Six Ways to Make Advising More Than Transactional

Credit: iStock.com/SDI Productions
Credit: iStock.com/SDI Productions

Working with undergraduates necessarily means taking on advising roles. While formal responsibility might lie with advising staff at your institution, teaching a first-year seminar or a capstone automatically puts you in a position where students come to you for advice. So does guiding students on research projects or in practicums, teaching in an honors college, and working with students on high-impact practices (e.g., off-campus study and community-based learning).

Yet most faculty and instructors receive minimal, if any, training about how to do this important task well. As a result, advising is often transactional: helping students register for courses, declare a major, or check degree requirements. This was my early experience, and I was mostly at a loss for how to change it. How could I get students to my office? What did I do with them once they were there? What did I have to offer them? There are alternatives, evidence-based approaches that demonstrably increase success and retention, especially for students who are first-generation college attendees, from under-resourced communities, or from minoritized populations. What are these?


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