Academic advising is a process-oriented and intentional relationship between advisor and student focused on the development of core personal, educational and career goals. Truly meaningful advisor interaction can enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience.
"Advising is the only structured activity on the campus in which all students have the opportunity for one-to-one interaction with a concerned representative of the institution."
-- Wes Habley - ACT Center for Enhancement of Educational Practices
ASU Advising Principles
Arkansas State University embraces two general principles regarding academic advising which serve as a guideline for departments and advisors as they develop and define their roles. These principles are not separate but are interdependent in nature.
Purposeful advising that helps students develop a perception of themselves and their relationship with the future that can manifest itself in appropriate short and long‐term goals. Developmental advising relationships are established through ongoing meaningful interactions that extend far beyond the context of scheduling classes. Advising sessions are viewed as sequential, goal‐oriented steps.
Developmental advising sometimes requires intrusive measures. Effective advisors recognize that students are often hesitant to seek help. Sometimes it is necessary for the advisor to be proactive and take the first step in the advising relationship.
Developmental advisors are sensitive to the developmental stages of the student and recognize when to guide the student and when to encourage self‐reliance.
Advising as an Extension of Teaching
Extends the opportunity for faculty to apply their teaching skills in a one‐on‐one setting. Similar to classroom application, advising encourages self‐reliance by helping students make informed decisions, set realistic goals, and apply critical thinking, learning and life management skills. Advisors who adopt a long‐term teaching approach to advising are rewarded by the long term success of their advisees.
Review your beliefs about students. What are the developmental tasks and identity issues of college students you see? How do students grow and change in complexity?
- Advisors ensure that students understand and meet degree requirements.
- Advisors help students develop a perception of themselves and their relationship with the future.
- Advisors encourage self‐reliance by helping students make informed and responsible decisions and set realistic goals.
- Advisors see the goal of higher education as an introduction to the world of ideas, professional development and lifetime critical thinking skills.
- Advisors help students identify and build on their strengths to increase motivation and connectedness with the institution
- Advisors identify student expectations and goals and provide a framework in which students can develop appropriate academic and career decision‐making.
- Advisors see advocacy as a teachable moment in their relationship with an advisee.
- Research your departmental goals for advising
- Review the NACADA homepage advising goals
- How do these goals compare to your own goals and experiences with advising?
- Work with individual departments to develop advising plans.
- Send "Dean’s Welcome" letter to new students with basic survival information to assist students in navigating the system.
- Provide resources to help ensure that adequate advising is received by all students within the college. This could include:
- Interdepartmental reassignment of academic advisors to provide assistance to departments with especially heavy advising loads.
- Make resources available as appropriate to provide advising through graduate students.
- Provide a professional advisor to funnel general questions and concerns.
- Create college‐wide survey (faculty) to review areas to enhance.
- Develop a specific advising plan which specifies the different levels of advising sought for new, transfer, and upper level students, and distribute to all faculty.
- Provide a statement upholding the role of advising within the department.
- Establish a coordinator of advising position within the department.
- Articulate a clear delineation of responsibility for academic advising.
- Provide an orientation to advising for new faculty.
- Support or provide ongoing advisor training.
- Develop procedures for intrusive practices such as identifying and contacting students in academic distress.
- Reward advising efforts with meaningful and relevant means.
- Evaluate departmental advising plan periodically and revise it as needed to ensure the program meets the evolving needs of students.
- Provide material to students to communicate program policy and curriculum.
- Offer a back‐up advising plan in case advisors are unavailable. Particularly when a student is new or needs a petition or other document signed.
- Review department advising plan to determine if updating is imminent. If advising topics are not discussed in your department, initiate a process to review periodically.
- Print out case study on the Advisement Services Website and discuss at department meeting or with other faculty members.
Advisement Services Responsibilities
Advisement Services strives to enhance the quality of the undergraduate advising experience for both students and faculty of ASU. A variety of programs are offered throughout the year to meet these needs.
