Academic Advising Resources


Academic Advising as a Comprehensive Campus Process Series

Note:This is an article in a series celebrating NACADA 30th anniversary. In this series current NACADA members build upon the work done within the 1995 monograph, Advising as a Comprehensive Campus Process , as they highlight the important connections advisors make across campus.


It Takes a Village: Academic Advising at Miami University
Authored by: Stephanie Acheson-Beck & Jennifer Rybski

Named for the Miami Tribe, Miami University is an Ohio public university with an undergraduate enrollment of 14,500 students. “At Miami University, advising is a developmental and collaborative academic planning process that promotes self-efficacy for success at the University and beyond “(Miami University, 2009). The advising community includes faculty, First-Year Advisers (FYA), the Undergraduate Advising Information Office, divisional advisors, and staff in academic support and career-related offices.

One of the many services offered by Miami University’s Office of Residence Life is providing academic advising for first-year students living on campus. First-year students have direct access to a full-time, master’s level advisor who lives and works in their residence hall (first-year commuter students meet with an advisor on staff at the Commuter Center). Often assisted by a trained graduate student, the FYA serves as the student’s primary advisor throughout the first semester.

FYAs support students as they explore and define their academic plans. This support includes information about the Miami Plan for Liberal Education, divisional and major requirements, choosing a major, career planning, and making referrals to appropriate campus support offices.

Philosophy/Background of MU First Year Experience
Academic advising is a collaborative effort between the student and the advisor. Miami University advisors believe students can be successful relative to their individual goals and efforts. Students have learning needs that vary according to individual skills, goals, and experiences. Students hold their own beliefs and opinions.

Students are expected to visit their academic advisor at least once a semester to discuss their progress and to receive appropriate assistance. In preparation for this visit students should acquire and keep useful materials, such as the Miami Bulletin, course planning guide, Degree Audit Report System (DARS), and divisional materials. In the advising appointment, students are encouraged to think carefully about their personal, academic, and career goals.

Miami University academic advisors serve as resource persons by providing information about university programs and institutional requirements needed by students developing a coherent plan for their first year of college. Advisors also serve as a link between students and the university community, referring them to areas of assistance and familiarizing them with the resources provided by the institution that can help them meet their needs and goals. Additionally, advisors assist students in understanding the nature and purpose of higher education and helping them develop self-direction in the decision-making process.

Miami University academic advisors pride themselves on taking a developmental approach to academic advising. Three methods frequently used are the Learning Partnerships Model (LPM), Developmental, and Appreciative Advising. As mentioned earlier, students are expected to play an active role in their advising appointment. Advising at Miami University is similar to riding a tandem bicycle: advisors sit on the back and guide while the student steers from the front seat. This approach allows students to take ownership of their educations. At times advisors are faced with resistance from students, and sometimes parents, but they work through the resistance by asking questions and getting to know the individuals better.

Roles of the academic advisor in the Office of Residence Life
After summer orientation, the primary academic advisor for most first-year students is their FYA, a fulltime, live-in staff member who works and lives in the residence hall. First-year commuter students are advised by the Commuter Center Graduate Advisor who is trained to help students develop academic goals and find resources on campus.

As live-in academic advisors, FYAs develop personal relationships with the students, assisting student transition to college academics. As a result of living in the residence hall, advisors know their advisees as holistic individuals. The FYA is able to explore educational and career objectives with students, while conveying realistic expectations to students. In this way, the FYA helps advisees identify the implications of their educational choices, including selection of major and course work based upon the special needs and skills of each student. If needed, the FYA provides intervention strategies for students experiencing academic difficulty.

In late-February, first-year students are assigned a faculty or departmental advisor in their major who then serves as their primary academic advisor. Students who remain undecided about a major are advised by a professional advisor in the College of Arts and Science divisional office.

The Appointment
roommates, clubs and organizations, their living learning community, and their overall transition to Miami University. Two tools that help advisors learn about the student and document the conversation are briefly explained below.e.g.,Students are expected to meet with their FYA at least one time in the fall semester for 45-60 minutes. This appointment not only addresses students’ academic goals but also focuses on other areas of their life,

MAP-Works (Making Achievement Possible) is a transition survey designed by Educational Benchmarking, Inc. Miami University first used this survey in fall 2008. The survey assesses the transition of first-year students to university life in first month of school. At the completion of the survey, students are encouraged to become involved on campus and are offered suggestions to improve their probability of academic success. Miami faculty and staff view student results and provide early intervention for students who appear to be at-risk. FYAs use survey results to address academic and social issues in the residence hall including homesickness, time management, financial stress and campus involvement.

Academic advisors at Miami University utilize AdvisorTrac©, a Web-based software system that provides convenient record-keeping of advisee information. Through AdvisorTrac, advisors and administrators access student records, demographics, and log notes from each appointment.

Relevant conversations with students are noted on the AdvisorTrac appointment log. Brief notes document any extenuating circumstances that might interfere with the student’s ability to be successful, situations where the student’s desire differs from advisor recommendation, discussions, referrals, and actions taken during the appointment for future reference. For example, a lengthy conversation with a student involving academic struggles, submitting a petition, or dropping a class should be noted in the student's advising record. Advisors are not encouraged to note daily conversations with students, but are encouraged to record situations and/or conversations that may be relevant to the student's academic career.

We believe the one-on-one interaction between a student and a professional faculty/staff member at Miami University should foster each student's potential to become an educated person and contribute to the learning environment. For this reason, academic advising at Miami University is a collaborative effort that encompasses many campus offices. Academic advising provided by live-in advisors is the one campus service in which a majority of first-year students participate.

Stephanie Acheson-Beck
Academic Advisor
Miami University

Jennifer Rybski
Assistant Director/Sr. Academic Advisor
University of Cincinnnati

Reference Miami University Undergraduate Academic Advising Council (2009). Definition of academic advising. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from the secured site

Cite this using APA style as:

Acheson, S. & Rybski, J. (2009). It takes a village: Academic advising at Miami University. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web Site:

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