Spotlight Series: Jennifer Huebenthal

August 20, 2020

Marketing and Strategic Communications

Whether it’s a student’s first semester at Palo Alto College or their last, advisors do more than just set up class schedules, they find solutions to problems and find ways to support students.

As advisors have moved to assisting students remotely, the mission remains the same – to empower diverse student populations to explore and navigate their academic and career pathways.

“We have made it a point to make sure that we're consistently keeping the lines of communication open,” said Jennifer Huebenthal, certified advisor. “There is no question too big or too small. Our sole purpose is to be that advocate for the student is to be that person that helps them along the way.”

With the start of the fall semester, now is the time when advisors are at their busiest helping new students find their way in the enrollment process and getting all students registered for classes.

“Our [advisors’] calendars have been filled with new student orientations for incoming students, and August is our high time for registration,” said Huebenthal. “It's definitely about finding that balance of helping our current students and our new students, and of course, celebrating and continuing to help the students that are ready to graduate.”

With eight years of service at the College, Hubenthal is used to the recurring ebbs and flows of working in higher education, but admits that this year has brought about its own challenges as advisors have had to adapt to new ways of serving their caseloads – on average 350 students per advisor.

Typically, during the month of August, advisors would be visiting with students on a “walk-in” basis at their offices, but because they are operating remotely, they’re reaching out to students through video conferencing, phone call, or email.

Here are a few ways students can make sure they are making the most of their remote advising interactions.

  1. Check your email regularly.
    Students should check their ACES student email regularly, as this is how their assigned academic advisor will communicate with them. Any emails sent from a personal email could get filtered into the spam folder, and advisors would be unable to see them.

  2. Be thorough in your email communications.
    In emails to advisors, be sure to include your first name, last name, and student Banner ID number, as well as a detailed description of what you need. Keep in mind that your advisor may take up to 24-48 business hours to respond, so please be patient.

  3. Make sure your voicemail is set up.
    Due to remote operations, advisors may be calling from a number you don't recognize or might be labeled as “private.” Make sure you have a voicemail system set up so your advisor has the opportunity to leave you a message if you miss their call.

  4. Pay attention to the important dates on the academic calendar.
    Appointments are scheduled through AlamoNAVIGATE via the ACES portal and fill up quickly. Advisors are busiest at the beginning and end of the semester and during registration, so it’s important to plan ahead. Need help scheduling an appointment? View this Step by Step Guide.

  5. Make a list.
    Prepare for your meeting by creating a list of topics you want to discuss, such as classes to take, transfer planning, graduation planning, goal setting, and any additional concerns regarding your educational and career goals.

Huebenthal said that as a certified advisor and especially during this time, she feels fortunate to be that person who students can turn to for guidance.

“I love being at the forefront as well as hearing from and talking to the students,” said Huebenthal. "I will sometimes share my journey with them because I was also a first-generation college student. My mother got a GED, and my father never graduated high school. I want our students to know that I’ve walked in their shoes.”

The Advising Centers are committed to providing quality academic advising services and information about available resources to support students in achieving their educational and career goals. The Advising Centers can be reached by phone at 210-486-3300 during regular hours of operation. Starting Aug. 31, Academic Advising will have "Remote Drop-In Hours" via Zoom every Monday from 1-5 p.m.