- On going advisor training
- Dissemination of pertinent advising information to departments
- Up‐to‐date clearinghouse on research and national trends in academic advising
- Departmental consultation and/or related workshops
- In rare cases, where there is not an advisor present within a department, offer preliminary advisement to students campus‐wide
- Academic Advisor Committee on Excellence (AACE)
- Newsletter‐The Advisor Forum
- Advising for undecided students
- Coordination of Restart@state Program
- Academic Assistance Workshops
- "One Stop" for quick advising questions
- Process "Change of Major" Forms
- Process Application for Withdrawal
- Advisor referral
- Find out who your department representative is on the AACE Committee.
- Share your view on advising and offer feedback for training topics.
Students should strive to:
- Know and meet graduation and other requirements and to make every reasonable effort to obtain appropriate academic advising.
- Be adequately informed about program of study through review of catalog, bulletin and major checklist.
- Make efforts to seek advising during advisor’s office hours.
- Schedule all registration advising sessions early in the registration period.
- Arrive at all appointments promptly and prepared to make full use of the advising session
- Inform advisor of significant changes in course registration, in degree plans and other academic concerns.
- Take the time to inform students of their part of the advising relationship during an initial visit.
- Create a friendly document that informs students how to get the most out of their advising session.
- Encourage students to create an advising portfolio.
What Do Students Want From Advising?
- Receptive environment
- Accurate information
- Knowledge of curriculum
- Knowledge of their field of study
- Knowledge of academic & administrative procedures
- Get a student’s perspective ‐ survey your advisees throughout a semester and review the results with your department.
- Keep an anecdotal journal
Common Advisee Experiences
- Applies high school study techniques in approach to college coursework.
- Finds himself in the bottom half of his class for the first time.
- Has difficulty in a class or adjusting to college.
- Deals with personal problems (parents, roommate, spouse …).
- Establishes new‐found social freedom.
- Experiences depression.
- Copes with substance abuse or misuse.
- Uses poor time management.
- Struggles with personal responsibilities.
- Has financial concerns.
- Is uncertain about a major/career.
- Is interested in learning more about her program of study.
- Wants to make significant change in her schedule.
- Keep personal advising notes, records or folders of student concerns
Advising may take place in a classroom, hallway, cafeteria or outside among the campus trees. What may seem like casual conversation to an advisor may be interpreted differently a student. Advisors are cautioned to watch their demeanor (e.g. hurried, unpleasant, impatient) anytime they are interacting with a student. Some advising topics are best reserved for an advisor’s office. Advisors may casually address student inquiries while at the same time suggest that the student make an appointment during their office hours.
Creating an Inviting Atmosphere
- Get up, greet student and call her by name.
- Demonstrate a friendly and courteous atmosphere through demeanor and language. Students are sensitive to advisors’ moods and may react accordingly.
- Students generally want to be heard. Take a few minutes at the beginning of a session just to listen to the student.
- Remember advisee’s name, make eye contact, and jot down a few notes.
- Use humor with students to illustrate points.
- Share personal experiences. Students respond to useful information that is shared in a professional context.
Before a Meeting
- If an appointment is scheduled in advance, take the time to review notes and transcript. Students will notice and appreciate this effort.
- If a student arrives unannounced, it is appropriate to have him wait a minute while you review his if necessary.
During First‐time Meeting (Build a positive relationship)
- Take the time with each new advisee to discuss the advising relationship, benefits and expectations.
- Explore student’s sense of academia. Is she involved on campus? Is she goal‐oriented? Motivated? What are her prevailing strengths/weaknesses? What is her view of the role of faculty and attendance?
During Subsequent Meetings
- Have students fill out an information sheet at each appointment to update important contact information.
- Offer insight regarding a student’s academic plan. Advisors should also feel free to challenge students to meet their academic potential.
- Take a few minutes to acknowledge a strength. ("I see you have done well in your World Civ. and American Government classes. Do you enjoy history?")
