Hiring and interviews overview via the Clearinghouse
Interview resources via the Clearinghouse
How to conduct an advising job search via The Clearinghouse
to Become an Academic Advisor
Authored By: Adrienne
cannot count how many times I have been asked, “How does someone
become an academic advisor?” It’s exciting when someone shows
an interest in the advising career path. The job of academic advisor
is rewarding and allows opportunities to make real differences
in students’ academic careers. The advising profession is made
up members from diverse backgrounds. So, how does one become an
first step is to review current academic
advisor job postings on NACADA’s Web site. Summarizing the
duties, characteristics, and responsibilities of entry level academic
advisor positions will help an advisor profile emerge. Next, look
at best practices for training new academic advisors; a good place
to start is the New
simple process results in five recommendations potential advisors
should consider before beginning a career path leading to a job
of as an academic advisor.
duties and responsibilities of an academic advisor position
common set of duties and responsibilities can include:
- Advise students about academic requirements
and selection of courses
- Disseminate information on institutional
policies and procedures
- Understand the institution’s interpretation
of FERPA rules for the release of student information to faculty,
parents, students, etc.
- Evaluate and determine the transfer
of credits; research course descriptions to determine transferability
- Review and interpretation of placement
and other standardized test scores, unofficial transcripts, and
- Perform and interpret degree audits
- Know graduation requirements
- Assist students with career planning
- Monitor student registration activities
and recommend solutions to academic difficulties.
- Maintain systematic and frequent contact
- Coordinate communications to the students
regarding such things as registration and academic probation;
this could include the maintenance of a student listserv
- Maintain accurate records (including
electronic records) of interactions with students
- Be a student advocate when appropriate
- Serve as a liaison and foster intentional
relationships with other advisors, offices, colleges, and departments.
- Refer students to the appropriate
specialized staff for such issues as comprehensive counseling,
financial assistance, study abroad, etc.
- Participate in the development, implementation,
review, presentation, and revision of orientations for the first-time
college students and transfer students
- Stay abreast of changing institutional
information including admissions requirements, new programs, course
changes, deadlines, important dates, costs, expanding facilities,
updates in college-wide initiatives, transfer requirements, and
state and federal mandates
- Engage in professional development
activities, including but not limited to, memberships in professional
organizations; attendance at conferences, workshops, division,
and department training sessions; stay current with information
- Participate in the planning, implementation,
and the evaluation of the academic advisement program’s goals
- Participate in institutional student
development and retention programs
- Serve as resource for faculty/staff
- Develop advising materials and presentations
to support individual and group student sessions
- Demonstrate respect for all individuals.
specific job skills preferred or required
second step includes reviewing and summarizing the most cited
job skills by employers. It is important that prospective advisors
match their experiences alongside each skill listed.
most cited job skills preferred or required in academic advising
skills or excellent skills in public speaking
planning and organizational skills
- Effective communication skills
particularly with diverse populations. Ability to build good rapport
with a variety of constituents
to learn easily and disseminate detailed information
to work independently and collaboratively with others or in teams
- Good attention to details
to work with complex systems in a fast-paced and dynamic environment
in problem solving
sense of humor
3. Determining the level of higher
education preferred or required
advisors ask “What education level is required to be a professional
advisor?” Can I apply for advisor positions after finishing my
bachelor’s degree?” Step three helps answer these questions.
