Andy Bloomgarden gets you

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Andy Bloomgarden, academic advisor for the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Department of Criminal Justice and 2018-19 Advisor of the Year

Meet the College of Arts and Sciences’ 2018-19 Advisor of the Year.

What’s on a typical student’s to-do list?

As you might guess, it’s much more than “get to class” or “study for the next exam.” Today’s students are juggling short-term and long-term goals, such as fulfilling degree requirements while charting an on-time course to graduation. At the same time, they’re often searching for internships that might lead to a future career or a part-time job that might help offset their student loans.

Being a student can be overwhelming at times, but Andy Bloomgarden, academic advisor for the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Department of Criminal Justice, understands what students are going through.

He gets you.

For Andy, the key to advising students is maintaining a delicate balance between challenge and support, based on what each student needs.

“There are some times when students may need a little bit more challenge and certainly sometimes when they need a lot more support,” Bloomgarden says. “I’m probably more support than challenge because I feel that there’s a lot of pressure out there – the cost of an education has gone up significantly in the last 20 to 30 years. A lot of students have loans or will graduate from school owing a lot of money. I feel like they should get a high level of customer service while they’re undergraduates, and academic advisors have the opportunity to really provide that.”

Born and raised in Bloomington, Andy began his undergraduate education at Indiana University and completed it at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his bachelor’s in communications and his master’s in adult and higher education, picking up skills he would go on to use in a variety of jobs in Seattle and Oklahoma before coming back to Bloomington and IU.

Bloomgarden’s main goal is to make sure students feel more confident after an advising appointment than when they arrive. Gleaned from his experience advising countless students, Andy has a piece of advice he consistently gives during appointments. “I always try to encourage students to not compare themselves to other students,” he says, “because maybe their roommate is pursuing a degree in Kelley and it seems like they have it all figured out for the next 40 years of their life. Truth be told, none of us has the next 40 years of our life planned out, or the next 20, or the next 10. It tends not to work that way.”

Bloomgarden’s main goal is to make sure students feel more confident after an advising appointment than when they arrive.

Andy’s approach highlights how academic advisors work to get to know their students as individuals in order to help them craft a college experience that acknowledges who they are as people and offers the best expression of their unique skills and goals.

“I tell students it wouldn’t have mattered whether I had a B.A. in communications, a Bachelor of Liberal Studies, a B.A. in criminal justice or history – it wouldn’t have affected where I am now. I think sometimes students get concerned that they’re not pursuing the right credential, whatever that means. I think it’s really good to look at the value and strengths of a liberal arts education, to think about all these skills students are developing that they may not even know they’re getting throughout their education.”

During and between student appointments, Andy finds a lot to appreciate about advising students in the College and being back at IUB. “I really enjoy different parts of just working on a college campus, getting to see everything start again each year. Each year brings with it a different group of students, but being able to see similarities between students that are starting now versus those who started when I was a freshman here – technology may have advanced and things may change here and there – but students are still students. They’re figuring a lot of things out and they need plenty of support.”

The finalists for Advisor of the Year are academic advisors Elke Pessl, Jane Pilgrim, Andy Ruff, and Libby Tilghman.

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