Academic Advising Philosophy
by Casey D. Allen, PhD
Institutions of higher education have certain criteria governing them. Among these are what I see as the core of any university: students and student success. While aspects in higher education such as research, teaching, funding, and administration remain important, they tend to be – in my eyes at least – means to an end. Students and their successes, however, lay at the heart of Academia and give those other criteria reason for being.
Good academic advisement plays a crucial role in student success, and thus, the overall success of the university – especially when the student plays an active role in the advising process. Based on active student engagement, my philosophy of academic advisement revolves around six goals centered on student success:
Providing students, faculty, and staff access to information and resources that will facilitate a sense of direction in planning for and/or identifying academic careers and programs of study.
Disseminating the proper materials and information to students. This includes pertinent items relating to university policies, procedures, and requirements in regards to graduation, general education, and other support entities on campus. Information about different programs of study and the myriad of student support services is also part of this goal.
Extending assistance to and providing counsel for “at-risk” students, such as undecided, first-generation, academically struggling, international, and students with demanding extra-curricular or personal schedules.
Working in cooperation with academic departments and colleges as well as all other university entities to ensure excellent academic advisement throughout the entire campus.
Offering opportunities for non-traditional students, such as those with evening, online, or off-campus classes, so they will be able to follow through with their educational goals.
The retaining of students. Retention research demonstrates the correlation between the importance of helping students make a clearly thought-out set of academic career decisions (a plan) and the increased probability of retention, and thus, graduation.
Accompanying these goals is knowledge that every student is important, whether they are “traditional” or “non-traditional”, declared or undeclared, on the honor roll or academically at-risk. When found in academic advisement practices, these components facilitate student success – and their successes beget positive reflections upon the university. By encouraging students to be active participants in the advising process, we are helping to create the ever-powerful “learning community”.
After advising thousands of students over the years, data show that successful students have a plan. And plans – good plans! – often begin (or at least should begin) with proper academic advisement. By advising students with the above goals in mind and helping them define their own plan, students receive a sense of belonging and direction at the university. They become an important part of the university, integrating into its culture, and ultimately become a success. And their successes reflect positively on the University.