Inclusive Advising: Ensuring Success for our First-Generation Students and Students of Color
Student Success is a division of both the Office of the Provost (academic affairs) and Student Affairs and Campus Life. We create and contribute to campus-wide approaches and programs that increase student retention, support progress toward degree completion, build campus partnerships, and support holistic student learning and development.
We understand that first-generation students and students of color have unique experiences while working towards their degrees. This resource aims to help advisors be inclusive when working with first-generation students and students of color to facilitate their success. This resource is not exhaustive. Instead, it serves as a starting point for incorporating inclusive practices into your work. We also encourage you to take advantage of the resources below for more information.
Why Advising Matters
Academic advising, and the sense of belonging created for students through positive advising interactions, is central to student retention and persistence (Tinto, 1987; Tinto, 2016). The interactions between students and faculty/staff facilitated through advising have the power to demonstrate to students that they are valued members of the campus community, that they are seen, and that they can succeed. The relationship between advising, sense of belonging, and retention and persistence makes clear the importance of practicing inclusive advising to foster connections and success for all students.
- Modeling respect - Help create a safe space, validate students’ experiences, feelings, and opinions even when they differ.
- Active listening - Ask students their viewpoints, listen to understand before responding, Ask clarifying questions.
- Encourage self-awareness - Ask students to reflect on their opinions and decisions. Ask them to think about what they need to achieve their goals and where they are on that journey.
- Ask, don’t assume - Proceed as if you do not know anything specific about a student’s experience, upbringing, status, and culture and ask regardless of what information you have written before you. Each student’s case is unique and should not be generalized.
- Assess and improve- Take time to acknowledge what you as an advisor have done well and where you can do better and need support.
- Understand Position Dynamic - In most cases, students see advisors as people with power, acknowledge that and remind them that together you and the student are a team working towards their set goals and you are using your power to help them.
- Insensitive remarks- These are any remarks that may undermine or downplay a student’s knowledge, backgrounds, or experiences.
- Belittling jokes- These are jokes that point out a specific aspect of a student’s social identity for an intended laugh and while the intent may not always be malicious, they are still wrong.
- Non-Inclusive language - When addressing students, you may not know specific aspects of their identity (gender, sexuality, race, etc.) so you refer to a group of students as “guys” or a feminine presenting person as “she” without asking them their pronouns.
- Stereotyping- Assuming about a student based off of an overgeneralized notion about a group.
- Hostility -Feelings of opposition, unkindness, or unfriendliness toward someone.
- Othering and name-calling - Terms that insult individuals or specific groups, they may have historical significance.
Appreciative Advising: 6 Ds
- Disarm – Recognize the importance of first impressions, create a safe, welcoming environment for students.
- Discover - Utilize positive open-ended questions to draw out what they enjoy doing, their strengths, and their passions. Listen to each answer carefully before asking the next positive question.
- Dream - Help students formulate a vision of what they might become, and then assist them in developing their life and career goals.
- Design – Help students devise concrete, incremental, and achievable goals
- Deliver – The students follow through on their plans. The advisor is there for them when they stumble, believing in them every step of the way and helping them continue to update and refine their dreams as they go.
- Don’t Settle – The advisor challenges the student to proactively raise the student’s internal bar of self- expectations.
Citation:Bloom, J. L., Hutson, B. L., & He, Y. (2008). The appreciative advising revolution. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing.
- Begin Building Relationships on Day 1 - Try to meet with your students during orientation if time permits. If not, try to meet them during the first month of classes. A personal welcome email can help, it \goes a long way on such a big campus.
- Be Prepared for Advising Appointments - Advisees will feel more welcomed if you ensure you are prepared for the appointment. Make sure the office and desk area is warm and inviting.
- Ask Questions and Make Appropriate Referrals- Advisors should ask pointed and detailed questions to really get to know their students and make a connection
- Maintain Regular Contact with Advisees- Maintain regular, ongoing contact with students by sending emails; follow up regarding their mid-term grades; reach out any time an early alert is received from a faculty member; and use social media to your advantage.
Guiding Questions to Ask
- How has your adjustment been to (your new courses, campus life, professors, jobs, internships etc.)?
- What do you feel you need at UMASS to be more successful?
- Have you connected with any groups and organizations? Which ones?
- Have you sought tutoring or help in any of your classes? Why or why not? Could that help?
- Do you feel comfortable in your classes?
- This course requires a high level of _____. What is your ____ background? Do you feel comfortable registering for this course?
- I see you do well in ____ courses. Have you considered a major or minor in ____?
- Are you experiencing any difficulties with your class materials?
- Do you feel safe on this campus? How can I help provide you with a safer environment to ensure you succeed?
- UMASS Amherst Office of Equity and Inclusion- Antiracism, Diversity & Inclusion Resources
- UMASS Amherst The Stonewall Center Pronouns
- UMASS Amherst The Stonewall Center LGBTQIA+ Foundations and Allyship web course
- UMASS Amherst Office of Student Success First Generation Resources
- UMASS Amherst Disability Services Resources
- UMASS Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts English as Second Language Resources
Off Campus Resources
- EAB Insights: Want to talk about racism with other education leaders? These are the important terms you need to know.
- The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal View of Proactive Advising with First Generation Students
- NACDA: Intrusive advising 101: How to be intrusive without intruding
- NACDA-Appreciative Advising