“Isn’t your major in ice breakers?”
Believe it. I was asked that question. By a student that I’d advised for 4 months already. I think she was kidding but either way…. really?
I know better now. I open a new student advisee relationship with a two-prong approach: relationship and education. Educate at the beginning so shehe understand my role, the role of 1-on-1s, and what this relationship will look like. For me, the education piece encompasses the following:
- Expectations of the student
- What the student can expect of me
- Definition of an SA Advisor
Take a peak at some of the files I’ve created for these topics
These items are important but can’t trump the relationship piece of it all. If I follow just the bullet points above then I’m not doing justice to the individuality and wonderfulness that a new student-advisee relationship offers. The first few 1-on-1s are for relationship building. Sometimes that looks like me buying lunch for a student and hearing their story, other times its finding out their silly facts like favorite candy or life aspirations. I can’t help a student develop if I don’t understand the path walked up until this point.
I also have to remind myself that by asking a student to disclose I need to be willing to do the same. If I never share who I am then it never becomes a relationship. On the contrary, not sharing solidifies my status as an administrator and not an advisor. I do believe there is a difference between the two. An administrator know a student, an advisor understands a student. I have to share some of my own struggles and experiences. It humanizes me, brings me down from my 2nd floor office into the overcrowded tables of the common areas.
I’ve laid this out like a step-by-step but we know better. Building relationships with students is just like building relationships with anyone else. It’s hard. It takes time. It relies on mutual respect and that can only be earned when you have a common struggle, a common fight you can be teammates for.
Help me understand how you build relationships with advisees? Do you have any stories of times where it went well and times where it didn’t?