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Voices of the Global Community


From the President: Adapting Great Ideas

David Spight, NACADA President

President David Spight.jpgAs many of you know, every year on February 2nd Americans await the groundhog’s appearance to see whether we will have six more weeks of winter or an early spring.  The groundhog spent many months feasting so as to survive the winter by hibernating.  The groundhog then momentarily leaves its underground burrow.  If it sees its shadow, then winter will continue. If it does not, then it means an early spring.

Before the end of the calendar year, you were challenged to find ways to engage in this profession.  For many of you, that included coming together to “feast” on the knowledge and experiences of our advising colleagues while at the annual conference before the start of the winter.  You left with all sorts of ideas that might be implemented or adapted for your own students and institutions.  For others, you connected with other advising professionals, inquiring about their efforts at their institutions through emails, list serves, video meetings, etc.  Then the winter break came and with it a chance to take a break from our world of work to enjoy some much needed time away.  Unlike the groundhog, however, you get to choose what comes next.  Will you try to adapt, apply, or implement based on all you came away with?  Or will you go back into your underground burrow, bury your head, and return to doing what you were doing?

Being engaged in your profession means not simply gaining knowledge, but also finding ways to innovate and bring about new ideas based on what you took away from those interactions with colleagues from around the globe.  Yet transferring or adapting an idea from one institution to your own brings with it a set of challenges.  Reed (2015), in his blog “Confessions of a Community College Dean,” described some of the challenges that institutions of higher education must contend with when trying to innovate or even scale up programs and ideas, including “the ‘not invented here’ syndrome,” or the inherent tension that exists “between institutional academic freedom and individual academic freedom,” just to name a couple.  So, given these challenges and more, how do we take these great ideas we learn about and make them happen at our own institutions?

Rather than try to answer this question alone, and as part of our intention to make the NACADA leadership more accessible, I asked members of the Board of Directors for their thoughts.  Here is what some of them had to offer:

“The first thing that popped in my mind on this topic is the use of ‘pilots!’  We are constantly piloting a number of initiatives at any given time—setting goals, assessing the outcomes, tweaking this or that, and then launching the program, software, intervention, etc.  Using data to support the change is the only way we can get things done.  As the author stated—what works at one institution doesn’t necessarily work at another in the same fashion.  And, just because a software vendor provides evidence of something working at one institution doesn’t mean said software is going to have the same impact at ours!Sandy Waters, Old Dominion University

“Like many institutions, my institution often looks for initiatives and technologies that have proven to be successful at other institutions.  Some questions that are important for institutions to ask themselves when considering the adoption of an initiative or technology used successfully by another institution are:

  1. Was the initiative/technology successfully used at the other institution(s) used with students who have the same characteristics as students at our institution?  For example, if the other institution’s target student population was for students who are campus residents in a specific major like engineering, whereas the institution considering adopting the initiative/technology has a target student audience of first generation commuter students who do not qualify for admission to the major of their choice, the results could be very different.
  2. Is the advising structure similar?  If the other institution’s initiative or technology is used/implemented primarily by professional staff advisors whereas the institution considering the adoption will be implemented by faculty-only, is it realistic that the faculty-only advising structure would work if the faculty do not have the same amount of time or resources as professional staff advisors?
  3. What is the culture of student participation in new interventions or initiatives at the other institution?  Does the percentage of students (at the other institutions who use the new intervention/initiative/technology) tend to be high in comparison to our institution?  If unknown, how can you find out?
  4. What were the barriers to implementation of the new initiative/technology at the other institution and how did they overcome them?  Will our institution face the same barriers, and is it likely we could overcome them?  For example, do our campus partners understand the urgency or need to implement the new initiative/technology and what will it take to get them on board?” – Janet Spence, University of Louisville

“When we decided to implement a peer advising program here at FVTC, we saved a lot of time and resources by modeling a similar program at a neighboring college, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  We visited their campus, spending several hours with their staff and watching their peer advisors in action.  They in turn shared their application, interviewing, and training materials so we didn’t have to start from scratch.  We were able to adapt all the materials to our college and, as a result, were able to develop and implement our own program in a very short time, all while saving staff time and labor.

My second piece of advice is to give credit where credit is due.  When I present on our peer-advising program at a conference or other platform, I make sure to mention that UW-Oshkosh shared their materials and we were able to adapt them.  This also encourages others to share their best practices, as they will see how helpful it can be to many other institutions.” – Dana Zahorik, Fox Valley Technical College

“Early on, Rich Robbins encouraged me to join NACADA.  My perception and ‘my truth’ for my institution were very different than many I listened to from other institutions.  The willingness to share and not reinvent the wheel in academic advising has served my institution well.  

Shared governance means different things during a period of institutional change.  The fear of that being taken away by the unknown can overcome many within higher education and create unrest.  When ideas come from other institutions and that is shared along with their experiences (good and bad) it informs the process.  Institutions have to be at the point that they consider and evaluate the other ideas to determine if it is a fit for their institution.” Patricia Griffin, Fort Hays State University

“I would go to the NACADA conferences and focus on one area that I wanted to develop, i.e. academic counseling, academic support, probation students, students admitted on warning status, etc.  I would go to all of the sessions on that specific topic and then I would take a combination of the ideas back to my institution and develop a proposal to implement at my institution.  Being able to note that other institutions where doing such and such helped me “sell” my ideas to our campus.  I never would have been able to build that center from a one-person shop that just provided academic counseling to probation students to the 5-person staffed office that provides advising, tutoring, probation counseling, and courses for students admitted on warning status without the ideas of other institutions.Amy Sannes, Minnesota State University Moorhead

I would also ask that you consider, if you are presenting a session at an upcoming conference or presenting a webinar online, how you can help others to understand ways they can bring your great ideas to their programs and institutions. 

I do hope that the Board members’ words and their recommendations help you with implementing or adapting ideas you have come away with.  By the time you read this, February 2nd will have already passed and we will all already know whether the famous groundhog Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow or not.

I can state without a doubt, that where you are concerned, you did not see your shadow.  Get out there and start innovating and applying what you gained from being engaged in this profession we all care deeply about.  And continue to be engaged, keep seeking new ideas, approaches, knowledge, and experiences.  Doing so gives you the ability to change lives and change the world.  So, what are you waiting for?

David Spight, President, 2015-2016
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Assistant Dean, James W. Vick Center for Strategic Advising and Career Counseling
The University of Texas at Austin  ||  The School of Undergraduate Studies


Reed, M. (2015, December 14). Confessions of a community college dean: Innovation and scale. Inside Higher Ed.  Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/confessions-community-college-dean/innovation-and-scale

From the Executive Director: Fully Charged

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Executive Director Charlie Nutt.jpgAs the deadline for this issue’s column loomed over me, I found myself struggling with a theme for my comments. However, I had the opportunity recently to read Tom Rath’s new book Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Life and Life (2015) and found his three keys so closely connected to what we in academic advising focus on and to President Spight’s four types of engagement, that I felt it was important to share.

Rath defines his three keys as:

  • Meaning: doing something that benefits another person
  • Interactions: creating more positive than negative moments
  • Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health

Rath demonstrates that to be fully charged requires being more focused on the world outside of ourselves.  Reading this book after just having just read The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell (2010), I was intrigued that many of our students, who have grown up in a world that convinces them that they are the best at everything, could fall into this narcissism epidemic as they focus only on themselves.  If we as advising professionals focus beyond ourselves to become fully energized, we can be more effective in working to help our students look outside of themselves as well.

As I think about my personal role at Kansas State University and in NACADA, I have been spending time reflecting on my own actions, decisions, and work in the field.  How often can I truly say I am doing something that benefits others or am I doing something that benefits me?  How do I purposefully take time to create positive moments in a day compared to making the much easier negative moments?  And last, while Rath defines energy as making choices to improve your mental and physical health, I clearly saw in my analysis a connection between this key and the other two.  It is much easier to focus on the benefits of others and create positive moments when you are mentally and physically healthy.

What are the results of my self-reflection?  First, I believe that I do things that benefit others, but I am asking myself to intentionally make this a part of decision making as a personal priority.  Second, I feel that I create more positive than negative moments, but what I see as positive, others might view as negative.  So again, how can I be more intentional in making my moments and interactions positive creations?  And last, as I have recently entered a new decade of my life, I have to be honest by saying that I need to make some better choices in the area of health!!  So, in the next year, my goal is to see how “fully charged” I can be personally, but also how “fully charged” I can be in NACADA. 

To start this journey of intentional choices and positive creations, I would like to highlight some of the NACADA’s recent successful opportunities.  First, by thanking all of the Region Chairs, Region Conference Chairs, and Conference Committees for all of their hard work on this year’s region conferences.  Certainly their work has illustrated Rath’s definition of meaning by benefiting NACADA members in each of their regions.  By the time you read this, several will have occurred, but if you haven’t had the chance to take part in a region conference, you still have time!  By all indications, this year’s conferences will again have near record attendance, which indicates the high quality of the region conferences as well as the growing interest in academic advising and NACADA.

In addition to our region conference, our 4th Annual NACADA International Conference has taken place in Dubai, hosted by Zayed University.  Participants represented over fifteen countries with more present and past leaders of NACADA than ever before at an International conference.  I am excited to see our global outreach and initiatives grow as we work diligently and intentionally to network and learn from one another about the impact that academic advising has on our students.

Our Winter Events, the Academic Advising Assessment Institute, Academic Advising Administrators’ Institute, and Analytics in Academic Advising: Using Data in Decision Making Seminar, all had record attendance this year.  We are pleased to have added a track to the Administrators’ Institute for administrators with campus-wide or institution-wide responsibilities.  This track provides opportunities for participants to network and discuss key issues and challenges that these administrators face along with their other campus-wide responsibilities.  It was an excellent positive creation for the winter activities.

These are examples of what we as an association have accomplished.  Now I ask myself, what can I do in my work with the association that benefits others, creates positive not negative moments, and helps both my own health and the health of the association?  These are questions I am going ask myself to intentionally move toward being fully charged.  To follow the path of our President, David Spight, I challenge each you to join me in this path of self-reflection and on this guided pathway to being fully charged.  Trust me, we are never too old to grow!

Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
(785) 532-5717


Rath, T. (2015). Are you fully charged?: The 3 keys to energizing your work and life.  United States: Silicon Guild.

Twenge, J.M., & Campbell, W.K. (2010). The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Practicing Dialogic Advising

Ann Lieberman Colgan, West Chester University

Ann Lieberman Colgan.jpgAn advisor tried to help a student, Bill, and because she was open to the encounter with his reality, she felt the internal indifference of a student who had already given up.  The surface interaction did not agree with Bill’s actuality, but the advisor’s receptivity to a dialogic interaction flashed an image of him sleeping his way to failing class.  Insight of that kind felt like intuition, but in fact, resulted from her receptivity to information on multiple levels, including a merging of the experience of self.  I-You encounters of this kind enable participants to encompass the other without feelings of otherness, to have genuine, full comprehension.  Bill’s advisor switched directions, and rather than suggesting academic remediation, she advised him to withdraw immediately from the class.  The wholeness of this kind of dialogic encounter helped Bill’s advisor discard expectations and instead touch the authenticity of that student. 

