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How to be a Good Academic Advisor

Advisor Responsibilities

Oregon Tech Advisors have the responsibility to:

  • Help students clarify and develop realistic educational/career plans.
  • Assist students in planning an academic program consistent with their abilities and interests.
  • Monitor student progress toward educational/career goals.
  • Discuss and reinforce linkages and relationships between instructional programs and careers and occupations.
  • Interpret and provide rationale for academic policies, procedures, and requirements.
  • Approve designated educational transactions (e.g., schedule, drop/adds, withdrawals, change of major, waivers, and graduation petitions).
  • Maintain an advising file for each advisee.
  • Refer students when academic, attitudinal, attendance, or other personal problems require intervention by other campus professionals.
  • Inform students of the nature of the advisor/advisee relationship.
  • Request reassignment of advisee to another advisor if necessary.
  • Assist advisees in identifying internship or graduate study opportunities.
  • Develop a caring relationship with advisees.
  • Inform students of special services available to them for remediation, academic assistance, and other needs.
  • Keep advising office hours.

(National Academic Advising Association. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved September 1, 2007 from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm )

Advisee Responsibilities

Oregon Tech student advisees have the responsibility to:

  • Clarify their personal values, abilities, interests, and goals.
  • Contact and make an appointment with the advisor when required or when in need of assistance. If the student finds it impossible to keep the appointment, the student will notify the advisor.
  • Become knowledgeable of and adhere to institutional policies, procedures, and requirements.
  • Prepare for advising sessions and bring appropriate resources or materials.
  • Follow through on actions identified during each advising session.
  • Evaluate the advising system, when requested, in order to strengthen the advising process.
  • Request reassignment to a different advisor if necessary.
  • Accept final responsibility for all decisions. (National Academic Advising Association. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved September 1, 2007 from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm )

The Do's of Academic Advising

This link reviews a few tips to help academic advisors make each advising session productive. At times, an advising session may not seem to accomplish a great deal of formal “business.” Nevertheless, meetings with advisees can help them connect to one of the most helpful mentors at Oregon Tech and help them answer important questions. Here are a few tips for new advisors and reminders for experienced advisors:

Focusing helps students target a particular issue after many issues have been presented. Example: “We are talking about lots of topics here. Which one is the most important for you to work on now?” (adapted from National Academic Advising Association. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved September 1, 2007 from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm )

The Don'ts of Academic Advising

This link provides a list of common behaviors to AVOID. Most important? Don’t ignore any warning signs. ANY signs of trouble in the student’s life or behavior should be taken seriously. These include physical demeanor such as visible changes in posture, assuming an aggressive stance, clenching fists, gritting teeth, etc. (adapted from “Guidelines for Dealing with Disruptive and/or Emotionally Distressed Individuals.” from University of Colorado at Boulder).

The Advising Interview

For new advisors, the Advising Interview can seem like just another student interaction. A few tips help make these interviews productive.

Questions for the advising interview: three phases, 1.) What is the issue? 2) What do you plan to do? 3) Here’s what I think your options are.

How are you doing? How are “things” going? How are classes going?
What do you want to talk about today? How can I help?
School and career-related questions? Health, family?
Course load appropriate? Work, financial aid?
Why are you here today? What are your extracurricular interests?
Is the major working for you? Progress in the program?
Do you have any concerns? Are you enjoying college?
How well have you done in previous terms? How well do you think you are doing now?
Is college meeting your expectations? Do you feel like you’re making progress?

How did you do in math, writing, major program, etc. last term?
Plans for the summer? Study? School? Internships?
Student’s perceptions of their own progress.
How, specifically, are you doing in class, x, y, and z?

Follow up after Advising Interview:
Check back after registration and at weeks 4 and 8. Extra follow-up for probationary students or anyone you consider “at risk.”

Schedule a firm time for follow-up; exact time and place.
Make notes in the advising folder.
Set up additional contact
Follow up with email if you have made some recommendations or referrals. Did the advisee talk to the person he or she was referred to?
Did the student register for the appropriate classes?

Make sure you answer your advisees’ questions and send a note that you enjoyed talking with them and restate that if they need anything to let you know. Require follow up for all students on academic warning or new students at week 5.

Conversation Starters for Advising Interviews
Stuck in figuring out how best to start a conversation with a new advisee? Here are a few questions to get you started.

  1. What are three topics which you could talk about forever? Why are these so interesting?
  2. What things can you do for hours at a time?
  3. What would get you up at 5 a.m.?
  4. What makes you feel great?
  5. What are two successes you have had in the past six months?
  6. What are some of your goals for the next six months?
  7. How do you see yourself living five years from now?
  8. Tell me about a turning point in your life?
  9. What things do you dread doing? Why?
  10. What academic work have you found the most difficult? Why? (Noel-Levitz, 1997, p. 65)

First Advising Session

The goal of the first advising session is at least, in part, to begin to establish a positive relationship with the advisee. Also important might be the beginning of a system of strengths-based or talent-based advising which focuses on students’ strengths. Finally, the first advising session should help the student select courses and explain the curriculum map and/or goals of the program. (Academic Advising for student success and retention, Noel Levitz, 1997, pp. 51 – 54.) For specific tips on the First Advising Session, see Appendix H).

The Advisor's Commitments

. . .to Availability

  1. I have regularly scheduled office hours; I keep them. I leave a note on my door if I cannot keep my office hours on a particular day.
  2. I have time to help students when they need me.
  3. My students have little difficulty setting up appointments with me.
  4. I am especially available during registration periods.
  5. I am flexible in seeing students who need immediate help (i.e., walk in without an appt.)
  6. My students know when and where to find me.
  7. I spend as much time as possible (within the limits of my schedule) with my advisees as they need or want. I do not try to hurry them out.

. . . to Information and Knowledge

  1. I keep up-to-date catalogs and bulletins in my office..
  2. I keep informed about current/future career opportunities for students with bachelor’s degrees in my area.
  3. I thoroughly explain to new students the institutional and departmental requirements for the major they have chosen.
  4. I pass along to students any new information which might benefit them.
  5. I encourage students to plan their courses more than one term in advance..
  6. I know enough about majors outside my area to provide assistance to students exploring alternatives..
  7. I give students correct and current information about academic regulations in my area..
  8. I understand course requirements, both for courses in General Education requirements and within my area..
  9. I can help students select courses appropriate to their abilities and interests..
  10. I serve as a university resource person for my students..
  11. I am well prepared for every appointment with each individual student..
  12. I alert my students to course prerequisites..
  13. I am flexible and actively explore alternative solutions to student problems..
  14. I am aware of my student’s past academic records and both their academic strengths and difficulties. (adapted from Slippery Rock’s Academic Advisement Handbook—A Resource for Faculty, 1994; qtd. in NACADA, p. 181)..

Advising Updates

Feedback or questions: Feedback and questions about information in the handbook help us address the needs of advisors and students. Please send feedback or questions to Linda Young, LRC 220, 5-1404, linda.young@oit.edu