Advising as a Comprehensive Campus Process Series
Examples of career advising centers
Career and Academic Advising: Mastering the Challenge
Authored By: Betsy
career and academic advising, while not a new concept, is now discussed at more institutions. New economic realities may
be the driving force behind recent decisions to integrate career
and academic advising, however, these challenges present unique
opportunities to better serve our students.
- a definition of career advising
- the impact of integrating career
and academic advising on students
- specific actions that an individual
advisor or an advising administrator can take to facilitate
- resources on integrating career
and academic advising
of Career Advising
order to consider the why and how of integrating career advising
in academic advising, it is important to clearly define career
advising. Virginia Gordon (2006) describes it as a dynamic, interactive
process that “helps students understand how their personal interests,
abilities, and values might predict success in the academic and
career fields they are considering and how to form their academic
and career goals accordingly” (p.12). It is different from the
more psychologically intense career counseling that seeks to assist
students with the complex career-related personal concerns. (Gordon,
are a number of compelling reasons to integrate career and academic
advising, but supporting students as they make meaning of their
curricular and co-curricular activities is an especially important
one. Astin (2007) noted that students continue to report that
one of the major reasons they attend college is to get a better
job. However, many students are not able to articulate what that
“better job” is. Since students often are not able to describe
their skills, interests, values, and passions, they do not have
a personal reference point from which to evaluate potential academic
and career options. In addition, they seem reluctant to seek out
assistance in making these very important decisions. As Hunter
and White (2004) point out “academic advising, well developed
and appropriately accessed, is perhaps the only structured campus
endeavor that can guarantee students sustained interactions with
a caring and concerned adult” (p. 22). Therefore, academic advisors
are uniquely positioned to assist students in making wise academic
and career decisions; decisions that can impact the rest of their
40 years ago, Terry O’Banion (1972) recognized the need to integrate
career and academic advising and made that explicit in his description
of the academic advising process. The five steps included in that
- exploration of life goals
- exploration of vocational goals
- selection of academic program
- selection of courses
- scheduling courses
currently have significantly more career options than when O’Banion
initially presented this approach; therefore the need for integrating
career advising within academic advising is even more critical
today. Students who know who they are and understand the various
vocational options that support their strengths, skills, interests,
and passions, have greater potential to make academic decisions
that have personal meaning. Additionally, they are more likely
to be retained and persist to graduation.
reason to integrate career and academic advising is that “students
enter higher education without the benefit of adequate career
guidance in high school” (Kuhn and Padek, 2009, p. 3). Gordon
(2006) reinforces this notion and reflects that “all students
need career advising” (p. 5). This comes as no surprise to advisors
who work with students, both undecided and declared, who do not
have clear academic or career goals, or whose reasons for selecting
a specific major may include one of the following: my best friend
chose this major; my parents selected it for me; it sounds interesting;
or the job prospects are good. These realities reinforce the need
for institutions to be pro-active and intentional in creating
structures and systems where students are routinely asked to explore
and reflect on how they can make personal meaning of both their
curricular and co-curricular experiences. If we in higher education
do not accept this opportunity and responsibility, who will? What
contributions will be lost to the world because students were
not able to discover where and how to use their unique talents
career and academic advising also has the potential to support
students and graduates as they navigate the ever changing world
of work. This integration provides students with the opportunity
to learn about themselves, to evaluate academic and career options
within the context of self knowledge, to explore multiple options
in a safe environment, and to develop important decision making
skills. These skills are critical and will be utilized multiple
times throughout their lives as graduates seek meaningful employment
in a world where change is constant.
to Facilitate Integration: Academic Advisor
who want (or have been directed) to integrate career advising
in academic advising sessions, there are specific steps that can
lead to this integration. The first step is to recognize the similarities
and differences between career and academic advising. Using the
conceptual, informational, and relational elements in an advisor
development program (Ford, 2007) can assist in this comparison.
elements refer to what an advisor needs to understand. Both academic
and career advising are grounded in student development and student
learning theories with career advising adding career development
theory. The informational element refers to what an advisor needs
to know and this is where advisors may find the greatest differences.
