Faculty Academic Advising

A Contribution to a Mentoring Community

Advising is the principal relationship between the student and the College.
Especially at the beginning, advisors are the College, and conduits to college resources and opportunities.

The responsibility is shared by the faculty within a college culture of communication and relationship.

Faculty members are supported in this role by the Academic Support Center and many other resources (Center for Servant Leadership, Career Development, Counseling Center, etc.)

Definitions of Advising

At the "Least" — at the base of the pyramid

  1. Meets twice/year to approve for registration — able to suggest other appropriate level courses as options if first choices are closed; conduit for other campus resources;
  2. Lets advisees know office hours and availability for other matters (for example, when decisions need to be made about withdrawal from a course, whether an Incomplete is appropriate, referrals to academic support, etc.);
  3. Reviews degree audit/progress to degree, understands graduation requirements, policies, knows deadlines and campus resources for referral;
  4. Articulates reasons for requiring a liberal arts foundation as part of the whole picture.

To the "Most" — Moving Up the Pyramid

  1. As needed, more frequent meetings than for approval to register; life questions;
  2. Looks beyond the details of the degree audit to the whole picture, suggesting other opportunities to be part of the four-year plan (qualitative instead of quantitative participation in co-curricular opportunities, study abroad, internships, summer work, academic experiences outside the classroom). What are we inviting them into?
  3. Refers to resources if an advisee is having academic difficulty OR is showing great promise and should be encouraged to take advantage of campus academic opportunities and/or to be groomed for undergraduate and graduate awards and scholarships.
  4. Undeclared advisees: knows resources for investigating interests and possibilities.
  5. Sophomore advisees: knows resources for issues specific to declared and undeclared sophomores — conscious of time remaining, not wanting to waste time. Helps them move forward, forge ties and find commitment.
  6. Major advisees: knows of academic experiences in and out of the classroom, on and off campus. Aware of awards and scholarships for your department. Aware of graduate programs and professional studies. Aware of recent graduates' experiences and placements.
  7. At-Risk Advisees: (not all of this is known by the advisor)
    1. on academic probation
    2. returning from suspension
    3. first-generation
    4. students of color
    5. recent immigrants/refugees
    6. ELL issues — referral to WC
    7. disability documentation — accommodation(s) — referral to Advising Center
    8. returning from medical leave
    9. returning from disciplinary suspension
  8. Not to be a psychologist, but willing to listen and refer.
  9. The power of being seen. Advisors' place to "hold a space" (Parker Palmer) — to bear witness, able to stand alongside without judgment, no matter how poor the decisions and choices. Power of thinking together. Value of asking questions and listening. Advising as undistracted listening. Value of intrusive advising — what does a good student look like?
  10. Help stretch, hold high expectations as you do in the classroom.
  11. Familiar with developmental theory
  12. Familiar with learning styles

The Top of the Pyramid

  1. Consider advising as teaching — about the overall experience, the community of learners, a place of open inquiry.
  2. Whether official advisees or students in your classes, labs, ensembles, teams — see students with your advisor's eye/consciousness and care.
  3. Light fires — activate students' deepest motivations (Greg LeVoy)

Finally — broaden the definition of who is an advisor/mentor to acknowledge the value of work supervisors, coaches, advisors to organizations, Student Affairs staff, people of the college who spend time with students. All adults with student contact should see themselves as contributors to the common good of the institution and beyond.

At the same time we're advising/mentoring, recognize our own interior development, our own path as we examine our own lives and listen for numbers and kinds of callings for a lifetime; balance and care for ourselves - in order to be fully present. (Eckhart Tolle — The Power of Now)