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 Gabby Barratt Heitmann (undergraduate), meets with Emily Lacroix (PhD student in Earth System Science).  Credit: Andrew Brodhead

Getting Started With Your Advisee

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As you begin your first meeting with an advisee, you may want to incorporate some of these tips to make your session welcoming for your students.

On this page: Your First Meeting • Reflection Questions

For a First Meeting with a New Advisee

Sharing your pronouns.  If you are comfortable doing so, it may be helpful to include your pronouns when you initially introduce yourself. This can allow students to share their own pronouns if they choose and helps to create an inclusive environment.  When you introduce yourself, we suggest taking a beat to follow up with a brief, “… and my pronouns are…”  The door is then open for students to share their own pronouns with you and/or the rest of the group if they wish.

Getting to Know Each Other.  Share something personal about yourself (hobbies, a great book you read recently, etc.).  This can be a great bridge to finding shared interests.  Talk about your role at the university, and a bit about the path that led you to where you are now.  How did you come to be interested in your field of research, and what do you love best about it? What made you decide to become a professor? 

Preparation and Transition.  You may ask: What are you most apprehensive about? What are you most excited about?  Ask them to tell you about their high school—this may seem like a simple question, but it can tell you a great deal about a student’s background, support, and academic preparation.

Setting Expectations.  Now is the time to clearly establish how your advising partnership will work. Invite them to talk about what they are hoping to get out of this relationship. For example: Do you like to get lots of information? Do you need help setting priorities or making decisions? Do you want a lot of reassurance? Share a bit about your own style and preferences. Let them know how you want to be addressed (students tell us they are often very uneasy about how to address faculty and other adults), what is the best way to reach you, and how do they make or cancel an appointment.

Reflection Questions

Reflecting on one's experience is an important part of the learning process. Some questions which may help students recognize what they have learned and how they have grown are:

  • What has surprised you this year? 
  • What, if anything, has disappointed you? 
  • What do you feel most proud of? 
  • What was the best thing you’ve read this year? 
  • What was the most interesting thing you’ve learned?  
  • How have you changed since arriving at Stanford?  
  • Is there something you wish you’d done this year that you didn’t do? 
  • What is your next step on your college journey?

“It is only through open-ended dialog, reflection, and discussion that the educational experience is personalized and integrated and as a result, becomes more meaningful and transformative.”

Wilcox, E. (2016). An end to checklist thinking: learning-centered advising in practice
Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Website