Providing central coordination for the undergraduate advising, career services & learning support communities

Academic Advising Core Competencies

These competency statements were developed to provide guidance for hiring, training, professional development, and performance review of individuals with academic advising responsibilities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

They are intended to reflect a core set of competencies common across schools, colleges and advising units, with the understanding that individual advising units may interpret the competencies differently and can add additional competencies depending on the advisor’s role and the student population(s) with whom the advisor works.

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Knowledge of Undergraduate Students

  • Know student development, career development, and student learning theories
  • Understand demographic characteristics of UW-Madison students
  • Understand the unique characteristics of specific student populations (first-generation, underrepresented students, international, returning adults, transfers, etc.)
  • Are familiar with generational characteristics and trends

Understanding of Higher Education and UW–Madison

  • Are familiar with the purpose and goals of higher education
  • Are aware of equity, access, and achievement issues in higher education and at UW-Madison
  • Understand the “Wisconsin Idea” and the “Wisconsin Experience”

Knowledge of Academic Disciplines, Requirements, Policies, and Options

  • Have a fundamental understanding of the academic discipline(s) in which advising takes place
  • Help students make the connections between requirements and educational/disciplinary objectives
  • Know degree and major requirements
  • Understand program admission requirements and processes
  • Know academic policies, procedures, deadlines

Familiarity with the Advising Profession

  • Understand the role of academic advising in undergraduate education
  • Understand the structure of academic and career advising at UW–Madison
  • Are familiar with campus and national advising trends


Demonstration of Ethical Advising Practice

  • Effectively apply FERPA guidelines and confidentiality protocol
  • Understand professional liability and legal issues in advising
  • Exhibit appropriate boundaries with students


Effective Use of Campus Resources

  • Understand, utilize, and collaborate with campus units such as academic dean’s offices, Office of the Registrar, Office of Student Financial Aid, etc.
  • Appropriately refer students to academic and learning support resources
  • Are familiar with enrichment, leadership and co-curricular options
  • Appropriately refer students to mental and physical health resources


Effective Use of Career Resources

  • Understand the career development process
  • Are able to begin a career conversation with students
  • Appropriately refer students to career advising resources on campus
  • Help students make the connection between their educational experience and post-graduation options

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Engage in self-reflection around diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Are aware that  social identities (nationality, race, social class, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation, etc.) influence experience 
  • Understand how social identities, power, and privilege affect both advisor and student experience, as well as the advising relationship

Communication Skills

  • Employ active listening techniques
  • Ask effective questions
  • Encourage student reflection
  • Demonstrate effective presentation skills
  • Exhibit effective written and email communication
  • Communicate effectively across cultural differences

Interpersonal Skills

  • Establish rapport
  • Establish appropriate boundaries
  • Balance challenge and support with students
  • Make appropriate and effective referrals
  • Collaborate effectively with colleagues
  • Empower students to develop educational and career planning skills


Effective Use of Advising Technologies and Tools

  • Undergraduate Catalog
  • Student record systems
  • Enrollment tools
  • Effective documentation

Knowledge of Self

  • Practice self-reflection and self-awareness
  • Articulate a personal advising philosophy
  • Explore individual social identities and how they affect advising practice and philosophy
  • Recognize own professional strengths and limitations
  • Demonstrate a healthy work-life balance
  • Exhibit self-direction
  • Engage in ongoing professional development

In spring 2013 a sub-committee of the Council on Academic Advising (CAA) created this list of core competencies for academic advising at UW-Madison. The draft was vetted across campus and revised to incorporate feedback from the broader UW–Madison advising community, with small adaptations since.