What is Academic Advising?

Defining Academic Advising

There are countless definitions of academic advising. We've handpicked a few of our favorites which we feel speak to our values and approach:

  • "Advisors teach students how to make the most of their college experience."

Miller, M.A. (2012). Structuring our conversations: Shifting to four dimensional advising models. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Structuring-Our-Conversations-Shifting-to-Four-Dimensional-Advising-Models.aspx

  • "Academic advising, based in the teaching and learning mission of higher education, is a series of intentional interactions with a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a set of student learning outcomes. Academic advising synthesizes and contextualizes students’ educational experiences within the frameworks of their aspirations, abilities and lives to extend learning beyond campus boundaries and timeframes."

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/Concept.aspx

  • Academic advising takes place in "situations in which an institutional representative gives insight or direction to a college student about an academic, social, or personal matter. The nature of this direction might be to inform, suggest, counsel, discipline, coach, mentor, or even teach."

Kuhn, T. (2008). Historical Foundations of Academic Advising. In V.N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, & T. J. Grites (Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Campus Process. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • "Academic advising is a developmental process which assists students in the clarification of their life/career goals and in the development of educational plans for the realization of these goals. It is a decision-making process by which students realize their maximum educational potential through communication and information exchanges with an advisor; it is ongoing, multifaceted, and the responsibility of both student and advisor. The advisor serves as a facilitator of communication, a coordinator of learning experiences through course and career planning and academic progress review, and an agent of referral to other campus agencies as necessary."

Winston, Jr. R. B., Enders, S. C., & Miller, T. K. (Eds.) (March 1982). Developmental approaches to academic advising. New Directions for Student Services, 17.

Our Model

Sonoma State University takes a shared, collaborative, and student-centered approach to academic advising. Through a partnership between Faculty Advisors and Professional Academic Advisors, we work together to ensure each student has access to the advising and support needed to thrive and persist toward on-time graduation.

Professional Academic Advisors

Professional Academic Advisors provide holistic and proactive academic advising to support the whole student. Our Professional Academic Advisors work with students to explore who they want to become personally, professionally and academically. Goals are then reverse-engineered to curate an educational experience of curricular and cocurricular opportunities to support a student's development, success, graduation, and preparation for a life of change, challenge and individual fulfillment as active citizens. Professional Academic Advisors use intensive advising techniques, appreciative advising techniques, proactive outreach and academic coaching to assist students in developing and attaining their goals. Every student is unique, so each academic advising session is tailored individually to the student. Professional Academic Advisors can be found in the Advising Center, in individual schools and departments, and in programs such as EOP, PUERTA, or Disability Services for Students.

Faculty Advisors

Faculty Advisors help students learn which major courses and necessary prerequisites to take to persist towards on-time graduation. Faculty Advisors bring their wealth of academic and industry experience and expertise to support students in the work they do in their chosen major, discussing graduate school options, internships, etc. Finally, Faculty Advisors work with students to get them involved in undergraduate research and connected with other faculty that share their interests.  

Who is my Academic Advisor?

Students are assigned a Faculty Advisor and/or a Professional Academic Advisor. These assignments are based on various factors, such as whether a student is part of a specialized population or support program; the number of units the student has completed; and the student's declared major. Students may find their assigned advisor a few different ways: