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09 Dec 5 Ways to Save Time, Energy, and Stress When Advising Undergraduates Or Graduate Students

When you serve as a student’s formal or informal advisor, you make a difference in his/her life. To be able to serve well – and not put yourself over the edge in terms of time and energy invested, here are five ways to save yourself time, energy, and stress when advising.

  1. Have forms that you usually need easily accessible. You may have particular forms and documents printed out and in a handy place for use when advising or you may have those webpages bookmarked for ready access during an advising appointment or phone call.
  2. Have Facebook (or Google) chats. If you use an application that allows for chats, you can let your advisees know that if they see you there (or if you’ve scheduled a time), then they may ask quick advising questions. Teach them the difference between “chatting” with you about advising and “chatting” chatting with their friends about…whatever. They need to learn what’s appropriate. You aren’t their friend, friend. You are their advisor. Remember…use whichever of these ideas work for you. I know this one is uncomfortable for some but I wanted to put it out there anyway for others.
  3. Record the most common responses that you provide via email (or even face-to-face) so that you have them written out and ready to send when particular questions get asked again. You can save a bank of responses to questions in one Word document and then pull them up to cut and paste when a student asks a standard question. This is one to invest a few minutes…save hours (and hours).
  4. Create an FAQ page just like we expect to see on many websites. You can either put the FAQ on your website or use it to hand out to students. You can spend more time on quality advising if you are not dinking around (a technical term) giving students basic information over and over.
  5. Schedule “The Doctor Is In” times – by phone. One of my favorite people gave me a sign that said, “The Doctor Is In,” which I could also turn over to “Out.” It was a great way to let students (or others) know if I was available or not. I later extended that phrase to let people know that I was available by phone during certain times. On my schedule it just said, “The Doctor Is In” call in time. Advisees and others knew that I would be “standing by” to assist. If no one called, I didn’t sit and twiddle my thumbs; I had other work I could do, but usually students used that time. Most were glad to be able to call and get a quick question answered and get right back off the phone. They are busy; you are busy. This acknowledges that and uses everyone’s time wisely. Note: I have also used “The Doctor Is In” call-in times using a bridgeline (e.g., AllFreeConference.com ). This allows multiple people to call in and so sometimes students can listen in and hear answers to other general questions – some of which they hadn’t even thought to ask. It’s a nice option.



Meggin McIntosh

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