Best Practices of an Effective Academic Advising

Academic advising is a procedure taking place between an educational advisor and a student. The purpose of these discussions between these two people is to explore the value of general education. Even, it aims at reviewing the policies and services of the institution. After this discussion, it will be possible for students to make appropriate course choices. When the academic advising best practices are followed, it will be possible to get the best outcome from this process.

Three Main Functions of an Academic Advisor:

By following the best academic advising strategies, the advisor can expect the best outcome from his/her discussion with the students. Still, before exploring the best strategies, it would be good to understand the three key functions of an academic advisor:
1. The first key function of an academic advisor is to work as a humanizing agent. His/her interaction with students happens in an informal setting outside the classroom. When an advisor makes sure of this, he/she can keep the student comfortable with seeking advice. Even, a student, who is hesitant to ask questions and discuss in a classroom with other students around, will feel comfortable when the discussion happens outside the classroom setting.
2. The academic advisor should work as a mentor or counselor for the students seeking his/her help. The advisor should guide students through academic procedures and policies. Should offer advice and refer the students to support when they actually need such support.
3. Another key role of an academic advisor is to act as an educator or instructor. In this role, the advisor should teach the students the strategies to succeed. Also, the advisor should help students understand the curriculum and purpose of the educational program. As a mentor, the advisor should help students with decision-making and critical thinking along with problem-solving.

Best Practices To Academic Advising:

As an academic advisor, you will be particular about following academic advising best practices. Post pandemic, academic advisors are forced to offer virtual and online advice to students. So, it is better to be aware of the virtual advising best practices.

Scheduling and Preparation of Advising Appointments:

  • It is better to have dedicated hours of advising.
  • Also, it is better to increase your availability at peak advising hours
  • One of the best practices is to schedule advising appointments for accommodating a wide range of students at different levels of education
  • Keep the availability for advising appointments updated
  • Send reminders to students about when should they schedule appointments and motivate them to meet all academic advisors
  • Meet with present students at least once a semester
  • Motivate students to update/complete an educational plan inclusive of when they intend to take courses and carry it to appointment.

Make Personal Connections When Advising Online:

One of the online academic advising best practices is to establish personal connections with students. When they are speaking with an advisor online, it is easy for students to forget that they are conversing with a person in their educational community. So, it is better to provide some basic details about the career of the advisor and his/her photo along with details of their philosophy. In the initial email from the advisor, he/she can provide a bit of personal information like interests or hobbies. This practice will help make a personal connection with advisees.

Taking Ownership on the Success of Students:

Indeed, the ultimate decision of choosing the right education plans rests with the students. Still, the academic advisors should function as their partners all through their journey at the college. It is the responsibility of advisors to aid students with planning a realistic path not only thorough but also beyond college. They should make course corrections along the path.
It will not be an overstatement to say that good advisor identify that they are empowered to get in the way of students. They can intervene to advocate and take an active role in the educational path of their students. Advisors should not afraid to put that extra work to bring a positive difference in the lives of their students.

Customized Help:

One of the academic advising best practices is that the advisors should offer customized help to each student. He/she should understand and remember one thing. Each student seeking help is from a different background. Their interests, experiences and perspectives vary. So, they should be provided with thoughtful and bespoke advice.
Advisors should take sincere efforts to understand the interest and experience of each student seeking his/her help. Also, it should be understood that these interests and experiences can have an impact on the graduate education of the student. So, following a customized approach to each student is the best practice and strategy for academic advising.

Communicating with students Supportively, Frequently and Proactively:

One of the best online academic advising best practices is for the advisors to stay proactive. It means that the advisors should proactively initiate the conversation with students. When conversing online, it is better to understand their experiences during the quarantine period. Advisors can discuss on these personal things as against getting straight into the subject matter.
When they have some personal conversations, students will feel comfortable and confident. So, they will discuss their future course of action. It is better to frequently check-in and says hello to provide the support students need. It is also better to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with students.

Making Time:

When talking about academic advising strategies, one thing that will help advisors to gain the trust of students is to listen to what students wish to share. It is better not to rush. A rushing academic advisor can make his/her students feel rushed. It is better to take time to talk and listen to the students completely before giving any guidance. If an advisor is busy when a student pings, it is better to suggest the student come back later to finish the conversation.
At times, advisors cannot remember some students when they have not been contacted them for long. If so, the advisor can go back to see the email conversations with the student earlier. When an advisor does this, it will help with improving the experiences of students.

Mutual Understanding in Each Conversation:

Frequent communication between an academic advisor and a student is a must. Also, it is equally important to ensure that the communication is clear. Irrespective of whether it is a virtual or personal conversation, it is important that there should be mutual understanding. The advisor should get timely, constructive and honest feedback on the progress of his/her students. The communication should continue even if the progress of the student is not as expected.
An advisor should identify the weaknesses of a student and should follow the appropriate academic advising strategies for resolving them. Further, students should also have considerable engagement with the intellectual angle of their work. For advisees in the stage of dissertation writing, timely and clear written feedback from advisors is crucial. Nevertheless, if possible, face-to-face meetings should be scheduled along with written feedback.

Provide Students with a Choice of Contact Channel:

Some students will feel comfortable conversing over the phone. On the other hand, some would like to engage in video conferencing. Some are more receptive to email messages, while some can be contacted initially via text. As an advisor, which platform a student feels right would be chosen together by both. It might be a combination of different sources or it can happen through a single source.

Conclusion:

In the present world, virtual advising best practices are gaining more and more importance. So, advisors should keep themselves aware of these practices. When they keep updated, they can stay assured of student retention for a longer period.

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