Best Practices for Academic Advisors at Missouri State University

Adopted by Academic Advising Council September 18, 2009

Consistent with the mission of the University, academic advisors who use best practices help develop students who are academically prepared and able to take their positions as citizens contributing to the common good.  Moreover, excellent academic advising helps provide a positive student experience and enhances the University’s retention efforts.

The bullet points below each of the numbered “best practices” are examples of how advisors might carry out that practice.

1.     Maintain regular contact with all advisees.

      Examples of methods:

  • Email advisees or selected groups
  • Post advising information on a web site
  • Schedule regular meetings with all advisees (once a semester, minimum)
  • Schedule frequent meetings with advisees who are having academic difficulties

2.    Establish positive relationships with all advisees.

            Examples of methods:

  • Recognize advisees and be able to call them by name
  • Educate students about advisor and advisee roles and responsibilities
  • Maintain up-to-date advising notes
  • Address the needs of diverse students (e.g., nontraditional, international)
  • Show a personal interest in students’ lives

3.    Provide accurate and timely information about the University and its programs.

            Examples of methods:

  • Know department and University requirements
  • Know department and University deadlines
  • Communicate pertinent information to advisees or selected groups
  • Know and be able to refer students to appropriate University resources as appropriate to students’ needs
  • Know about and be able to refer students to appropriate web sites for specialized information
  • Know about and be able to recommend to students appropriate organizations for their professional development (e.g., departmental student professional organizations, etc.)

4.    For advisors who work with prospective or transfer students, facilitate transferring from other institutions to Missouri State. All advisors assist students in transferring from Missouri State to other institutions when that is in the best interest of the student.

            Examples of methods:

  • Know how to use the Missouri State transfer equivalencies web link
  • Develop and maintain relationships with appropriate individuals at transfer institutions
  • Be willing to work with prospective freshman and  transfer students prior to Missouri State enrollment

5.    Adopt a developmental approach to help advisees become independent learners and self-reliant problem solvers.

            Examples of methods:

  • Foster development of advisees’ decision making skills
  • Use an academic advising syllabus
  • Coach students on appropriate ways to advocate for themselves

6.    Enhance advisees’ understanding of and support for the University’s public affairs mission.

            Examples of methods:

  • Encourage appreciation for diversity within the University environment
  • Promote study away opportunities
  • Promote civic engagement through involvement in CASL, internships, and cooperative learning
  • Email advisees regularly about relevant events, lectures, and activities that promote the public affairs mission

7.    Maintain a high degree of professionalism.

            Examples of methods:

  • Maintain posted office hours
  • Keep advising appointments
  • Keep up to date on changing departmental and University requirements
  • Prepare for advising appointments and document advising sessions in “Advising Notes”
  • Support University requirements and programs (e.g., general education)
  • Maintain a positive attitude regarding department and University colleagues and programs
  • Maintain confidentiality as possible
  • Consult with and make appropriate referrals to University personnel when advisee needs extend beyond professional experience and training

8.     Engage in personal growth and development.

      Examples of methods:

  • Attain and maintain Master Advisor status
  • Regularly attend training and education related to academic advisement (e.g., Academic Advisor Forums)
  • Take advantage of opportunities for professional growth through the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and the Missouri Academic Advising Association (MACADA)
  • Keep up-to-date on current advising techniques and strategies
  • Attend appropriate discipline-specific professional development opportunities related to student advising, retention, and success

(Thanks to Sandra Culver, Gloria Glanes, Stephanie Marinec, and Ann Woolsey, who researched and drafted the Best Practices above for approval by the Academic Advising Council.)

Academic advising within each academic department and program is unique.  The Provost’s Academic Advising Council (AAC) recommends that advisees be assigned to faculty or professional advisors to facilitate development of the advising relationship during a student’s time at Missouri State University.  However, there may be certain instances in which graduate assistants are assigned to conduct academic advising as part of their assistantship responsibilities.  In those cases, the graduate students who serve as advisors should be given appropriate mentoring within the department and should have responsibilities aligned with their training and advisees’ best interests.  All advisors at Missouri State University are urged to complete the Master Advisor Workshop, to maintain their Master Advisor credentials, and to follow the “Best Practices” developed by AAC.