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How I use the Advisee Information Card

Reprinted with permission from:

Joe Cuseo
Professor Emeritus
Marymount College (CA)

Perhaps the first and foremost goal in advising is to establish rapport with your advisees. Meeting students’ need for acceptance and validation may be viewed as a precondition that provides the social-emotional foundation for learning and growth. It has been my experience that students begin to care more about advising and become more committed to the advising process when they sense that their advisor cares about them.

One way to gain and maintain instructor-student rapport is through use of what I call the “Advisee Information Card.” The card contains questions for students to answer; the questions are divided into six general areas:

(1) personal background

(2) future plans

(3) personal abilities or aptitudes

(4) personal interests

(5) personal values

(6) advising expectations.

During group advising, I tell my advisees that we’re going to take some time to learn about each other. I project a series of questions related to the aforementioned six areas.I reveal one question at a time, and have students record their answers to each question on a sheet of paper. At the same time students are recording their answers, I write my answers on the board to the same questions (except for those questions that are strictly student-specific). By answering the questions along with my advisees, I hope to show them that I trust them well enough to reveal something personal about myself, which in turn, makes them feel more comfortable about revealing more of themselves to me. Also, answering the questions with them serves to validate the exercise, suggesting that it’s worthy of your time and effort as well.

This exercise typically takes about one minute per question, i.e., 40 questions takes approximately 40 minutes. I typically use no more than 30 of the questions, because I want to reserve some time to collect the information sheets and review my advisees’ names. I like to keep the process moving fairly quickly by advising students that they can use single words and phrases to answer the questions (as I do on the board). Also, short and fairly quick responses can often capture students’ true thoughts or feelings in response to the question (their “free associations”), as opposed to calculated, socially acceptable responses.

After the exercise is completed, I collect each information card, include it in their advisee, and review it briefly before scheduled appointments so that when the student comes in, I’ve got his/her personal information  in my short-term memory for use during our session. (Naturally, they don’t know that I just reviewed their info, so they think I have extraordinary social sensitivity and memory—which is fine with me!.

At a later point in the term, I give them back a copy of their answers and ask them to take a moment and see if their detect any patterns or themes in their responses that might suggest who they are and what academic major or career field(s) would appear to highly compatible with who they are.




1. Your name (as you prefer to be called)?

2. Phone number/ E-Mail number (optional)?

3. (a) Place of birth ? (b) Places lived ? (c) Present residence ?

4. (a) Why did you decide to go to college? (b) Why did you choose this college ? (What brought you here?)

5. What other colleges (if any) have you attended? If yes, how would you compare your experience there with your experience here thus far?

6. What jobs or volunteer experiences have you had?

7. Will you be working or volunteering this term? If so, how many hours per week ? On or off campus?

8. Will you have family responsibilities this term?

9. Has anyone in your family (parents, siblings) attended college? Graduated from college ?

10. How confident or comfortable do you feel right now about being here and being successful here?

11. What are you most excited or enthused about now? (if anything)

12. What are you most concerned or worried about now? (if anything)


13. Are you planning to continue your education at this college until you obtain your degree? (How sure are you about this?)

14. Intended major? (How sure are you about this choice?) What led you this choice?

15. Intended career ? (How sure are you about this choice?) What led you this choice?


16. What are you really good at? What comes easily or naturally to you?

17. What would you say are your most well-developed skills or talents ?

18. What do you really excel at when you apply yourself and put forth your best effort?

19. What would your best friends says is your most likable personal quality or characteristic?

20. What would you say have been your (a) most enjoyable and (b) least enjoyable learning experiences?

21. How do you think you learn best ?

22. If you have received any special awards or other forms of recognition, what have they been for?

23. What are you most proud of in your life thus far?


24. What sorts of things capture and hold your interest or attention ?

25. What sorts of things do you look forward to, and get excited about?

26. When you’re “in the zone” and time seems to “fly by,” what are you usually doing?

27. What types of things do you have no trouble getting up or psyching up to do and that you do not put off or procrastinate about doing?

28. What are you hobbies ? What do you do for fun ?

29. What academic subjects seem to interest you the most (if any)?

30. If you’ve had previous work or volunteer experience, what jobs or tasks did you most enjoy doing (if any)?


31. When you have free time, what do you usually find yourself doing?

32. When you have extra spending money, what do you usually spend it on ?

33. What would be one thing that you really stand for or believe in?

34. What would you say matters most to you, or is your highest priority in life?

35. What does living a “good life” mean to you?

36. How would you define success ? (What does “being successful” mean to you?)

37. Would you rather be thought of as: (a) smart, (b) wealthy, (c) creative, or (d) caring ? (Rank from 1 to 4, with 1 being the highest)


38. When you hear the word “advising,” what is the first thing that comes to mind?

39. What information or topics do you think will be discussed during the advising process?

40. Have you had a previous academic advisor? If so, what was that experience like?

41. Right now, how do you feel about having an academic advisor: positive? negative? neutral? Why?


42. Is there anything else about yourself that you’d like to share, or that you think I should be aware of, which might help me get to know you better or enable me to be a more effective advisor to you?

Authored by Joe Cuseo

Posted in: Advising Students
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