Advisors use dozens of tools to aid students, including advising styles, recommendations, curricula, academic coaching, and more.  Any one of these may be appropriate with different students, or with the same students at different times.  But when advisors’ roles can include teaching, reviewing a checklist, making referrals, and more, how does the advisor know when to use which tool, when to offer a checklist, and when to engage in behavior counseling?  

Martin Buber’s Philosophy and Advising

Martin Buber’s dialogic philosophy of the self (1970) provides a conceptual foundation for an overarching theory of advising and also addresses the question of how advisors know when to apply particular techniques and styles.  Appropriate advising choices may feel intuitive, but advisors respond to dozens of cues from students which shape their advising reactions.  Willingness to be attuned in this manner provides a sense of visceral sureness derived from full engagement with the student. 

Buber was an Austrian Existential philosopher, 1878-1965, whose most renowned work, I and Thou, first appeared in 1923.  Buber believed our primary experience of self was relational, so subsequent experience of self was dyadic, or paired.  He labeled the pairs I-It or I-Thou (Thou is interchangeable with You) depending on the nature of the interaction.  Since humans experience their ‘selves’ in relationship, all knowledge and experience of self emerges out of ongoing dialog with others/It.  “There is no I as such but only the I of the basic word I-You and the I of the basic word I-It” (Buber, 1970, p. 54).  The other half of Buber’s pair could be You, experienced holistically, or It, experienced for its utility. 

This revolutionary idea can shape advising.  Buber’s mystical description of encountering You reflected the totality of the engagement: “Neighborless and seamless, he is You” (p. 59).  You, encountered through dialog, becomes everything in that moment.  Advisors can encounter the totality of the student universe generated by and through dialog with You.  “This does not mean that the person ‘gives up’ his being-that-way, his being different; only, this is not the decisive perspective but merely the necessary and meaningful form of being” (p. 114).  In other words, while our selves may become something distinctive in an encounter with other, we retain the integrity of our person, the unique individual engaged in a shared moment with another.   For an advisor, this means gaining a full understanding of a student by fully experiencing I-You.

Buber further claimed that individual selves differed as they moved between I-It and I-You dialogs.  The self interacting with and acting upon an It “appears as an ego” which “sets itself apart from other egos” (p. 111-112).  Someone acknowledging You “appears as a person and becomes conscious of itself as subjectivity.  Persons enter into relation to other persons” (p. 112).  The ego-centered self is separate and fueled by usefulness, but the relational self encountering You was “touched by a breath of eternal life” (p. 113).  Both have a place in academic advising, but sharing a dialogic encounter with You provides a richer engagement with a student, which supports better advice based on that person’s whole truth.

Dialogic Advising

Academic advising is comprised of personal interaction, but also of record-keeping, policy-relaying, etc.  When advisors check off necessary details, they apply what Buber called I-It interactions.  I-It interactions are mundane, purpose-driven, quantitative, analytical, and objective.  I-It necessarily detaches self and other.  Advisors enmeshed in I-It interactions are still involved in dialog, but it is objective, a transaction rendering the other into something to be acted upon in a specific fashion.  Some students desire a task-focused, checklist approach to academic advising.

Certain fields of knowledge, such as science, math, and business, rely heavily on I-It understanding of the world; advisors in those disciplines may have intellectual training which values concrete, reproducible, known factors.  However, helping a student may require more depth of engagement.  Buber preferred the wholeness of merged realities.  His disdain for constant I-It was evident, “O mysteriousness without mystery, O piling up of information! It, it, it!” (p. 56).  

Moreover, a predominant I-It orientation can preclude mindful advising and obscure student cues by encouraging advisors to prioritize institutional goals.  Additionally, I-It may inhibit students’ dialogic encounter with content, faculty, and fellow students while prioritizing a narrow, institutional definition of success.  I-It is not inherently negative, but both types of dialog belong in advising.  Advisors must examine their practices and assumptions to ensure they are prepared to address the whole student.

I-You consists of powerful, relational interactions that enable us to encounter the ‘other.’  To cultivate an I-You encounter, advisors must minimize their deepest assumptions and barriers of ego, personal defenses that act as impediments to truly comprehending others.  The easiest way to accomplish such a vulnerable state is realizing the advising session meets the students’ needs, not the advisors’, and any negativity students bring to the session is rarely about the advisor.  Advisors can listen with their eyes: relaxed focus on the student enables advisors to pick up cues that might be missed if the focus is primarily on the usual menu of progress-to-degree questions which have a narrow range of ‘correct’ answers.  An I-You encounter permits an interaction without regard to overarching objectives, time, location, or other externalities, so advisors encounter only the student.  Advisors must deliberately neglect the internal timekeeper, which insists this meeting must be not more that 15 or 30 minutes.  Not that the advising session must be prolonged, but one cannot engage fully with You if focused on minutia and externalities.

Effective advisors interact with students as unique humans, and the exchange permits advisors to address persons with specific needs, needs that advisors meet using a variety of techniques.  Some are developmental advisors; other programs require intrusive advising; advisors of mature students may identify as prescriptive; others think of themselves as coaches.  These labels describe practices.  However, advisors rarely employ only one approach.  Substantial research focuses on the tasks to be accomplished; for example, the Council for the Advancement of Standards – Academic Advising says “Each approach . . . help[s] students delineate their academic, career, and life goals as they help students craft the educational plans necessary to complete their postsecondary objectives” (Drake, Jordan & Miller, 2012, para. 2).  Advising approaches may include activities “such as discussing course selection, explaining degree requirements and sharing registrations procedures,” according to Mottarella, Fritzsche, and Cerabino (2004), or interactions can be more “growth oriented” and focus on students’ intellectual, social, and emotional development (p. 48). 

Practitioners of all kinds of advising can and do engage in I-You dialogic exchange, and that relationship permits advisors to blur the lines of differing advising practices.  Because the prescriptive advisor inhabited the student’s entire reality, his awareness of what it felt like to be that student in class, of her learning needs, resulted in course or section recommendations tailored to the whole student and not just to program and graduation requirements.  The intrusive advisor, rather than requiring specific interventions, revised her menu of obligatory actions because her student’s life did not include the time or attentive capacity to conform to all her suggestions.  She perceived the despair the student felt at the futility of being compelled, so she modified her approach to embrace his limitations and found him willing to participate. 

During dialogic advising, student and advisor construct a reality in the space between them.  It is not necessary for students to be as open to relating to You as advisors; rather, advisors can still engage the student as You, and by opening oneself to Other can participate in students’ actuality.  Often, students have preconceived notions of what advising is, but advisors attuned to You do not have to abandon the knowledge and experience of the It of their programs, courses, institutions, or even the It of the student in order to both provide what students think they need and what they really need (Buber, 1970).  And because dialogic advising is reciprocal, students encounter You whether they expect to or not.


Dialogic advising is a conceptual and practical tool.  Buber establishes the depth of connection possible with advisees, and once engaged in I-You dialog, advisors develop an effective means of determining students’ needs.  Awareness of students as You can enable advisors to shed preconceptions and to determine when to bridge advising methodologies.  Further, dialogic advising provides advisors with the tools to engage in critical self-examination.  Advisors know the focus should be on student needs but sometimes become enmeshed in the I-It of institutions or objective checklists.  Dialogic advising enables advisors to rediscover students at the the heart of the advising relationship.  As an overarching theory of advising, dialogic advising is a work in progress, but is already a useful means of responding to the whole student.

Ann Lieberman Colgan, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor, Pre-Major Academic Advising
West Chester University of Pennsylvania


Buber, M. (1970) I and Thou. (W. Kaufmann, trans.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. (Original work published 1923). 

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2013). Academic advising programs: CAS contextual standards. Retrieved from http://standards.cas.edu/getpdf.cfm?PDF=E864D2C4-D655-8F74-2E647CDECD29B7D0

Mottarella, K. E., Fritzsche, B. A, & Cerabino, K. C. (2004) “What do students want in advising? A policy capturing study. NACADA Journal, 24(1 & 2) 48-61.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Quality Academic Advising

Lauren Haley, Plymouth State University

Lauren Haley.jpg“Emotional intelligence” (EI), the ability to understand and act on personal emotions and the emotions of others, has become a popular subject in corporate America, spanning from hiring practices to professional development initiatives.  Surprisingly, it has not yet been measured empirically in the academic advising arena, though many of the best practices in academic advising seem to require a significant aptitude for emotional intelligence. It may even be that emotional intelligence itself mediates the relational component of advising.

Habley’s Framework

Habley (1987) suggests that quality advising necessitates inclusion of three major components: the informational, the conceptual, and the relational.  While informational knowledge and conceptual understandings are necessary, alone, they are insufficient in providing quality advising services.  Communication skills and interpersonal approaches such as listening, interviewing, rapport-building, self-disclosure, and referral directly influence advisor-advisee interactions and are critical to establishing positive advising relationships (Habley, 1987; NACADA, 2005).  Gordon-Starks (2015) defines academic advising as “relationship-building” (p. 1) in which the academic advisor acts as a mentor, guide, and positive influence throughout the academic journeys of his or her students.  These relationships are the necessary third component of quality advising, and it is this component that is possibly mediated by EI. 

Emotional Intelligence

Successful engagement in strong communication, problem-solving, and rapport-building skills – those critical to the relational component of advising – requires emotional intelligence. Without it, advising is little more than authoritative information dissemination. Although EI has been defined and measured in a variety of ways, the elements with closest application to academic advising include the following: emotional perception, emotional motivation, emotional regulation, empathy, and social skills.

Emotional Perception.  According to Mayer and Salovey (1997), one element of EI refers to the ability to accurately identify feelings and emotions in one’s self and others, to discriminate between different emotional expressions, and to express emotions accurately.  Goleman (1995) refers to this element as “self-awareness” characterized by a recognition and understanding of one’s moods, emotions, and preferences.  Jordan (2015) explains that this self-awareness is necessary for effective communication in the advising relationship.

As Goleman (2004) notes, like anyone else, advisors experience a range of emotions and sometimes may be challenged in preventing their emotional states from negatively affecting their behavior.  Those with self-awareness can be honest with themselves and can recognize the ways in which their emotional and physical states impact their work.  In her application of self-awareness to effective communication skills, Jordan (2015) describes how physical states and behaviors are equally important to the emotional.  For example, if an advisor can recognize that she is hungry or ill, she can remedy the situation before it negatively impacts an advising interaction.  Jordan suggests that a self-aware advisor can avoid engaging in negative behaviors such as checking the time or fidgeting impatiently while meeting with a student, and instead, might display more positive physical mannerisms such as engaging in eye contact, smiling, and nodding.

