Collaborative Relationships Between Academic Advising and Registrar's Offices

The relationship between the academic advising and registrar’s office can be beneficial to both students and the institution. By collaborating, these offices are able to better accommodate the needs of students and the institution.

Cem Sunata, Registrar at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, Seven Shablin, Registrar at Oakland University, Beth Merritt-Miller, Assistant Vice Provost for University Advising at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, and Carmen Etienne, Director, SECS advising at Oakland University will lead an interactive panel discussion about collaboration between these two units.

Cem Sunata


California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo

Steven Shablin


Oakland University

Beth Merritt-Miller

Assistant Vice Provost for University Advising

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

Carmen Etienne

Director, SECS Advising

Oakland University

Collaborative Relationships Between Academic Advising and Registrar's Offices

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Tell us about your session.

Merritt-Miller:  We are collaborating on a session about how academic advising and the registrar’s office collaborate together for student success.  We will conduct a panel to discuss some of the ideas we have had success with both at California Polytechnic State University and Oakland University.  We will discuss how integral both units are to the success of students.

Shablin: We also want to make the session interactive so that everyone who attends will have an opportunity to provide theirs ideas and best practices.  Collaborative learning at its best!

Why is it essential for registrars and advisors to collaborate?

Sunata: There is a symbiotic relationship between the registrar’s office and advising office. When a student goes to see their advisor, they often get prescriptive advising. While the advisors are working with their students, if they are bogged down by the mechanics of a degree, their session will be much less useful, which, in turn, could affect student success and the graduation rates in a negative way.  Enrollment professionals and advisors agree that what students need is developmental advising.  Having a prescriptive advising system due to the hurdles created by the mechanics of a student's curriculum is not balanced.  If the registrar's office can help remove those hurdles, it can, then, bring that balance to advising it can allow them to do more developmental advising.  

Etienne: Collaboration is essential because we are working with students and dealing with many registrarial rules, policies, and deadlines.  We cannot get students through the graduation process without working together.  At Oakland University we have members from the Registrar’s office and advising offices on committees together. There are policies from the Registrar’s office that may affect students; but sometimes the Registrar’s office may be unaware of the effect until advisors meet with the students. Having conversations about what students are experiencing is essential.

Shablin: Much of the successes with students, faculty and staff involve collaboration among offices.  Students want that collaboration, knowing that they receive the service they need.  The Registrar’s Office enforces and interprets the academic policies of the institution, while the Advising Office needs to know the policies and assist students.  We need to work closely for student success.

What are the benefits of the collaborative relationship between the two?

Etienne:  I think it is a benefit to the institution.  The Registrar’s office needs advisors to figure out what the student needs and what we can do to help that student graduate At Oakland University, advisors and the Registrar’s office are working on a lean process project for regarding graduation. We want to know: What is making it harder for students to graduate? What is slowing down the process?  -By looking at this process, we are hoping to impact graduation rates and retention rates.

Merritt-Miller:  It also benefits the student because the policies are more consistent.  For us it’s the consistency of communication across campus and that just makes things easier for everybody.  Working together minimizes the student’s desire to ask different people the same question until they receive the answer they want to hear.  

Sunata: Another benefit is that we are able to discuss some of the common problems that arise when students meet with their advisors.  If a policy is not working right, the advisors can make us aware of the problem and together we can take those issues to the administration or academic senate to adjust the policy.  It is a bilateral relationship that allows us to see what is or is not working.

What are you looking forward to at the Annual Meeting?

Etienne:  You cannot advise without having the Admissions office and Registrar’s office involved.   I’m looking forward to learning fresh ideas and perspectives; concepts and ideas that I can bring back to my campus, administration and advising colleagues.  It’s always refreshing to attend a different type of conference related to what you’re doing.  

Merritt-Miller: I come from an advising background and am aware of how advising works with the admissions and registrar’s office.  I am looking forward to learning what other institutions are doing in general.

Shablin: It will be good to reconnect with colleagues who I haven’t seen since the 2014 Annual Meeting.