Email Did Not Come with a User’s Manual

Like many people I was first introduced to email in the early 1990’s. It all began when my brother, a faculty member at another university in the southeast, started communicating with me through university servers. This saved us both a lot of money on long distant phone bills. Okay, some of the conversation was not on education, but on catching up with family gossip. (Give us a break.) No user manual was provided to inform us that this might be not proper.   Neither of us owned home computers let alone had any awareness of email servers for personal use, like AOL.

It wasn’t until about ten years later that a shift in my career from teaching to advising greatly increased the volume of my professional email usage. Again, professional email did not come with a user’s manual. I was thrown into the water to sink or swim. I knew how to write business letters, but this mode of communication seemed different. The beauty of email was that I could respond to a student or an advisor question without much effort and in no time flat as if I was talking to them. Many times I did not reread what I wrote before pressing send. It was only when I needed to send out an announcement to a group or response to an administrator that I had someone critique my work.

Finally, after over twenty years since my first email, I found manuals on the art of writing emails! There are two very good books that I would like to recommend that are quick reads. The first is titled Email, the Manual: Everything You Should Know about Email Etiquette, Policies, and Legal Liability before You Hit Send, by Jeffrey Steele. The other (and the one that I will review) is Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to do better, by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe.

Send begins with the reasons to love email. One reason is exactly what I did when I began my email journey and that was/is I can reach almost anyone inexpensively. We all could list many more good reasons, but there are just as many reasons to wish we did not have it. Two such negatives would be that we can’t take the mistake emails back and there is a fairly permanent electronic record of emails.

What I liked most about Send is that the authors admitted that they have been guilty of bad email etiquette and provided actual examples of email that they have sent and received. They did more than just share bad examples with loaded phrasing. They demonstrated how to rephrase with a softened and mindful effect.

Here are some examples of loaded phrasing they suggest to avoid:

  • I can’t imagine why…
  • You’ll have to…
  • Is it too much to ask…
  • Why in the world…
  • It seems odd that…
  • Just curious, but…
  • Please explain to me…

One technique that I learned to soften the tone is to write as if I am the one at fault.

Bad example: Please explain to me why the procedure suddenly changed.

Good example: My recall is that the situation may have been handled differently in the past. Have I forgotten the procedure or did I accidentily overlook a memo changing the process?

As it turns out, Send is also an author-created acronym reminding us how to write a good email.

S=simple; E=effective; N=necessary; D=done

Emails should be simple and to the point. They should be effective in what they convey. They should contain only necessary information. Lastly, emails should contain a procedure that checks to see that a request is completed.

To summarize, “be mindful and think before you send.” “Send only email that you would like to receive.”

Writing a NACADA Book Review!

Anyone who knows me knows I love to read (almost as much as I love Disney).  So, I was excited when I found out that I could get a free book each year in exchange for writing a book review for NACADA.  The process for doing this is very easy and they help you out every step of the way.  You do have to be a member of NACADA in order to request a book and write a review for them, but if you are, it is a really simple process.

The first step is to go to and check out the “List of available books”.  I try to go and check out the list every month or so, to see if there is a book that is of particular interest to me or that I think might interest one of my colleagues.  You can only do this once per year, so make sure you find a book you are really interested in reading. There are usually at least 10 books to choose from and the topics are wide ranging, from books on policy and teaching/advising methodology to novels.

Once you find a book you are interested in reading, send a request to  They will send you your book and instructions for completing the book review.  You must read the book and submit a draft of your review within three months.  If you can’t meet the deadline, you can request an extension, return the book or pay replacement and handling costs, so make sure you set aside time to read and write your review (I did a lot of my reading on my lunch hour).

I was really nervous the first time I wrote a book review for NACADA, I was afraid it would be terrible and that I would do it all wrong.  It turned out to be a lot less stressful than I expected.  They give you really clear guidelines about what they are looking for with regard to content of you review as well as length.  You send it to them and then they will send it back with some corrections/suggestions.  Once you approve the changes, they publish the review in the next issue of the online Journal and send you the link to your review so you can see the final product.