Emotional Motivation.  Another branch of EI, referred to by Mayer and Salovey (1997) as “emotional facilitation of thinking,” is more integrated than emotional perception and involves capitalizing on emotions to help one prioritize, problem-solve, and think.  Academic advising, while thoroughly rewarding work, can also be mentally exhausting: an advising caseload may range from a handful of students to several hundred, the hours and days are fluid to accommodate students’ needs, and the job responsibilities are widely varied.  Academic advisors often maintain moderate standing and incomes and therefore must find motivation in their careers that extends beyond money and prestige.  A high level of organizational commitment and a propensity to pursue one’s work and goals with energy and persistence, even in the face of failure, are hallmarks of Goleman’s (1995) motivation component in emotional intelligence (Beard, 2012; Goleman, 1995).

Proactive advising, originally coined by Glennen (1975) as intrusive advising, is an academic advising approach involving advisor-initiated interactions, particularly to those students at-risk of attrition.  It is intended to support and guide students towards resources before they encounter difficulties (Cate & Miller, 2015).  As noted by Earl (1988), this practice is action-oriented and intentional.  It takes time and energy and can arguably be implemented effectively only when the advisor is intrinsically motivated to initiate the outreach and make connections.  This proactive approach might involve monitoring students’ grades, connecting students with academic and social supports, and/or engaging with students during campus activities and community events (Varney, 2007).  In short, it is providing students with the information and support they need before those students even request it.  In their retention research, Heisserer and Parette (2002) conclude that students who feel cared for by a significant representative of the institution are more likely to be retained and academically successful.  To make those connections and fulfill that important role in the student’s life, the advisor must have the drive and the motivation to make a difference.

Emotional Expression: Empathy and Social Skills.  The argument could easily be made that in order to be an effective academic advisor, one must genuinely care about and interact with other people.  To do so requires empathy and social skills—two significant elements of emotional intelligence.

  • Empathy.  Gordon-Starks (2015) reminds us that advising is a helping profession that involves relationship building.  It is a way of communicating to students that a trusted member of the institution understands their needs and is concerned about their well-being (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011).  According to Goleman (1995), this important responsibility requires empathy: the ability to understand the emotional makeup of others and to treat them according to their emotional reactions.  It is the cornerstone of positive advising relationships.  When students feel that their advisors are empathic to their needs and development, especially during times of stress, authentic and trustful advising relationships may develop (Heikkila & McGill, 2015; Hybels & Weaver, 2009; Sims, 2013). 
  • Social skills.  The ability to find common ground, to establish rapport, to manage relationships, and to build networks is critical to advising effectiveness.  As human beings, we have developed many ways of communicating our thoughts and feelings with others, both verbally and nonverbally, and proficiency in communication is critical to effective advising.  For example, if an advisor avoids eye contact, slouches, and speaks timidly, he or she would likely have a very different relationship with advisees than one who maintains appropriate eye contact, smiles warmly, and speaks in a confident tone.  Good interpersonal and communication skills underlie Schlossberg’s (1989) theory of mattering and marginality in student retention.  Based on the premise that disengagement leads to attrition, an advisor’s employment of social skills instead sends a message to students that they matter (Roufs, 2015).  

Emotional Regulation.  Mayer and Salovey (1997) refer to the most complex branch of EI as a “reflective regulation” of emotions (in one’s self and in others) which works to promote intellectual and emotional growth.  They point out that the emotional management process involves an openness to feelings, a reflective monitoring and utility assessment of emotions, and the ability to consciously engage or detach from an emotion based on such assessment.  Goleman (2004) describes emotional regulation as the component which “frees us from being prisoners of our feelings” (p. 5).  In academic advising, the ability to suspend judgment, and to think before acting or responding, can be the difference between developing rapport and building a rift in an advising relationship.  It is key to one of the more widely recognized approaches in advising for encouraging positive student change: motivational interviewing.

Motivational interviewing, a practice that Miller (1983) originally drew from counseling practices, is “person-centered”, and is used to enhance a student’s intrinsic motivation to change by exploring and resolving ambivalence.  Critical to this approach is the advisor’s ability to elicit change from the student, rather than to impose it.  It is a partnership characterized by open-ended questions rather than direct persuasion.  Miller and Rollnick (2002) expand on this concept in pointing out that the advisor must accommodate the student’s resistance, help develop discrepancies between behaviors and goals, and fulfill a supportive roll in the student’s self-efficacy.  To do so, the advisor must remain respectful, empathetic, and quiet.  Without the ability to self-regulate, the advisor may have difficulty in suspending judgment, may become argumentative or confrontational, and consequently may undermine any hope of reducing resistance and inspiring change within the student.


It is known that emotional intelligence is critical to conflict resolution, positive leadership, and relationship-building, and it seems as though many of the best practices in academic advising, such as motivational interviewing and proactive advising, require a significant aptitude for EI as well.  Advisors have a responsibility to hold a high level of emotional intelligence in order to establish and maintain positive relationships with their students.  The literature on self-awareness, self-regulation, and positive communication is vast; one can certainly refine and strengthen his or her skills with practice.  In the same vein, it may be of utmost importance for institutions of higher education to ensure, either through hiring decisions or professional development initiatives, that the academic advisors they have entrusted with the maintenance of positive relationships with their students, are emotionally intelligent advisors.

Lauren Haley
Academic and Career Counselor
Center for Student Success/University Studies
Plymouth State University


Beard, M. (2012). 5 Main components of emotional intelligence. Inspire Business Solutions. Retrieved from http://inspirebusinesssolutions.com/blog/5-main-components-of-emotional-intelligence

Bloom, J. L., Hutson, B. L., & He, Y. (2008). The appreciative advising revolution! Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing.

Cate, P. & Miller, M. A. (2015). Glossary of conceptual terms. In P. Folsom, F. Yoder, & J. E. Joslin (Eds.), The new advisor guidebook: Mastering the art of advising (95-101).  San Francisco, CA: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Earl, W. R. (1988). Intrusive advising of freshmen in academic difficulty. NACADA Journal, 8, 27-33.

Glennen, R. E. (1975).  Intrusive college counseling.  College Student Journal, 9(1), 2-4.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam.

Goleman, D. (2004). What makes a leader?. Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 1-11. Retrieved from http://paarco.com/Articles/040507%20What%20makes%20a%20Leader.pdf

Gordon-Starks, D.  (2015). Academic advising is relationship building.  Academic Advising Today, 38(3).  Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Academic-Advising-is-Relationship-Building.aspx

Habley, W. R.  (1987). Academic Advising Conference: Outline and Notes.  The ACT National Center for the Advancement of Educational Practices. Iowa City, IA: ACT.  Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Portals/0/Clearinghouse/advisingissues/documents/AcademicAdvisingConferenceOutlineandNotes.pdf

Heikkila, M. R. & McGill, C. M. (2015). A study of the relational component in an academic advisor professional development program. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1414&context=sferc

Heisserer, D. L. & Parette, P. (2002). Advising at-risk students in college and university settings. College Student Journal, 36(1), 69-84.

Higginson, L. C.  (2000). A framework for training program content.  In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley & Associates (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (298-306).  San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.  Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Portals/0/Clearinghouse/documents/2000-Higginson-Informational-Components.pdf

Hybels, S. & Weaver, R. (2009).  Communicating effectively. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Jordan, P. (2015). Effective communication skills. In P. Folsom, F. Yoder, & J. E. Joslin (Eds.), The new advisor guidebook: Mastering the art of academic advising (213-229). San Francisco, CA: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence?  In P. Salovey & D. J. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence (3-31). New York: Basic Books. Retrieved from http://unh.edu/emotional_intelligence/EIAssets/EmotionalIntelligenceProper/EI1997MSWhatIsEI.pdf

Miller, W. R. (1983). Motivational interviewing with problem drinkers. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 11, 147–172.

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002).  Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

NACADA. (2005). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Core-values-of-academic-advising.aspx

Roufs, K. (2015). Theory matters. In P. Folsom, F. Yoder, & J. E. Joslin (Eds.), The new advisor guidebook: Mastering the art of academic advising (67-81). San Francisco, CA: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Schlossberg, N. K. (1989). Marginality and mattering: Key issues in building community. In D. C. Roberts (Ed.), Designing campus activities to foster a sense of community (5-15). New Directions for Student Services, No. 48. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Sims, A. (2013). Academic advising for the 21st century: Using principles of conflict resolution to promote student success and build relationships. Academic Advising Today36(1). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Academic-Advising-for-the-21st-Century-Using-Principles-of-Conflict-Resolution-to-Promote-Student-Success-and-Build-Relationships.aspx

Varney, J. (2007). Intrusive Advising. Academic Advising Today, 30(3). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Proactive-%28Intrusive%29-Advising!.aspx

Wilmot, W. & Hocker, J. (2011). Interpersonal conflict. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Peer to Professional: Navigating the Transition

Cheri Kau and Michelle Tagorda, Advisor Training & Development Commission Members

Kau & Tagorda.jpgThe benefits of peer advisor programs are well known, most prominently for providing and supporting advisees with a relatable and approachable peer perspective.  For peer advisors themselves, the experience also serves as an invaluable opportunity for professional development and can provide benefits similar to those that internships provide in other fields (Kring, 2005).  The skills gained by students as they work in peer advising programs can be very transformative and influential in their plans following graduation (Zabel & Rothberger, 2012).

With increased interest and support by advisors and administrators, peer advisor programs are in greater demand on campuses, with more students interested in joining each year (Taylor, 2011).  As the field of advising continues to grow, many students may look to peer advisor programs to explore potential pathways or to even start their career; support, guidance, and training are needed for these students as they transition into professional advising roles. Just as advisors teach their advisees to navigate the transition into college and prepare for careers, seasoned advisors and peer advising program administrators are in the ideal position to mentor their peer advisors and new professionals in order for them to thrive in their first professional position.  Peer advisors are often taught academic curriculum and university policies through intensive training programs that prepare them to work one­on-­one or in group settings with their peers.  With a solid foundation to further develop advising skills, often some form of formal training, first­hand experience advising students, and fresh insight from their personal student experiences, these recent peer advisors should be considered to be competitive applicants for entry­ level positions and a positive asset to transition into new and established advising offices.

Peer advisors who are transitioning into professional roles must keep in mind a few things to help them with the transition. The following sections will help new professional navigate the transition by developing professional advising skills, learning advising competency areas, recognizing policy and politics and finding mentors.

A Guide for New Professionals (transitioning from peer advising)

Advising competency areas.  An advisor early in their transition is often eager to advise students in her or his new role and may find this to be the most comfortable part of the job.  But like any new advisor, it is essential to build key advising and administrative skills that come with being a professional by identifying the ways in which the role is different from a peer advising position.  In a professional academic advising role, there are many skills and competency areas that new professionals need to learn for success in their first year.