Finding an academic advising position
which only requires a bachelor’s degree is possible; however those
positions usually require the degree also be within the subject
area of the advising assignment. Most, academic advising positions
require a master’s degree in one of the following areas:
College Student Personnel
Higher Education Administration
within Student Affairs
Human Services such as Psychology
and Social Work
A specific discipline related to
the area to be advised such as one within liberal arts, fine
arts or a business discipline
degrees in higher education or college student personnel are a
logical fit for most positions in academic advising. The degree
teaches the philosophical, economical and social foundation of
higher education, as well as the structure of faculty governance
and student affairs. The subject matter covered in graduate-level
student personnel courses coveys a comprehensive understanding
of student administration, theories and models of student personal,
social, intellectual, vocational and moral development along with
student learning outcomes and assessment. Most counseling graduate
programs include subjects similar to those learned in higher education
programs such as theories of life development. Learning how to
effectively use case studies, quantitative and qualitative research
provides opportunities to put theories into practice. If working
with undergraduate students is a primary goal, then completion
of a master’s degree is a good start. Kansas State University,
in conjunction with NACADA, offers an online
graduate certificate and master’s degree in Academic Advising. Additionally, ACPA profiles for graduate programs indicating
that 'academic advising'
was as a component of their program can be found in the Clearinghouse.
the amount of work experience and kinds of experience preferred
fourth step is to determine the amount of experience required.
Nearly all academic advisor positions prefer some related work
experience. Prospective advisors inevitably must address “How
can I acquire this experience beforehand?” Undeniably,
advisors encourage their undergraduate advisees to enroll in internships
during their academic career to begin the process of gaining experience
prior to the job search. Undergraduates who secure part-time,
-on-campus work in offices of student affairs (such as assessment,
advising and counseling, disability support services, student
life, athletics, admissions, enrollment management, student financial
aid, and scholarships) gain work experience and an insight into
way to gain worthwhile, excellent hands-on experience is to attend
graduate school full-time while completing an advising assistantship.
Many assistantships require students to teach. This is a purposeful
way to acquire skills and gain experience in teaching, disseminating
detailed information, and discussing academic and non-academic
issues with undergraduate students. Furthermore, writing a graduate
thesis provides an opportunity to interview professionals in the
advising field and perform research applicable to the field. Interviews,
literature reviews and research are excellent ways to gain insight
and knowledge of the profession. Successful candidates for advising
positions are able to deliver their viewpoint both verbally and
who must work full-time and attend graduate school on a part-time
basis should seek work in a collegiate setting and, if possible,
in an area allied to student affairs. Volunteering to assist with
a student-related activity held on a near-by campus or shadowing
an advising professional are two options that can help gain valuable
experience. These experiences may have the added bonus of helping
the prospective advisor find a mentor in student affairs.
of a personal advising philosophy and a commitment to the profession
a personal advising philosophy is an important element in this
process. Academic advising as a profession is committed to lifelong
learning and to making a difference in the acquisition of higher
education. An excerpt from Nikki Allen Dyer's (2007) article in
the New Advisor Guide book providing insight into the
development of a personal
academic advising philosophy can be found in the NACADA Clearinghouse
of Academic Advising Resources.
involved early in one’s career. Student rates for joining professional
organizations are deliberately inexpensive and should be budgeted
into school expenses. Many graduate programs encourage students
to join and often help to support attendance at professional conferences
where the prospective advisors can network with professionals,
learn of new topics and research, and reflect on the direction
the field is moving.
1: Review current academic advisor job vacancies and make a
list of the requirements and the duties of the jobs.
Step 2: Compare each individual
job requirement to experiences and possible transferrable skills.
Write down future options for obtaining those requirements.
Seek the advice of an undergraduate career counselor.
Step 3: Plan to obtain a masters
degree. Review graduate programs in higher education or student
personnel and the availability of assistantships.
Step 4: Determine preferred work
experiences. Look for opportunities to gain related advising
Step 5: Begin developing a personal
advising philosophy. Network with other professionals through
professional organizations. Perform a literature review and
read what other advisors are currently discussing. Find out
the “hot” topics in the advising profession.
by: Adrienne Bishop McMahan, Assistant Dean
Undergraduate Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences
University of Kentucky
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Job Search resources (Marketing Yourself)
Cite this resource
using APA style as:
McMahan A. B. (2008). How
to Become an Academic Advisor. Retrieved
from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Website ]insert link here[.