I encourage anyone who is a NACADA member to take advantage of this opportunity.  Writing a book review for NACADA gives you the chance to get a free book, get yourself published in the NACADA journal, and engage in professional development through both reading the book and writing the review. I learned a lot both of the times I have done this and am looking forward to doing it again.

For those who are not NACADA members, keep in mind that you can always write a book review for the ACADAOS blog or any other professional organization that you might belong to that publishes book reviews.  No matter how you go about doing it, make sure you log the points for the Professional Development program through ACADAOS!


Written by Stephanie Elliott

Book Review- A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)

I have been working with Engineering students for almost five years now, and working as an academic advisor for close to eight. Every year I would hear the same refrain: “This is the best and brightest group of students we have ever seen.” I would look at each new student’s record and see almost an entire academic career of AP or PSEO Math and Science courses. Yet, when the students would get their grades back, they would perform at level that did not match their academic ability. The most common things that I would hear would be: “I don’t understand. I do great on the quizzes and homework, but I bomb the exam,” and “We had never seen any of the stuff that was on the exam before.” Somewhere, there was disconnect between our students ability and their performance.

I stumbled onto a book over winter break called A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra), by Dr. Barbara Oakley. Dr. Oakley is a former military officer, who studied languages as a college student. She thought, “I am a right-brained person. I don’t get Math and Science.” However, as she progressed in her career, she had to learn Math and Science in order to properly do her job. She had to retrain her brain in order to understand the complex Math and Science that was required of her. She was not only successful in doing so, but has gone on to get an undergrad, Masters, and Ph.D. in Engineering.

Her book uses some very basic understanding of neuroscience to explain how the brain operates, and how you can use that processing to understand very complex subjects. The most important concept for me was what Dr. Oakley calls the “Illusion of Competence.” This occurs when you know one way to do something, but when you are given a different set of circumstances, you find out what you really don’t know, because you haven’t made connections about it why what you are learning is so important. Very few of our students spend time contemplating what they are studying – they are used to learning only for the exam. The irony is that they only study for one particular way the questions could be asked, so when they are required to think critically and analytically about the material, their “understanding” shown to be nothing more than, as Dr. Oakley would put it, and “illusion.”

Dr. Oakley has essentially created a mini-version of the book on Coursera, titled, “Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help you Master Tough Subjects.” She has turned her chapters into videos, none of which are more than fifteen minutes long. If you don’t want to spend the money to read the book, the Coursera course is very good. The book does go into more detail and examples, so it is well worth it.

Overall, this is an excellent book, and useful for anyone trying to get through a difficult subject. The explanations of neuroscience are accessible, and easy to understand. She also uses many real-world examples of how some of the great minds of our time – Salvador Dali and Thomas Edison, for example – actually used some of the techniques she described. It’s a book that you might not be able to finish over a weekend (about 280 pages), but is not exceedingly long. For a book that is rooted in neuroscience, it is not dry or boring at all. It contains a lot of illustrations, diagrams, and practical examples. I strongly recommend this book for anyone working or learning in higher education.

Barry Tolchin



ACADAOS Executive Committee Highlights – May 1, 2015 Meeting

Hi everyone! Welcome to the end of the 2014-2015 school year! You did it and we made it. Yeah!! This meeting was our last before the transition meeting scheduled for late June or early July – be on the lookout for further information.

We had a visitor via “Carmen Connect” to share information with us regarding the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) offered out of John Glenn College – here are the main ideas from our discussion with Katy Hogan:
• WAIP is open to any (major), junior/senior undergrads (standing based on earned credits)
• Need to be interested in public policy/public affairs – opportunities are in a variety of areas
• Apply; get interviewed and secure an internship in Washington, D.C.
• There is no program fee, housing and utilities are roughly $4000 (student’s responsibility), scholarships are available
• Contact Katy Hogan (hogan.124) or Chris Adams (adams.615) with questions

The ACADAOS Banquet was a SMASHING success — thank you to all who planned, executed, and helped with set-up and clean-up. A special congratulations to our award winners! Our tentative banquet date for next year is April 28, 2016 — SAVE the DATE!!