- In general, try not to take a student's word on his academic performance. Sometimes students are reluctant to share their entire academic history. Students are not always privy to all the ASU policies that govern their academic choices. If you do not have access to a student’s transcript, use Web for Students. – (See transcript Analysis)
At Close of a Meeting
- Question student as to her sense of the objectives of the meeting.
- Invite students to return for future appointments should any academic quandary arise. You may want to establish an appointment time.
- Be alert to signals in student’s demeanor and nonverbal cues as to her emotional state throughout the session. If necessary inquire about the student’s current state and offer appropriate referral information if needed. – (see referral information).
- Suggest that a student complete a certain task and make a return visit to discuss the outcome or plan the next step. (i.e. assign a student who is struggling in a class the task of talking to a faculty member).
- Make sure that you have answered all questions.
After a Meeting
- Follow through on any commitments you made and inform advisee.
- Follow up an appointment with a brief phone call or email to the student.
- Speak to the student before class or send a note.
- Have registration hold(s) released following the appointment if registration was the purpose of meeting. Department secretaries can release an advising hold for a student within a major. University College will release a hold for an undeclared student (972‐3574). The Registrar’s Office will release developmental holds.
Advisees may appear timid or frightened. Though not apparent, sometimes students show apprehension through hostility or apathy. If you remain courteous and respectful, student demeanor should change over time.
- Evaluate your demeanor directly following an appointment. Establish two areas you would like to enhance. (verbal or nonverbal signals, your physical environment, preparedness…)
- Establish a few meaningful open‐ended questions to ask advisees.
- Suggest department have postcards made up, so advisors can send quick follow up notes to students when concerned.
What to notice on a transcript or in self service for advising:
- Enrollment test scores (ACT/SAT/ASSET) for placement in developmental courses
- Transfer work
- Earned hours vs. attempted hours
- Significant changes in GPA per semester
- Classes that may be repeated for grade re‐computation
- Classes that must be repeated to graduate
- Trends in types of classes a student is failing
- Trends in types of classes a student is showing excellence in
- Current academic standing
- Current class level
- An abundance of coursework not linked to a degree. This may be the result of a number of situations and does not necessarily imply that a student has a faulty transcript.
ASU faculty have access to their advisees’ transcripts on "Self Service"
- Have student review his own transcript on "Web for Students" as prelude to next appointment.
- Challenge student about discrepancies on his transcript. "I understand that you are in a hurry to graduate, yet each semester you drop the classes that will assist you in reaching that goal. How can you create a schedule this term that is more realistic?"
- Create a schedule that establishes a balanced academic load, one which a student can succeed in. Consider workload, family responsibilities and past record of course completion.
- Students with poor reading or math skills may spread out these requirements across semesters. At the same time, students may want to take math or English requirements consistently until complete.
- Discuss financial aid. Depending on each student’s case, some students will have to complete twelve or fifteen credited hours per semester. If student is uncertain, always refer student to the Financial Aid Office.
- Create a schedule that offers a bit of an academic challenge.
- First year students should not take 3000/4000 level classes.
- Take additional time to help new students understand the registration process. Students should generally be aware of general education requirements, major requirements, and college requirements, but new students may not have this background.
- Be wary of advising students to take two four hour classes their first semester unless required by their major.
- Explain summer registration as a viable enrollment option. Some students may have unrealistic view of their desired course load. Students taking developmental courses or students on academic warning who have failed one or more classes may be in a hurry to catch up.
- Be aware of prerequisites and departmental course sequencing.
- Be alert to a student’s ability. If certain items (solid GPA, strong ACT scores, highly articulate, sheer determinedness, personal experience) indicate that a student has strong potential, challenge the student to meet these potentials.
- Challenge an advisee to take an honors class.
- Have advisees construct a long‐term plan and follow up with an appointment.
Key Issues in Advising Special Populations
Beyond the First Year
- Develop long‐term, flexible academic plan.
