Academic Advising Resources


     Factors to Consider When (Re)Structuring Academic Advising, 2nd edition

Authored By: Marsha A. Miller, Melinda J. Anderson, Karen Sullivan-Vance, & Wendy G. Troxel


The belief that understanding alone will stir an organization to action is one of mankind's greatest illusions.
-Hacken's Law as quoted by Wes Habley 2007 NACADA Summer Institute

David Crockett (1988) delineated 51 recommendations for auditing an academic advising program. Miller's experience in restructuring advising services (see a Guide to Restructuring Advising Services) led to the creation of a condensed list of factors that can guide a team charged with the successful structuring or restructuring of academic advising, first published here in 2004. Miller’s original list was updated in 2021.


Factors to consider when (re)structuring academic advising:

  1. Status and Need. What is the status of academic advising on your campus? What student (and institutional) needs are met by the current system? What needs are not being met? How do you know? Start with the NACADA Core Competencies, NACADA Core Values, the Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising, and the CAS Standards for Academic Advising.
  2. Mission, Vision, and Philosophy of Academic Advising. How does the institution articulate the role and importance of academic advising? Is there a formal and written advising philosophy easily accessible by all constituents? Is there an advising mission statement? Is there a vision statement to serve as a guide to the future of advising? Are the academic leaders and decision-makers committed to long-term support through strategic planning?
  3. Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. How do you facilitate “individual and institutional conversations that promote understanding, respect, and honor diverse perspectives, ideas, and identities” (NACADA, 2021)?
  4. Learning. What does the institution want to accomplish as a result of the advising program? What should students be able to know, do, and value through the academic advising experience? What strategies (pedagogies, curricula, workshops, assessments, etc.) need to be implemented to meet these goals, objectives, and intended outcomes?
  5. Is the advising system intentionally structured? Who will advise and who will oversee and lead advising strategies, goals, and objectives? Will you utilize professional (primary role) advisors? Peer advisors? Faculty advisors? If you choose faculty, should all faculty advise, or should advisors be selected based on desired characteristics and/or willingness to serve?
  6. How will advising be delivered? What advising models will be used to structure the delivery of advising? Will students be advised in person by a faculty member from their office? Will there be an Advising Center? Where can students find support if their assigned advisors are not available? Will students need an appointment for advising? Will students have access to both synchronous and asynchronous modes of delivery for advising-related interactions? Will group advising be utilized?
  7. Is advising supported through integrated technologies? What are the information needs for students and advisors? How can you ensure that both students and advisors have the information they need when they need it while maintaining confidentiality? Is the technology appropriate and accessible to support their learning? Is there training and support for both advisors and advisees to support the technology being utilized?
  8. Advisor/Advisee Responsibilities. Are there stated expectations for advisors/advisees? Is there an advising syllabus that is explicitly provided to students? Is there on-going professional development for advisors? Is there an updated academic advisor handbook or does one need to be developed or revised?
  9. Student Participation. Should all students be required to see an advisor? If not, what criteria will you use to determine who must be advised? How 'intrusive' or ‘proactive’ should your advising program be? What messages are automatically sent to students and how effective are they in encouraging a response?
  10. Advisor Caseload. What is a reasonable advisor to student ratio for your institution's advising situation that is based on explicit expectations and responsibilities for the role?
  11. Assignment of Students. What criteria will be employed to assign students to advisors? Will students be assigned alphabetically? based on major? based on their year in school?
  12. Developing Advisors' Skills and Knowledge. What are the training and professional developmental needs of advisors and how might these best be addressed in a systematic and scaffolded program that is grounded in related higher education literature?
  13. Assessment and Evaluation. How will you assess and evaluate the effectiveness of your advising program? What are your intended program outcomes? What do you expect students to learn, do, and/or value because they were advised? How will you know if your efforts are successful? What tools will you use, and what evidence is appropriate? How often will you conduct an assessment cycle? 
  14. Recognition/rewards. How can you provide a tangible, meaningful, and realistic reward system to advisors (both primary-role advisors and faculty advisors)? Do you have a career ladder in place to encourage continuity and stability in the advising core, and to acknowledge their role as professional educators?
  15. Integration. What are the relationships between academic advising and campus resources? Do advisors know when, and how, to refer students to these resources?
  16. Funding. What are the fiscal requirements of the advising program? Are monies available to adequately meet these needs?
  17. Implementation. What must be done, and who should be involved, in the implementation of the desired academic advising program?


​Does this list seem overwhelming? Could your committee use assistance in working through these factors? 

Consider attending the Administrators' Institute (AI) or send a team to Summer Institute (SI) or the Assessment Institute. Institute participants routinely testify to the value of the experience in facilitating change on their campuses. 

Can't wait for an Institute? The Consultant's Service can match your needs with the expertise of a NACADA member who can come to your campus.

Marsha A. Miller

Melinda J. Anderson

Karen Sullivan-Vance

Wendy G. Troxel

NACADA Executive Office

Kansas State University




Crockett, D.S. (1988). Recommendations. In Advising Skills, Techniques and Resources: A compilation of materials related to the organization and delivery of advising services. (pp. 857-8). ACT: Iowa City, IA. 

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2019). Academic advising programs.

Habley, W. (2003). Initiating and Implementing Change in the Advising Program. In Academic Advising Summer Institute Session Guide. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.

Miller, M.A. (2003). A Guide to Restructuring Advising Services. NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic advising model.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising & The Gardner Institute. (2021). Conditions of excellence in academic advising.

Cite this using APA style as:

Miller, M. A., Anderson, M. J., Sullivan-Vance, K., & Troxel, W. G. (2021). Factors to consider when (re)structuring academic advising, 2nd ed. NACADA Clearinghouse. 


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