Best practices for advisors

Academic advising can be one of the ways that students are able to have a positive academic experience at UWL.  Additionally, providing students with advising that is consistent and based on best practices can strengthen the University's retention efforts.

Please review some common best practices for academic advising.  

Maintain regular contact with advisees:

  • Communicate office hours to advisees at the beginning of each semester.
  • Email pertinent information & important dates as needed.
  • Encourage regular meetings with all advisees.
  • Encourage meetings on a more frequent basis with students struggling academically.

Make the effort to establish a positive relationship with advisees:

  • Communicate to advisees the role & expectations of both advisor and advisee.
  • Show a personal interest in events occurring in their life.
  • Recognize the needs of students with diverse & non-traditional backgrounds (students of color, international students, veterans, returning adults, etc.).

Maintain a degree of professionalism:

  • Be available during posted office hours.
  • Keep all scheduled appointments.  Communicate with advisee if the appointment does need to be rescheduled.
  • Maintain confidentiality (review FERPA for exceptions).
  • Refrain from expressing negative statements about departments, programs, & colleagues.
  • Keep up to date on current advising strategies (NACADA).

Provide accurate & timely information about programs and policies:

  • Review Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog for UWL academic policies & degree requirements.
  • Use Dates & Deadlines from Records & Registration to communicate important academic deadlines to advisees.
  • Notify advisees as changes to degree requirements and academic policies occur.  
  • Consult Records & Registration and/or Deans Office for policy clarification when needed.

Utilize campus resources:

  • Become knowledgeable about the offices that support Student Success at UWL.
  • Make referrals when advisee is experiencing an issue outside your expertise.
  • Try to refer students to a person, when possible.

Support out-of-class learning experiences:

  • Encourage advisees to consider involvement in student organizations, undergraduate research, internships, study abroad, etc.
  • Inform students of relevant of guest speakers or events. 


Scheduling suggestions for advisees:

  • Encourage students to create a schedule that they can successfully balance. This should take into account: hours for studying, student involvement, employment, athletics, etc.
  • Encourage students to create a schedule that provides some academic rigor.
  • Be prepared to explain the purpose and value of general education requirements. 
  • Recognize that most 1st year students may not be ready for 300/400 level coursework.
  • Unless required by their major, use caution in advising students to enroll in more than two  4/5 credit courses in their 1st semester.
  • Discourage advisee from enrolling in 18 credits in their 1st semester.   
  • If advisee feels that they are falling behind in credits for the academic year, see if a winter or summer course might be an option for them. 

Before the appointment:

  • Email advisee to communicate the need for an appointment and the topics that will be discussed (see sample statement below)
  • Familiarize yourself advising tools such as: WINGS (advisement report, grades, holds, milestones, etc), Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog, Eagle Alert.
  • Review any advising notes that you have of previous meetings with advisee.

During the appointment:

  • Take notes.
  • Address the reason for the appointment (educational goals, registration, course withdrawal, exploring major, academic concerns, etc.)
  • Inquire about advisee's academic performance for current semester.
  • Inquire about advisee's non-academic life 
  • Acknowledge any issues/concerns that advisee indicates they are experiencing. Make referrals when appropriate
  • Discuss academic probation/Eagle Alert if applicable to student. Address factors that might be affecting their academic success
  • At the end of the appointment, ask if all their questions/concerns have been addressed.

After the appointment:

  • Post advising notes in the note system that you are using. 
  • Follow up on any actions that you make to the students during the meeting.
  • Send reminder to students of commitments that they made during the appointment.