Academic Advising

academic advising

Handbook - Core Values

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) is an organization of professional advisers, faculty, administrators, students and others from a variety of settings who do academic advising or otherwise work to promote quality academic advising on college and university campuses. As members of this organization, the profession of academic advising, and others who advise or provide related programs and services to students, we must recognize our responsibility not only to students and the institutions in which the advising is done, but to society, to colleagues, and to ourselves.

All providers of academic advising should be expected to perform in a professional manner. The Core Values identified and discussed here—values that provide a framework against which those who do academic advising cam measure their own performance—are intended to provide a perspective for advising professionals and others.

In no way does this Core Values statement try to dictate that all academic advising needs to be done in precisely the same way by everyone, or that there is one particular advising philosophy or model; these are reference points which professionals can use.  Furthermore, the Core Values do not carry equal weight. Advisers will find some Core Values more important than others depending on their own philosophies and those of their colleges or universities.

The Power of Academic Advising

Few experiences in students' post secondary career have as much potential for influencing their development as does academic advising.

Through regular contact with students, whether face-to-face, through the mail, on the telephone, or through computer mediated systems, advisers gain meaningful insights into students' academic, social, and personal experiences and needs.

Advisers use these insights to help students feel a part of the academic community, develop sound academic and career goals, and ultimately be successful learners.

Because of the nature of academic advising, advisers often develop a broad vision of the institution. Advisers can therefore play an important interpretive role with administrators, faculty, and staff, helping them further understand students' academic and personal development needs. Advisers can teach others to identify students who, with additional attention from academic support staff, may achieve their goals to succeed academically and personally.

Students place a great deal of trust in their advisers.  That trust warrants quality programs and services. It is through our Core Values that students' expectations of academic advising are honored.

Beliefs About Students

Like other educators, academic advisers endeavor to strengthen the importance, dignity, potential, and unique nature of each individual served within the academic setting. Our work as advisers is guided by our beliefs that:

  • students hold their own beliefs and opinions;
  • learning needs vary according to individual skills, goals, and experiences;
  • students are responsible for their own behavior;
  • students have a desire to learn;
  • students can be successful based upon their individual goals and efforts.

Why our Core Values are Important

Out of these beliefs grow our Core Values. Regardless of our professional preparation and experience, each of us in the field of academic advising is ultimately guided in our work by what we perceive as importune, what we value, and what we believe about those we serve--primarily students, but also others in the institutions within which we work, and even the institutions themselves.

We recognize the complex nature of academic advising, the wide variety of settings and responsibilities for which academic advisers are responsible, and the diverse backgrounds and experiences of academic advisers. Yet while values and beliefs are by their very nature individual, there are many that are subscribed to by those who advise students.  Through this Statement of Core Values we communicate to others what they can expect from us. These Core Values may be used to validate our conduct in our diverse roles and our relationships within the academic community.

The Core Values

Students deserve dependable, accurate, respectful, honest, friendly, and professional service. In order to serve students well, academic advisers understand that they are responsible to many constituents who comprise our academic communities. This is the foundation upon which the following Core Values rest.

Advisers are responsible to the students and individuals they serve.

Quality programs and services are delivered to students through the cooperative efforts of all those who do academic advising. This includes, but is not limited to, giving accurate and timely information, maintaining regular office hours, and keeping appointments. Advisers help students develop a perception of themselves and their relationship to the future. Advisers introduce students in a nurturing way to the world they are entering—teaching them to value the learning process, put the college experience into perspective, become more responsible, set priorities and evaluate sequences of events, and be honest with themselves.

  • Advisers encourage self-reliance by helping students make informed and responsible decisions, set realistic goals, and develop thinking, learning, and life management skills to meet present and future needs.
  • Advisers work with students to help them accomplish the goals and objectives they have established for themselves.
  • Advisers encourage students to be responsible for their own success and progress. They respect students' rights to their individual beliefs and opinions but are not dictated to by them.
  • Advisers work to modify barriers to student progress; identify burdensome, ineffective, and inefficient policies and procedures; and work to effect change. When the needs to students and the institution are in conflict, advisers seek a resolution that is in the best interest of both parties.
  • Advisers inform students about appropriate grievance procedures in cases where students find the resolution unsatisfactory.
  • Advisers recognize the changing nature of the college and university environment and student body. They support students in appropriate ways (e.g., advocate at the administrative level for recognition of these changes; offer varied office hours; acknowledge the special needs of all students and the pressures on them to juggle study with work, family, and other interpersonal demands).
  • Advisers are knowledgeable about and sensitive to federal, state, and their own institution's policies and procedures, especially those governing such matters as sexual harassment, personal relationships with students, privacy of student information, equal treatment, equal access, and equal opportunity.
  • Advisers respect the rights of students to have information about themselves kept confidential.
  • Advisers share information with others about students and their programs only when both adviser and student believe that information is relevant and will result in increased information or assistance, assessment, and provision of appropriate services to the student.
  • Advisers gain access to and use computerized information about students only when that information is relevant to the advising which they are doing with that particular student. Advisers enter or change information on students' records only when legitimately authorized to do so.
  • Advisers need to adequately document advising contacts to facilitate subsequent advising interactions.

