Janis Bolling receives College of Arts and Sciences’ Advisor of the Year Award

Janis Bolling
Janis Bolling

Students often arrive at Janis Bolling’s door anxious about the academic pressures of college: class scheduling, coursework, and graduation. After an advising session with her, however, the stress subsides.

“I hear, ‘I feel so much better now. I don’t feel so anxious. I understand,’” she says. “Advising helps alleviate the stress.”

Bolling is the recipient of the IU College of Arts and Sciences 2018 Advisor of the Year Award, and she credits her advisees and colleagues for giving her work meaning.

I learn something from my students and from my colleagues every day, and it can be very humbling.

Janis Bolling

Bolling began her advising career at IU in 2006. Today, she advises for all Media School degree plans and the legacy Telecommunications degree. The work combines her interests in social work and media production, and puts her in direct contact with students who have questions about courses and academic requirements.

“Meeting the students is the juice,” she says.

Course scheduling is a vital part of advising, Bolling says, but the real value of her work comes from asking the right questions to help students uncover their academic passions and navigate the challenges of young adulthood.

“At this stage in their lives, after they’ve been at home and in high school, they’re coming here to college, and they’re trying to connect their passions to academics and career goals,” she says. “It’s fun to be a part of that, to listen, and to answer their questions.”

Bolling sees the advising center as a home base for students seeking guidance when they face difficult academic challenges.

“I feel the most worthwhile when students are having a rough time and I can help guide them,” she says.

One of most significant academic struggles students confront is choosing an area of study. Within The Media School, students can choose from many different paths, and determining the right one can be daunting. That’s where Bolling steps in. The advice she offers most often? The coursework should feel like work, but it should also be energizing.

“What pulls you? Always be in touch with that,” she says. “Always explore within your field but outside it too. Like, ‘okay, I’m an advertising major – maybe I take a film analysis class.’ Always be open to other directions.”

Over the years, Bolling says she’s grown as an advisor both from personal experience and advising workshops offered by the College of Arts and Sciences.

The College provides opportunities for advisors to grow professionally and personally.

Janis Bolling

Most recently, she was inspired by a two-day summer workshop with Gail Fairfield, operations manager at the Office of Completion and Student Success.

Bolling hopes to attend more workshops in the future to strengthen her coaching skills. Such skills are valuable, she says, because they give advisors the tools to tackle more complex student issues, including career planning.

“We have to get through the nuts and bolts of class scheduling because it is complicated, but coaching is important so students have more ownership in deciding their paths and making connections,” she says.

Through her advising sessions, Bolling forges strong bonds with the students – bonds that sometimes last past graduation. Every so often, former advisees will reach out to her to share news about their travels, gap years, marriages, and children.

“If one student writes in, it means a lot,” she says. “As a whole, the students are very appreciative and respectful. It makes you feel good.”

When she’s not advising, Bolling enjoys visiting her four children and shooting photos and video of her travels. At home, she gardens, cooks, reads, and watches films.

Whether it’s in her leisure or at work, Bolling has taken to heart the advice she gives to students—pursue your passions. Through advising, she fulfills her love of connecting with and helping students.

“Advising is a really important part of the academic setting. I feel like the advisors here are really caring, high-caliber, professional people, and the students are amazing,” she says. “I’m happy to be a part of that world.”