To excel during the initial months as an early professional, it is important not to take the transition lightly.  It is fundamental to have a candid conversation with your supervisor to clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of the position, along with related resources and institutional details such as advising structure and organizational culture (Blanchard & Andrews, 2015).  Work with your supervisor to invest time early in training to learn what type of experience a peer advisor brings with them and how her or his academic background allows training schedules to be tailored and focused on areas that individual advisor needs to develop, similar to the way an advisor would work with a student to build an academic plan in developmental advising.  For an individual guiding their own training, NACADA and related professional associations provide members formal and informal resources such as the Online Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising, Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook, the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources, and Academic Advising Today.

Learning policy and politics.  Part of the training for new professionals includes staying current with academic policies common across institutions and policies unique to specific campuses and departments.  Being familiar with the institution’s mission helps to shape the goals, objectives, and desired outcomes of academic advising (Ford, 2007), making it especially important for a new professional to spend time continuing to learn about the institution to expand on what he or she knows through their experience as a student and peer advisor.  In addition to training on policies and procedures, new professionals with previous peer advising experience navigate through unique issues around building relationships and identifying boundaries.  New professionals confront issues including “understanding organizational culture and its impact on work, thinking through career configurations, reflecting on the aspects of collegiate life that affect the way work unfolds, exploring the values and belief systems of the field” (Amey & Ressor, 2015, p. x).  The transition involves working to build a professional presence among faculty and department administrators as colleagues rather than superiors (i.e. previous instructors, research mentors, etc.), as well as parents and students who might be similar or older in age or life experience.  It entails developing relationships within the department to be effective advocates for student learning.  In contrast to the experience as a peer advisor, new advisors must manage a professional presence with advisees while still remaining relatable to students.

Finding your mentors: Experienced and peer mentors.  Navigating the transition can be overwhelming, but resources are available, and new professionals are not alone.  Little (2010) explains the concept of knowledge management and the storage of wisdom that exists among seasoned advisors that is ideal for sharing with new advisors.  Avenues for knowledge management are available through formal and informal gatherings of advisors within departments and across campuses.  Working with mentors and developing professional advising networks are essential for promoting development, cultivating skills, and sharing resources (Bryant, Chagani, Endres, & Galvin, 2006).  Peer advisors making the transition to professional advisors have the opportunity to tap into existing or familiar relationships and seek advice from peer advisor program directors and advising supervisors.  Mentoring programs organized by an academic advising council on campus can also support new professionals who may not have an existing network on campus.  New professionals can also benefit from relationships with colleagues experiencing the same transition.  Through sharing cases, questions, and concerns, collectively, strategies can be developed to add to an advising toolkit and contribute to future career development.

A Guide for Administrators Hiring New Professionals (with peer advising backgrounds)

Developing advising skills. Moving into a professional advising position can seem daunting for any individual if not managed intentionally.  A new professional may feel that their students or supervisor expects them to know everything from the start, or may put additional pressure on herself or himself expecting their peer advising background to have prepared them completely.  Even with previous peer advising experience, it is paramount to remember “advisors gain experience over time, student by student, through an experiential synthesis of the conceptual, informational, and relational components of advising, much of their development occurs after the initial training program” (Folsom, 2008, p. 323).  During training and throughout the first few years, supervisors should not take for granted that the responsibilities of an advisor are clearly understood.  Peer advisors may have come from settings of limited advising capacities with little exposure to the multiple roles of their previous supervisors and may just now be learning that “academic advising is more than scheduling classes or tracking progress towards satisfaction of degree and program requirements” (Brown, 2008, p. 312). Supervisors are in an ideal position to help support new professionals by clearly providing expectations and roles for the new advisor.

Folsom, Joslin, and Yoder (2005) challenged administrators and seasoned advisors to provide new advisors realistic training to reach their potential.  As individuals who work to support the holistic development of students, advisors should focus on supporting those who aspire to be the next leaders in academic advising and foster the success of the newest in their field: peer advisors.  Now that the career pipeline into academic advising includes early professionals with peer advising experience, administrators of peer advising programs can use this information to implement professional development trainings to support peer advisors trying to start their careers in higher education.

Cheri Kau
Academic Advisor
Department of Biology
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Michelle Tagorda
HCOP Summer Bridge Coordinator
Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity
Office of Student Affairs
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa


Blanchard, J. & Andrews, C. (2015). Reconciling life and work for the new student affairs professionals. In M. Amey, & L. Reesor (Eds.), Beginning your journey: A guide for new professionals in student affairs (4th ed., 203-217). Washington, DC: NASPA­: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Brown, T. (2008). Critical concepts in advisor training and development. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, & T. J. Grites (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., 309-322.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey­Bass.

Bryant, R., Chagani, A., Endres, J. & Galvin, J. (2006). Professional Growth for Advisors: Strategies for Building Professional Advising Networks. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Building-professional-advising-networks.aspx  

Folsom, P. (2008). Tools and resources for advisors. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, & T. J. Grites (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed.,323-341. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-­Bass.

Folsom, P., Joslin, J. & Yoder, F. (2005). From advisor training to advisor development: Creating a blueprint for first­year advisors. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Training-Blueprint-for-New-Advisors.aspx

Folsom, P., Yoder, F. & Joslin, J. (2015). New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Wiley: Jossey-Bass.

Ford, S. (2007). The essential steps for developing the content of an effective advisor training and development program. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Advisor-Training-Steps.aspx

Little, T. (2010). Understanding knowledge management: Developing a foundation for future advising practices. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Knowledge-management.aspx

Taylor, M. (2011). Professional advisor credentials, career ladders, and salaries. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web Site: https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Professional-Advisor-Credentials--Career-Ladders--and-Salaries.aspx

Zabel, L. & Rothberger, S. (2012). Peer advising: Bridging the gap between professional advisor and students. Academic Advising Today, 35(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Peer-Advising-Bridging-the-Gap-Between-Professional-Advisor-and-Student.aspx

Vantage Point banner.jpgWhen Country Folk Meet the Liberal Arts

Jaimie Newby, MacMurray College

Jaimie Newby.jpgSmall Town Girl

“I’m from a town of 150 people, on a peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers” (Newby, 2015).  We drive our cars across ferry boats daily to work, buy amenities, and seek entertainment.  I graduated fourth in my high school class of 23.  Although a small, rural school faces inevitable limitations, it was an absolute blessing to grow up in this uniquely intimate environment.  But of course, that meant for a steeper learning curve when I stepped out from between the two rivers. 

Neither of my parents, who had lived in our hometown for all or most of their lives, completed more than three college semesters.  When I went to Illinois College (IC) in Jacksonville, IL, my life was immediately transformed.  Although there were ways in which I felt less prepared than my classmates, I never lost sight of all that I’d set out to achieve, despite not being sure exactly what that was . . .


“At IC, I had a fantastic faculty advisor, Dr. Winston Wells, who helped me become the first ever International Studies major to concentrate in World Religions, although I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this major” (Newby, 2015).  I just knew these were the subjects I enjoyed studying.  As for my career, I had always pictured myself as a teacher.  In high school, I taught both Sunday school and vacation bible school at my church.  However, it didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t enjoy teaching younger students.

“I really don’t recall when I decided that advising would be the way to fulfill my desire to teach, but toward the end of my junior year at IC, I got a job as an academic mentor for at-risk youth at a local child welfare agency as a way to gain advising experience” (Newby, 2015).  After the semester ended, I met some professors from Maryland on a BreakAway (2-week study abroad trip) to Cuernavaca, Mexico.  “They recommended that I look into NACADA for more info on becoming an academic advisor.  I did this as soon as I returned home” (Newby, 2015). 

Later that summer I was promoted to coordinator of the mentoring program—a challenge I was more than excited to take on!  “My senior year began, and I also took on an internship in the Office of Study Abroad and BreakAways at IC in order to gain experience in college administration.  With recommendations from professors, I applied and was accepted to K-State’s Distance Education Academic Advising Master’s program, which I began in fall 2012” ” (Newby, 2015) and completed in May 2014.

Grad Student

“I hadn’t considered graduate school before I was introduced to NACADA, but it was an obvious next step for someone as passionate about learning and teaching as I am” (Newby, 2015).  And it was an amazing experience to have professionals in the field as my classmate, and some of the top sources in the field as my professors.  When funding for the academic mentoring program was cut, I tried out substitute teaching at all levels.  I tended to prefer 8th grade and high school classes, as the lesser of many evils.  This, coupled with my transformative undergrad experience, only reaffirmed my decision to work in higher education with those excited to educate and better themselves.

Higher Ed Professional

“Just before completion of my M.S., I finally got my foot in the higher education door as an Admissions Counselor at MacMurray College” (Newby, 2015).  This lasted all of three months, and I’ll tell you why: I consider myself to be a visionary.  Whether consciously or subconsciously, I often somehow craft my visions into reality.  When the admissions team was asked to meet individually with the new provost, I immediately saw this not as a simple meet-and-greet, but as an interview.  I pictured myself telling the provost about my qualifications for and desire to advise, even though MacMurray employed only faculty advisors and had no central administrative unit for advising.  Already holding a high opinion of the importance of effective advising, the provost was quickly intrigued.  Very shortly after this meeting, along with an already planned restructuring of the Admissions Office (assumed reason as to why the meeting was called in the first place), I was informed that I’d be moving into the newly created position of Director of Academic Advising.  Yet another challenge I was thrilled to take on!

In my second year as a professional advisor, I’ve had a very exciting journey.  Processes have changed, duties, colleagues, and bosses have come and gone.  I’ve established successful relationships with countless students.  I’ve made an impact on the campus community, and am now seen as a central resource for advising questions, predicaments, miracles, concerns, and more, by students, faculty, and staff.  I’ve also dedicated myself to making an impact on the professional advising community as well.  Since attending my first NACADA event at the annual conference in Minneapolis last year, I’ve made lasting connections, including friendships, professional references, and partners for collaborative research efforts.  I’ve evaluated presentation proposals, volunteered in various sessions at every event I’ve attended, collaborated on a presentation effort with a group I immediately felt a sense of belonging (the Small Colleges & Universities Commission), received grants to attend conferences, presented at a state conference, and have attended another annual conference—Viva NACADA 15!  Of particular excitement at each conference is the reunion for K-Staters.  As a small town girl who mostly knew of my K-State professors from their publications, it’s very exhilarating to rub elbows with them in the Forum Tower Suite at Caesar’s Palace!

Going Forward

“I couldn’t be more satisfied with my blossoming career” (Newby, 2015) and what the future holds with regard to many more years of advising/teaching students, continuous professional development, and meeting like-minded professionals at future NACADA conferences!  How lucky that I’m able to enjoy this level of job-satisfaction, considering that my undergraduate years were selfishly spent studying what I was interested in at that time.  But what a testament to the liberal arts!  I became a global citizen; well-rounded, informingly introspective, knowledgeable and respectful of differing perceptions and values.  I studied and truly enjoyed things I never thought I would back when I was sitting in my self-constructed tree house in Golden Eagle, IL.  During that significant time as an undergrad wherein I allowed myself to constantly reflect on what I was learning in both a worldly and personal way, I not only cultivated the transferrable skills that will carry me through my career, but also cracked the code on how to apply my skills and values in a rewarding position related to my lifelong interest of being a teacher!

