Academic Advising Resources


If I were to write a book about academic advising for new advisors

Authored by: Lisa Haydon

I was recently asked to consider the question, "If you were asked to write a book about academic advising for new advisors, what would you say?" I began to consider what makes my job a life-occupation: an enjoyable and deeply meaningful way to spend my days. Why do I love my job?


To begin, I would call Chapter 1 "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover."
It is human nature to look at a person and form a first impression. Yet this impression is frequently incomplete if not altogether wrong. As advisors, it is essential that we allow time to get to know our students so we understand their true needs and how we can help them meet those needs.

We must be aware how our own experiences filter our interpretations of students. We frequently assume that a student is communicating a certain idea or attitude because we interpret it through the lens of our own psychological and cultural background. However, we may be assessing the situation incorrectly. Additionally, students may act defensively because they have not yet formed a trusting relationship with us. Over time, these students may reveal a very different personality.


We must not perpetuate a cycle of misunderstanding. We should take time, listen, and clarify with our students what we think they are communicating. Assume the best in our students and speak to that in them. Offer respect and praise. If we assume the positive, students will rise to meet our expectations

Chapter 2: "Let Your Students Be Your Teachers."
Advisors should always be learners as well as teachers. If we think we have learned enough or that our students do not offer an opportunity for educating us, our relationships with our advisees are in danger. I have been privileged to work with three student populations-international students, adult students, and traditional-aged students. All three groups have taught me so much about the world and about myself. They inspire me; in turn, this appreciation inspires them.

Chapter 3: "Modernize Your Skills."
We must sharpen our skills to keep up with the technology that can help us relate to and truly assist students. New technologies are constantly being developed that can aid students in their studies. As advisors, we need to know the latest options that can help students study efficiently and effectively. These include resources, e.g., online resources and computer tutorials, and the latest teaching and learning styles theories. Additionally, an understanding of current styles can help us better relate to students who may be from a different generation.
Don't stagnate; stay current in the field. New technologies, ideas, and programs can help advisors develop the skills needed to reach out to students. Advisors should take advantage of the wide range of professional development opportunities offered on our campuses and through NACADA.


Chapter 4: "See Your Students as the Heroes They Are."
I could write volumes highlighting the lives of my students-what they have endured, how they came to college, how they overcame adversity to graduate, and how their lives were changed because they finished school. Students inspire us and give us a good reason to stay excited about our jobs.

When life challenges them, students tend to look at how they fall short instead of what they have accomplished and how their abilities can help them achieve more. In these cases, a little praise and appreciation goes a long way. I try to let my students know that I appreciate what they have overcome to get where they are. I want them to appreciate themselves, to see themselves as heroes.

Chapter 5: "Go the Extra Mile."
I have noticed that students do not take my service for granted; they really appreciate extra effort or extra kindnesses. In return, this nourishes me in my job. Although it may seem like a burden at the time, extra effort reaps its own rewards. This does not mean that we do students' jobs for them. Instead, our job is to empower students to become independent and interdependent even if it occasionally requires extra time and support on our part.

For example, international students often need extra guidance and emotional support as cultural adjustment commonly takes as much as two years. When I work with this population, I see myself not just as an advisor, but as an ambassador. Most international students hold teachers and advisors in very high regard, and what occurs in these relationships forms a lasting impression long after the student returns home.

Last chapter in this book: "Advising the Advisor."
To continue enjoying our jobs and serving our students, we need to take care of ourselves. If we skip lunch breaks, miss vacation days, or sign up for too many committees, stress with make us irritable and we will communicate this to our students. Many professionals believe that if they are not stressed, they do not have enough to do but stressed advisors seldom take the time to truly get to know students and serve them.

When we genuinely express happiness at seeing students we convey that working with students is the highlight of our jobs. If we communicate our stress, then students will feel they are an imposition or feel angry that they are so unimportant to us. Treat yourself well and treat your students well. Then, you will be inspired and successful in your career. It's a win-win situation!

We must be patient with ourselves and not obsess over honest mistakes. Instead we should take whatever measures are necessary to correct them. Consider mistakes tools for learning and growth; after all, that is what we would tell our students. Students want to feel that we care. They are willing to forgive honest mistakes; however, lack of respect or lack of caring is harder for students to forgive.

As I put into practice the ideas expressed here, my job has truly become a vehicle whereby I contribute to the well-being of others and grow as a person. I am no longer just someone going to a job every day. I am an advisor, teacher, diplomat, ambassador of cultural understanding, creative force, student, and friend. I live a full life in the work place where I take pride in my accomplishments and feel enriched by, and grateful to, the wonderful people I am privileged to serve.

Authored by: Lisa Haydon
Academic Advisor, CLEP Administrator
Dominican University of California

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