It is vital to the intellectual excellence and vitality of any program, to the successful inclusion of historically underrepresented groups in the academy, and to the launching of successful careers both within and beyond higher education. For the faculty, it is a key to sustaining a graduate program that enhances the intellectual community and the faculty member’s own research agenda.
Advisors are responsible for supporting and overseeing students’ scholarly and professional development. Doing so requires careful listening in order to understand the student’s goals, constructive counsel, regular meetings, and timely feedback, as well as concrete advice on course selection, program requirements, scholarly presentations, and publications.
The best advising includes mentoring, where mentoring is understood as an active process by which faculty advisors establish and foster structured and trusting relationships with graduate students by offering guidance, support, and encouragement aimed at developing their competence and character. Mentors listen actively to mentee’s concerns and care about their personal and professional well-being. Mentors want to help graduate students further develop their strengths, work through challenges, achieve academic excellence, and advance professionally in career paths of the student’s choosing (not their own). Mentors act as advocates and role models for their mentees and are committed to helping graduate students meet their personal and professional goals. While graduate students should be encouraged to develop a network of mentors, the advisor is expected to play a leading role.
In recognition of how busy faculty are, we have sorted through a wide range of materials and offer here those that we have found most helpful. They are intended to enhance effectiveness without requiring dramatically more time.