Respect, Targeted, Honest
I think respect is an essential component to build trust during academic advising. I used to be a student not very long ago, so I would like to always think in their position. The students will tend to share more when they feel respect. Respect does not mean to be kind and polite only but also means to understand them and make them feel that you are dependable.
With trust being built, the next step is to figure out the student’s underlying concern so that we can provide targeted advisement. Our students have a diverse background from every aspect. Their needs can be of great difference. For instance, about half of the students in my class are doing full-time jobs meanwhile when they are full-time students here. They comprised a very special student body different from many others like me when I was a student. Their work-life balance is challenging and has a huge impact on their needs and goals. Therefore, making our advisement informative and accurate is important to them. They do not have time to linger over too general or vague information that doesn’t work well specifically for them.
As a faculty who has the least advisement experience in my department, I strive to make my advisement informative and accurate. But there are still things that sometimes I am not quite sure about. I will make sure that I am honest with my students and never mislead them. I usually ask for my colleagues’ help who are knowledgeable and have rich experience in certain topics. Meanwhile, I learn from my colleagues by joining their conversations with the student or by consulting them afterward. Another approach I usually take is to show my students the available tools and resources, and let them know which department/center/person they can reach out to to find the accurate answer whenever they need it.
Academic advisement is a lifelong learning process. We learn from our experiences and keep adjusting our approaches. However, no matter what approaches I use, I will keep in mind to put students ‘ needs as the top priority.