Mandatory Academic Advising

Some institutions of higher education require their students to meet with academic advisers to help them navigate the institution’s policies and procedures and increase their chances of academic success. Such mandatory advising can help students stay on track academically and connect with people and opportunities at their college or university, however forced meetings of this kind might also be perceived as overly intrusive for students who are legally regarded as young adults. Such advising might also use more of an advising program’s valuable time than it can easily afford. Do you think academic advising should be required for some or all college students? Is this kind of advising effective?

What is your opinion?

Filed Under: ,

Discuss This Article


  1. user gravatar
    Corey Ruderman

    My institution does manage a peer advising program and I would say that things are working out very well. The relationship between the advisor and the advisee is a mutualistic one. Each person benefits and grows from having met the other. This is because students feel more compatible with a peer educator who has similar learning styles and who approaches the world from a similar generational perspective. This compatibility allows for peer influence, which, in many situations, may be stronger than that of adults such as teachers, parents and other experts.
    Decades of research has determined that the single greatest influence on college student decision making during college years is the influence of other students.
    One of the most important outcomes of being a peer educator is an enhancement of your own growth in both knowledge and personal attributes. By assisting professional advising staff, peer advisors display significant improvements in leadership, gain interpersonal communication skills, increase peer-education relevant knowledge and create better personal health behaviors. As a peer advisor works to assist others, his/her sense of emotional well-being is heightened and his/her ability to resolve complex issues increases.
    Personally, I think that the Peer Advising Program is absolutely worth it. It teaches both parties, the advisor and the advisee, to be better students by being more knowledgeable and resourceful. The Peer Advising Program allows experienced students to offer the perspective of someone who has “been there before.” Peer advisors can share with you how they formed meaningful mentoring relationships with faculty, assist you in navigating online registration and help you learn how to distinguish what is merely popular from what is individually meaningful to you. I think it’s important to remember to give back to communities that have given to you, and I wanted to be able to provide new students with the same open arms that I received when I first came to UMass.

  2. user gravatar
    Corey Ruderman

    I can see how forced academic advising meetings might be perceived as overly intrusive but, coming from a school that has roughly 28,000 undergraduates, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd and feel as if you cannot turn to anyone with questions. Freshmen come to school not knowing much. They’re eager to experience their newfound freedom but when they first need to schedule classes, they’re lost. This is where mandatory academic advising comes in. Students need to know when to take certain classes, when to drop certain classes, how many credits to take in an allotted semester, how to plan out their schedule, which requirements need to be fulfilled at certain times, and etc. By having the first meeting be mandatory, it introduces students to the benefits of academic advising. For the first time, the student comes in because they are obligated to. But, after that, they’re more likely to return because they saw value in the meeting and see it as a valuable resource to continue to use throughout their academic career.

  3. user gravatar
    Sophia Gundersen-Herman

    Mandatory advising is one of many things that shatters the allusion that eighteen years old equates adulthood. College students may be deemed by the government legal adults, but without fully developed brains and in the stage before being completely independent. In today’s world a college degree is a large part of societal success and financial stability, and if mandatory advising meetings aid young adults to prosper in those goals I think their existence is necessary. Though it may use valuable time, what can be more valuable to a higher education institution than the success of its students?
    I believe this type of advising is highly effective as a means of keeping students on track. It is easy to go astray from goals or requirements in college; there are many options available and sometimes it is a struggle to decide what is the most effective way to success. Also, when advising is a choice it is easy for many students to prioritize other things over it. Therefore, I believe academic advising should be mandatory for all students, so that it becomes a priority and can help them achieve their goals.

