Student Advisor Relational Process

Student Advisor Relational Process

Appreciative Advising Phases

Disarm: “To garner trust, advisors must make a positive first impression” (35).

Get to know your advisor. The initial meetings at the beginning of the semester are designated for this, but really take place over the course of your entire relationship with your advisor.

Discover: “The first component of the Appreciative Advising mindset embodies caring about and believing in the potential of each student. Although the potential for each student may not be completely obvious, the Appreciative Advisor always strives to see the extraordinary in the ordinary” (27).

Every 3 weeks your advisor will invite you to a meeting to continue to get to know you:

  • Things your advisor is here to help with:
  • How are you and your roommate getting along?
  • Where is home? Have you visited since coming to campus? Tell me about your family.
  • What is your favorite class? What do you like about it?
  • What kind of school did you attend previously?
  • What are your strengths? What are your hobbies?
  • If you’re struggling with a class, which one? Have you seen your professor?
  • Do you know what you would like to pursue after school?
  • Are you interested in any on campus activities?
  • How do you talk to your professors?
  • Planning course selection for future semesters?

Move into some deeper discovery questions:

  • “Describe a peak experience when you felt really good about yourself or what you accomplished.”
  • “Tell me a story about a time you positively impacted another person’s life.”
  • “Who are your two biggest role models? Why are they role models to you and what about them do you hope to emulate?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenge that you weren’t sure you could overcome, but in the end you were able to do so. How did you overcome the challenge? What lessons did this experience teach you?”
  • “Who had the biggest impact on your decision to come to NU? How did they impact you?”
  • “What were you doing the last time you lost track of time? When time just flew by and you looked up at the clock and thought it just must be wrong? (44-45)


Dream: “Creating a positive vision of the future is the first step in accomplishing dreams” (55).

When you meet with your advisor to plan your schedule, expect your advisor to take some time to learn about your dreams and how they may help you set goals to achieve them. Here are some questions you might expect:

“I am going to ask you some questions, but first I want to establish some ground rules. I want you to think big and not be restricted by the amount of education it takes, the probability of it happening, or other people in your life telling you it is impossible.

  • “Thinking big, what is your wildest dream for your future, including your future career?”
  • “Imagine that you are on the front cover of a magazine 20 years from now. The article details your latest and most impressive list of accomplishments. What is the magazine? Why have you been selected to appear on the cover? What accomplishments are highlighted in the article?”
  • “When you were approximately 9 years old and someone asked you, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up,’ what was your answer? What is your answer to that question now?”
  • “Imagine that you are at NU’s graduation ceremony a few years from now. What do you hope your fondest memories of this place will be? What skills will you have then that will serve you well in our career and life?”
  • “By the time you die, how is the world going to be a better place because you lived on this planet?”
  • “Twenty years from now, what will your ideal work day be like?”


For a student who has no idea what he/she wants to do or is thinking about a major change this guided imagining facilitation can be very helpful:

  • “Picture yourself eating breakfast before you go to work. Are you eating by yourself or with someone?”
  • “After breakfast, you step out of your door and glance around your house before leaving. What do you see? What are some things that mean something special to you at your house? As you look around your neighborhood, what do you notice? How are you feeling when you see your house and your neighborhood?”
  • “Now, imagine yourself heading to work. How are you getting there? Is your workplace close, or far? What are a few things you notice as you travel to work?”
  • “When you get to your workplace, what is the first thing you see?”
  • “As you walk into your workplace, how do you feel?”
  • “Take a moment to look at your workspace. What do you see? How many people are around you? Are you inside or outside?”
  • “What are you getting ready to do?”
  • “Now imagine the specific work you are getting ready to do today. What is the first thing you need to do today?”
  • “What is your day going to look like?”
  • “Are the day’s activities exciting, motiving, challenging?”
  • “What do you think is the significance of your job? Who do you impact? How do you make a difference?”
  • “When is it time for you to go to lunch? With whom do you go or do you prefer to have lunch by yourself? Where are you having your lunch?”
  • “As your workday comes to an end, how do you feel about yourself? What are some things you are particularly satisfied with or happy with?”
  • “What are you taking home with you?”


Four Corner Index Card Activity:

  • “Write down three to five adjectives that your family, peers, friends, or others will use to describe you in 10 years.”
  • “List the accomplishments that you will have already achieved in 10 years.”
  • “Imagine that in 10 years, a journalist interviews you and writes an article about you. What would the journalist mention in the article?”
  • “Draw a picture of yourself in 10 years. Be as specific as you can.”


Design: “Once an advisor understands the student’s vision for their future, they can co-create a plan to make the dream come true. . . In the Design phase, the advisor acts as facilitator and guide” (65).

Your advisor is here to help you design your academic journey and accomplish your academic goals. This can look very different for different students and over time, but may include planning classes, overcoming challenges, and involve working with other departments around campus:

  • Student Financial Services
  • Registrar’s Office
  • Writing Center
  • Academic Success & Advising
  • Career Services
  • Wellness Center
  • Volunteer opportunities off campus to gain valuable experience


  • These are some things you can expect from your advisor:

*Determine your goals and concrete steps to reach them.

*Teach you to track academic progress (insist you come prepared to advising appointments)

*If you come unprepared, they may kindly instruct you about what is needed and re-schedule for another time.


  • Transfer Report (if the student has any transfer credits) with NU credits added
  • Degree Template (if the student has no transfer credits) with credits added
  • Updated NU transcript
  • Plan for next semester’s classes


Deliver: “In the Deliver phase, the student executes the plan that was co-created in the Design phase” (87).

The Deliver phase takes place over the course of the years the student is at NU. An important part of the Deliver phase is advisors helping students overcome any obstacles along the way.

*Mindset is an important aspect to overcoming these obstacles. Help students see solutions rather than problems and failure as opportunity.


“I can’t help the fact that I’m always late to class. I have to work late.”


“If I get up when my alarm goes off, I’ll be on time. I need to make arrangements to not work late the night before I have early class.”


“My professor has it in for me.” What he/she says in class is not what is on the test.


“My professor is very knowledgeable about the subject. Maybe I just need to speak with him/her about why I am having a hard time and get help knowing what and how to study.”


Follow up with a list of assets and resources to help the student follow through with solutions rather than focus on problems.


*“Engender Academic Hope. . . If a student thinks that only one road leads to their destination, they will likely give up when faced with a roadblock. Instead, in the Deliver phase, Appreciative Advisors must not fail to remind students that there really is more than one right answer” (89).


Don’t Settle: “Appreciative Advisors build rapport with students for multiple reasons: Students who feel more comfortable sharing their hopes and dreams will be more likely to follow through on the plan that has been co-created with the advisor and will be more satisfied, as will the advisor, with the session. . . Motivational speaker John Wright Sr., reminded us that, ‘Our job as leaders is to help people become better than what they think they can become.’ Jim Collins (2001) asserted that few people attain great lives because ‘it is just so easy to settle for a good life.’ . . . The Appreciative Advising model does not espouse a touchy feely style of feel-good-for-no-good-reason approach; it demands that advisors work hard to understand human behavior and to use both theory and the stories of students to prevent young promising adults from settling for a good life as they aspire toward a great life” (97).

You can expect your advisor to:

*Strike the balance between challenge and support.

*Raise the bar as you grow in confidence.

*Help you maintain a virtuous cycle where improvement in one area begets improvement in another area. Help you notice and track those improvements.



Bloom, Jennifer, Bryant Hutson, Ye He. The appreciative advising revolution. Champaign, IL: Stipes. 2008.

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