Jaimie Newby, M.S.
Director of Academic Advising
MacMurray College
Jacksonville, IL


Newby, J. (2015, February 9). The student becomes the master – advisor. Kansas State University Blog.  Retrieved from https://academicadvising.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/the-student-becomes-the-master-advisor/

Multi-Campus Collaboration in the Academic Advising Community

Tim H. Cox, University of Maryland, Baltimore County – Shady Grove Campus

Tim Cox.jpgMulti-campus institutions have the complex task of providing advising services to meet the needs of their varying student populations.  Creating a campus-wide framework for advising services across all campuses can be challenging, especially when resources are limited, campus cultures are different, and there is a considerable amount of distance between campuses.  Although campus-wide collaboration is not a new phenomenon in the field of academic advising, institutions are finding creative new methods for working together to ensure that stakeholders are on board with the mission and vision of the academic advising program.  

Some campuses now create governing bodies to oversee advising services and increase collaborative efforts that can lead to the improvement of the effectiveness of advising, as well as the accuracy in information that is shared by advisors.  These governing bodies may also be in the position to make recommendations to upper-level administration regarding processes and policies (McClellan, 2010).  University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Academic Advising Community (AAC) is proving itself to be a great way to ensure that advising stakeholders from each campus location have a platform to share and receive information and that best practices are developed to serve their respective students.

UMBC advising operates under the split organizational model in which advising services are shared between a main advising office and academic departments. UMBC’s central hub, the Office of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising, works primarily with students in exploratory majors, but provides general assistance to all students.  Separate academic departments house faculty and professional advisors that are assigned students who have declared a major. 

The AAC is organized by the Office for Academic and Pre-Professional Advising, and it includes faculty advisors, professional advisors, advising coordinators for academic departments, and anyone else involved or interested in advising undergraduate students.  Throughout the semester, the community holds meetings on advising practices, trends, and other topics of interests.  Communication is shared through an online forum, and opportunities for professional development are provided in the forms of webinars, guest speakers, and workshops (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, n.d.).

The Office of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising created the AAC in an effort to streamline communications regarding campus policies, procedures, and systems affecting undergraduate advising.  More importantly, the AAC wanted to share best practices in academic advising across the campuses and provide professional development opportunities on campus or those sponsored by The National Association of Academic Advising (NACADA).  Through the AAC, stakeholders are able to bring to light campus-specific barriers that impact student success and share their thoughts on new interventions and policies.  Members walk away from each meeting with new tools to make improvements in advising practice.

Spence (2011) suggests that institutions can benefit from a unified understanding of their respective organizational model, especially as it relates to how personnel resources can be shared across campuses.  For example, UMBC’s summer orientations are day-long events that conclude with a one-on-one meeting with an academic advisor.  There are more than 15 orientations throughout the summer, and the institution serves around 50–200 students at each session.  With many faculty members and staff members away from campus during the summer, there is a major shortage in advisors.  The AAC enlists the help of faculty, part-time and full-time staff, and graduate students—all of whom are trained to advise students at both campuses.  The sharing of advisors across campuses allows for efficient use of personnel resources based on student population.  It should be noted that resource allocation is largely driven by what is most important to the institution, so inclusive campus-wide meetings should be held to discuss and evaluate the universal vision, goals, and objectives of the advising program (King, 2008).

An advising community can also allow multi-campus institutions to advocate on behalf of student-specific needs and show the impact that certain interventions have on their respective students’ success.  Today's college students are more ethnically and culturally diverse than ever.  Separate from race, ethnicity, and religion, a large number of students are entering college as first-generation students or returning as adult learners (Upcraft & Stephens, 2000).  There has also been an increase of students with physical and mental disabilities.  Some students may have emotional challenges and the academic caliber of students may vary across campuses, as well.  Shared data on graduation rates and percentage of students who are coming in as at-risk and underprepared and/or undecided may help upper-level administrators determine which types of programming are needed at each location.

At UMBC, we discuss how advising needs are different for each campus population.  UMBC’s Shady Grove Campus undergraduate population is unique because it only consists of transfer students in four academic programs.  We attract more adult learners due to our career-focused programs, campus location, and availability of courses.  As a result of specific advising needs, some office hours have been offered later in the day to accommodate working students and those taking evening classes.  Our advisors here at Shady Grove are very familiar with transfer populations, as well as the four academic programs.  Different skillsets are needed for our main campus which serves all undergraduate students and offers over 50 academic programs.  Advisors working at the main campus should know about freshmen student transitions and become familiar with the wide variety of academic programs that our main campus offers.   

If an actual in-person academic advising community is not feasible, institutions may want to consider having an online community.  The increasing development of technology as a method of communication provides several avenues in which advising stakeholders at each campus can be connected and/or have access to important information.  Departmental list servs and institutional directories are just a couple of ways that multi-campus institutions can share information.  An institution-wide database that houses information about advising processes utilized by institutional departments would also be helpful (Spence, 2011).  Furthermore, virtual forums can provide advising stakeholders with an opportunity to review campus-wide, student-issued communications, give the entire advising community an opportunity to ask relevant questions and provide information appropriate to their respective campuses.  UMBC’s AAC has a web page that is accessible from an online campus portal.  Throughout the year, the forum encourages discussion of issues in academic advising and promotes collaboration in developing more effective strategies in challenging areas such as advising students on academic probation or working with returning students whose curriculum requirements have changed since the last time they were enrolled at UMBC.  What is most unique about UMBC’s online group is that any professional staff/faculty member can join.

Training programs can also be a part of an academic advising community.  Each campus location can encourage the sharing of best practices that can be adapted by another campus to meet its specific needs.  If campus locations are close in proximity, monthly or semester meetings will provide an opportunity for advising stakeholders to come together and teach one another.  If there is a significant distance between campuses, ongoing training through webinars will allow advisors to learn more about institutional policies, curriculum, and how to better serve their respective students.  At UMBC, advisor training is held at the main campus and its branch campus.  NACADA also provides a wealth of resources, publications, and professional development opportunities for all types of academic advisors and advising administrators, many of which can be accessed online.

With varying institutional types and missions, there is an understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all technique as it relates to the organization and delivery of academic advising programs.  However, regardless of the institution’s type, coordination is needed in order to create a successful advising program across multi-campus institutions.

If institutions are interested in developing their own advising communities, questions that can help guide the discussion could be:

  • Who are the stakeholders of advising at each campus location?
  • Who at our campus is allowed to advise students?
  • What services can we provide across the entire institution?
  • What happens if we cannot provide a specific service here at our campus?
  • How can we utilize technology to disseminate information?

Creating an advising community of well-informed individuals can do more than improve advising practices and increase student success, it can foster an inclusive environment where colleagues can come together and address the needs of the institution and set the foundation for other departments to follow.

Tim H. Cox
Assistant Director of Advising and Student Success
University of Maryland, Baltimore County – Shady Grove Campus


King, M. C. (2008). Organization of academic advising services. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, & T. J. Grites (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., pp. 242-251).  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McClellan, J. L. (2010). Leadership and complexity: Implications for practice within the advisement leadership bodies at colleges and universities. Complicity: An International Journey of Complexity and Education, 7(2). 32-51. 

Spence, J. (2011). Developing strategic and effective partnerships with others on campus. In J.Joslin & N. Markee (Eds.), Academic advising administration: Essential knowledge and skills for the 21st century (Monograph No. 22 [National Academic Advising Association]: pp. 169-176).

University of Maryland, Baltimore County. (n.d.). Academic Advising Community. Retrieved from http://advising.umbc.edu/facultystaff/academic-advising-community/

Upcraft, M. L., & Stephens, P. S. (2000). Academic advising and today’s changing students. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, & T. J. Grites (Eds.). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., pp. 73-82). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Vantage Point banner.jpgIn Response to “Advisors Discuss: Advising is Advising” 

Rich Robbins, Bucknell University

Rich Robbins.jpgThe December 2015 AAT included an article by Leigh Cunningham titled “Advisors Discuss: Advising is Advising,” which summarized the 2015 NACADA Annual Conference Common Reading discussion of the (2008) “Advising is Advising: Toward Defining the Practice and Scholarship of Academic Advising” by Janet Schulenberg and Marie Lindhorst.  As evidenced by the discussions during the Common Reading event, there is still much debate regarding the efficacy (or even possibility) of a unifying theory of academic advising.

At the time of its publication, the Schulenberg and Lindhorst (2008) article was indeed on-target by proposing that advising is a unique field of practice and study.  This view was widely held prior to 2008 and continues today.  It is, in fact, one of the primary points that NACADA has been emphasizing for over a decade regarding becoming recognized as a profession and discipline in higher education.  Also true in 2008 was the authors’ statement that “Academic advising has emerged as a distinct interdisciplinary field and profession” (Schulenberg & Lindhorst, 2008, p. 43), although according to the criteria provided by Shaffer, Zalewski, and Leveille (2010) we have not yet met all requirements to sociologically be considered an academic profession.

The assertion that “The scholar-practitioner model must be nurtured for all who engage in academic advising and for a distinct scholarly identity for academic advising to be established within higher education” (Schulenberg and Lindhorst, 2008, p. 43) was also absolutely true then as it is now, with calls for increased research and scholarship having been made previously (Habley, 1986, 2000; McGillin, 2000; Padak, Kuhn, Gordon, Steele, & Robbins, 2005).  The more recent emphasis by NACADA on promoting and increasing scholarship in academic advising not only to inform practice but to build a foundation of empirical inquiry to make academic advising a recognized profession in higher education (as per Shaffer, Zalewski, and Leveille, 2010) follows these calls.

A highlighted aspect of the Common Reading event was the consideration of Lowenstein’s 2005 article in light of the 2008 article by Schulenberg and Lindhorst.  While some may contend that the latter significantly differed from the former, the aspects of academic advising as teaching included in Lowenstein’s 2005 article (e.g., student learning, outcomes for advising) are included in the Schulenberg and Lindhorst (2008) article.  Lowenstein’s (2005) earlier and continued emphasis on advising as a form of teaching (Lowenstein, 2014),  parallels what Schulenberg and Lindhorst (2008) wrote, with Schulenberg and Lindhorst additionally emphasizing this to further reiterate a need for increased scholarship in advising.  This notion that academic advising is a form of teaching has been discussed for decades in the literature by others as well (Appleby, 2008, Creamer, 2000; Crookston, 1972; Ender, Winston, & Miller, 1984; Frost, Habley, King, Vowell, & White, 1995; Grites, 1994; Hagen, 1994; Miller & Alberts, 1994; Ryan, 1992).