Academic advisors have a vast knowledge of the institution’s academic
policies, procedures, degree and GPA requirements, but may not
have specific information about careers, skills required for certain
jobs, employment options in different fields, or strategies to
obtain employment. The relational element describes how advisors
need to behave and are the same for both academic and career advising.
Some examples of these skills include listening, reflecting, communicating,
challenging, supporting, caring, and referring (Burton and McCalla-Wriggins,
next step is to identify those elements where additional competencies
are needed as well as resources that will enhance those areas
of expertise. Campus resources include career center staff. When
they work together, staff in both units can share information
about services, discuss what career advising components to incorporate
in academic advising sessions, determine when students need to
be referred, and how to further collaborate to support students
as well as each other. There are many off campus resources also
available and several are described later in this article.
have been identified and essential competencies developed, the
third step is to develop a specific plan to integrate career advising
in academic advising. The plan can begin with reframing the questions
asked in the advising session. Rather than “What major are you
considering?” pose one of these questions: “As a child, what did
you want to be when you grew up?”, “What would you do if you knew
you would not fail?” (Roberts, 2007, p. 97), or “If you never
had to work at all, how would you spend your time?” Advisors may
also find Gordon’s “3-I Process” helpful in developing a plan.
Inquire, Inform, and Integrate are the three phases Gordon suggests
advisors use to assist students as they explore and make decisions
about career advising issues. (Gordon, 2006, p. 45)
to Facilitate Integration: Advising Administrator
the advising administrator who has decided (or been directed)
to have advisors integrate career advising in academic advising
sessions, there are some critical issues that must be addressed
before supporting advisors in the steps outlined above. Even when
advisors are convinced of the need for, and value of, this integration
there are often underlying and unarticulated feelings that can
interfere with a smooth transition to this new approach. Feeling
uncertain about how to provide career advising, fearful that they
will not be able to do what is expected, worried about having
the time to add this to their advising sessions, and anxious about
the process of change are emotions some advisors may experience.
Advisors who are not convinced of the value of the integration
may not verbalize those feelings and their resistance may be demonstrated
through disengagement or an unwillingness to participate in professional
first step an advising administrator can take to facilitate this
integration is to meet with advisors and discuss several issues
- rationale to integrate career
and academic advising;
- expectations of the advisors in
- timeline for this integration;
- resources available to support
- feelings advisors may be experiencing.
likely, the administrator will not have answers to all the questions
raised during this time, but acknowledging that and seeking those
answers may help ease some of the anxiety.
articulating the above issues, the administrator should meet individually
with each advisor several times. Administrators can demonstrate
a commitment to helping advisors succeed by asking them to share
their thoughts and feelings about this new initiative, soliciting
their ideas about how to facilitate this integration for both
the individual and the unit, and working collaboratively with
each advisor to develop a professional development plan. For advisors
who continue to demonstrate an unwillingness to support this new
initiative, these meetings provide an important opportunity where
the administrator can clarify expectations and discuss the reality
of failure to meet expectations. These meetings, as well as on-going
discussions in staff meetings, will provide the administrator
with important information for the creation of an overall professional
development plan for the unit.
administrators also need to provide resources including time and
money so professional development plans can be implemented. Both
on and off campus resources should be considered as well as time
allocated in the advisor’s schedule to take advantage of these
resources. In addition to this resource support, feedback systems
must be established so advisors can assess the progress they are
making in meeting these new responsibilities and how to obtain
additional assistance and support if needed.
advisors with resources to integrate career advising in academic
advising is critical to success. The selected resources described
here include the following: on campus; publications; electronic/web-based;
and professional associations.
are many resources on campus to assist in this process of integration.
As mentioned earlier, staff in offices that currently provide
career advising and/or career counseling are excellent resources.
These offices most likely have print and electronic resources
where students can 1) engage in self assessment, 2) obtain career
information and employment projections, and 3) acquire job search
strategy techniques. Learning how to access and utilize these
resources as well as when to refer a student will benefit everyone.