- Encourage student leadership through a variety of means. (Honors classes, leadership opportunities, internships, research projects, academic organizations) Refer to the ASU Honors Program Website for a detailed list of opportunities for students.
- Create connection between curriculum and career options.
- Make known obstacles for program completion and career placement. (GPA or assessment measures, post baccalaureate training)
- Prepare for employment (resume, references, interviews)
- Prepare student to meet all graduation requirements and deadlines.
Transfer students are a population often lost in the cracks of college life. Because his is viewed as a mature student who knows the ropes of college life, advisors may be quick to dismiss subtle signs of distress. Transfer students may be reluctant to reach out to advisors for assistance as they feel they should be able to manage college life. In reality, most transfer students have come from a smaller campus and are used to the style of services offered at their previous institution. These students may feel like "a fish out of water" and become quickly discouraged. The first meeting is crucial.
- Need quick placement into an "academic home."
- Want to experience a warm welcome from advisor.
- Have as great of a need for information on academic policies and general campus information as new students.
- Want to be treated as a mature student while still receiving the information deemed pertinent to a new student.
- Will have a need for substantial contact during admit term.
- Will have a need to review transfer hours.
- May have misinformation or preconceived notion regarding transfer hours.
- Should be encouraged to pick up an "Evaluation of Transfer Work" for their personal file.
- May need to be briefed about transfer policies (i.e. GPA, transfer credit evaluations).
- In a positive approach, discuss the differences in two‐year and four‐year institutions.
- Request a copy of Evaluation of Transfer Work from the Registrar’s office.
- Initiate interaction with other students in similar major.
- Create a working knowledge of general "transfer pitfalls" in their department.
An adult student is a student generally over the age of 25. However, students as young as 22 who have life circumstances dissimilar to that of a traditional‐age college student are often categorized as adult learners. (i.e. children, full‐time employment, spouse, dependants etc…)
Advising concerns are often unique. Advisors can assist adult students in overcoming barriers to successful completion of a degree. It is sometimes assumed that adult students have a much clearer educational goal than the traditional‐age student. While this is sometimes true, it is not always the case.
Sometimes adult students opt to return to college for lack of options in their personal life. One of the biggest factors in advising adult students is dealing with multiple roles as well as with time constraints.
Adult students may want to know:
- May find that college is not a top priority nor is it a full‐time occupation
- Can I complete my entire degree in a timely fashion?
- Can I take all my classes before 2 pm?
- Will all the classes I need be offered in the evening
May want to know but not inquire
- Will I be the oldest person in my class?
- Will I be older than the faculty?
- Will I feel out of place making friends in class?
- Will I be employable when I complete my degree?
- May need to brush up on essential study skills
- May have since of urgency to finish degree and have less patience with general requirements
- May be experiencing opposition from family and friends
- More likely to be consumer‐oriented as they are often paying the bill.
- May bring "baggage" from past experience in an educational setting
- May set high standards and benchmark progress from peers in classroom and responses from faculty
Advisor May Note
- Old placement scores may not adequately reflect current skill level
- Strengths and experiences that older students bring to campus
- Reason student is returning to college
Students with Disabilities
Advisors from time to time may advise a student with a disability – physical, psychiatric or learning disability. Advisors may or may not be aware of a student’s disability. Stigmas often attached to disabilities may hinder a student’s desire to disclose such information. However, advisors are appropriate sources for a student to turn for information. Lack of information or wrong information can account for some of the mishaps students with disabilities face in advising situations.
Advisees may find that secondary and postsecondary settings are quite different. The unstructured environment of higher education offers less stability to students who depend upon special services. While advisors may be used to offering students a new level of freedom, students with disabilities may require more hand holding. Advisors should not assume the student is registered with ASU Disability Services. Some students are unaware of this department and others may be reluctant to seek it out.
