The key for me in getting to know Upper Iowa University is discovering the varieties of opportunities the University offers its remarkably diverse students. One of the first I met is Manon Saudray, to whom I was introduced by Dr. Melissa Maier, a faculty member in the Communication Program, who told me of Manon's having had a presentation accepted at the Central States Communication President's Undergraduate Honors Research Conference in April, a juried event that had only a 50% acceptance rate of papers submitted.
Having grown up in France--and returning to visit her family when she can--Manon heard about Upper Iowa University and decided to pursue her education here. She will graduate in December 2013. She made her decision based on exploring schools in general and Upper Iowa in particular through Google, meaning she knew both the town and the University would be small. She arrived on her own, met people from Upper Iowa, and really has come to enjoy the benefits of studying at the University. Manon reminds me of others I have known who launch themselves into unknown new adventures, whether in large cities, such as New York or Chicago, or small communities, and both make their ways there and change the communities they join.
I was really interested in Manon's research project because it involves an issue in higher education--"Students' Perceptions of Satisfaction and Expectations of their Academic Advising Relationship." For many reasons, finding one's way through the many decisions involved in pursuing a University degree can be a journey through a thicket of unknowns as daunting as figuring out the New York Subway.
In addition to the unknowns a person experiences when wondering if he/she is really in the right major, a student is discovering his/here abilities, a well as wondering about the potential for life after graduation. In theory, a key guide to that journey can be the academic advisor, and especially at a small institution, that advisor will be a member of the faculty.
Because Manon's research is based on a solid protocol and included a meaningful sample of people, I got a quick insight into the strength of what Upper Iowa is doing for its students and the generally positive perceptions students have of their experiences. If you seek an advisor, you may find a prescriptive form of advising--to which some of us don't object--"Just tell us what to do, and although we may ignore your advice, at least we know what it is." But most people benefit from, and seek advisors who, engage with us as people and rather than prescribe what we should do, allow us the opportunity to explore options and develop our sense of the choices we want to make.
Thanks to Manon's research, I had a chance to get to know a good deal about students' perceptions of Upper Iowa University. And I had a chance to see through Manon a specific example of what Upper Iowa can offer an outstanding and highly-motivated student.