Undergraduates have been described by Dr. Thomas H. Peake, School of Psychology, as being in the latter stages of becoming adults. They display, in varying degrees of competence, emotions and independence, a sense of personal identity, relationship skills, purpose and integrity.
The primary purpose of academic advising is to assist students in their pursuit of a college experience to help them fulfill their life goals. Advisers, thus, need to assist students in:
Basic strategies of advisement used to assist in individual student development are emphasized below.
Getting to know the advisee outside the formality of the office can be extremely valuable. Knowing the academic abilities and background of the advisee is also important. Having good documentation (the advising folder) such as high school courses with grades, rank in graduating class, ACT or SAT scores, transfer courses and grades from other universities, and present academic status is essential when assessing a student’s ability and future direction.
The advisee’s actual certainty of future objectives and goals is difficult to ascertain. When the advisor has some knowledge of the advisee’s nonacademic background—such as home influence, hobbies and friends—a more thorough type of advisement is possible.
If the student knows the advisor as a professional person who has a genuine interest in students, the advisement process becomes much more beneficial for both advisor and advisee.
The student should be encouraged to become acquainted with other faculty members in the academic unit, because multiple contacts can be useful to the student who is attempting to assess his/her personal goals.
Every advisor must be well-informed regarding current academic policies and procedures. Prior review of policies and study of policy changes should be a regular activity of each advisor before beginning each registration period. Familiarity with courses generally taken by advisees, the characteristics of teachers of the courses and how prior students have appraised the courses can make the advisement process smoother and more successful. Suggesting student involvement in campus activities is often the key to retention in school.
Enhancing a student’s motivation by capitalizing on good academic planning can be a very helpful strategy. Suggested strategies might include:
Advisers cannot make decisions for an advisee, but they can be a sympathetic listener and offer various alternatives for the advisee’s consideration. Advisers cannot increase the ability of a student, but can encourage the maximum use of that ability. While advisors cannot change some aspects of course schedules or employment loads, the students can be referred to the proper offices for such adjustments.
Advisers should not attempt to personally handle complex problems concerning financial aid, mental or physical health, or personal or social counseling. When these situations arise, the faculty advisor should refer students to professional personnel who are specially trained and knowledgeable about dealing with such problems.
The degree evaluation tool, CAPP, lets students and their advisors plan course schedules and view degree evaluations. It can also show what courses would be needed if the student changed major.
The tool analyzes where the student is in terms of their major. It shows what classes have been taken that will be applied to their degree, their program and overall GPA and any classes that have not been used. Advisers can also view the student’s current enrollment and any previous evaluations that have been run, run a new evaluation, and to find out how many course would be needed if the student added a minor.
Detailed instructions and more information about how and when to use the degree evaluation tool may be accessed from the student academics tab in Access Florida Tech under resources.
Opening: Greet students by name, be relaxed and warm. Open with a question.
Phrasing Questions: Avoid yes/no questions to increase conversational flow.
Listening: Don’t out-talk a student. Listening allows one to identify feelings behind words. Be silent and let the student search for his/her own words or ideas.
Accepting the Student’s Attitudes and Feelings: Convey acceptance in a nonjudgmental way. If the student thinks it’s a problem, so does the advisor. Try to understand where the student is coming from.
Cross-examining: Don’t rapidly fire questions at the student.
Admitting Your Ignorance: Admit when you do not know the answer. Go to your resources for the information or call the student back later when you have the information.
Setting Limits on the Interview: It’s better if the advisor and the student realize from the beginning that the interview will last for a fixed length of time.
Ending the Interview: It’s best to end the interview at the agreed time. Offer to schedule another appointment.
Use this plan in a 20-minute advising session or over an extended period of time. A trusting advising relationship needs to be established; the first contact is critical. Remind the students your role is one of support to provide continuity and stability.