In summary, the focus on the need for increased scholarship in the Schulenberg and Lindhorst (2008) article echoed prior and continuing calls for increased research.  What has changed since the article was published in 2008 includes:

  • The 2008 NACADA definition of research as scholarly inquiry
  • The 2010 NACADA book “Scholarly Inquiry in Academic Advising
  • The implementation of NACADA Research Symposia
  • The revised 2013 NACADA Vision Statement including “development and dissemination of innovative theory, research, and practice of academic advising in higher education.”
  • The revised 2013 NACADA Mission Statement including “advancing the field of academic advising globally.”
  • The revised 2013 NACADA Strategic Goals including a specific goal to “Expand and communicate the scholarship of academic advising.”
  • The forthcoming Center for Excellence and Research in Academic Advising and Student Success joint venture between NACADA and the College of Education at Kansas State University

The topics discussed during the follow-up conversation with Schulenberg and Lindhorst at the 2015 conference, as reported by Cunningham (2015), further reflect many aspects of the concept of advising as teaching, the NACADA Core Values, the CAS Standards for Academic Advising, the NACADA Strategic Goal #1, and the increased emphasis on research/scholarly inquiry in advising.  Missing in the 2008 article, as well as in Lowenstein’s two articles (2005, 2014), is the fact that assessment of academic advising is necessary to determine true “effectiveness” of advising provided and of student learning as a result of advising (Robbins, 2011; Robbins and Zarges, 2011).

A continuing debate lies in Schulenberg and Lindhorst’s (2008) appeals for a unified theory of academic advising.  Others have similarly suggested the need for such a theory (e.g., Hagen & Jordan, 2008) while Himes (2014) suggested that a normative theory will eventually evolve from the interdisciplinary theories historically and currently utilized in advising.  Lowenstein (2014) offered what he termed A Normative Theory of Advising as Integrative Learning which could arguably be a positive theory rather than a normative one, as positive theories describe reality and Lowenstein provides a description of what academic advising is, while normative theories portray a judgment of the ideal or most desirable.  Because academic advising borrows from so many fields and disciplines such as education, learning, student development, human development, psychology, sociology, even economic theory and more not included here—each of which have subtheories and interdisciplinary aspects themselves—a discrete, overarching academic advising theory is likely not possible.

The interdisciplinary characteristic of academic advising as recognized by Schulenberg and Lindhorst (2008), combined with the individual specificity of any given advising practice due to the distinctiveness of each campus academic culture including (but not limited to) the different environments in which advising occurs, the different modes in which advising is delivered, the institution’s political culture, mission, and student clientele, etc. make a specific single theory unfeasible.  Any given academic advising event is based on the developmental, educational, and other theories most appropriate to the specific advising situation (Robbins, 2010, 2012). 

While a common theory for academic advising is likely not possible, this does not mean that minimum components of an effective academic advising program should not be identified.  That is, the interdisciplinary and eclectic characteristics of effective academic advising do not exclude the fact that in order to provide students with the services necessary to promote their successes and persistence to graduation while at the same time meeting the program and institutional missions, each individual advising program needs to delineate minimum process and student learning outcomes to be met.  A good place to start is the CAS Standards for Academic Advising (2015).  Assessment of both the processes involved in the delivery of advising to students and of student learning as the result of advising to determine if the identified minimum components have been achieved is necessary as well.

Rich Robbins
Associate Dean
College of Arts and Sciences
Bucknell University


Appleby, D. C. (2008). Advising as teaching and learning. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, and T. J. Grites, Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., pp. 85-102). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2015). CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education (9th edition). Washington, DC: Author.

Creamer, D. G. (2000). Use of theory in academic advising. In V. N. Gordon & W. R. Habley (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (pp. 18–34). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Crookston, B. B. (1972/1994/2009). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. NACADA Journal, 29(1), 78-82. (Reprinted from Journal of College Student Personnel, 13, 1972, pp. 12-17; NACADA Journal, 14[2], 1994, pp. 5–9)

Cunningham, L. (2015, December). Advisors discuss: Advising is advising. Academic Advising Today, 38(4). Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advisors-Discuss-Advising-is-Advising.aspx

Ender, S. C., Winston, R. B., & Miller, T. K. (1984). Academic advising reconsidered. In R. B. Winston, Jr., T. K. Miller, S. C. Ender, & T. J. Grites (Eds.), Developmental academic advising (pp. 3–34). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Frost, S. H., Habley, W. R., King, M. C., Vowell, F. N., & White, E. R. (1995). In G. Kramer (Ed.), Reaffirming the role of faculty in academic advising. Monograph Series, No. 1. Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.

Grites, T. J. (1994). From principle to practice: Pain or gain? NACADA Journal, 14(2), 80–84.

Habley, W. R. (1986). Show us the future: The challenges facing academic advising. NACADA Journal, 6(2), 5–12.

Habley W. R. (2000). On a clear day-ja vu all over again. NACADA Journal, 20(1), 5–11.

Hagen, P. L. (1994). Academic advising as dialectic. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 85–88.

Hagen, P. L., & Jordan, P. (2008). Theoretical foundations of academic advising. In V.N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, and T. J. Grites (Eds.), Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook (2nd edition, pp.17-35).  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Himes, H. A. (2014). Strengthening Academic Advising by Developing a Normative Theory. NACADA Journal, 34(1), 5-15.

Kuhn, T., & Padak, G. (2008). From the co-editors: Is academic advising a discipline? NACADA Journal, 28(2), 2–3.

Lowenstein, M. (2005). If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? NACADA Journal, 25(2), 65-73.

Lowenstein, M. (2014, August 12). Toward a theory of advising. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal.   Retrieved from https://dus.psu.edu/mentor/2014/08/toward-a-theory-of-advising/

McGillin, V. A. (2000). Current issues in advising research. In V. Gordon & W. Habley (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Miller, M. A., & Alberts, B. (1994). Developmental advising: Where teaching and learning intersect. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 43–45.

Padak, G., Kuhn, T., Gordon, V., Steele, G., & Robbins, R.  (2005). Voices From the Field: Building a Research Agenda for Academic Advising. NACADA Journal, 25 (1), 6-10.

Robbins, R. (2010).  Generating scholarship from theory and previous research.  In P. Hagen, T. Kuhn, and G. Padak (Eds.), Scholarly Inquiry in Academic Advising. NACADA Monograph Series Number 20 (chapter 3).  Manhattan, KS: NACADA.

Robbins, R. (2011). Assessment and accountability of academic advising.  In J. Joslin and N. Markee (Eds.), Academic Advising Administration: Essential Knowledge and Skills for the 21st Century. NACADA Monograph Series Number 22 (chapter 4).  Manhattan, KS: NACADA.

Robbins, R. (2012). Everything you have always wanted to know about academic advising (well, almost…). Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 26, 216-226.

Robbins, R. (2014). AAC&U’s integrative liberal learning and the CAS standards: Advising for a 21st century liberal education. NACADA Journal, 34(2), 26-31.

Robbins, R. & Zarges, K. M. (2011). Assessment of academic advising: A summary of the process. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Assessment-of-academic-advising.aspx

Ryan, C. C. (1992). Advising as teaching. NACADA Journal, 12(1), 4–8.

Schulenberg, J., & Lindhorst, M. (2008). Advising is advising: Toward defining the practice and scholarship of academic advising. NACADA Journal, 28(1), 43-53.

Shaffer, L. S., Zalewski, J. M., &  Leveille, J. (2010). The Professionalization of Academic Advising: Where Are We in 2010?. NACADA Journal, 30(1), 66-77.

The Good Map: Advising for Empowerment

Steve Quinn, Olympic College

Steve Quinn.jpgIf one of the primary goals of academic advising is to get beyond learner engagement and into the realm of empowerment, then that also must be a focus of our assessment.  To this end, the survey question “are you empowered?” may not be enough.  I have suggested previously that empowerment is supported by four elements of the advising process: information, resources, instruction, and the pause within which alternatives become possibilities (Quinn, 2015).  Analysis, however, also does not by itself lead to a mode of assessment that will inform professional practice.  What is needed is a set of criteria, or at least categories from which criteria can be developed, which support deliberation and refinement without losing integrity.  What do the landmarks of empowerment look like?  Can we navigate through them without wandering into manipulation?  I wish I had a good map. 

The map as a metaphor for academic planning and advising may seem clichéd, but it offers not only concrete familiarity, but also iconic status as a tool of empowerment.  A map is not a prescription—it cannot tell us where we want to go—and its quiet affirmation of “you are here” personalizes the landscape and acts as a starting place for navigational decision-making.  What makes one map more empowering than another?  Within the structure of the four elements of empowerment, I suggest ten features to help us frame an answer. 


The first several of these apply to the most concrete of the elements of empowerment.

  • Information should be clear and free of jargon and acronyms.  Map reading is not an innate skill, and no map should pretend to be clear enough to make the person at the information booth obsolete, but the map should not make me look for the booth so I can ask someone how to interpret it.  To find advising information, I should not need a glossary of local terms for available services and resources. 
  • Information should be accessible for just-in-time use.  Prerequisites and assumptions should be kept at a minimum.  Standing in the middle of the mall, the map that makes me go back to the entrance and start over is not much help.  The second year student does not want to be told to wait and take a class for answers to her advising questions. 
  • Information should be purposeful, favoring internal consistency and relational over literal accuracy.  All information is biased; empowering information makes its biases explicit.  The store directory does not include information on ventilation system ductwork, and a syllabus for academic advising is not the college catalog or the centerpiece of a marketing campaign.
  • Information should be relevant, never sacrificing its alignment with the big-picture for clarity.  The schematic of Washington DC’s Metro lines would be far less empowering if it did not include a ghost overlay of the Potomac and the location of the National Mall.  The reward for efficiently navigating the system is not arrival at the terminal marked “degree completion,” it is the access the degree offers. 
  • Information should be credible, striking a balance between formality and currency.  An official-looking publication has more credibility than a hand-drawn napkin map labelled “u r here,” but a map that is literally carved in stone—or a community college advisor in a three-piece suit—may be seen as out of touch. 


Without access to relevant resources, standing in front of the map I can understand it completely and still be unable to make a decision.  Resources are off the map.  Some are referred to: the bus schedule, the restaurant menu, the store catalog.  Other resources are implied, requiring reflection rather than research to access them: the amount of money in my pocket, what I am hungry for, and, ultimately, where I want to go.  The makers of the map cannot be responsible for every menu or inventory of desires, but to the extent to which advising resources can be, if not edited, at least selected, one guideline may be helpful. 

