The Scope and Purpose of Advising
The advisor/advisee relationship is essentially educational in nature, and is thus broad and multi-faceted. For the student new to an academic community, advisors can help the student engage with and learn to thrive in their new environment. Advisors who take the time to introduce themselves to their new advisees with something as simple as an introductory exchange of emails, office visit, or telephone conversation do the following:
- demonstrate an interest in the student’s well-being
- communicate to the student that he/she, as an individual, matters
- provides a friendly and supportive connection to university life
- can serve as a campus expert by referring them to campus and community resources
- confirm that faculty on campus are approachable and helpful
As the advisor/advisee relationship develops over time advisors act as mentors. They
- help students to formulate and articulate life goals and values—primarily academic, but also integrated with personal and career goals
- guide them to realize connections between what they learn in the classroom and what’s happening in their immediate environment and the world at large
- support advisees as they make plans and decisions that are challenging, and appropriate to their interests and abilities, and teach them to develop independent decision making skills
In addition to the educational role of mentorship, advisors are charged with the practical tasks of
- dispensing accurate information regarding university requirements, policies and procedures
- assisting students in monitoring their academic progress towards graduation
- Continuing to refer students to the appropriate campus resources as their needs change.
There is no doubt that the work of an advisor is challenging. But it’s also immensely rewarding. Any advisor who has been enthusiastically thanked for supplying a timely piece of information or for uttering a few words of encouragement at the right moment knows how satisfying the job can be. And congratulating a student at graduation when you know you’ve been instrumental in helping him or her along the way is an immensely satisfying moment.