Advisers are responsible for involving others, where appropriate, in the advising process.

Effective advising requires a broad-based, or holistic, approach to working with students. Crucial are the ties which academic advisers develop with others who assist students in diverse areas such as: admissions, orientation, financial aid, housing, health services, athletics, course selection and satisfaction of academic requirements, special physical and educational needs (e.g., disabilities, study skills, psychological counseling), foreign study, career development, co-curricular programs, and graduation clearance.

Advisers are facilitators and mediators. Responsible academic advisers recognize their limitations and effectively use their specialized knowledge.

Therefore, to make connections between academic advising and other aspects of students' lives, advisers seek out resources provided by others. Referrals to these resources provide students with further assessments of their needs and access to appropriate programs and services. With others, advisers are responsible for helping students integrate the information they are confronted with and for helping students make well-informed academic decisions. If peer advisers are used, the supervising adviser will closely monitor the peer adviser regarding adherence to appropriate policies and practices.

Advisers are responsible to the college or university in which they work.

  • Advisers respect the opinions of their colleagues, remain neutral when students present them with comments, questions, or opinions about other faculty or staff, and are non-judgmental about academic programs.
  • Advisers increase their collective professional strength by sharing their philosophies and techniques with colleagues.
  • Advisers keep administrators who are not involved directly in the advising process informed and aware of the importance of academic advising in students' lives, and the need for administrative support of advising and related activities.
  • Advisers abide by the specific policies, procedures, and values promulgated by the department and institution for which they work.  Where injustices occur which might interfere with students' learning, advisers advocate for change on behalf of students with the institution's administration, faculty, and staff.

Advisers are responsible to higher education generally.

  • Academic advisers honor (and are protected by) the concept of academic freedom as practiced on our campuses. In this spirit, advisers hold a variety of points of view.  Academic advisers are free to base their communications with students on theories of college student development and models of delivery for academic advising programs and services which they find enrich their practice and enable students to reach their goals in an advising relationship.
  • Advisers accept that one of the goals of education is to introduce students to the world of ideas. One goal of academic advising is to establish a partnership between student and adviser to guide students through their academic programs so they may attain the knowledge gained and offered by faculty.
  • Academic advisers believe that it is ultimately the responsibility of students to apply what is learned to everyday situations. Advisers assist students in understanding this process.
  • Advisers advocate for students' educational achievement at the highest attainable standard and support student goals, as well as the educational mission of the institution.
  • Advisers advocate the creation or strengthening of programs and services that are compatible with students' academic needs.

Advisers are responsible to the community (including the local, state, and region in which the institution is located).

  • Academic advisers interpret the institution's mission, standards, goals, and values to its community, including public and private schools from which the college of university draws its student body.
  • Advisers are sensitive to the values and mores of the surrounding community, sharing these with and interpreting them to students.
  • Advisers are aware of community programs and services and may become models for students by participating in community activities themselves.

Advisers are responsible to their professional role as advisers and to themselves personally.

To keep advising skills honed and interest high, advisers are encouraged to seek opportunities for professional development through classes, workshops, conferences, reading, consultation with others, and interaction in formal groups with other advisers (e.g., professional organizations like NACADA).

  • Advisers, as professionals, are expected to engage in professional development activities to maintain skills and promote professional growth.
  • Advisers understand the personal demands which accompany the human services aspects of advising.
  • Advisers develop skills for taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They learn how to distance themselves from students' problems while maintaining a keen listening ear and providing sensitive response. They establish and maintain appropriate boundaries. They need to be nurtured by others within the profession and they need to nurture their colleagues. They seek support for themselves within and outside the institution.
  • Academic advising lends itself well to research.
  • Advisers may engage in research related to advising.
  • Advisers are encouraged to engage in research related grounds. Each research agenda must honor the institution's safeguards for privacy and humane treatment of subjects.

Academic advisers frequently seek guidance regarding ethical decisions and behaviors in their work with students. This statement is provided as a guide for appropriate conduct. The Core Values should be reviewed periodically, adding relevant material and rewording existing language to bring the statement in line with current professional practices and thinking. The National Academic Advising Association encourages institutions to adopt this Statement of Core Values, to embrace its principles, and to support the work of those who do academic advising.