  4. user gravatar
    Mirabella Pulido

    The topic of making academic advising mandatory was a very strong one at the first
    meeting I had with the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. At first, I was against
    making academic advising appointments mandatory for several reasons. For one
    thing, if students do not want to do something, they are not going to do it. So if they
    are forced to, then it is especially bothersome and it might reflect on how they value
    the experience in a negative way. Secondly, in college, we should be regarded as
    young adults that are responsible for making and executing our own decisions and
    forced meetings do not reflect our ability to do so. But as our conversation went on
    with about 20 other students, my perception on mandatory advising changed to
    supporting it. Yes, although it is an extra thing on the to-do list and it may be time
    consuming, it is meant to be helpful. Many students have no idea what they are
    doing with certain requirements or do not know things even exist, like classes, areas
    of campus, other requirements, resource centers, etc. Academic advising can open
    many doors simply by getting students out of their dorm rooms and exploring
    around campus to just get to the advising appointment. The main focus during the
    meeting was helping freshmen and opening their eyes to all of the opportunities
    UMass has to offer and to help make their transition into college smoother. Although
    it may be perceived as overly intrusive or bothersome, truly the only way to make
    sure all college students go to academic advising at least once a semester (or maybe
    once a year) is by making it mandatory. A hold on a SPIRE account is pesky, but it
    gets the message across. Academic advising is meant to be helpful and students do
    not realize this resource. Talking with a professional, getting advice, or simply just
    recognition for being on the right track are all positive and I think that we should
    reinforce that academic advising is open to all students. They help students stay on
    track academically, connect with peers and professionals, and open up
    opportunities that might have otherwise been left in the dark. Many times, we get so
    caught up in our busy schedules that we overlook how beneficial academic advising
    can be. Making appointments mandatory might be a little bothersome, but in the
    long run, the 30-minute appointment does much more good than it does harm.

  5. user gravatar
    Daniel Myers

    I believe in the importance of allowing students to grow and learn on their own as young adults. Colleges that coddle and carry students every step of the way to graduation are in no way preparing a young adult for the obstacles that face them after graduation. By allowing students to find answers to their questions themselves and find the motivation or the catalyst that forces them to go to an advising office. By having the internal response to go to an advisor students are learning and we are teaching them to take control of their future rather than having someone take control of it for you.

  6. user gravatar

    While helpful to many students I do not agree with this policy. College is about learning to take responsibility for ones actions and future. If a student chooses to attend advising sessions they will reap the benefits. If a student does not feel it necessary then they will deal with whatever consequences come from them missing this service. Students need to learn to stand on their own and take care of their own needs. If continually coddled into college years a young adult will never learn discipline and gain necessary skills to thrive.

  7. user gravatar
    Marc Isaac Boyd

    I believe that advising should be available to any student who wants it, and encouraged for every student, but not required. After all, nearly all of the information that academic and peer advisors have to offer a student can be found online, whether on a department’s website or through a system like Spire. The main benefit of one-on-one advising, I believe, is that a real person is there answering any questions you might have, perhaps explaining some of the more complicated requirements. But for some students it might be preferable to get their information online from the University, or maybe just more convenient. Every student of the University is, after all, a legal adult. While advising is a fantastic resource, not everyone needs or wants a stranger offering advice about their future. My own experience with advising as a freshman felt more like meeting with the Principal than someone who’s job it was to help me. While this particular experience might have benefited from simply meeting with someone friendlier, it did encourage me to answer my own questions about academic requirements and so forth on my own using my department’s website. I have since met with an academic advisor exactly zero times.

    While I don’t think this is or should be the typical experience, I believe it helps illustrate the fact that each student has different needs and we as advisors should be cognizant of that. Every student should be encouraged to meet with an advisor because it can be a helpful and informative experience, but they should also be made aware that all of the information regarding requirements and options for graduation are available online (if that is actually the case). The best philosophy to have as any sort of peer leader is, I think, to let the student be the guiding factor in the conversation about their future and how best to navigate their college experience. As long as they know there are people that can help when you ask for it, they can decide for themselves when they need it.

  8. user gravatar
    Sarah Troupes

    Academic advising is a vital part to academic achievement in college. It’s necessary for a multitude of reasons. Some of which include understanding academic requirements and being able to map out a course schedule to stay on track for graduation. It’s a great resource for students to be able to come to clarify questions that a college’s website isn’t able to answer. I personally have been able to go to an advising center to have questions answered and I ended up finding more tools and resources that I didn’t even knew existed.

