Exemplary Practices in Academic Advising


A major responsibility of the University Advising Council is to aid all academic units in improving the delivery of their advising systems. In order to meet this charge in a very concrete way, the Council has investigated advising practices at Penn State and at many other institutions of higher education. It has identified some advising practices that merit emulation and that might be adapted to support the advising goals of academic units or to aid individual advisers in their work with students.

Penn State's policy on academic advising is stated in the University Faculty Senate Advising Policy (32-00). The goals of the university's academic advising program are: to help students identify and achieve their academic goals, promote intellectual discovery, and encourage students to take advantage of a breadth of educational opportunities as they become self-directed learners and decision makers. Implicit at all levels of responsibility in the university community is the central concern for and commitment to students and the educational process of advising. In addition, a primary academic adviser is assigned for every student. The legislation describes the shared responsibilities of advisers and advisees for the success of this advising relationship, and highlights the emphasis to be placed on advising first-year students. There is a commitment to effective use of new technologies in all phases of the advising process.

The advising policy also articulates the nine elements of an effective advising system. For each of the nine elements, the University Advising Council elaborates here an ideal practice and points to actual exemplary practices employed at Penn State and other institutions. The theoretically ideal practices are based in the collective wisdom of the Council members as well as the standards developed and published by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. For each example of concrete practice, appropriate sources (contact persons or websites) are provided.

This document does not address specific characteristics of the effective adviser-advisee relationship or philosophies of advising. Commentary on issues of that nature may be found on the Academic Advising Portal.

With a view to elevating the quality of advising services for Penn State's students, the University Advising Council encourages faculty advisers and professional advisers in college and department advising units to explore this compendium of good ideas about advising. A collaborative effort of the Council membership, we consider this an on-going service to all those concerned with the advising enterprise, students, faculty, and staff alike. We will add noteworthy practices as they become known to us. In the spirit of fully exploring the best in academic advising programs and strategies and of offering creative support to advising at Penn State, we invite readers to submit suggestions to the Council.