  • Resources should be balanced between reference and reflection.  Too much reliance on external resources can lead to blame, regret, and diffusion rather than acceptance of responsibility.  On the other hand, advising is not just about navel-gazing.  In the advising conversation, “…you have to take this math class,” is balanced when it is preceded by, “If this is where you want your education to take you…”


Advisors may not control their resources, but they can engineer what they teach.  Still, if they are to serve empowerment, a balance must be maintained.  Instruction that over-emphasizes achievement and achievable outcomes can become self-serving and artificial: the algorithm for levelling up in the video game of higher education.  But for instruction to imply that to be empowered is to act as if all things are possible may set students up for patterns of failure.  To steer between the extremes of artifice and anything goes, two themes serve as landmarks for instruction. 

  • Explicit instruction in self-assessment can keep instruction real.  Like a map of a mountain path that encourages climbers to evaluate their own capabilities and footwear, these classes can support self-confidence in planning and decision-making as measureable outcomes, especially when self-assessment is presented as developmental and criterion-referenced (Loacker, 2000). 
  • Instruction in meta-cognitive skills helps students recognize their own patterns of habit, bias, and momentum as parts of the decision-making landscape as real as the geography of the system itself.  Metacognition enables reflection in practice and intentionality in learning, and adds an element of forgiveness as students learn to navigate around their own traps.  


The element that remains to be assessed is the pause that we build into the advising pathway, the moment of reframing, without which empowered decision-making is an unreachable ideal on the far side of resignation.  This is the light bulb coming on over the learner’s head during instruction, the “payoff” that cannot be engineered or extorted.  Can it be measured?

  • An indirect measure is that space is provided within which this pause becomes possible.  The dynamics and ambience of advising must be uncluttered, personal, and genuine.  It is not conducted against the backdrop of rhetorical questions or fenced in by automated response scenarios, but within the unbounded context of the truly open-ended. 
  • Perhaps the best measure of success in learner empowerment is one that also could be used to describe its failure: students do not come back.  Surveys should not look for indebtedness to bolster our self-importance.  Advising must support confidence, not dependence, and the successful journey does not lead first and foremost to a celebration of cartography. 

When all is said and done and the elements of advising have been assessed for characteristics that support empowerment—these ten or others developed as this conversation continues—then it may be time to ask the direct question.  Not because it ever is enough, but because one final element of empowerment is to claim it, getting students to say it out loud is part of making it a reality: Are you empowered?  If we do our jobs, they will say yes, but it will not be our success but theirs that we will have helped them assess. 

Steve Quinn
Advising Faculty
Advising and Counseling Center
Olympic College


Quinn, S.  (2015, March).  At the corner of advising and assessment.  Academic Advising Today38(1).  Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/At-the-Corner-of-Advising-and-Assessment.aspx

Loacker, G. editor (2000). Self Assessment at Alverno College, by the Alverno College Faculty.

Making Professional Development Accessible and Impactful for New Academic Advisors 

John S. Buckley, Kansas State University

John Buckley.jpgConsidering the proportion of new academic advisors among membership in NACADA, it is imperative for academic departments and academic advising offices to anticipate issues relating to this group of professionals and their professional development.  The initial habits of new academic advisors regarding professional development will likely follow them further into their career.  However, restrictions on time and funding as well as choosing the most readily accessible delivery methods and resources for professional development are major issues.  Consistent with this view, Kathryn Huggett (2000) proposed in the NACADA Journal that barriers for advisors engaging in professional development include “at least four internal barriers recognizable to advisors at almost any university: time, justification, venue, and cost.”  Huggett goes on to describe unsupportive supervisors who may consider the use of work time as inappropriate for professional development, especially for faculty advisors.  She cites the decentralized arrangement of advising as “isolating,” leaving advisors on their own to discover venues of opportunity for professional development.         

A primary issue of concern is justifying professional development to supervisors.  Clues about how to approach this issue might be found in John Niska’s (2013) article from Research in Middle Level Education Online in which he analyzed outcomes for groups of middle education advisors receiving different levels of intervention: an awareness session, an advisory course, and an advisory course with consistent coaching including goal setting and theory to practice.  Though the study is specific to middle level education, Niska found significantly improved outcomes regarding understanding of professional development at post-test for advisors engaging in continuous coaching and support of professional development opportunities with their supervisors.  In this particular study, coaching involved one hour each week for twenty four weeks.  Considering application of the topic, new academic advisors might embark on their own professional development via distance education with time allowed during the work day.  Similar to Niska’s experimental group of middle education advisors, new academic advisors might meet for coaching for one hour per week, develop and pursue an action plan, and integrate concepts learned via distance education into practice with coaching support from their supervisor.  NACADA’s New Advisor Guidebook details how new advisors might use university and department human resources presentations, on campus resources, and connections with peers and mentors to develop a self-directed training plan (Yoder, & Joslin, 2015).  Further measures could be taken to deal with barriers to professional development for new academic advisors in a decentralized advising model including tracking new hires across academic departments, creating a centralized directory of advisors, and offering grants to individuals or groups willing to plan institution-wide professional development activities (Huggett, 2000).

Costs of professional development “include, but are not limited to, journal subscriptions, conference or workshop registration fees, travel, and lodging” (Hugget, 2000).  Other barriers are external to the advisor: the burdensome nature of committee work needed to organize professional development activities, organizing advisors across departments and the institution to gain maximum benefit from professional development in a decentralized advising system, and administration and coordination of campus resources toward professional development (Huggett, 2000). Despite both internal and external barriers, there are a number of potential solutions to the issues related to the professional development of new academic advisors which can be found in literature. These solutions exist both within and outside of advising offices and include support for new advisors in crafting a professional development plan, continuous coaching of new professionals by supervisors, utilizing university-wide lectures and training opportunities, creating connections among new academic advisors, utilizing professional association funds for conferences, and teaching new advisors individual financial management for business related expenses.      

Some potential solutions to the time crunch for new advisors include low cost webinars, lunch and learn sessions, scheduled publication readings and facilitation of online discussion, online conferences, and the use of Skype and Zoom to facilitate advising roleplays and application of theory to practice.  For new academic advisors traveling to conferences, there are a number of methods to decrease the cost of participation in professional development.  New academic advisors must take advantage of priority registration and registration discounts to decrease the cost of professional development to the institution or the advising professional.  Academic advisors might also present sessions at regional conferences as a way to gain reduced-cost access to professional development offerings.  Furthermore, engaging in leadership within NACADA’s Emerging Leaders Program allows for access to a $1,500 scholarship which can be applied to sponsored professional development opportunities.  Travel costs can be lessened through the use of carpooling, mass transit options, search engines for low cost airfare, and sharing hotel accommodations with other new academic advisors.  Finally, though many conferences offer meals, new academic advisors can avoid room service costs and utilize discounts (Amundsen & Ridingin, 2009).  Advisors might also keep a record of their expenses to write business expenses off of their taxes.

Developing an individual professional development plan for each new hire allows for greater connection between new advisors and their supervisors as well as opportunities for theory to practice. Introduction of the methods suggested in this article addresses both internal and external barriers to the professional development of new academic advisors.  Choosing delivery methods of distance education and reducing professional development opportunities to manageable time commitments allows for professional development where there might be none.  Keeping a centralized directory of academic advisors allows new professionals ready access to learn from their peers.  The use of grant funds supports professional development at the institution and allows for greater opportunities for new advising professionals who would otherwise have to travel.  Finally, those who choose to travel to conferences can use practical tips to decrease the cost of involvement and access available professional association funds via leadership positions and presenting sessions. By reducing barriers of time, justification, venue, and cost, robust professional development of new academic advisors might be achieved, enlivening new staff and creating learning and mentoring connections across campus, between institutions, and within their new profession.

John S. Buckley
Graduate Student
Counseling and Student Development Program
College of Education
Kansas State University


Amundsen, S. & Ridingin, L. (2009). Professional development on a budget. Academic Advising Today, 32(2). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Professional-Development-on-a-Budget.aspx

Yoder, F., & Joslin, J. (2015). Advisor Growth and Development. In Folsom, P., Yoder, F., & Joslin, J. (Eds.), The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising (pp. 301-315). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Huggett, K. D. (2000). Professional development in an uncertain profession: Finding a place for academic and career advisors. NACADA Journal, 20(2), 46-51.

McGill, C. (2015). Workplace learning experiences of four professional academic advisors. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Workplace-Learning-Experiences-of-Four-Professional-Academic-Advisors.aspx

Niska, J. M. (2013). A study of the impact of professional development on middle level advisors. Research in Middle Level Education Online, 37(5). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19404476.2014.11462108

Strategies for Addressing Pace with High-Achieving Students 

Kristy Spear, University of Florida

Kristy Spear.jpgBusyness has become a measure of worth in our society, and involvement in academics is not criteria for exemption from this trend.  The focus of the college experience has shifted from a time of intellectual growth and development to a measure of how much can be accomplished in four years and how it will look to “this” employer or “that” graduate school.  High-achieving students push to find opportunities for involvement and intellectual challenge based on internal interest, external pressure, and the societal myth that if they are not doing something productive, time is being wasted.  Furthermore, for many high-achieving students, the notoriety associated with highly selective opportunities can be more appealing than the experience itself.  Their eagerness, ambition, and high expectations of themselves and the college experience (Achterberg, 2005) propel this obsession with being constantly busy for fear that they may be missing out.  They are driven by their varied intellectual interests and profound love of learning (Wilcox, 2013) which lead to a series of competing priorities, a conflict that will likely follow them throughout life.  Helping high-achieving students develop the skills required to set a steady, productive pace while maintaining a sustainable workload is the most valuable lesson advisors can impart on this population.  

To identify a manageable pace, students must constantly evaluate goals and experiences using two metrics: speed and control.  Gauging speed and control from an outside perspective is challenging. It requires advisors to listen deeply and unassumingly, ask meaningful questions, and remove all biases about ideal pace.  Speed and control are individualistic, subjective, and can change from day to day.  What seems like a demanding, overburdened schedule for one student may be too slow for another.  This issue presents itself regularly with high-achieving students who exhibit multipotentiality (the ability to excel in multiple fields of study) and seek simultaneity.  Advisors should not discourage students from pursuing a demanding schedule if the student is in control.  Instead, advisors must work with students to cultivate cognizance of the two metrics as losing control and being busy without purpose can have serious physical, mental, and professional repercussions.  There are many strategies to address pace with high-achieving students; the most impactful are reflection and mindfulness.

Determining a manageable pace requires a self-awareness that can only be garnered through reflection, and busyness has a tendency to stand in the way of that process.  Without constant, ongoing evaluation, students overlook the present and forget to think about what they are doing and, more importantly, why.  Assessing the purpose and demands of each experience and learning when to say no are essential tools for monitoring speed and remaining in control.  Advisors must engage students in dialogue that encourages reflection and articulated learning.  Asking questions about what the student learned, how they learned it, why that information matters, and in what ways that information will be used moving forward (Ash & Clay, 2004), is an easy way to begin a meaningful conversation on involvement and pace.  This concept aligns closely with Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, a flowing framework that advisors can use to help students analyze and apply what they learn from experience.  The Experiential Learning Cycle encourages gathering experiences, reflecting on observations, conceptualizing new approaches, and using that information for future experimentation (Kolb, 2014).