    I think that academic advising should be required for all incoming freshmen and transfer students. It’s important that these students receive help when they enter college simply on the basis that they have no experience with the school and its requirements. It will be able to inform them of the resources available to them along with information about extracurricular activities as well.

    Mandatory academic advising is a tricky subject: there are both pros and cons to it. As valuable as this advising process can be it’s difficult to force every student to come to an advising appointment. Although it’s often the case that the students who are forced to come in are often those that haven’t taken the time to receive academic advise and are in need of it. Some people have a harder time seeking out help than others, I know this based off of personal experience. I often find myself putting off going to meet with an advisor because I don’t really know what questions to ask. But if I was forced to go I know I would have to take the time to go do it and I’m sure it would be beneficial and make me less stressed about what I have to get accomplished academically. At the same time having mandatory academic advising could also bring in a multitude of students who don’t actually need the help which would take away valuable time from the students who are in need of advise. I think that urging students to meet with an advisor at least once a semester would be advantageous for their academic success.

  9. user gravatar
    Chloe Brown

    Academic advising is essential to a student’s understanding of their academic requirements, academic opportunities, and academic growth. While students can read their requirements off a website, it’s easy to misunderstand administrative lingo, I know I have before. Sitting down with a person and having them simplify terms and let you know what steps to take next can be really reassuring to an overwhelmed freshman, or an anxious sophomore like myself. I’ve also found that meeting with advisors opens your eyes to academic opportunities, like classes within your field of interest. Also meeting with advisors helps you make connections with your campus in an academic way that allows you to grow within your university. I feel that it should definitely be required for freshman and sophomores, especially before registering for classes. Juniors and seniors should also be required to meet with advisors in order to make sure nothing will get in the way of graduating. However, students should not feel that these meetings are ways for the university to check in on us without actually helping us.
    As a double major, I meet with two different academic advisors. My two advisors perfectly reflect the positive and negative implications of required academic advising. Meeting with my primary major advisors is extremely frustrating. You make a 15 minute appointment and sit down with an advisor and discuss your requirements. Usually they tell you what you need to take and write it on a slip of note paper and send you out the door. After leaving the office, I can’t say I feel any more confident or assured in my academic standing, nor do I feel that the advisors really listen to my questions or concerns. It’s very similar to having a parent stand over you and watch you do your homework but not offer any help.
    Meeting with my secondary major is a totally different experience. The advisors in this office are interactive and enthusiastic. They sit you down and spell out what your requirements are, ask you what you’re interested in and suggest classes within the major that suit your academic interests. They also introduce students to student organizations, volunteer opportunities, and even internships that would complement their major. In my opinion this is how an advising office should work. It should be an interactive experience between the student and the university. Students should feel listened to, like they are an individual that the university cares about and wants to succeed.
    While I believe academic advising should be required, I also feel that these meetings should be more than just a check in for students. College students aren’t children, they are capable young adults who want to talk with people in their field and discover their growth potential at their school.

  10. user gravatar
    Diana Alsabe

    Permanently mandatory academic advising serves as both a blessing and a curse. It benefits us students by providing ample guidance throughout our college experience, and allows us to be well acquainted with resources on campus that we wouldn’t be able to find otherwise. Mandatory advising presents itself as a gift by introducing students to the vast myriad of opportunities on campus, ranging from academic majors, to resume workshops. Advisors also assist students by helping them organize their classes, and reach their personal goals.

    However there is a point in which academic advising also turns itself into a curse. For a moment, I am going to divert the focus of this argument from the academic realm to that of parenting. In the standard household, parents are often forewarned against over-the-top shadowing of their children, to a point that has been societally deemed “helicopter parenting.” Helicopter parenting has demonstrated itself to result in overdependent children, who often have difficulties acting independently or making decisions without the affirmation of their parents. This particular case of over-advising extends itself to the dangers of overindulgent advising, and may leave students in a similar position to children who have grown up with helicopter parents.

