Academic Affairs

Academic & Career Advising Task Force

Advisor Competencies

College Student Characteristics

Understanding the characteristics of your student population in general, and of your advisees in depth, so that you may provide supportive and helpful advising.

Summary of Competency's Main Points

  1. Understand general characteristics of college students.
  2. Understand general characteristics of students on my campus.
  3. Understand specific needs and characteristics of your assigned advising population (if applicable).

Incorporating Competency into Training

Those who develop training programs for academic advisors should include ways in which those they are training develop an understanding for the Conceptual, Relational, and Informational elements of academic advising.

CR I Does your training program for professional and faculty advisors include:
   X 1.  National data on college student populations, trends, issues (e.g. age, gender, part-time/full-time, reasons for attending, achievement levels, etc)?
   X 2.  Campus data about your student population (e.g. age, gender, breakdown by major/degree, part/full-time, financial aid, work habits, reasons for attending, retention, gpa, time to graduation)?
   X 3.  Information from recent graduation surveys, NSSE, or student satisfaction surveys which helps advisors understand student concerns?
XX   4.  Opportunities for in-depth learning on student sub-populations' needs and characteristics (e.g., undecided, athletes, differently-abled, adult/non-traditional, education majors, business majors, etc.)?
XX   5.  How your student population characteristics affect their advising needs (e.g. non-traditional; part-time; working 30 or more hours/week; or, traditional students living in the residence halls)?
CR I Questions/activities which may help guide you in the development of your training program:
   X 1.  What are the student characteristics on your campus?
   X 2.  What are the needs of student sub-populations on your campus?
XX   3.  How can you as an advisor address those needs?
XX   4.  What is your advising delivery method(s)? Do your methods need to be altered as a result of understanding your student population needs?

Case Study

Steve comes to his Odyssey advising appointment with his mom. Steve clearly doesn't want to be at Odyssey. It comes out during your opening conversation with him that he doesn't want to be at Oshkosh. His mom takes control of the conversation, and starts to talk about what Steve wants to/should take.

How do you carry on a conversation with Steve to learn what's happening from his perspective?

Recommended questions/issues to bring up in discussion with Steve:

  1. How do you get Steve engaged in the conversation?
  2. What do you want to know about Steve to help you decide the direction of the advising appointment (his characteristics)?
  3. How do you calm the zeal of Steve's mom?
  4. What notes would you make in Steve's advising folder?
  5. Is there any follow up course of action you would recommend to Steve?

Case Study

Meg comes into your office and insists that she cannot take any classes except at certain times because of work. Some of the classes that Meg cannot take because of the time they are offered are required for the first year in order to make progress toward a four year degree. Classes are also very full, and the times that she wants to take classes are not realistic given the current course availability. Meg is 30 years old and works 30 hours a week. She hasn't picked a major.

Recommended questions/issues to bring up in discussion with Meg:

  1. What is the possible impact of Meg's choices and priorities according to the information provided in this case study?
  2. What else do you want to know about Meg to help you decide how to help her (student's characteristics)?
  3. How will you approach this with her?
  4. What notes would you make in Meg's advising folder?
  5. Is there any follow up course of action you would recommend to Meg?