Book by Virginia Gordon
Review by Ruth O. Bingham, Ph.D.
Colleges of Arts and Sciences Student Academic Services
University of Hawai'i, Mānoa

For many institutions, academic advising and career-related services are separate functions, handled by different personnel, in different offices with different missions. In Career Advising, Virginia N. Gordon advocates convincingly for advisors to incorporate career issues into academic advising an activity she calls career advising.

"Academic advisors are in an ideal position to help students understand the relationships between their academic and career choices and the impact these decisions will have on their future personal and work lives." (p. viii)  "[I]t is not the advisor's role to become a 'career counselor', but to be knowledgeable about how students develop vocationally" (p.109).

Gordon provides an historical survey, compares 'academic advising' to 'career counseling', and identifies essential career advising competencies before proposing a three-stage framework similar to a theoretical construct developed by Tiedeman and O'Hara (1963).

In the first stage, "Inquire," advisor and student ask questions, identifying and clarifying the student's academic and career concerns. In the "Inform" stage, the advisor assists the student in gathering, evaluating, and processing information necessary to making a decision. Finally, in the "Integrate" stage, advisors help students "organize and make meaningful connections ... coordinating or blending all the student knows into a functioning or unified whole" (p.79). "Advisors need to recognize the phase in which each student is engaged and adjust their approach accordingly" (p.47).

Mindful of advisors' busy lives, Gordon has written a slender volume densely packed with helpful advice and available resources. Career Advising will undoubtedly prove an essential handbook; even experts will benefit from Gordon's review of relevant literature and compendium of relevant books, computerized career guidance programs, internet resources, and assessment tools.

Gordon's brevity and straight-to-the-point, didactic style make the book a valuable reference tool, but she does not persuade so much as present conclusions. Readers who believe career issues lie outside the purview of academic advising will have to look to other sources for philosophical justification.

In fact, with its introductions, short sections, outlining titles, and frequent summaries, Career Advising reads like a summary of an argument that took place elsewhere. In Chapter IV and Appendix A, for example, Gordon offers scenarios as launch points for discussion. It would have been helpful to include possible advisor responses, explain where those responses might lead, and show how using the proposed framework might improve, or at least clarify the advising process.

Throughout, Career Advising reflects Gordon's unswerving dedication to high quality advising, based on long-term advising relationships, engaged and motivated students, and skilled advisors committed to lifelong learning (she even includes a self-assessment for her readers). Her final chapter, "Future Challenges,"  explains workplace and higher education trends and their implications for students and advisors.

According to Gordon, career advising is not ancillary to academic advising, but integral: it enriches the dialogue, addresses future trends, and "... broadens students' perspective about the role a college education will play in their future lives" (p.72).


Tiedeman, D., & O'Hara, R. (1963). Career development: Choice and adjustment. New York: College Entrance Examination Board.

Career Advising: An Academic Advisor's Guide. (2006). Book by Virginia Gordon. Review by Ruth O. Bingham. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 160 pp. ISBN # 0-7879-8367-5
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