Research in higher education indicates that the primary reason students succeed in their undergraduate studies, regardless of level or institution, is the relationships they build with others, from friends to faculty. The primary relationship that serves as the foundation of that success is that between the student and his/her academic advisor. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the advising experience.
Myth 1: Advising primarily involves giving out registration PINs.
- Most faculty receive little to no formal training as advisors. For many of us, the models we were exposed to as undergraduates, which often only contained the exchange of PINs, serve as the foundation for our understanding of our role as advisors.
- Providing information and giving out PINs is only one aspect of advising. In many ways, it is the smallest and least significant step. Since most of us were enrolled, higher education has undergone several fundamental shifts. One of the most profound of these has been the move towards a student or learner-centered paradigm, which resulted in a concomitant shift in the nature of academic support, including advising.
- The dominant model for understanding academic advising today is often deemed “advising as teaching”. This latter model draws on the existing expertise and experience of faculty members and brings that to bear on the advising experience. Under this model, in many ways the advising experience serves a critical role in integrating the knowledge the student has gained into a meaningful, cohesive, and directed whole.
Myth 2: Advising is for professional advisors only.
There are several fallacies in this statement. Professional advisors are just that, professionals, and they are specifically trained to be effective at advising students. The Office of Academic Advising is often the first place students encounter academic advising at New Paltz and, as such, sets expectations for the advising that follows. Professional advisors should definitely play a significant role in the advising experience, especially in the transmission of information about university policies and standards, and there is significant overlap in the roles of professional and faculty advisors. That being said, professional advisors do not have the depth of expertise in your field, including the pedagogy, the prospects, and the perspectives that underlie that field. This is where the role of the faculty advisor is distinctive and important. Effective advising is a partnership between professional advisors, faculty advisors, and university administration.
Myth 3: Advising is not worth the time
Effective advising does take time, but it also conveys numerous intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
- To be able to share directly in student success can provide a profound sense of meaning to what we do as faculty members.
- A strong advising relationship can deepen and continue well after a student has graduated.
- It can also help you to better understand not just your advisees, but your students in general, which can, in turn, facilitate stronger teaching and learning in your classroom.
- Quality advising is considered a critical institutional priority and directly affects graduation and retention rates.
- Faculty should expect to be recognized and rewarded for the work they do as quality advisors, and the EAA process is currently reviewing this issue at the College.
(This content has been adapted from Fostering Undergraduate Success: A Guide for Faculty Advisors, WCU Advising Center.)