The Advising Appointment

Advising Center Careers
  1. Log into JOE’SS: You will have to access the student’s grades, the online course schedule and the link to clear the advising hold. Student information and the course schedule is located under Self Service, the advising hold is located under Campus Community (Service Indicator Data).

  2. Print out a degree audit or pull it up online before the student sits down to talk about classes. You may also want to look over the student’s transcript. The Degree Audit will show the student’s major program, with courses complete and courses left to complete, the transcript will give you an overview of the student’s academic progress over time. Some things to look for – is the student completing at least 12 hours each semester, does the student drop a lot of classes, i.e. is the student making progress toward a degree? You can also see how many courses have grade replacements or if any grade replacements need to be done (there will be an R next to the grade).

  3. Before you start to discuss courses for the next semester, address any academic alerts that may have been received. Has the student addressed the alert? Is the problem resolved or is it ongoing?  Does the student need a referral for academic or personal support?

  4. Get to know your student, what does he/she want to achieve with a college education, what challenges is the student facing? What academic achievements has the student obtained?

  5. As you develop the advising relationship around trust, the student will more likely disclose any problems he/she has, accept your advice, and follow through on referrals.

Advising Techniques

Though the variety of topics covered in an advising appointment depends upon the purpose of the appointment, a certain structure or process is common to all. Following is an overview of some techniques that can be used in an advising session.

  1. Opening --­ Greet the student by name and in a relaxed manner. The student may be nervous so a warm welcome and a low-key question such as "What can I help you with today?" can be reassuring at the same time that it gets the session started.

  2. Talking with the Student --­ The student may find it difficult to express himself. Resist the temptation to "help" by putting words in the student's mouth, finishing the sentence yourself or otherwise taking over the conversation. Careful phrasing of your questions and indicating that you are receptive to the responses should facilitate good communication.

  3. Silences in the Conversation --­ Silences do not necessarily mean a breakdown in communication or a lack of activity. The student (or the advisor) may be searching for words or reflecting upon something that has already been said.

  4. Admitting your Ignorance ­ -- If the student asks a question regarding factual information to which you do not know the answer, admit it. Get the information immediately, if possible, or call the student back. While one person cannot be expected to know everything, it is reasonable to expect the advisor to get the information in question. Students have greater respect for the advisor who does not hesitate to admit his ignorance.

  5. Avoiding the Personal Pronoun ­ -- Using the word "I" turns the focus of the advising session away from the advisee, toward the advisor. Expressions like "if I were you, I would" and "I think" express the advisor's opinion or experiences and are inappropriate unless they are explicitly requested. Most of the time, the advisor's role is not to express his point of view, but rather, to help the student to formulate his own opinion.

  6. Bad News ­ -- When the advisor must give the student bad news, it is not helpful to minimize the gravity of the situation or to be unrealistically optimistic about what the student can do to handle it. However, it is very important that the advisor continue to express an attitude that is receptive and non-judgmental. She can demonstrate her support of the student by helping to put the issue into proper perspective and focusing attention on the positive actions that can be taken to resolve the problem. This may require additional appointments.

  7. Additional Problems -- ­ Sometimes the student will have unexpressed questions or problems beyond the one, which appears to be the reason for the appointment. The advisor can give the student an opening by asking, "Is there something else you would like to ask about?" or "Do you have something else on your mind?"

  8. The Frequent Visitor ­ -- One of the most difficult advisees to work with will meet frequently with his advisor. This student appears to be receptive to the advisor's suggestions and will often say "I feel so much better after talking to you, " but, in fact, never follows up on the information and strategies discussed during the appointment. This student seems to continue to hope that talking about something will make it happen. Other frequent visitors are sympathy seekers, complainers and the overly dependent. While it is true that their willingness to keep appointments indicates some success on the part of the advisor, they take up time that could be available to other students.

  9. Setting Limits on the Appointment ­ -- The appointment is normally a fixed length of time. It is better if the advisor and advisee realize this from the beginning. Follow-up appointments can be made, if necessary. However, there are times when an advisor sees a student in crisis and time constraints need to be set aside.

  10. Ending the Appointment ­ -- When the advising session is finished, it is easy to get overly involved in casual conversation. This can extend the appointment far beyond the allotted time. A phrase such as, "Do you think we have one all we can for today?" or "Let's make another appointment to get into this further, "effectively maintains a friendly yet professional tone.

Academic Advising News , Vol. 12(3), September 1990. Adapted from Darley's Interview Techniques. Prepared by the University of Delaware College of Arts and Science Advising Center.