Interstate Passport from an academic advising perspective

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Interstate Passport Briefing
This is one of 7 articles in the January 2020 newsletter.
Nathaniel Pyle Headshot

Nathaniel (Nate) Pyle serves as the director of academic advising for the University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville (UACCB), and he serves on the Interstate Passport Academic Advisory Committee. UACCB is currently the only Network institution in Arkansas and Nate tells us that the philosophy of Interstate Passport is very much a part of the institution. The University of Arkansas System is in the midst of upgrading the administrative functions for all institutions, so UACCB is incorporating Interstate Passport into this process. The leadership at UACCB takes it very seriously – Interstate Passport has opened up a conversation on transfer and transfer culture.

Perhaps the most significant outcome of Interstate Passport at UACCB is a consistent philosophy among advisors and faculty: they no longer look at just giving a student an AA degree but rather providing a skill set that can move students toward a BA. Interstate Passport has been transformative for UACCB to look beyond its own doors. Ideally advisors will try to identify, as early as possible, what a student’s intentions are and build them toward that. And while typically it was assumed that UACCB transfer students would remain in Arkansas, earning Passport offers students the opportunity for hassle-free transfer to other states.

Students at UACCB are predominantly first-generation, low-income students with close to 60 percent of them eligible for Pell grants. UACCB is providing the resources and support to instill – perhaps for the first time for many students – the sense of accomplishment in earning a Passport or an associate degree. Nate described a type of student who may have been “stringing along” in community college for a while with not much to show for it. With a Passport, though, there is power in being able to recognize that they have achieved something. A Passport does represent a milestone.

UACCB has just begun to issue Passports to its students this past academic year. And the Passport Block fits well with the school’s established academic pathways. Two other institutions in Arkansas have expressed interest in joining the Interstate Passport Network; staff will continue to help assess their readiness.

Prior to serving as director of academic advising at UACCB, Nathan Pyle served in higher education roles including community relations, institutional advancement, academic affairs, TRIO Upward Bound, and housing. Pyle holds a B.A. in history from Lyon College in Arkansas, a M.Ed. in higher education administration-public policy/institutional advancement from Vanderbilt University, and is currently working on a doctorate of education in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.

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