I’m your academic advisor (duh?!). Yes, we put a hold on your registration to make you come talk with me about scheduling your classes. And yes, you and I will talk about your course choices and how you can best plan your schedule, but REGISTRATION IS NOT ADVISING! I’m sorry for yelling, I’s just very important that you (and perhaps more importantly, others who read this) understand that academic advising is about so much more than simply registering for classes.
There are tons of definitions of academic advising, ranging from sentences long to book length philosophical and practical discussions of what we do (that’s right, advising students is as old as American institutions of higher education and formal scholarly research on academic advising has conducted and published for decades http://tiny.cc/5xcclw). I’m not going to bore you with any of that, because the thing that supersedes all of that is the quality of the relationship you and I forge, and the advising/mentoring/guidance that results from the learner-centered conversations you and I have.
Yes, “learner-centered” means you-centered. And yes, I’m considering you a learner, because academic advising is a teaching and learning activity. You don’t come to me so I can tell you what classes to register for—we have a conversation, I help you learn everything you need to consider to select your own classes, and you register for them on the appropriate day. Again, that’s just the tip of the Advising Ice Berg. I’m only talking to you about registration because, in most cases, this is the first time you’ve been allowed to do this for yourself.
My job is to guide you through your transition to university-level learning. Most of you reading this are first-years and last year your educational environment looked very different from the one you are sitting in today. My job is to help you make sense of it, to guide you down a road you’ll travel to earn your degree—I’ve traveled it too (albeit many years ago) and I know what it looks like. I’m here to earn your trust, to give you a voice, to see and help you celebrate your progress, and to challenge you, at times, to think differently (because no one is going to offer you a degree for telling them things you already think, or displaying skill you already have). I’m here to make certain you have the resources to overcome any obstacle that may befall you.
I will not give you classes to take. I will not tell you what to major in. I’ll guide you through the decision making process so you can learn to do it for yourself next time. Then our conversations deepen and we can talk about your development within your chosen discipline. We can talk about study abroad and internships. We can talk about ways for you to get involved with undergraduate research. All this is to make your educational experience more meaningful, broader than simply job training, so that when you graduate, you’re not subject to the job market in your given field, you actually have options and more choices in the career you will ultimately select.
There’s more—so much more—that happens within Academic Advising relationships, but I think I’ve rambled enough. I realize I’m just one guy—just one advisor. But when institutions get it right, everyone understands—professional advisors, administrators, and faculty alike—that this is what Academic Advising means.