Advisors should also be aware that each student with a disability is unique. Advisors should not shy aware from inquiring about a student’s academic needs while in college. Students may need to take a reduced course load, a balance between the level of difficulty among classes, or a combination of class length and frequencies. Advisors should be aware of the services available to students. ASU Disability Services offers students with disabilities many services depending upon the students’ needs. For a complete review of the services offered, visit the Disability Services website.
Some services include but are not limited to:
- Note takers
- Escort Services
- Classroom advocacy
- Priority Registration
- Assessment of needs
- Testing Accommodations
- Permission to tape record lectures
- Course Substitutions
While all new students may feel a degree of isolation and homesickness, international students can experience this twofold. Language, food, social behavior, and communication are all new, different and perhaps strange to international students.
International students are often surprised by the degree of informality in the American classroom. In many of their cultures, faculty members are considered to be "on a pedestal" and very unapproachable. As a result, international students are uncomfortable speaking in class, particularly when they might appear to be questioning the teacher’s knowledge or authority. Their initial unfamiliarity with the US university culture and with the English language often makes them reluctant to participate in any classroom discussion.
Advisors can assist international students by reassuring them that it is acceptable to ask questions and express opinions in the classroom. They might remind advisees that, in some courses, class participation is expected and will make up a certain percentage of the final grade. Also, advisors can encourage international students to take advantage of faculty office hours to
ask for help or clarification on points they might have missed in class.
Advisors need to be aware that international students who are in the US on a student visa are required by law to be enrolled in at least twelve credit hours for the duration of each semester. Summer enrollment is optional. International students do not have the luxury of dropping below twelve hours because they are failing one or more classes. They must maintain full‐time enrollment in order to remain in legal status. However, there are exceptions to this immigration regulation during a student’s first enrollment period or in the event of a serious medical problem. International students may not enroll in correspondence courses. They may only take one online course per twelve hour enrollment.
Underprepared students (students whose assessment scores or high school GPA are low) may require intrusive advising from the start. Advisors are wise to establish a quick rapport and initiate frequent visits thereafter. Underprepared students may become discouraged early on and are at risk to leave school. Study skills are essential.
- Suggest that a student take the Strategies for College Success course.
- Suggest that a student take her basic coursework first as she develops her study techniques.
- Structure a schedule that includes some coursework that plays to a student’s strengths.
- Inform student of academic support services and resources.
- Connect a student to campus outside classroom involvement.
- Encourage student to meet the faculty of each class.
- Encourage student to return at first sign of academic distress.
- Pair with a peer mentor if available through department.
- Assist the student with the development of basic study skills or refer to a department that can assist.
- Send an email, place a phone call or send a note to establish a trusting relationship with advisee, especially during her first three semesters on campus.
- Do not assume the student is not capable of college work.
Students in Academic Distress
Students on academic probation or suspension are the most in need of, yet least likely to seek out advising. Advisors find that these students seldom follow through on the advice received. Often students turn to advisors to calculate GPAs, determine which classes should be repeated and determine what classes to take. Advising in these situations can be somewhat tricky. These students are in need of careful advising.
Advisors may want to:
- Explore with the student the cause for poor academic performance. (lack of study skills, lack of availability, lack of commitment)
- Continue to advise on regular intervals throughout the semester.
- Alert student to programs, services and resources that are available to assist him.
- Use an advising contract. See Good Faith Advising Contract.
The undecided student brings a unique set of circumstances to the advising forum. There are a number of reasons why students may arrive on campus yet to determine a major. Understanding these reasons can be the key to guiding students down their own career path. Undecided advisees flourish best in a caring climate where they are comfortable in identifying problems associated with selecting a major. Advisors are encouraged to be gentle yet firm as they guide a student in a career direction. Strongly encourage undecided students to attend Select‐a‐Major Fair held in the Fall semester. For more information, contact University College.
Myths about the Undecided Student
- Myth: Undecided students are less prepared for college and are therefore more at risk than decided students.