    One of the greatest merits of a college education, is the degree of independence that it equips every student with. We are individuals, both within small and large universities, who are set on self-chosen paths to accomplish a set of goals and graduate with a degree. Along this path, we roll around and pick up bits of education, logic and independence. Advising is an excellent guiding tool, however much like parenting, can be overused to a point wehre legally regarded young adults are both feeling somewhat intruded upon, and also gain a sense of excessive dependence on the advising system that hinders their ability to make decisions within the college setting independently. Legally speaking, any academic establishment, whether it be a high school or college, serves in a position that is titled “en loco parentis,” meaning “in the position of a parent.” With this legal term in place, we are able to inference that advisors really do have the right to guide students as much as the student needs, and direct them in ways that would benefit the student. The degree to which it should be mandated, should coincide directly with however much advising it takes to universally familiarize students with the opportunities the university has to offer. Introductory programs for freshmen (or first-years, if they are transfers) should always be mandatory, as they provide students with a wealth of knowledge about resources that they may not have been able to attain otherwise.

    Forced meetings are beneficial for students who refuse to seek advising and are imperative need of it. Routinely mandated meetings are a beneficial option because it pulls in students who may forget to seek advising, to do so. That being said, these meetings shouldn’t be constantly, but at least once a semester check-ins allow students, both the self-driven to seek advising independently, and those who may have forgotten to do so, to receive equally beneficial guidance from their advisors. Moderation is key; just as advising is an integral part of any college experience, an excessive and constantly mandatory system could be detrimental to the growth of a student’s independent decision-making abilities.

  11. user gravatar
    Nadia Rahgozar

    I feel that the debate surrounding academic advising can be seen in both a positive and negative light. As much as one may think that guidance in any form is a good thing, it also can be seen as a bad thing. The old saying tells it all, “too much of a good thing is never good.” To answer the question if academic advising should be required for some or all college students one must think of all the factors that go into academic advising, for both the advisor and the student. Coming from a university with over 20,000 students it is sometimes hard to feel like you have someone to look towards for help, since their are so many people around constantly. At my school, meeting with an academic advisor is not mandatory, but I still personally find myself visiting or speaking with my advisor on a pretty regular basis. I know of some students who have still never met with an advisor and they are in their junior year. For this reason, it is hard to say that academic advising should be seen as a mandatory requirement. I do feel that meeting with an advisor, if an academic one or a peer advisor is a positive thing because it helps relieve stress or prevent future issues that might arise for the student. I would say that meeting with an academic advisor should be mandatory once a semester, around the time that class selection is being made. The reasoning for this would be for both the student and advisor to catch up and get on the same page as far as what classes are left for the student to take, and what the advisor might need to do to help further the student in the right direction. To make this kind of advising effective I feel having it only be required a few times makes it less intrusive for students, and doesn’t take over advisors valuable time either. College students may be considered young adults, but that does not mean we do not need guidance or advise considering we are still learning to mature as a true adult. This way, students get the right amount of help and guidance, without it seeming forced. Being an academic advisor is a profession after all, which means they must have a purpose for being there when students need anything. I for this reason, think academic advising should be required for college students just once or twice a year to be the most effective.

  12. user gravatar
    Jackie Labonte

    Meeting with an adviser can help students achieve academic success and ensure them that they are on the right path for reaching their college goals. Being a peer adviser myself, it seems that often times students come into the office as juniors or seniors and are far behind on their requirements because they were unaware of what was academically expected of them. I think for this reason academic advising should be mandatory for all first year students, whether they are freshman or transfer students to the university.
    Transitioning to college life is never easy, with social, academic, and lifestyle changes all impacting you at a rapid pace. Some students do not know where to turn to on campus for support and are overwhelmed or unaware of their academic expectations. Academic advising for new students during their first two semesters on campus would be beneficial for their success as well as for the colleges’ success. It would allow students to ask any questions that they may have concerning their schedule, grades, planning, academic criteria, etc. It would also be very advantageous for the university because keeping an eye on their students would make sure that they have the tools to succeed and graduate on time, causing success rates at the university to increase.
    Students can easily access the tools to gain knowledge of how to plan their schedule online through their school website, but the majority of students need personal guidance for doing so. Advising new students would make it easier for them to find out where to get help. Also, it seems a lot of times students fail to seek help because they are unaware of where to get it. Freshman advising would avoid that problem, and I think many students that felt they benefited from the program would return the following semester for guidance.