Thank-An-Advisor and Advisor Appreciation were two fantastic weeks this year. We had the chance to engage, celebrate our hard work, and get recognized for our efforts. You will have the opportunity to send feedback on these events – please make sure to do that!

The lunch meet-ups went well with 2 working parent lunches and 1 new/young professionals lunch — don’t want for an email, feel free to send one out to the group. If you’re eating lunch alone, it’s pretty much guaranteed there are other advisors eating alone as well, who would love to catch up with you and others.

Emails have been sent to nominate officers for the ACADAOS Executive Board (President, President-Elect, and Secretary). This is a GREAT way to get involved and connect with other advisors all over Ohio State and beyond. The nomination deadline is this Friday, May 8th!

Make sure to complete your Professional Development activities on Carmen – points will be awarded and prizes will be given out at the 2015 ACADAOS Kick-Off Event. Thank you to all of you who participated this year…you still have time through this summer to complete activities.

We will have 1-2 more social events in the near future – a happy hour and Clippers Game are possibilities…we would LOVE to see you there!

Good luck with Graduation and Orientation.

ACADAOS Executive Committee Highlights – March 2015 Meeting

Hopefully, you find these updates helpful, useful, and maybe even enjoyable.  Here we go…

Derrick Tillman Kelly, Special Assistant to the Director for the “Center for Higher Education Enterprise” (CHEE) visited this meeting to share information about the goals and projects currently happening.  CHEE’s main goal is to facilitate student success.  The four facets of this goal are access, affordability, engagement, and excellence.  CHEE is invested in a few projects at this time, one of those being the work of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), which includes Ohio State and 10 other public research institutions.  This project relates closely to advising – who we are, what we do, and how we can help students.  This group shares information regarding successful practices that support student success, how to scale these practices, and how to graduate greater numbers of students across the country.

ACADAOS is hoping to host an outreach activity or workshop with our friends from Student Financial Aid.  This event would be engaging and allow us to learn more about financial aid terms specific to a variety of student situations.  A goal of this “event” would be to gain a greater understanding about the financial aid options for students.

A survey is in the works, regarding our Professional Development program.  Please be on the lookout and let your supervisors know, as we might be asking them for feedback.

ACADAOS Officer Elections are coming up – start thinking about how you can engage with the advising community at Ohio State, while taking on a leadership role.

Thank an Advisor Week (April 6-10, 2015) is happening the week before Advisor Appreciation Week.  There will be tables around campus for students to write thank you notes, a “Letter to Editor” of the Lantern describing what advisors do/how we help students, and other initiatives in place to thank advisors for all of the hard work and dedication to the profession, to students, and to others.

Advisor Appreciation Week (April 13-17, 2015) is right around the corner—there will be a Stadium and Orton Bell Tower Tour (please sign up), breakfasts, lunches, music, dogs, athletic events…engage with fellow advisors – there is something for everyone!

The ACADAOS End of the year advising Banquet is happening.  Please be sure to RSVP ASAP!  We will recognize years of service (new this year), Outstanding Advisor, Friends of ACADAOS and…DOOR PRIZES.  Don’t miss out!

There will be a General Body Meeting in May – We will either host Financial Aid or University Career Services Committee (UCSC) for this meeting.  If you have a preference, suggestions, thoughts, ideas…feel free to contact any of us on the executive board.

Social events have been AWESOME this year – from Happy Hours to Hockey Games, we have had good participation, but would love to see more of you.  There will be one more social event in May, prior to Orientation…stay tuned for details!