To further the conversation about pace, additional questions may include:         

Who is setting your pace, you or someone else (peers, family, etc.)?

What do you have to do?  What do you want to do?

Are you taking time to reflect on your experience?

Are you enjoying the things you are doing?  If not, what steps can you take to fix that?

Are you missing out on unexpected opportunities because of your plan?

Beyond dialogue, advisors may also approach the idea of articulated and experiential learning through activities.  Mapping is one technique to help students reflect on experiences and prioritize competing opportunities.  Advisors can enlist think-aloud protocol to engage students in discussion during the mapping design process, or assign the activity as homework.  Many high-achieving students enjoy using creative ingenuity to solve problems, and mapping can provide that outlet.  Students may develop maps by hand or through mapping software, like Mind Meister (www.mindmeister.com).  There are several types of maps that can be used to assess speed and control.  New college students interested in strategically engaging in a number of opportunities throughout their undergraduate career may benefit from creating a Concept Map (Johnson, 2013) to help with purposeful planning.  Wandering Maps, as described by Kate Brooks in her book You Majored in What: Mapping Your Path to Chaos and Career (2010), can help a student identify themes, define goals, and find avenues for opportunities.  Mapping can provide a visual method to start dialogue and build meaningful conversations about pace.

Assessing values is another reflection technique that can be used to evaluate speed and control.  Values drive involvement and decision-making.  Processing values with a student provides a vehicle to explore motivation and determine why certain opportunities are important from personal and professional perspectives.  By helping a student identify his or her values, advisors can assist in evaluating current and future involvement opportunities.  If the student’s values do not align with current activities, it may also springboard a conversation about eliminating extraneous experiences that are not a good fit.  There are several online resources available to assist with identifying values.  MyPlan (www.myplan.com) offers a host of tests including a Values Assessment that students can complete free of charge.  Values change, and reassessing them periodically is a helpful way to evaluate experiences and maintain a steady, manageable pace.

A SWOT analysis is one more approach that can also be used to address pacing issues with high-achieving students.  This technique, often used by businesses for planning and evaluation, can help students sort experiences and determine which activities are worth continuing or pursuing.  A SWOT analysis can be used to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with a student’s schedule.  Experiences that are placed in the weaknesses and threats categories should be investigated and potentially abandoned to make room for opportunities.

Reflection and experiential learning can be approached metacognitively through mindfulness (Kolb & Yeganeh, 2012).  For many students, the future and the past distracts from the present.  Encouraging mindfulness addresses this concern.  Mindfulness is an active awareness of the present moment.  It involves seeing thoughts as thoughts and not literal events, accepting without judgement, remaining compassionate with one’s self, and recognizing that change is inevitable.  These lessons are particularly salient to high-achieving students, who have a tendency to remain overly-focused on what they “need to do” and are devastated by perceived failures in those arenas.  Self-compassion and openness to change can go a long way when setting a manageable pace.  Mindfulness shifts the focus from what the student must do for the future, to what can be accomplished in the present, “enhancing presence and intentional attention” (Kolb, 2015).  By using what the student has learned from experience and breaking the process down into easily digestible pieces, students will find relief from fear and anxiety that often accompany an overburdened schedule.  S.T.O.P (Goldstein, 2013) is one way to walk a student through mindful practice:

Stop what you are doing and put things down for a minute

Take a few deep breaths

Observe experiences including thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they are

Proceed with something that will support you in the moment

Advisors can play a critical role in helping students evaluate experiences, practice mindfulness, and learn to scale back when necessary.  Busyness is time consuming and, without conscious effort, leaves little room for reflection and mindfulness.  For high-achieving students, there is always something more that can be done.  Yet, what is the cost and what are these students sacrificing by being constantly busy?  Brigid Schulte (2014) argues, “Even as neuroscience is beginning to show that at our most idle, our brains are most open to inspiration and creativity—and history proves that great works of art, philosophy and invention were created during leisure time—we resist taking time off.”  Research has found statistical support for the idea that practicing mindfulness enhances mental and physical health as well as creativity (Kolb, 2015).  Shifting the focus to the present can dramatically impact a student’s college experience.  This argument is not an excuse for laziness, but an opportunity for self-compassion, open-mindedness, and unexpected opportunity.  Students will be surprised by what they can accomplish when they give themselves a little free time.

Kristy Spear
Honors Program
University of Florida


Achterberg, C. (2005). What is an honors student? Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 6(1), 75-81.

Ash, S. L. and Clayton, P. H. (2004). The articulated learning: An approach to guided reflection and assessment. Innovative Higher Education, 29(2), 137-154.

Brooks, K. (2010). You majored in what?: Mapping your path from chaos to career. New York, NY: Plume.

Goldstein, E. (2013, May 29). Stressing Out? S.T.O.P. Mindful. Retrieved from http://www.mindful.org/stressing-out-stop/

Kolb, D. A. and Yaganeh, B. (2012). Deliberate experiential learning: Mastering the art of learning from experience. In K. Elsbach, C. D. Kayes, & A. Kayes (Eds.), Contemporary organizational behavior in action (1st ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Kolb, D. A. (2015). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Kolb, D. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Schulte, B. (2014, March 15). Why being too busy makes us feel so good. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-being-too-busy-makes-us-feel-so-good/2014/03/14/c098f6c8-9e81-11e3-a050-dc3322a94fa7_story.html

Johnson, M. (2013). Engaging honors students in purposeful planning through a concept mapping assignment [Paper 226]. Honors in Practice: Online Archive. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1225&context=nchchip

Wilcox, E. (2013). From obstacle course to launching pad: Advising high achievers, gifted learners and creative thinkers. Retrieved from http://advisingmatters.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/re-edited_Final_Advising%20High%20Achievers_EW-12_09_13%20(2)_0.pdf

Vantage Point banner.jpbBuy the Book: Reflections on the Effect of Student Advocacy on Career Longevity 

Elizabeth S. Bambacus, Virginia Commonwealth University

Elizabeth Bambacus.jpgOn average, college students are expected to spend almost $1,300 per year on textbooks (College Board, 2015).  Shocking to the layperson, this information will not surprise academic advisors, for we share in our students’ joys, heartbreaks, triumphs, and, quite often, the trauma of their financial roadblocks.  With textbooks costing the same price as, say, car insurance, a couple months of rent, or several months of food, students are forced to choose between necessities or books.  Book rentals are less expensive, but can still cost upwards of $100 each.  Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are already climbing uphill to succeed in college, and the unaffordable cost of textbooks exponentially steepens the slope.  Academic advisors pride ourselves on problem solving, but there are some things that we just cannot fix.  And it is torture.

I chose my career in academic advising for the same reasons many of us did: not only because we loved higher education so much that we never wanted to leave, but also because we needed a career that gave us purpose, one in which we saw that we were making a difference.  There is plenty about my job that fulfills me, like the moment when a student finally clicks with a major, finds focus just in time to secure a C, or addresses a mental health issue and begins to thrive.  I worked for lawyers during graduate school and am acutely aware that not every job out there provides such fulfillment.  The unglorified side of advising, however, is that its frustrations can keep us up at night, like a student’s inability to study purely because of financial reasons.

Last spring I reflected on how advising students who are unable to buy textbooks is like watching a freight train speed toward a car stalled on the tracks.  Without the textbooks to help them forward, students would certainly be crushed by the unrelenting pace of academia.  All I had previously thought to do was sympathetically tell them to check the library, to ask their professor for an extra copy, or to look for private loans to pay off when their financial aid eventually came in.  It was like getting out of my well-running car and telling the stalled driver to walk to the nearest gas station for assistance.  I was empathizing but not doing.  How many other challenges, I thought—already knowing the answer—must college students overcome to succeed?  College is stressful: developmentally, students are experiencing a major life stage that includes significant change and increased responsibilities (Gutter & Copur, 2011).  If I could help relieve just this one burden, how far away from the oncoming train could the student get?  I began to brainstorm; there had to be something I could do.

Most academic libraries have reserve services where students can check out books for a limited amount of time (e.g., two hours).  To my relief, so did my university.  The problem was, though, that textbook availability is at the discretion of the faculty—they must provide the book, and many do not.  Because of the short lifespan of textbooks, the library could not spare any financial resources toward maintaining reserves.  The division that houses academic advising, however, targets retention—a keyword advisors know to drop when searching for funding.  I thought that perhaps I could convince administrators that by purchasing the textbooks of the most highly attended first-year and general education courses we would be giving students a fighting chance of passing their classes and graduating.  My colleagues’ enthusiasm told me I was on to something.

To my surprise, after persistently advocating the importance of this project, I was granted permission to purchase used textbooks from Amazon.  Understandably, in our current climate of budget cuts, this was a one-time purchase; the department will not be able to grant me $1,200 a year to fund the library’s reserves.  Yes, it is a short-term win to a long-term problem, but here is why I still feel victorious.  Year after year I did not have an immediate, helpful answer when students told me they failed their first test because they lacked the book.  I would suggest that they borrow a friend’s book to make copies, but much like my other recommendations, the student had to rely on the availability of yet another person.  This year was different.  The first time someone told me she was still waiting for financial aid to disburse her reimbursement so she could buy books, I was able to tell her that her books were available in the library.  Relief washed over her face. I was overjoyed and, in that moment, funding for next year did not matter.  I was renewed and looking forward to expanding the availability of books.  Having once felt defeated, I was now up for the challenge.

Thinking creatively about how to help students in ways other than tackling issues beyond my control has reenergized me.  In my early advising days, I feared that I would exhaust my empathy—that my 599th motivationally challenged student would receive my apathetic referrals instead of an enthusiastic pep talk I would have to tone down to avoid overwhelming him.  I did not expect to feel jaded toward a system under which I felt powerless.  Fortunately, I have maintained my passion for advising, though it has taken on a different shape.  My challenge to advisors who are approaching burnout from a sense of helplessness is to think outside of the traditional advising toolbox for creative ways to help students overcome powerful obstacles. Even tiny triumphs can reignite faltering job satisfaction, because though we cannot solve every problem, we can reduce the severity of the struggle.  When confronted with the textbook deficit, I had a choice to make: either burn out from the frustration of helplessly watching academically talented, low-income students crumble under the weight of financial stressors, or do something that might lift a fraction of the load.  I chose the latter.

Elizabeth S. Bambacus
Senior Academic Advisor
University Academic Advising
Division of Strategic Enrollment Management
Virginia Commonwealth University


College Board. (2015).Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets, 2015-2016. Trends in higher education. Retrieved from http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2015-16

Gutter, M., & Copur, Z. (2011). Financial behaviors and financial well-being of college students:Evidence from a national survey. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(4), 699-714.


Posted in: 2016 March 39:1


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