• It’s not about you.  Avoid using the first person singular.  Instead draw students out by asking them to articulate their thoughts, ideas, points of view.
  • Know their names.  There is nothing sweeter than the sound of our own names, so learn the names of advisees and use them.  Doing so will create a warm, open atmosphere conducive to productive conversations.
  • Be respectful of your advisees.  Remember to be careful with information they disclose and follow the legal guidelines which are meant to encourage student independence.  Determine your campus legal resources and ask questions regarding confidentiality.
  • Listen to verbal and nonverbal cues.  What students say is sometimes not what they  really mean. Be alert to the non-verbal cues that body language often reveals.
  • Ask “why?”  Engaging students in advising conversations is not always easy, but if you remember to ask “why,” you will challenge them to be reflective even in short conversations.
  • Use open-ended questions.  Use who, what, when, and where questions rather than those that can be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No.”  Encourage students to explain their thought processes.
  • Be available.  Establish clear ways advisees can contact you. Schedule your office hours at times when students are most likely to be on campus and be there during those times. Let them know any other ways you can be contacted.
  • Learn your institution’s basic policies, procedures, requirements, rules, and    regulations.    There is no way around it!  This information forms the foundation upon which advising relationships are built.
  • Learn your campus resources.  Administrative offices and the people who oversee advising at your institution can be best allies. Get to know the staff; find out their direct phone numbers and email addresses.  These people are your lifelines in helping figure out degree equirements, translate policies and procedures, and helping you contact campus offices and services that are resources for students.
  • Never guess.  If you don’t know the answer to students’ questions, admit it and make a point of finding the right answers or referring students to the appropriate office. Do not perpetuate the institution’s “runaround” reputation.  Keep handy a list of campus resources along with their telephone numbers, email addresses, and contact people (see Tip 9).
  • Set limits.  While it is important to be available, you do not have to be available all the time.  There are advisees who seem constantly to be at your office door to complain, seek sympathy, or find a familiar comfort.  For these frequent visitors, set limits.
  • Embrace technology.  If you have a large advising load and need to communicate information relevant to all students, consider using alternative strategies and technologies familiar to students.

Excerpted from A Faculty Guide to Academic Advising, Copyright 2009, by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) www.nacada.ksu.edu.