Nearly a Quarter of First-Year Students Meet With an Academic Advisor Just Once

Posted By Terri Williams on September 4, 2015 at 11:48 am
Nearly a Quarter of First-Year Students Meet With an Academic Advisor Just Once

Research shows that academic advising is critical to a student’s success in college, in terms of retention, GPA, graduation rates and more. However, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement, 33% of first-year students met with an academic advisor less than two times – 23% met with an advisor just once, and 9% never met with an advisor. On such matters as academic interests, course selections, major requirements and academic performance, those students chose to seek advice from a variety of other sources, or not at all.

The chart below lists the various sources used by first-year students who rarely met with advisors, versus those who met with an advisor at least twice during the school year:

Primary Source of Advice Rarely met with advisor Met with advisor at least twice
Faculty members 23% 16%
Friends or other students 21% 13%
Academic advisor(s) assigned to you 16% 41%
Faculty or staff not formally assigned as an advisor 11% 10%
I did not seek academic advice this year 10% 3%
Website, catalog, or other published sources 7% 4%
Academic advisor(s) available to any student 6% 10%
Online advising system (degree progress report, etc.) 5% 2%
Other source 2% 1%


The study also found a correlation between how many times first-year students met with academic advisors, and their perception that the school provided a supportive environment.

First-year students who met with academic advisors more frequently felt there was a greater emphasis on the following:

  • Academics
  • Socialization
  • Personal support
  • Diverse interactions
  • Campus activities and events
  • Help and wellness support

Students who did not meet regularly with academic advisors were more likely to say their school provided “some” or “very little” academic support. In addition, students who did not meet regularly with academic advisors were more likely to be commuters, part-time, and non-traditional aged students.

Why is academic advising so important?

GoodCall spoke with Debra Kyriacou, Director of Academic Services at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. She says, “Academic advisement is not just about picking courses. When an academic advisor meets with the student, he or she learns about the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and future career goals.”

Kyriacou says research proves that academic advisement is an important piece of student success, and that the advisor is a valuable resource of information for the student. She adds, “The advisor shares information on course offerings and degree requirements, and also helps the student understand how to meet these requirements.”

Academic advising may also play a role in determining a student’s decision to remain in college or not. In “The Role of Academic Advising in Student Retention and Persistence,” author Jane Drake recalls a time when one of her students wanted to drop out of college. He was a shy person who didn’t feel connected to other students and was afraid to speak in class.

However, Drake helped him develop a strategy to bolster his confidence. He started by asking one innocent question in class about an assignment – a question that none of the students would possibly criticize him for asking. This built up his self-assurance and he soon started asking other questions, and gradually became a regular contributor in his classes. The student also worked with the advisor to develop an academic road map to help him reach his goals. He graduated summa cum laude and even attended graduate school. This student is now married with children, and says the experience with his advisors helped shape his life and how he interacts with his children.

According to Drake, this is an example of how important it is for students to have someone to build a relationship with. Students need academic advisors to help encourage them and find ways for them to connect when they feel disconnected. Knowing that they can find a sympathetic ear from a trusted campus authority who cares if they stay or leave the college – and can help them develop a plan for success – can make the difference in student retention and persistence levels.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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