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Voices of the Global Community



Misty Altiparmak, 2004 NACADA Outstanding New Advisory Award Recipient

As I reflect upon my three years as an academic advisor, I realize that I have learned a lot that may help new advisors quickly transition into their advising roles. I hope that new advisors will read carefully and learn from my experiences. I also hope that senior advisors will review this and take a minute to share your wisdom and encourage new advisors.

As a new advisor, I struggled with several things including developing confidence in my work, thinking that I should know all the right answers, and understanding how I could become involved in advising activities. Later I had to learn how to balance my new family with work. Based upon these experiences I provide the following advice to new advisors:

  • Have confidence in your work. Admit when you don’t have the answers, but let the student know that you will provide an answer in a timely manner. When you must make a judgment call on you own don’t question yourself - be the authority. Know that you based your judgment on facts and information you hold to be true. Since I have learned to be confident in my decision making, I enjoy taking a leadership role within the office.
  • Give yourself permission to prepare answers for the “quick questions” that come from telephone calls and walk-in students. When I first began advising, I felt obligated to accept and immediately answer every quick question that came my way. I found I was often “put on the spot” and unprepared to help the student.

Each student is unique and each will pose a different question or concern that needs to be addressed with individual attention. If the question is truly not a quick question, let the student know that his/her question is important and you would like to make an appointment to sit down and address the situation one-on-one. Then research the answer.

  • Have a plan in place to balance work and family obligations. Personal emergencies happen. If you have family or other obligations, know that issues and illnesses will arise that need to be addressed during work hours. This does not mean that your students’ needs have to go unaddressed. Have a flexible plan in place that will allow you to assess the importance of the items on your schedule for the next day and week.

For example, if a situation arises when I can’t be in the office the next day, I prefer to call my students individually. Even in unexpected situations I know what is on my schedule and can make informed decisions on how the students should be rescheduled or if they can be seen by another advisor. Just remember that no matter how prepared, balancing work and family is not always easy. Don’t give up.

  • Get involved in advising activities at your institution and through NACADA. On your campus connect with a senior advisor or mentor who can help guide you through your first years of advising. If you don’t have centralized advising make sure to meet regularly with other campus advisors and departmental faculty to stay abreast of changes in curriculum and policies, and to share your advising concerns. Next, get involved with NACADA at all levels. I started out by attending the various conferences and workshops in the state and at the regional level. Put in a proposal to present. I had the opportunity to present a workshop at the state level that led to various opportunities for presenting and coordinating advising activities on campus. Attend the national conferences to keep up with the latest student trends and to network with other advisors.

I look forward to upcoming NACADA conferences to refresh my motivation and to seek out new opportunities in leadership and service. It is wonderful to have such a strong network of advisors and resources to call upon at UAB and nationwide when I need them.

Over time, I have come to realize that my advising style has evolved and I have quickly transitioned into my role as an advisor. The advice and suggestions I receive from my colleagues is instrumental to my professional growth and development. I encourage new advisors to remain open and accepting of assistance from senior advisors. I also encourage senior advisors to readily relate their experience and wisdom to newcomers in the field. Remember, advising does not occur in isolation.

Misty Altiparmak
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Cite this article using APA style as: Altiparmak, M. (2004, December). Reflections from the field: Advice for new advisors. Academic Advising Today, 27(4). [insert url here]


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.