagine. Only by knowing what to expect, can you plan for how to tackle the challenges that will come your way.
Many people think that having one or more barriers to higher education will spell certain failure for them. But those who live in a life of barriers are most often more used to overcoming them, and they are often very strong college students–ones who don’t give up when life gets tough. Can you imagine if you know what’s to come and how to navigate it?
Rebecca L. Evans, Academic Advisor
I fumbled around the college scene for years before finally earning my Bachelor’s degree. I had several barriers to learning and completing my degree–low income, first-generation college student, two learning challenges, two debilitating medical conditions, and a family to raise. I learned a few things during that time about navigating the system, and about the importance of working closely with a good academic advisor along the way. It became my passion to help others get from Point A to Point B in a much more timely fashion than I did. Thus, I entered graduate school to earn my Master’s degree in Academic Advising.
Don’t fumble around like I did. There is so much to learn about a college education: from applying, to matriculating, moving into, through, and eventually beyond the institution. These can be expensive lessons to learn, and they are a huge time suck. Let’s chart this course together, with my expertise and your passion.
Rebecca L. Evans, College Advising Specialist
M.S., Academic Advising, Kansas State University
B.A., Journalism, University of Oregon