Truth: There is no research that links undecided student status to poor academic performance. However, undecided students are more prone to withdrawing from a university as their relationship with coursework, peers and faculty may seem arbitrary. Caring advisors can help to foster a sense of connectedness with the institution. Advisors should gently nudge students towards a degree by the completion or their first year if appropriate. The longer a student persists before selecting a degree program the more likely she is to withdraw.
- Myth: Undecided students are further behind in the developmental stage of making career and educational decisions than decided students.
Truth: Most undecided students are engaged in the normal developmental stage for making career and educational decisions. However, students may feel behind as many of their peers have selected a degree. Advisors can assist students to move quickly in the direction of selecting a major.
- Myth: Students should get all their general education requirements out of the way first.
Truth: Some general education class selection is based upon a student’s major. Advisors can assist students as they navigate their general education selection.
- Myth: Students have plenty of time to select a major. For the first year it is better that they concentrate on their grades.
Truth: Students and advisors should take selecting a major seriously. Some students are slow to make decisions and need to begin early. Furthermore, the quicker a student has found an academic home, the quicker she feels connected to her campus.
- Myth: Picking a major is virtually picking a career.
Truth: Students are often stuck in the decision making process as they believe each degree is linked directly to each occupation or lack of. For example, jobs in the humanities offer a wide variety of job placement.
Determine why the student is undecided.
- Lack of Independence in decision‐making
- Lack of knowledge of the decision‐making process
- Lack of information
- Multiplicity of interests
- Perceived or actual lack of ability
- Lack of interest
- Lack of knowledge regarding the connection between major(s) and occupational choice
Possible questions (self‐exploration)
- As far back as you can remember, what general careers have you thought of?
- What subjects did you enjoy in high school? Why?
- Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?
- Do you consider your strengths to lie in math/science, English, business etc..?
- What do you see as your limitations?
- Why are you in college?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- What does a college degree mean to you?
- What type of lifestyle do you envision?
- If you could have the ideal job right now without attending college what would it be?
Possible questions (decision making)
- Are you comfortable making decisions?
- How do you generally go about making a decision?
- Do you make decisions by yourself or do you consult family or friends?
- Can you make a decision without consulting others?
Possible questions (academic information)
- What academic areas are you considering?
- What are the similarities/differences in the academic areas you are considering?
- What do you know about these occupations?
- What type of employment do you see these majors leading to?
- How do your abilities and skills fit into these choices?
Help Student To Organize A Plan
- Refer to Counseling Center for career assessments.
- Have students explore the general overview of several majors at ASU including the requirements.
- Have student create a list of general questions to ask faculty, students or career center.
- Encourage student to take introduction classes within majors. (e.g. Introduction to Social Work).
- Review general education class work and see where a student’s strength lies.
- Have the student review the Sunday classifieds and circle jobs of interest.
- Student can review the skills and requirements needed for these jobs.
- Student can conduct informational interviews with employers in one of their occupations of interest.
- Encourage students to explore career research on the Internet.
Help Student To Integrate Information Collected
This is the step that most students find difficult. Effective advising is crucial. It is important to assess a student’s level of maturity in the decision making process. Some students may need guidance in order to pick realistic options. Others may lag
behind as they fear there is only one right choice.
To help students accomplish these steps in a timely fashion, help them to make an action plan.
High Ability Students
It is sometimes assumed that high ability students have already chosen a major and are well‐prepared for college. In fact, these students often struggle to select a degree because of their wide range of interests and abilities. These students may not have successfully developed study skills as they have not had a need yet. High ability students may be sensitive
to comments about academic ability.
High ability students as well as all students at ASU that show an interest may be encouraged to expand their collegiate experience beyond the classroom. ASU offers several opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.
- Campus Programs (#2055) houses SGA and SAB
- Honors Program (#2308) Honors classes Residence Life (#2042) Residence Assistant positions
- Student Life (#2034) Tribal Leaders
- Academic Departments Academic Organizations and clubs
- Volunteer Coordinator (#2055) Volunteer opportunities
- Disability Services (#3964) Note takers and other volunteer positions available.