Relational Skills for Advising Sessions

Delmas (2001) in an article, NACADA The "Quality" in Advising, writes:

"I try to give students what I think they need from me. A tissue, a letter of recommendation, words of encouragement or congratulations, a smile of recognition in the hall that says, 'You are important to me.' Since I represent the institution, it means that the student is important to the institution, too. Of course not all advising is complicated and involved. What most of our students need is for us to answer 'just one quick question,' and don't we love that? But sometimes our advisees and their life situations require us to stand up and be brave, kind, caring and resourceful. That is quality advising. It's the whole package, not just our responsibilities as narrowly defined in a job description moldering away in a file somewhere. Come to think of it, that thing could use an overhaul!" (Delmas, 2001)

Demonstrate strong listening and communication skills.

  • Know student's name.
  • Give undivided attention.
  • Be friendly.
  • Make appropriate eye contact.
  • Probe and clarify.
  • Remove seating barriers.

Assist in the exploration of vocational and life goals.

  • Recognize and value individual differences.
  • Understand and assist in the decision-making process.
  • View all occupations as valuable and significant.

Exhibit knowledge of academic programs and university policies.

  • Know degree programs offered and their unique requirements.
  • Understand policies governing degree-seeking students.

Be informed about courses offered.

  • Content, prerequisites, availability, transferability, sequencing
  • Appropriate balance of courses and workload
  • Remedial courses
  • Understanding of learning styles
  • Placement based on test scores
  • System of scheduling

(Kerr, 1996, p. 178)

Assistance can encompass educational, personal, spiritual, social and professional areas.  Effective referrals, however, can help ensure academic success.

Tips on making referrals in Academic Advising:

  • Be informed of web, campus and community resources. Pay attention to office contacts and the chain of command in various offices.
  • Keep listing of names, offices, numbers, and websites for quick reference.
  • Pay attention to student's expressed and implied needs (e.g. financial aid, or student employment).
  • Find the right referral and help student avoid unnecessary legwork (e.g. instructor, or registrar).
  • Make students comfortable, highlighting the referral's friendliness, accessibility or willingness to help.
  • Facilitate referrals by telephoning the parties to whom you are sending  student while he/she is with you.  Phoning should guarantee the appropriate office gives an appointment to the student.  Student may be given the phone to make the appointment. On rare occasions, advisors working with students in crisis may take a student directly to the appropriate source for help such as the Counseling and Testing Center.