The who, what, why, when, and where of professional organizations.

A long time ago when I was but a wee graduate student at the University of Akron studying Higher Education, we did a lot of talking about professional development and research.  We also discussed the multitude of positions in higher education and organizations that related to those positions.  Some of our peers at OSU have asked me the question, “How do you even know about these organizations, Katie?”  “I found out about them in graduate school” is my typical answer.  And that got me thinking…there are a lot of advisors on campus that didn’t get their start in advising through a higher education graduate program. So, I wanted to offer an insider’s view of what these things are all about.

Who are these organizations?  There are many to choose from and I would say it all depends on your role and job responsibilities.  This is a fairly complete list of higher education professional organizations:  Do some online research for each organization, and talk to co-workers or peers to get thoughts about what organizations they’ve joined (and what they do with that membership).  There isn’t one organization that works for everyone.

What can you do for professional organizations and what they can do for you?  Most of us think of a professional organization and think, yeah, they offer a conference, maybe a journal, but not much else.  That is so not true!  They offer outlets to collaborate with our peers from across the country, improve our leadership skills, improve our writing and or research abilities, and about a ba-zillion other things that I won’t drone on about.  I chose to use The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), and our on-campus organization Academic Advising Association of The Ohio State University (ACADAOS) to improve my leadership abilities, to work collaboratively on research and presentations, and to learn best practices from other advisors.  Think about what you can do for the organizations you are joining, don’t just join to add a line to your resume.

When should you join?  Now!  Most organizations take memberships year round and will give you access to their online resources right away.

How can you get involved?  It depends on the organization.  It will typically be listed on their website, and most organizations have commissions or interest groups.  If there’s a commission that catches your eye, email the chair and ask how you can get involved in their group.  In most cases the level of involvement is up to you.  I started by reading presentation proposals for the Region 5 conference for NACADA, then moved up to helping plan the region conference, to being a part of the STEM commission, to chair of the commission.  I always think about professional organizations the same way I tell my students to think about their student organizations, “You get out of them what you put into them.”

If you don’t know where to get started, ask someone you know that is involved.  Anyone on the ACADAOS executive board would be great people to start with :-)


~Katie Bush-Glenn

ACADAOS Mansfield Trip

Hello ACADAOS Members and Friends,
On December 5, 2014, the folks at the Mansfield campus were gracious enough to host a group of ACADAOS members. I have been asked to blog about my experience. This is my first attempt at a blog, so here goes:

Our journey started on a very nice OSU shuttle. There were about 20 of us in total, which was enough to feel like a big group, but still give us an opportunity to chat with one another. I made the mistake of telling one ACADAOS member that I never have, never plan to, nor have any interest in ever visiting Disney World or Land. After she picking up the pieces of what appeared to be her broken heart, she then proceeded to tell me what is, I am assuming, everything any human being will ever need to know about the park.

When we arrived on campus, we met with Dr. Terri Fisher, Asst. Dean, and Rick Stewart, Academic Advisor and Program Planner. Rick and Terri took us through some of the exciting new things that the campus is working on. The Mansfield campus is really pushing their students to get involved in undergraduate research. They have had a lot of success getting undergraduate students involved in research with faculty members. They have created a great site which can direct students on how to get involved with research, and how to apply for a research grant:

We also learned about the Haiti Empowerment Project. This is an initiative developed by Dr. Terri Bucci, in which students can travel to Haiti and work on projects designed to help the local community. Students work to develop education programs, engineering projects, and assist with entrepreneurship ventures. It’s a great opportunity for students to help others, immerse themselves in another country, and continue to develop career-related skills. You can find a video about the project here:

We were also given a tour of the campus by some of the student leaders. We have some pictures from the tour below:


The brand new open study space in the Bromfield Library:


The Eisenhower Student Union:


Steven Mousetes creeping out some stagehands in the Founders Auditorium:


We were also shown the Pearl Conrad Art Gallery. They were holding a Biotic exhibit, which featured organic works such as the history and significance of ginseng. You can find out more information on their website:

Finally, Professors Phil Mazzocco and Amy Brunell put us through an implicit bias workshop. The purpose was to get us to understand that we all have biases based on our experiences and sociocultural conditioning. This is a workshop that Professors Mazzocco and Brunell have given to local and campus groups with great success, and we had a great conversation among the advisors about our own biases.

