Key Strategies for Engaging and Motivating Student Advisees: What Works for Their Success?


Navigating the complexities of academic advising requires more than just knowledge of course requirements; it involves building trusting relationships with students to help them articulate their academic and personal needs while learning to advocate for themselves. Angy Estrada, an academic adviser at Montclair State University, shares her insights into effective advising practices that foster engagement and motivation among students.

(Photo : UNSPLASH / Chichi Onyekanne)

Best Practices for Active Listening and Engagement

Estrada emphasizes the importance of active listening and creating a safe space for students to express themselves freely. Here are six best practices she employs during advising sessions:

1. Attentive Introductions: Begin by actively listening to students' introductions, including their names, preferred pronouns, and interests. This sets the stage for a welcoming conversation that goes beyond academic requirements.

2. Provide a Safe Space: Create an environment free of judgment where students feel comfortable sharing their academic and personal experiences, allowing them to articulate their goals and motivations.

3. Ask Thoughtful Questions: Encourage students to reflect on their goals, strengths, and motivations by asking probing questions about their career aspirations, working environment preferences, and desired skills.

4. Flexibility in Approaches: Adapt your advising approach based on the student's receptiveness and needs. Offer alternative strategies or schedule follow-up sessions to address challenges effectively.

5. Offer Additional Assistance: Direct students to campus resources such as financial aid, career services, or counseling, ensuring they receive the support needed to navigate their college journey successfully.

6. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate student successes, such as proactive engagement in academic responsibilities or seeking assistance independently, reinforcing their progress and self-advocacy skills.

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Celebrating Student Success Stories

Estrada shares a recent success story where a student, initially considering dropping out, underwent a transformative journey through advising. By providing resources, encouragement, and personalized guidance, the student explored alternatives, engaged with campus services, and ultimately committed to pursuing her academic goals with renewed enthusiasm.

The Impact of Effective Advising

Effective academic advising not only supports students academically but also contributes to their holistic development and overall well-being. By fostering meaningful connections, empowering students to navigate challenges, and celebrating their achievements, advisers play a pivotal role in shaping students' college experiences and preparing them for success beyond graduation.

Moreover, the positive outcomes of effective advising extend beyond individual students to benefit the entire campus community. Students who receive personalized support and guidance are more likely to persist in their studies, graduate on time, and pursue meaningful career paths. Additionally, by promoting a culture of engagement and support, academic advisers contribute to a campus environment that values inclusivity, collaboration, and student success.

Effective academic advising is a cornerstone of student success in higher education. By implementing strategies that prioritize active listening, empathy, and tailored support, advisers empower students to overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and realize their full potential. As exemplified by Angy Estrada's approach, investing in the well-being and academic success of students through meaningful advising practices yields invaluable rewards for individuals and institutions alike.

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