  13. user gravatar
    Lindsay Feitler

    Coming from a school that has over 20,000 undergraduates it is very easy to get lost in the crowd and feel as though you have no one to turn to with questions about academics, how to get involved, or where to get tutoring, etc. If academic advising once a semester was made mandatory, I feel like it would relieve a lot of potential problems. At UMass Amherst, seeing an academic advisor is not mandatory but many students do take advantage of going to see their academic advisor whether they need help finding an internship, asking for a recommendation, or picking classes for the next semester.
    Regarding the statement that mandatory academic advising is “overly intrusive for students who are legally regarded as young adults”, I wholeheartedly disagree. We are YOUNG ADULTS, not “adults”. College students are in the transition from their teenage years to their adult years. College students, whether they would like to admit it or not, still need guidance to make sure that they are making the right decisions so they can become successful, independent adults.
    To make better use of the academic advisors time, I think universities should employ peer advisors that can also help with schedule planning that students can also go see to fulfill their mandatory advising session.
    I believe that it should become a mandatory rule that students should have to attend an advising session because even the 30-minute meeting can open student’s eyes to the multitude of resources that are available on campus. For example, last spring, I went to see my advisor and she told me that I would be a great peer advisor and strongly encouraged me to sign up for this class (SocBehav391P).

  14. user gravatar
    Sindi Nune

    I can relate to the notion that we are legally regarded as young adults and it might be perceived as intrusive but I can vouch that mandatory advising would be an enormous aid to students across the nation. Students need to know when to take certain classes, when to drop certain classes, how many credits to take in an allotted semester, how to plan out their schedule, how to plan outside their schedule, which requirements need to be fulfilled at certain times, and etc. Without our advisors, we would not know all of this information. It is the academic advisors job to aid students throughout their undergraduate career so why not take advantage of the resource that is always available to us?

    Coming from such a diverse campus, I have had enough experience to know that there are all kinds of students on campus. There are the slackers, the minimalists, the students who study all day and the students who do not need to study at all in order to achieve honorable grades. With these many personalities, comes the diversity of who comes in for advising. If a student does not care about their school work, they are also not going to pay much attention to the advising center that is on campus. If advising was mandatory, students would be forced to attend and forced to think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives, why they are in college to begin with, and all of these sorts of questions.

    This type of advising is effective because it enables the student to question their intentions and ambitions. It also allows them to notice all of the resources that are available at their disposal. Coming from a big campus, sometimes it is easy to forget that there are all kinds of help centers available for us to use. Through the advising appointments that I have personally attended, I have been led to the right resource centers and have been very grateful because without my advisor, I wouldn’t have known to go there for help.

  15. user gravatar
    Julie Voller

    Here in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at ASU, mandatory advising is targeted at students who need specific information: new freshmen for their first two semesters, new transfer students in their first semester, students who are on academic probation, and students who are “off track” for their major. I’d argue that the institution needs to be intrusive with students in those categories. We need to ensure they have the information they need, at those specific times. And I don’t think an e-mail or a “read this website” at those times can replace the benefits of personalized contact and information given by an academic advisor.

    So, yes, I do think academic advising should be mandatory for specific groups of students. And I do think it is effective, not only in delivering the personalized information but also for introducing students to the benefits of academic advising. Many come to see us the first time because they “have to,” but return later because they saw the value in meeting with the advisor.

  16. user gravatar

    I don’t think that pre-registration advising should be required for all students. Once students have demonstrated that they understand their degree requirements, financial responsibilities, and extracurricular opportunities they should be allowed to register without seeing an advisor (how to determine that those concepts have been mastered is beyond me!).

    Some of my students needs 30 minutes just on class selection and scheduling while some have everything all planned and written out and we spend 5 minutes on classes and the rest on undergraduate research, internships, and summer program opportunities. I only work with first year students and I think that a good majority of them benefit from required advising. Even my high achieving students admit that I was able to teach them something during our time together.


     ISSN: 1521-2211