We had an outstanding time, and we cannot thank our colleagues on the Mansfield campus for opening their doors to us, and creating such a fantastic program. Thank you to everyone involved, and we hope you can join us next time!

Barry Tolchin, President-Elect


Advising and Recruitment…in 140 characters?! #tweetchat

There are a few of us on campus who are in advising roles but also serve as our academic unit’s recruitment contact.  You’ll see us running back and forth between our advising appointments and the SAS building for Admissions Update meetings or loading into 12 passenger vans with bags of swag and (for some of us) high heeled shoes that we rarely wear in our offices but bought because they look super cute with our scarlet and grey spirit gear that we don for the admitted student dessert receptions in Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

advisorrecruitment1 advisorrecruitment2

Kia McKinnie always provides some outtakes during the down time at these events. 

Most advisors, even if not officially recruiters for Ohio State or our Academic Units, also have the pleasure of appointments with prospective students and their families as they weigh their option to come to Ohio State vs. our in state and out of state competitors.  We answer questions about our programs, the different types of classes that a student might take and talk lots about the various curricular opportunities the student will have the privilege of experiencing in our majors.  We discuss the outcomes that our majors can provide in terms of graduate or professional school preparation and job marketability and we know our rankings inside and out.  We act as the navigator or connection between the strength of the academic programs and the opportunities at Ohio State and the hopes and dreams of those prospectives and their families. We help make the jumble of acronyms, the size of the institution and the ‘bigness’ of our degrees suddenly seem understandable, doable and even something to really be excited about starting.  This contact with our advising staff is often, I think, a key piece in getting the student to hit submit on that application.  Advisors are an important role in the recruitment process.

We don’t often talk about that though, do we?  In that 30-60 minute prospective student appointment we’re spending the whole time answering questions about our programs and talking about how awesome the opportunities at Ohio State are for each individual student that enrolls but we rarely talk about our role in helping the student actually put it all together.  We are a humble bunch right?  But we should talk about what we do and about what our role is. We should help the student understand that we are the constant that they’ll have throughout their four years here. No matter what population they fall into they will have an assigned academic advisor who is their link to the University. We should explain that we are the only staff that has direct responsibility for their academic life at the University. We should help them understand that we are not just course planners and schedulers or button pushers but that we are Outcomes Managers.  We are directly invested, wholeheartedly, in their academic success from the point that they push the apply button to when they toss their graduation cap into the air (that’s still allowed right?)  Isn’t that a selling point for Ohio State? That we have this team of dedicated professionals who chose a career in helping students find success no matter how bumpy the road? That we help create the web that helps prevent individual students from academically slipping through the cracks at a large institution?

I think it’s really starting to be.  Those few of us who have the dual roles have gotten to participate in more recruitment events specifically speaking about our roles in student success. Chris Adams, Jen Belisle, Dan DeMay, Whitney Weber and I did a break out session on “Who Is Your Advisor and What Do They Do” (Kindergarten Cop voice) at the last two Academic Open House visit days and were later asked to repeat the presentation for members of the University Communication Team.  Most recently, Chris and I got to participate in one of Undergraduate Admissions’ “TwitterChats”  Tweetchat? I am unsure of the verb tense appropriate for Twittering.

Undergraduate Admissions advertised:

A Live Twitter Chat with #OhioState Academic Advisors answering questions about what they do to help students navigate the Ohio State curriculum and become successful alumni.

