Thirty Reminders for Effective Advising

(David S. Crockett)

  • Care about advisees as people by showing empathy, understanding, and respect.
  • Establish a warm, genuine, and open relationship.
  • Evidence interest, helpful intent, and involvement.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Establish a rapport by remembering personal information about advisees.
  • Be available; keep office hours and appointments.
  • Provide accurate information.
  • When in doubt, refer to catalog, advisor’s handbook, call someone, etc.
  • Know how and when to make referrals, and be familiar with referral sources.
  • Don’t refer too hastily; on the other hand, don’t attempt to handle situations for which you are not qualified (i.e., suicide attempts).
  • Have students contact referral sources in your presence (Can they call from your office if an appointment is necessary?).
  • Keep in frequent contact with advisees; take the initiative; don’t always wait for students to come to you.
  • Don’t make decisions for students; help them make their own decisions. (Decision-making is at the heart of academic advising. “What courses do I need to take next semester?” “What major should I choose?” “Should I drop my math course?” An important role for advisors is to assist students in learning the decision-making process and the skills necessary to become effective and independent decision makers.)
  • Focus on advisees’ strengths and potentials rather than limitations.
  • Seek out advisees in informal settings.
  • Monitor advisees’ progress toward educational goals.
  • Determine reasons for poor academic performance and direct advisees to appropriate support services.
  • Be realistic with advisees.
  • Use all available information sources.
  • Clearly outline advisees’ responsibilities. Encourage advisees to consider and develop career alternatives when appropriate.
  • Keep an anecdotal record of significant conversations for future reference.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your advising.
  • Don’t be critical of other faculty or staff to advisees.
  • Be knowledgeable about career opportunities and job outlook for various majors.
  • Encourage advisees to talk by asking open-ended questions.
  • Don’t betray confidential information.
  • Categorize advisees’ questions; are they seeking action, information, or involvement and understanding.
  • Be yourself and allow advisees to be themselves.

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