Skip to content

Career and Academic Planning Services Give Fisher Students an Edge

March 19, 2020

Fisher’s Center for Career and Academic Planning (CCAP) serves as a one-stop shop for students seeking advice and counseling as they map their academic journey. Located on the first floor of Lavery Library, the Center is staffed by professional advisors available for walk-in meetings or one-on-one appointments. Advisors help students to excel academically, explore careers and industries, develop professional skills and experiences, and finish their degree on time.

The Office of Freshman Admissions sat down with Dr. Michelle Erklenz-Watts, director of academic advising, to learn about the services available to students and how the unique center offers an integrated approach to student success.

OFA: CCAP staff members offer double the knowledge and are able to help students with academic and career planning. How does this dual expertise offer students an extra edge as they move through their four years at Fisher?

MEW: By blending these two elements, Fisher has created a seamless support experience for students. Working with our advisors, students receive guidance and wisdom to help them make decisions about how they integrate their studies with their career dreams. It is synthesis planning. Students can get help from any advisor instead of waiting for a “specialist” to be available.

We pride ourselves on having individually unique relationships with each student. This effort is even better now that we can serve the student from course planning to internships to graduation and beyond. We offer students more personalized, authentic, and meaningful in- and out-of-class experiences because we truly know who they are and what they would like to be.

OFA: What is “The Fisher Edge?”

MEW: The Fisher Edge is the College’s integrated approach to student success that will offer them premier opportunities to excel academically, benefit from team-based advising, get a head start with career exploration, take advantage of internships and other experiential learning opportunities, and on-time degree completion in four years or less. CCAP serves in supporting The Fisher Edge. The Fisher Edge will lead students to create their own signature experience - one that fits their academic interests, personal ambitions, and career aspirations.

OFA: With the creation of The Fisher Edge, the College invested in cutting-edge software, including Cardinal Connections, Handshake, UAchieve, and FisherLink. What do each of these bring the academic and career advising staff, and how can students leverage these platforms to articulate and achieve their academic and career goals?

MEW: FisherLink helps students connect and communicate with their instructors and support staff. UAchieve will be most useful as students build their schedule. It helps students stay on track with the requirements of the College and their major/minor. Handshake is one of the most powerful tools students have to access job and internship postings from our partner employers, on-campus interviewing days, employer visit days, career events, and more. Cardinal Connections is also an extraordinary opportunity for students to connect with alumni, selected employers, and families for networking. It is the Fisher version of Linkedin.

OFA: Do you offer specific services to first-year students aiding their transition from high school to college?

MEW: All CCAP advisors are also first-year advisors themselves and serve as colleague mentors to the other first-year advisors. We emphasize during Great Beginnings, Orientation and First-Year Seminar that CCAP is the place to go for academic support. Our advisors will either know the answer or know how to get the answer.

OFA: What services are available for students who are undeclared?

MEW: Two CCAP advisors lead a class, ITDY Major Choices. The description of the course is on the Choosing a Major (Undecided) page. Since implementing this course two years ago, for the students who take it, we have seen increased retention and success at finding the right fit major. We also have several career and interest surveys and assessments that can help a student narrow down their choices and find just the right major.

OFA: What advice do you have for first-year students?

MEW: Use your resources. As part of your tuition, you have access to so many resources that are in place to help you succeed. Shake off the myth that using supports are only for students who are struggling. They are for all students who want to do the best they can. Also, start your career planning now. You will do so much as a college student that you want to capture and be purposeful about in order to set yourself up with the most opportunities upon graduation.

OFA: Do you have any advice/tips for guidance counselors working with high school students as they graduate?

MEW: Try to find out what misconceptions students have about college and clear them up. Encourage the students to go to all the summer events at the college of their choice.