And then on November 13th Chris and I spent a couple of hours trying to capture Advising’s Awesomeness and put it into 140 characters per tweet.  It was a great opportunity to talk about who advisors are and how we help students at Ohio State.   It was also stressful! Technology is not my friend but we survived with only slightly cramped thumbs from the tweeting.  You can read the transcript of the twitter chat at  if you would like.  My favorite part of the experience was getting to answer question 11.  They sent us the questions in advance so we would have time to think a bit about our answers and how to encapsulate them in 140 characters and I realized there was no way that I could do justice to “What Does a Degree Mean” from the perspective of all advisors on campus so we made a video instead and used it as a way to introduce some of our outstanding advisors.   Make sure you check it out at

I encourage you, the next time you have the opportunity with a prospective student and their family to take a minute to talk about what we do and what our part in the student’s life is.   Advising is important. Advisors are important.


A special thanks to Sarah Howard at the Newark Campus for the twitter advice! If you are looking into harnessing the power of Twitter in your advising role, she’s a great resource!!




Hello all! The NACADA Region 5 conference is just a short drive away in Indianapolis, Indiana! They are now accepting proposals for the conference and will be accepting them through January 2, 2015!  You can find more information at  

Additionally the ACT.ORG Enrollment Planners conference is in Chicago this year and is also accepting proposals! They will be accepting proposals through December 19th, 2014.  You can find more information at

Jen Belisle has a handy dandy rotating calendar of upcoming events so if you’re ever curious about what is “the haps” in advising you can find out at

 NACADA Region 5 has quite a few grants and scholarships that you can apply for for conference travel. Information is located at


*Adding hyperlinks is not working for me for some reason today! I apologize for making you cut and paste!



The New Kid In Town

We all work with a lot of students as they navigate their freshman year and try to deal with being the newbie on campus. For many of us, these are easy conversations to have with students because we have been there ourselves and can empathize with the struggles they face as they navigate a new campus and are experiencing things they haven’t been exposed to previously. I have found myself in the unique position as an advisor who works with mostly freshmen, while simultaneously experiencing many “firsts” of my own because this is also my freshman year at Ohio State.

Having been an advisor at another school for the last seven years, I’m not used to being the new guy on campus. Because I worked at the school I also attended as an undergrad, I started that job with a network of familiar faces on campus, knowledge of the school’s traditions and folklore, and a working knowledge of the undergrad curriculum I had just graduated from a few years prior. While I am excited about becoming a Buckeye, the ongoing process is an adjustment for somebody who was so invested somewhere else for so long.

So, for my other Buckeye advising newbies who may be out there, here are a few tips based on my own experience that have helped me thus far:

  • If coming from another school, resist the urge to start off a lot of sentences with “When I worked at [insert school here]…” This one took me a while to shake off, and I still catch myself once in a while wandering down Previous Policy Memory Lane. Things will operate differently here from where you have worked before. Our job as newbies is to take what we learned from previous experiences and learn how to adapt our transferrable skills to what we do at Ohio State. Be open to new ways of doing things, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how well a different approach works!
  • Get to know people outside of your office! I work in a great office. And I would still say that even if I didn’t think my coworkers were reading this. But Ohio State is a big place, and we all will work with other departments in some way or another. Through my coworkers, I got involved in ACADAOS, and have already met a lot of great people in different departments around campus. Getting to know other people and what they do is a great way to make a big campus feel a lot smaller.
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Particularly if you’ve been in the advising game for a while, it may seem awkward to have to ask someone in your office about every little thing, especially if you are used to being the one giving advice. I’m learning that while universities carry out largely the same goals, they do so in very different ways. But just like you can’t walk into a gym for the first time and bench 300 pounds, it takes time to build the Ohio State advising muscles that will make all of this seem like second nature pretty quickly.
  • Learn about football. Because it’s everything here. I come from a basketball school, so this ritual in which people gather outdoors on the weekend to watch guys on a grass field is a foreign concept to me, but I’m learning!