Resources for Advising Administration
Primer for New Academic Advising Administrators
Authored by Renee F. Borns
The first day on the job as a new director of an academic advising unit can be both exciting and intimidating. “Where do I start?” a new director may silently ask. Before becoming overwhelmed, remember to take one task and one emotion at a time. The purpose of this primer is to assist an academic advising professional who is transitioning into a new role as a director of an academic advising unit. Begin your exploration of this new role by reviewing a NACADA publication Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook. This book will provide a new administrator with insight regarding delivery of advising services, training and evaluation of staff members, and future needs of an advising unit.
Campus Community and Culture
Understanding the campus community and culture is an important aspect for any administrator in higher education. Make the effort to spend time with each member of the advising unit; student workers, peer leaders, full-time advisors, faculty advisors, and staff members. Getting their perspective and insight as to their role in providing services to students is invaluable as you begin to assess current needs and plan for the future. Review the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources (Clearinghouse) for information regarding advisor load issues. If advisor loads are too unmanageable, consider developing a peer advisor program. Peers are an excellent means to providing support for students in need. In addition, such a program provides an avenue for emerging student leaders with exposure to the advising profession and a possible career path in higher education. An excellent book to read when beginning the process of creating a peer program is Students Helping Students: A Guide for Peer Educators on College Campuses.The monograph Peer Advising: Intentional Connections to Support Student Learning is another valuable resource.
Get to know the organizational chart; find out who the “power-players” are, who reports to whom in each department, and what lines on the organizational chart can be crossed when decisions need to be made. Get to know campus resources, co-curricular opportunities, academic programs and the people who administer those programs. Make it a point to conduct informational interviews with colleagues in career services, counseling center, student support services, residence life, child care, student activities, maintenance, athletics, and information systems. Ask them about their vision and goals for their department and how to partner with them to provide the best services for students. For example, residential life and academic advising may team up to have a “The Academic Advisor is In” station set up in a residence hall before registration starts. Get to know student leaders; peer-to-peer interaction is the best way to promote programs or events. Additionally, a maintenance staff member can become your professional best friend if you need the air conditioning turned on an hour before an event.
Establish a relationship with those on campus who can assist with sensitive or legal issues. Making connections with the in-house legal counsel, accommodations officer, and registrar can making finding answers to difficult questions a more pleasant experience. The Clearinghouse also has information on legal issues, specifically FERPA.
Get to know the virtual and physical campus. Where are the good places to advertise services related to the academic advising office? Is there a common location where students congregate with an area to display posters or handout fliers? How do students learn about campus events? What resources are offered online?
Managerial issues are part of daily life for any director. Learn early the state of the institution’s budget; likewise learn the budget of the advising unit. Talk with other department heads about the budgeting process, what pitfalls to avoid, and where to find “hidden” funding. Find out when budget hearings begin and plan ahead. When setting goals that may require extra funding, be creative in how the department can best provide services to students on limited funds. Investigate available grants that can help meet student needs for services; for example, Texas institutions may apply for grants from TG-Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp. Check with your institution’s grant acquisitions office for grant opportunities that can provide an avenue for research. While the research process may take more than a year, the advising unit may benefit in the long run if data supports providing more resources or continuing services.
NACADA and the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students inTransition both sponsor research grant programs.
Collaborate with academic units to take make your budget go further. For example, you may learn that the psychology department has money to hire student workers. The academic advising office could volunteer the time and expertise of an academic advisor to train psychology students as peer advisors, as well as supervise them. This could be a perfect match between two areas in the support of students.
Consider an advising fee. Several institutions across the country have an advising fee as part of a fee schedule assessed to students. An advising fee could potentially pay the salary of needed advising personnel, stipends for faculty advisors, or supplement the operating budget of an advising unit. See the Clearinghouse for more information on advising fees.
Assessment is a key component for justifying the existence of an advising unit in times of shrinking budgets. Start developing an assessment plan that evaluates the current advising model, programs, and individual advisors. To get started, consider attending NACADA’s Assessment of AcademicAdvising Institute. Also review the advising standards established in the Council of Advancementof Standards in Higher Education (CAS). This document is a useful tool in developing an assessment plan, as well as creating future goals. Tie in the development of the advising mission and vision state to the assessment plan. If your advising unit has an outdated mission statement or does not have an advising mission statement at all, check the Clearinghouse for examples of mission statements that can help you draft or review a statement.
