A group of Virginia Tech students is helping fellow Hokies improve their college experience one workshop at a time. 

These students are advising ambassadors and their goal is to help other students plan out their college years. These Academic Planning Workshops, which began in the spring 2019 semester, are part of the Student Success Initiatives area.

The advising ambassadors include students from various majors who run the workshops around campus. These workshops are free appointments for students in all majors to plan their class schedules, study abroad trips, internships, and extracurricular involvements. Workshops are open to 30 students at a time, but typically students receive one-on-one support during this time.

“I think if you’re looking for a way to make the most of your time at Virginia Tech, it involves some sort of plan,” said Brianna Sclafani, a senior and an advising ambassador majoring in history, criminology, and sociology. “What we do at these workshops is help you plan out your time better.”

The mission as advising ambassadors is to promote student self awareness, serve as a resource to create an academic plan for students, and help students make realistic and responsible goals for their time at Virginia Tech. Advising ambassadors use the online tool, Pathways Planner, to schedule a student's college curriculum.

These advising sessions are available for all students. However, freshmen and sophomores are encouraged to use this resource to plan their curriculum to reduce stress and create a finite plan early on.

Students in these workshops can plan out one semester or the rest of their time in college. Though each student at Virginia Tech has a faculty advisor, the advising ambassadors are an additional resource for students to make sure they have all their bases covered.

“What I hope for students to get out of the workshops is to have more confidence in what the next few years are going to look like for them,” said Chris Kuhler, an advising ambassador majoring in agribusiness. 

Kuhler also said that these workshops help students to plan not only their academic schedule but co-curricular activities as well. These plans give students a road map to see where they can become more involved in other campus activities, such as internships or study abroad.

The ambassadors answer questions related to registration, course planning, campus advising, and registration tools. They also help students prepare for meetings with their academic advisors to make the most of their time. 

“It’s about having some sort of tentative idea in mind that way you know that the end game is really not out of reach,” said Sclafani. “You know it’s there, you just have to work really hard to get there.”

Since the program is new, the advising ambassadors are always looking for ways to improve and enhance the student’s experiences. They want to build a stronger relationship between students and their overall plan for college. This way, students feel confident in how they are spending their time before graduation.

Students can sign up for an advising ambassador appointment through Navigate and look for the type of appointment they are interested in. More information on the advising ambassador program and the advising schedule can be found on their website

“I want students leaving the workshops to know they have so many resources available to them,” said Sclafani. “Signing up for that workshop is them taking the first step, but they still have some time to go. I hope once they leave, they don’t forget all the resources.”

Written by Haley Cummings

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