Giving Good Advice

Giving good advice is what advising is all about! Academic advisors need to base their advice on students' career and life goals, interests, and ability to complete a proposed academic load. As the academic advisor, you should gain an understanding of each student's interests and goals as you get acquainted. The techniques for getting to know advisees covered in the First Meeting section of the handbook. It is also important to assess each student's academic performance and to tailor advice for the student.

Listed below are some suggestions for assessing student progress and helping individuals understand the options they have as DSU students:

  • Use Program Evaluation reports from WebAdvisor and make sure students understand the details. Review the evaluation and highlight the remaining requirements the student must complete. (For more information, view the WebAdvisor tutorial.)
  • Help students develop a Plan of Study at the end of their freshman year. Pay particular attention to courses which may be offered only in fall or spring semesters, or only during alternate years. Review the Plan of Study each semester and make changes as needed. Both you and the student should keep a copy of the plan.
  • Encourage students to take a challenging, yet balanced, load.
    • Balance a term by using a combination of general education and major courses.
    • Look for patterns. For example, if a student has difficulty with algebra, the student may also have difficulties with programming, statistics, chemistry, physics, etc.
  • Compare current course load to past performance.
    • Determine if students have performed adequately (as defined by DSU standards and by students' personal standards) in past semesters with this number of credits.
    • Look at past performance in similar subject areas to see if any of the proposed courses are in areas of known difficulty for this student. Decide if the student's expectations and aspirations are reasonable relative to the proposed load.
  • Be aware of academic performance requirements for scholarships.
    • Ask students about scholarships they may have and the requirements of maintaining these scholarships. Then adjust course load appropriately.
  • Estimate the student's total load: academics, employment, personal commitments.
    • Discuss changes in personal commitments such as athletics, activities, employment, or family situations that may affect the student's ability to handle the proposed load, and help the student understand the importance of balancing the academic load with other activities.
  • Help the student weigh overloading options with the possibility of taking summer courses or alternative credits.
  • Recognize that DSU has students capable of a high level of achievement, and these students need encouragement.
    • It is often assumed that highly talented students choose a major early on and have well-defined plans for future lifestyle and careers; however, this is rarely the case. In fact, these students often struggle because they are able to consider a wide range of interests and abilities. They will need assistance in exploring their options, and they will need encouragement and support from you.
  • Understand that students are very sensitive to comments from advisors about their academic ability.
  • Be tactful when providing potentially negative information.
  • Encourage students to reach their potential.
    • Early in their experiences at DSU, students may be looking for short cuts or easy paths. Try to help them to focus on their long term goals. Discuss the "easy course" pitfalls.

When advising students on course options, be sure to look at each student's individual goals and needs.

Last Updated: 7/31/12