September 2018

Choosing a career. Choosing a major. Today’s college students have many options but often don’t receive informed guidance in selecting programs of study that match their giftedness and career goals.

A new, third grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education [NetVUE], funded by the Council of Independent Colleges and the Lilly Endowment, Inc. is aimed at assisting PBA students in finding the academic major that best suits so that they can succeed academically and in life.

“NetVUE grants are helping PBA develop a culture of calling toward career early in a student’s experience at PBA,” Vice President for Development Vicki Pugh said. “The first two NetVue grants focused on providing students and faculty with tools that foster discernment toward their God-given purpose and calling. This new grant will reach students in a deeper way, targeting at-risk students to participate in innovative strategies to explore calling and set their coursework toward degree completion.”

While vocational exploration at the University is primarily supported by the Office of Career Development, which offers a variety of resources to help students find their calling in life, classroom experiences also have an impact.

Dr. Vince Diller, program director of the Athletic Training Program, has spent 22 years in Christian higher education, with equal parts in student development, intercollegiate athletics and academia. Diller has been appointed as the Faculty Advising Fellow who will lead this NetVUE grant on behalf of the Center for Teaching Excellence, which is administrated by Associate Provost for Instruction Dr. Nathan Lane.

The newest NetVUE grant establishes Transformational Advising Program (TAP) to connect students in a more efficient and meaningful way to activities that uncover their professional path.

“Through TAP, we hope to see students not only stay in school but to find their calling or vocation early, and actively seek more opportunities for lifelong learning, leadership and service,” said Diller.

He went on to explain that his interest in student advising “stems from each of the unique roles the Lord has guided me through.” From balancing the time-demanding schedules of student athletes to helping students and families in crisis identify modified and alternate degree plans, Diller said that each experience impressed the value and need for a relational type of student advising that can be transformational for student and the advisor.

According to Diller, attention to efficiency and accuracy in degree planning is important; however, relationship and purposeful advising toward student’s goals and calling offers a potentially life-changing experience that few other relationships on campus can mimic. In higher education, this is called transformational advising – the term from which the program title is derived.

“The focus of the TAP is first-year advising but a secondary goal of my role as the Faculty Advising Fellow and this grant is to identify resources to improve all faculty advising and carry momentum form this first-year interaction into all advising,” Diller said.

A leadership council is being recruited to aid in identifying best practices in advising at PBA. “With the council’s support, we will invite interested faculty and student development staff involved in advising to participate in TAP Advisor training in early fall,” explained Diller. “In this first year of the grant, the TAP advisors will be paired with primarily first-year exploratory majors (no major yet) prior to spring registration. Expansion of the program will be assessed after implementation with this initial cohort of students.”

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