Communicating With Your Advisee

Best Practices: Advising Questions

Asking questions that are thoughtful and focused on your advisee can help your advisee feel comfortable and trust you as well as provide you with important information to help guide them in the right direction.

  1. What brings you in today?

    Sometimes this question can come as a surprise to a student because they assume you know why they are there, especially if it if required for them to meet with their advisor. Asking this is helpful to get the conversation started and help the student take ownership of their advising relationship.

  2. How is your semester going? What do you like most about your classes? When your friends or family ask about Humboldt, what do you tell them?

    These type of questions help you ascertain your advisee's level of well-being and happiness, both at Humboldt and in their major

  3. What have you learned about your major so far that surprises you?

    From there you can lead into a discussion about whether their major is a good fit. Sometimes students will be hesitant to share if they are struggling or unhappy in their major. They don't want to offend you. It is important to read into their answer and look for nonverbal cues. It is helpful to remind them that you are most concerned about their well-being and success, even if it means they will change majors. 75% of Humboldt students change majors, so it is very possible they may not stay with their declared major. Helping them figure that out early will help them more in the long run.

  4. What classes did you like the most last/this semester? The least? Why?

    This can help garner further information about how good the fit is for them in their major as well as possible suggestions to refer to available resources.

  5. Tell me about your plans after you graduate from Humboldt? What types of careers are you interested in?

    Exploring the major from the career perspective can help identify any gaps in expectations about the major or career.

  6. What other interestes do you have? Are you involved in clubs or other activities on campus?

    Again, shows that you care about the person as well as the student. It also gives you opportunities to encourage campus involvement, which lead to greater sense of belonging and increased retention.

  7. Have there been any particular difficulties you have encountered?

    This could relate to any area of the students life-personal, academic, at work, home, etc. You don’t have to solve their problems, but being aware of what they are dealing with will allow you to refer appropriately as well as show them they are not alone.

  8. What courses are you thinking of taking next semester?

    Asking them for their suggestions before offering yours helps reaffirm the advising partnership and extends ownership to the student. It is not just you telling them what to take, but together, you develop the best plan for the student.

  9. In addition to your studies, what other responsibilities do you have such as work or commitments?

    It is im-portant to have a broader understanding of the commitments and responsibilities students have as these will affect their class schedule. They may need to take less credits, or it may be necessary to put off more rigorous courses (if possible) for a future semester when/if the demands are not so high.

  10. Have you thought about other ways to enhance your degree?

    Completing a minor, studying abroad, internships, taking on leadership roles in clubs and activities?

  11. Tell me about any campus resources you've used or are familiar with?

    Learning Center, Academic and Career Advising Center, etc. If you can engage in a discussion of which ones they use, you reinforce the availability of resources and the importance of taking advantage of the support offered at Humboldt.

  12. Is there anything else you would like to discuss?