There are several assessment tools readily available. NACADA members may utilize the Academic Advising Inventory (AAI) on their campuses. Another example is ACT’s Survey of Academic Advising that asks students to evaluate the present advising model, as well as individual advisor. For a fee, ACT supplies the instruments, compiles the data, and generates results. Another option is to create your own instrument. See the Clearinghouse for examples of what other institutions are using. Or contact members of NACADA’s Assessment Commission ; they can provide you with valuable information as you develop your own instrument and generate an assessment plan. The Student Learning Outcomes syllabi is also another useful tool to create to achieve desired learning outcomes.
Assessment data should be used to set department goals for the coming year, as well as assess and report the activities from the past year. Know where to report advising activities and budgetary needs. In other words, who are the key players who can support the budgetary needs of advising activities? Consider developing good working relationships with board of trustee members, provost, student affairs colleagues, enrollment services members, and student government members.
Professional Development for advisors
Continual training for all members of an advising unit is a key advising administrator responsibility. Get to know your audience before providing training opportunities. The needs of peer advisors may be different than those of staff members. Be creative when designing training materials and workshops. Collaborate with other departments. For example, can the advising unit combine efforts to discuss leadership development, safety issues, and communication skills with orientation leaders, residence assistants, and peer leaders? Active learning is best; after discussing what effective communication is, have training participants model the behavior to each other. Or when training is finished, have groups of two or three draw what a peer advisor looks like. Discussion of the drawings is an entertaining method can help participants comprehend concepts presented in training. See NACADA’s Advisor Training & Development monograph and New Advisor Guidebook for additional ideas.
Recruiting qualified professionals for advising positions is important, and can be costly. For free online position announcement listings, see NACADA's position announcements or local job posting boards. The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Higher Education Jobs also have position listings. Work with the institution's human resources director to find regional salary surveys when researching salaries of positions. Examine NACADA's salary surveys or the College and University Personnel Association-Human Resources (CUPA-HR). In addition, the Chronicle of Higher Education publishes a yearly salary survey. The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) also conducts a salary survey of positions at faith-based higher education institutions. The president or human resources director at your institution may have access to this information.
Professional Growth and Development for Self
Remember, an administrator of a higher education unit needs an outlet for professional growth. Networking with other advising directors in your area can be a rewarding opportunity. Rich ideas can come from sharing thoughts with a director at a large, public university if you are currently at a small, private college. Collaborating on advising research or training tricks may result from an informal Friday afternoon networking lunch. Consider attending an institute that focuses on leadership in higher education. Two such opportunities are SACSA/NASPA Mid-Managers’Institute and the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration(Higher Education Resources Services). To specifically concentrate on academic advising issues, NACADA offers an institute for administrators. Consider joining NACADA’s Advising Administrators Commission to share ideas and ask questions. If the department budget is tight, some of the listed opportunities have scholarships; spend the extra time to apply for one and save the added expense to your budget.
Accepting the role of the leader of an academic advising unit is a position filled with rewards and challenges. As a new academic advising administrator, use the resources presented in this article, listen to your colleagues, and trust your instincts. The contributions you make will have an effect on the professional growth of advisors, expansion of the advising unit, and especially the growth and development of students.
Authored by Renee F. Borns
Assistant Professor, Student Success Studies
Utah Valley University
Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook
Campus Community and Culture:
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources -- Advising Loads --http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/94/article.aspx
Ender, S. C., &Newton, F. B. (2000). Students helping students: A guide for peer educators on college campuses.San Francisco,CA: Jossey-Bass.
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources – Legal Issues in Advising –http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/101/article.aspx
TG-Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp ( http://www.tgslc.org/index.cfm ).
NACADA Clearinghouse – Academic Advising Research Support Grants –
National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition -- http://www.sc.edu/fye/research/grant/index.html
NACADA’s Assessment of Academic Advising Institute --http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Events-Programs/Events/Assessment-Institute.aspx
Council of Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS)
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources – Mission statements --
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources – Assessment
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources -- Student Learning Outcomes syllabi
ACT Survey of Academic Advising - http://www.act.org/
NACADA’s Advisor Training & Development monograph
The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising Through the First Year & Beyond
Professional Development for advisors
NACADA’s Academic Advising Summer Institute
NACADA annual conference
NACADA region conference
NACADA’s Position Announcements
American College Personnel Association (ACPA) http://www.myacpa.org/career-central
NACADA’s Salary Survey
College and University Personnel Association-Human Resources www.cupahr.org
The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities www.cccu.org
Professional Development for self
SACSA/NASPA Mid-Manager’s Institute ( http://www.sacsa.org )
Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration (Higher Education Resources Services – HERS)
NACADA’s Administrator Institute
NACADA’s Advising Administrators Commission http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/commissions/index.htm
Cite the above resource using APA style as:
Borns, R.F. (2007). Primer for New Academic Advising Administrators. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website: