Students in general are just pretty great, but every once in a while one walks in to my office and I just think to myself, "This is a really cool person!" So far in my current job, I have met few such students. Lucky for me, they tend to be repeat visitors, so I have a chance to really get to know them well.
One of these students came in today. She has come in before to talk about her major and course planning, but her purpose for scheduling today's appointment was to talk about her "big picture": the goals and opportunities that she wants to have while she is in college and potentially beyond.
I LOVE when I don't have to fill out a worksheet or look through a student's record and can just sit back in my chair and have a real conversation!
We spent about 30 minutes talking about service opportunities on campus and off, traveling, a fellowship program offered on campus, training opportunities she might want to pursue, and more. I didn't have to do a lot of talking; I just got to listen and synthesize what she was saying to give her some of the starting points that she was looking for. Since I am interested in service-learning and social justice, this student and I see eye-to-eye on many things, and I am really happy that I can help point her towards opportunities to let her "learn, develop, and grow" (thanks, CSP!)
I really hope that at least some of my students see me as more than just their academic advisor. Not that I have the qualifications to be a life coach or anything, but I at least would like to have more of these "big picture" kinds of conversations with students. I would guess that the larger my student base becomes, the more of these conversations I will be able to have. I really just like having some students who are intentionally looking for these conversations from the beginning, though. In my work, I want to help students have an "experience [that] started a chain reaction that transformed some aspect of [themselves]" (Chickering & Reisser, 1993). I guess that's one of the reasons I love doing what I do.