Joan M. Krush, North Dakota State University
Sara Winn, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The advising role brings with it a number of responsibilities, including course identification, career counseling, personal counseling/referral, and professional reference (Petress, 1996). These responsibilities multiply for faculty with the number of assigned advisees. In a study of 1,500 institutions, Habley (2004) found that 73% (p. 30) require faculty to advise an average of 29 students (p. 34). To help manage the additional workload tied to faculty advising, more colleges and universities may consider adding professional advisors housed within a department or college. In these situations, professional advisors are often more readily accessible to students and can ensure that faculty have access to advising resources.
When professional advisors work in conjunction with faculty advisors within a department or college, competing priorities may develop. Commonly, faculty focus on research and grant writing, teaching, service and curriculum commitments, along with advising. On the other hand, professional advisors have as their first priority the advising of students, and then work on retention, outreach, service, career development, teaching, publications, and curriculum. Such competing priorities can make it difficult for personnel within a department or college to be aligned in their quest for consistent and clear undergraduate advising.
Drake (2007) encouraged faculty to approach advising as a teaching process, rather than a means of information transmission (p. 4). We suggest that professional advisors can assist faculty advisors in this teaching process. Recognizing that each campus is unique, we offer a few suggestions regarding how professional advisors can work effectively with faculty.
One way to successfully connect with faculty and with undergraduate students is to be actively involved in first-year introductory courses. Many institutions offer an orientation or academic skills class to first-year students. Professional advisors who teach this class can invite a faculty member to co-teach the class or ask faculty to assist in other ways. Faculty could present their research or teaching interests or aid with an exercise within the class. Incorporating faculty can create a working environment that aligns advising goals with services advisees need. Where a first-year orientation course does not exist, professional advisors could ask faculty who teach first-year students if they can visit their course for a quick introduction. During the introduction, advisors can describe the advising role and encourage students to foster relationships with faculty and professional advisors during their undergraduate careers.
Second, we suggest that professional advisors collaborate with faculty advisors in the development of an advising syllabus. Numerous examples are provided within the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources. The syllabus details expectations for advisors, such as providing accurate information, treating students with respect, and allowing students to make final decisions. In addition, the syllabus describes expectations for the advisee (e.g., participating in the advising process, taking personal responsibility for their actions, and being adequately prepared for classes). The syllabus provides a solid method to outline expectations for the first-year student.
Third, professional advisors, working in conjunction with registration and records personnel, can develop a means to track student progress toward graduation. Early review of student records and timely communication by professional and faculty advisors is a proactive step towards graduation. Communicating often with students can help simplify the senior check process.
Fourth, professional and faculty advisors should work together to identify potential career options for students. In some instances, student interests and talents may lie with career options outside the declared major. While such conversations may be difficult, open lines of communication help us shepherd students through the steps in deciding if a selected degree program is the best fit. Occasionally, faculty may be so engrossed in their discipline that it may be difficult to suggest a student look outside the department. Professional advisors who work closely with faculty can help students who seem disconnected or out of place.
Fifth, professional advisors should consider a variety of ways to integrate within a department. Consider incorporating advising elements into the department’s or unit’s regular activities by attending faculty meetings (if possible), holding advising update meetings with faculty advisors, and inviting faculty to join advising sessions. Professional advisors should consider meeting individually with faculty to provide key advising updates to new faculty, or to refresh senior faculty advisors with abbreviated updates. Another approach might be to invite campus constituents to special topics meetings (e.g..,
career services, counseling, wellness, alcohol task force, registration and records, study abroad)
Finally, we suggest professional advisors work with faculty to develop a system to ensure consistency during the advising periods. Faculty and professional advisors can develop a schedule to contact advisees prior to campus’ advising week(s). They can work together on an e-mail to ensure that:
- students are provided with the advisor locations and availability.
- students are informed of expectations for the advising meeting, such as having a class schedule identified for the next semester or bringing pertinent paperwork to the advising session.
- a schedule/sign-up sheet is posted with availability or that students are encouraged to contact their advisor via email to schedule an appointment within designated parameters.
Where the advising relationship is shared, it works best when all stakeholders make decisions together for the betterment of their students. We submit that professional and faculty advisors can develop a strong, valuable relationship that aids the institution and its students.
Joan M. Krush
Department of Computer Science
North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
School of Natural Resources
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Drake, J.K. (2007). Components of a Successful Faculty Advising Program. Pocket Guide 5. Manhattan, KS: NACADA.
Habley, W.R. (Ed.). (2004). The Status of Academic Advising: Findings from the ACT Sixth National Survey. (Monograph No. 10). Manhattan, KS: NACADA.
Petress, K. C. (1996). The multiple roles of an undergraduate's academic advisor. Education.117: 91.
Cite this article using APA style as: Krush, J.M. & Winn, S. (2010, December). Professional advisors and faculty advisors: A shared goal of student success. Academic Advising Today, 33(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]