The following article first appeared in August 1991 in the Academic
Advising News 13(3) It was reprinted as a portion
of the 25th anniversary celebration of the National Academic
Authored by Jerry L. Ford
finest possible educational environment includes the availability
of outstanding academic advising and a genuine caring attitude
toward the student - inseparable partners in higher education.
Some simple suggestions for demonstrating a genuine caring attitude
by all advising personnel include:
advisees with a smile.
enough to greet advisees with a warm welcome and a million-dollar
smile to help ease student anxiety. Your smile costs nothing,
yet it means everything!
a friendly attitude
sure that a friendly attitude radiates from your office setting.
Try to make advisees feel that in your office they can expect
concern, compassion, friendliness, encouragement, trust, and
confidence. Anyone with advising responsibilities (including
the office secretary or receptionist) must never react to a
student as though the student is an interruption of work. The
student, after all is the office work!
an interesting office
to have a physically attractive and interesting office - perhaps with live plants, paintings or pictures on
the walls, and soft background music. The office might be decorated
in a specific theme such as the school mascot or a particular
kind of plant or color scheme. The office should be a haven
of enjoyment and conversation for advisees who enter.
the names of advisees
sure to familiarize yourself with the names of advisees. Call
the students by their first names so that they will feel at
ease during advising sessions.
enough to avoid threatening body language. When possible, sit
on the same side of your desk with your advisees. You should
not let the desk of authority separate you from your advisees
and thus cause you to lose some of your advising effectiveness.
Also, you should face the advisee squarely. This posture transmits
the message that you are available to the student, that you
care about the student, and that you want to assist the student.
your caring attitude by maximizing efficiency and minimizing
mistakes when dealing with advisees. Have enough pride in advising
activities so that your work is as error free as possible. University
life and academic programs are too complicated for guess work.
Accurate information, appropriate forms, and other advising
responsibilities should be correct the first time to reduce
advising hassles for both the student and the advisor. And,
if mistakes are made, admit them.
the "Shuttle Stop with You"
an advisee has a question or needs help, let the "Shuttle Stop
with You." No student should leave your office without getting
assistance. If you don't know the answer or you can't solve
the problem, take time to identify the problem solver, locate
the problem solver, and involve the problem solver in assisting
advisees that you care about them by seeing them frequently
and on an informal basis. Visit with them in the cafeteria and
the student center, in corridors between classes, and at various
campus functions. Be approachable, flexible, and accessible,
and by all means share you phone number, office location, and
office hours with your advisees.
a good example
a caring, helpful attitude in deeds and actions can make or
break your advising reputation. The word can spread almost instantly
about the type of person and advisor you are and about the type
of office you operate. Is a red carpet rolled out, or is a thorn
should put yourself in the shoes of your advisees. To paraphrase
the golden rule, "Do unto your advisees as you would have had
your advisor do unto you."
academic advising and a genuine caring attitude - combine them,
practice them, and share them; then reap the benefits!
Authored by Jerry L. Ford