Rethinking student advising at University of Virginia

Eager to gain a clear understanding of the student experience so they could better advise and support undergraduates throughout their education, the University of Virginia charged brightspot with identifying and analyzing student concerns regarding academic, career, and personal support services.

BrightSpot Strategy

“In order for the University of Virginia to further enhance the student educational experience, student advising was identified as an important area to address. brightspot was an important partner in helping us figure out how. Together, we planned a new Center that’s allowing dozens of support offices to interact with students in new ways and to reach students they might otherwise miss.”

– Archie Holmes, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, University of Virginia

Through interviews and conversations with students, leadership, and staff as well as analysis of a campus-wide survey, brightspot identified and confirmed the need for a central space where students could access a full suite of services, complemented by online resources. brightspot analyzed user behavior and conducted workshops with diverse students and staff in order to craft a plan for how this Student Services Center would work, what services it would offer, how these services could be made more accessible, which service partners would be participate, and how these partners would work together to share space, technology, and information.

To realize this vision of engaging, empowering, and holistically guiding students to success, brightspot created plan that blends study space with support services to meet students where they are and reduce the barriers to (and potential stigmas of) getting help. This plan brought together dozens of different support services – from career advising to tutoring to peer mentoring to counseling – in a flexible space with a proactive and collaborative service model. We also created the organizational governance structure for the Center, identified its digital needs, and developed its operating budget. The Dathel and John Georges Student Center, designed by Nalls Architecture, opened on the 2nd floor of Clemons Library in 2017. Comparing UVA’s 2016 SERU survey (prior to opening) and their 2018 survey (after opening), the results are positive:

12% increase in total satisfaction with advising
33% increase in those who are “Very Satisfied”
31% decrease in those who are “Very Dissatisfied”

BrightSpot Strategy
BrightSpot Strategy