Advising tips

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Our Philosophy of Advising

Academic advising is a form of teaching. Faculty advisors in English should provide accurate information to students in a mentoring environment and should encourage them to reflect on their interests, skills, and aptitudes; to think critically about goals and objectives; to select courses, minors, certificates, and programs; and to plan for graduation and to consider career options. (UWL English Bylaws, revised 2019)

“As faculty advisors, we must have a clear sense of purpose about advising in the same way that we have a clear purpose when teaching a course. What do we want students to learn during advising discussions? Or, in more familiar terms, what should be the “advising curriculum’?” (Drake, Hemwell, and Stockwell, NACADA Pocket Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, 4)

“We should know our students. […] This… knowledge can provide a basis for identifying questions that might encourage critical and reflective thinking.” (Drake, Hemwell, and Stockwell, NACADA Pocket Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, 4)

Responding to Students

We commit to responding to advisees’ questions within two business days, even if that response is simply to say that we are seeking out an answer to their question.

We commit to meeting with advisees at least once per semester, ideally prior to their assigned registration times. These meetings may occur in a group advising setting.

We commit to using the Navigate to help students connect with their advisers.

Navigating WINGs

Faculty advisors should become adept at using WINGs, and especially at reading Advisement Reports, so that advising appointments can focus on higher-level concerns. The WINGs webpage offers videos and PDF tutorials for students and faculty/staff. Faculty advisors can direct students to this webpage, but they should review the following specific resources on their own:

To help navigate WINGs, faculty advisors should also learn the General Education and CASSH BA/BS Core Requirements.

Answering Common Questions

Faculty advisors should know how to answer the following common questions:

Making Referrals

Faculty advisors are “liaisons for helping students get connected to the institution. We do not need to know all of the details of institutional policy and procedures. We do, however, need to be familiar with basic information and how to refer students to critical campus resources.” (Drake, Hemwell, and Stockwell, NACADA Pocket Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, 8)

Making a referral:

  • Know the important resources on campus, e.g. Records & Registration, Student Life Office, Counseling & Testing Center, Student Health Center, Murphy Learning Center Tutoring (includes Writing Center and Public Speaking Center), Multicultural Student ServicesStudent Support Services, ACCESS Center, Career Center, Pride Center and International Education & Engagement. Keep a list of offices, names, and telephone numbers handy. Develop a rapport with the staff of these campus offices and know the chain of command.
  • Help students find the right resources. Students may focus their concerns in an area that is less crucial to their needs. Often students won’t ask for a referral, even though they very much need one. If a student is in distress, use the Students in Distress resource to help you make fast and appropriate referrals. 
  • Help students by offering to make calls on their behalf to ensure that they are sent to the right place and that they can get appointments right away. Doing so increases the likelihood that students will follow through with referrals. If the student is in crisis or uneasy about following through, walk the student to the resource. (This is particularly important if the student is in crisis.)
  • Teach students how to identify the purpose of their visit and develop the questions and concerns they will discuss.
  • Check back with students shortly after appointment dates to discuss the outcome of the visit. If students do not follow through with their appointments, find out why and discuss reasons.

Adapted from: Drake, Hemwell, and Stockwell, NACADA Pocket Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, 9-10

Effective Advising Discussions

Faculty advisors should have student-centered conversations with their advisees that “build rapport, determine the types of discussions needed, and ask open-ended and probing questions.” (Drake, Hemwell, and Stockwell, NACADA Pocket Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, 11)

Types of discussions:

  • Conversations that cover important institutional information, such as policies and procedures, degree requirements (WINGs Advisement Report), critical dates and deadlines, and programs of study.
  • Conversations about the individual student to discover their core values important in making choices, aptitudes/interests, strengths, areas for improvement (study skills, time management, etc.), and involvement in extracurricular activities.
  • Conversations about the future and goal setting, including how students visualize their future careers and personal lives, the steps needed to make this future a reality, how these steps relate to academic disciplines at the institution, and how students have changed as a result of their education.

Adapted from: Drake, Hemwell, and Stockwell, NACADA Pocket Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, 11