My Role as an Advisor
I have become very comfortable with my role as an advisor and therefore can outline my philosophies about this role best. Whether I am advising a student on what classes to take or providing advise on concepts to think about in order to avoid violations of the student conduct code I am trying to do the follow:
Build a trusting relationship with the student: No one is going to take advise from or even listen to someone who they don’t trust. The first step to building this trust is being knowledge about the information I am giving out. I have had to learn how to be comfortable telling a student that I don’t know something and well have to get back to them later. I have also had to become knowledgeable about the quickest ways to gather information to share with students. One of the biggest lessons I have learned during my time in UESP is that it is sometimes best to go through this research process with students so that they can learn how to properly search for things themselves. I think the second factor in building trust is delivering on what you promise. If I say I’m going to do something, like follow-up with a student in a month, then I better do it. If I offer a certain piece of information, I better be willing to stand behind it.
Showing a student that you see them in a holestic way (not just their class schedule /major or their violation for example): One of the best things about my job as a conduct officer is getting to spend a full hour with each student I see. That gives me between 15-30 minutes to really get to know a student: what classes they are taking, what groups they are a part of, where they have traveled, what their plans are for vacations and graduation. Often times it is through this first step that I gain a better understanding of why an incident took place and it most certainly affects the sanctioning process. Someone who hates to write but loves to do graphic art might be able to create an information flier instead of writing a reflective paper, while someone who wants to own a business or work in the medical or public health fields might get professional development out of an alcohol or drug education class. When it comes to UESP, I have less time, typically 30 minutes, and I must also help students build a schedule. While taking the time to ask a student about how the term is going, how their previous classes went, what types of extra-curiculars they are involved in, what jobs they may have, etc. creates a time crunch, it also helps me provide better advising to students.
Recognizing and articulating what I can and can’t do: There are times when I have felt the need to step outside of my role as advisor and take on responsibilities that are outside of my domain. I have wanted to help students in ways I couldn’t (financial aid, legal matters, counseling, etc.) and found it hard to say “no”. I think that one of the most important things that I can do as advisor is clearly explain the roles and responsibilities I have from the students I see. I need to know what other resources on campus and in the community are available for them when they require other needs that I cannot fulfill and I need to feel comfortable recommending such resources if need be.
Being patient: Every student is on their own developmental path and it would be egotistical to assume that by simply meeting with me once they would completely change course or leap ahead in their own developmental process. As I good advisor, I accept this and recognize that even the smallest steps towards personal and professional gains is worth celebrating.
I know that I will continue building on these skills for years to come and that I will only get better as I advice more and more students and am confronted with more and more situations in which my advice is an integral part of decision making processes.