Advisors could also take career development or career theory courses
offered in graduate programs at many institutions or ask the professor
to provide professional development activities for the advising
unit. Another option is to enroll in the online career development
course in the NACADA/Kansas State University graduate certificate
program in academic advising (see ). http://www.dce.k-state.edu/education/advising/certificate/
Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook also includes exemplary
practices in the integration of career and academic advising from
a variety of institutions; selected chapters in both the 2008
and 2000 editions of the handbook also address this integration. The Handbook of career advising (2009) and Career Advising: An academic advisor’s
guide by Virginia Gordon’s (2006) are books that cover the topic extensively.
The NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources provides links (see "Resources" at the top of this page) to several
pages that directly relate to career advising integration. Search topics within the Clearinghouse include:
career advising resources, integrated centers, and centers that
integrate academic advising and careers. The National Resource Center for First-Year
Students and Students in Transition produced Academic and Career Advising: Keys to Student Success is available on DVD. Making Career Advising Integral to Academic Advising is a CD from the NACADA
Web cast series.
addition to electronic resources provided by professional associations
like NACADA and the National Career Development Association, workshops
on the integration of career and academic advising are presented
at state, regional and national conferences. If attending a conference
is not an option, a listing of the workshops and the presenters
is often available from the association. Talking with others who
have experienced the integration of career and academic advising
can be extremely valuable and can also provide even more resources.
career and academic advising is an important consideration for
advisors who seek to better assist students as they make decisions
that will impact the rest of their lives. As reported in a 2007
NACADA survey, 74% of the advisors who responded agreed that helping
students make career decisions was important to their role as
academic advisors. In addition, 79% wanted to know more about
how to effectively help students make career decisions. When advisors
have a clear definition of career advising, understand the similarities
and differences between academic and career advising, obtain additional
resources and competencies, and work collaboratively with others
on campus, they can move toward this integration with confidence.
Director Emeritus Betsy McCalla-Wriggins
Career and Academic Planning Center
Rowan University (NJ)
Note:This article was part of a series that celebrated NACADA 30th anniversary. In this series NACADA members built upon the work done within the book Advising as a Comprehensive Campus Process highlighting the important connections advisors make across campus
Astin, A. W. (2007).The American freshman: National norms for fall
2006. Los Angeles: Higher
Education Research Institute.
D. N., & McCalla-Wriggins, B. (in press, 2009). Integrated
career and academic advising programs. In K. Hughey, D. N. Burton,
J. Damminger, & B. McCalla-Wriggins (Eds.)The Handbook of Career Advising. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ford, S.S. (2007). The essential steps for developing the content
of an effective advisor training and development program. Retrieved from http://nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/584/article.aspx.
Gordon, V. N. (2006). Career advising: An academic advisor’s guide.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
V. N., Habley, W.R. & Associates (2000). Academic advising:
A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
advising: A comprehensive handbook (second edition).Gordon,
V. N., Habley, W. R., & Grites, T. J. (2008).
M.S., & White, E.R. (2004, March-April).Could fixing academic
advising fix higher education?, About Campus 20-25.
T., & Padak, G. (2009). From the co-editors: reflecting on
30 years of growth and the future., NACADA Journal 29(1), 3-4.
Career Advising Survey. (2007). Results retrieved
Making Career Advising Integral to Academic
Web cast. (2008). Information retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Product-Details/ID/REC035CD.aspx
National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students
in Transition. (2007). Academic & Career Advising: Keys to Student Success teleconference.
Information retrieved from http://www.sc.edu/fye/publications/video/all/index.html
T. (1972). An academic advising model.Junior College Journal,
Roberts, R. (2007). From the heart: Seven rules to live by.New York: Hyerion.
related to the topic:
What questions do we currently ask students about their
interests, skills, values, and passions in our advising sessions?
do we help them connect that self knowledge information with
the academic decisions they are making?
are the most frequent career questions students
of these questions could we answer that would help students make
wise academic decisions?
Who currently provides the answers to those career questions?
What are ways we could collaborate with those individuals
to help us all better serve our students?
this resource using APA style as:
B. (2009).Integrating Career and
Academic Advising: Mastering the Challenge.Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse
of Academic Advising Resources Web Site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Integrating-career-and-academic-advising.aspx