Student advising is a critical step in the Guided Pathways model and a very critical step in VIP-PASS implementation. As we begin to explore more resources and tools for academic advising, it’s important to make the distinction that advising in the context of making impactful connections with students, is not a faculty role or a student services role. It is a role that everyone at the college assumes formally or informally to ensure students not only take the right courses that lead to transfer and/or degree completion, but it is also encompasses facilitating meaningful connections with students to grow their self-confidence and competencies along the way. 

We need thousands of advisors! 

That is correct. We need every employee of the VCCS to understand that they play a critical role in advising students, and that role is not limited to identifying which courses a student should take. We need advisors who understand their college and community and who understand that the student experience starts long before the classroom. We make connections with students through our websites, outreach efforts, and in our parking lots. Before a student makes it to a classroom, they have had numerous opportunities to make connections with faculty and staff through the application and enrollment process. They have also had opportunities to observe our campus culture by visiting our offices and by trying to navigate our buildings and campus layouts.


What kind of advisor are you?

Hopefully the answer is, an engaged advisor! Remember, while formal academic advising meetings occur, there is a greater chance for all faculty and staff to engage in forming meaningful connections with students and to have conversations around career paths and making choices that are beneficial to the college experience and beneficial for life after college. While we will explore resources that enhance and improve formal academic advising models, our greatest asset at our colleges are the people who work there. The more you are familiar with the student populations you serve, the more you are well-versed in the breadth of programs and services, and the more we each own the responsibility of making a meaningful connection (not a transactional connection) with students, the more we can directly impact student success!


National Discussion on Advising Redesign

Achieving the Dream and The Community College Research Center 


Advising Models 

Throughout the VCCS there has been a lot of discussion around improving advising and which advising models work the best. While we would all agree that improving advising is a goal for every college, the choice of advising model depends largely on institutional scale and culture. No matter where your college stands on model choice, it’s important to first understand what is happening to students under your current process. Do you know and understand the student experience? Are advising roles defined? Does your college invest in providing advisors with the knowledge and resources needed to meet the needs of students? Does your college promote cross functional and cross departmental professional development and meetings to ensure everyone is well-informed and able to collaborate to improve advising access and quality? These are just a few questions to think about before continuing or changing your current advising model.


Advising Mapping Exercise

  1. Convene a diverse group of faculty, staff, and administrators and process map the student advising experience at your college. Draw the process step by step for the advising experience/process that “all” students receive. 
  2. Next, complete the same exercise for the advising experience that some students receive through your high touch programs and services.
  3. Finally, map the advising process that you “want” for all students at your institution. What should advising look like at your college?


Advising Models Explored 

Achieving the Dream and NACADA


Who is responsible for assessing and supporting academic advising at your college? 


This is a very important question. If you agree that advising is mission critical and directly tied to the academic mission of the college, how do you assess advising? Who is responsible for taking a macro and micro look at advising services and providing supports college-wide? 




In 2013-2014, Germanna Community College included strengthening the advising system as a central goal in their Academic Master Plan. Upon review of advising practices, the college determined that students were being served primarily upon demand with advising appointments largely consisting of triaging their selection of courses semester by semester. Believing in the value of advising, the college committed to reevaluate their approach and to determine expectations and outcomes for successful advising. This led to one central goal, restructuring the advising model to provide comprehensive and purposeful advising experiences for all students. 

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