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Advising Models

Strengths Based Advising

Strengths-based advising is a powerful approach for helping students understand their own strengths and capitalize on them for success.  Rather than delineating the areas in which the student is likely to experience problems, or outlining “risk factors” that may make success difficult for the student, a strengths-based approach starts with an entirely different assumption: that by becoming more aware of their strengths, students will be motivated to set goals, achieve at a higher level, make better choices, and complete the tasks they set out to achieve.

Advisors using a strengths-based approach help students envision future possibilities and learn to leverage talents to address obstacles that may emerge in the future.  Research conducted at Eastern University (Schreiner, 2000) found that students randomly assigned to a strengths-based advising approach as first-year students were significantly more satisfied with their advising experience than were those in the control group with advisors who used the traditional model.

To begin employing a strengths-based advising approach, advisors must approach initial advising sessions with the following goals in mind:

a) to build a positive relationship with the student and discuss what the advising relationship is all about,

b) to introduce the student to the strengths philosophy,

c) to explore the student’s strengths and goals for their college experience, and

d) to discuss their academic plan and determine courses that are an appropriate fit.

Components of Strength-Based Advising

IDENTIFY - Assess and identify strengths

AFFIRM – Increase student’s awareness and affirm their strengths

ENVISION – Discuss objectives and how their strengths can help them reach their goals

PLAN – Generate an action plan for meeting goals.

APPLY– Help students identify the skills and knowledge that will develop their strengths. Teach them to apply their strengths to challenges they face.

Assess and identify strengths

  • What subjects did you enjoy the most in high school?

  • What did you learn easily in high school?

  • What did your teachers compliment you on?

  • What do your friends say they like best about you?

  • What fascinates you?

  • Tell me what you like to do in your free time.

Affirm Increase awareness of strengths

  • Which of your strengths do you feel are most characteristic of you?

  • Talk to at least three people who know you well. How do they see your strengths operating in your life?

  • In what settings do you most frequently use these strengths?

  • How have these strengths helped you succeed in the past?

Envision and discuss aspirations/dreams

  • What would be your dream job?

  • Where do you see yourself as graduation approaches?

  • In what settings do you most frequently use these strengths?

  • How have these strengths helped you succeed in the past?

Generating a personal success plan

  • Using the student’s goals and aspirations, develop a plan of action.

  • Include details that help define HOW the student will progress toward their desired outcomes.

  • Discuss strengths and how those will help the student succeed.

  • Identify campus resources, including activities, student support offices, and specific faculty who might be of assistance.

Apply strengths-based problem solving

  • Talk through challenges. Ask the student what strengths might help them deal with specific issues.

  • Know when (and where) to refer students if progress is blocked either by a known or unknown factor.

  • When referring students, follow up on the referral where appropriate.


 Electronic Advising Files

Electronic advising files can be accessed through WinFiles.  Instructions for accessing and maintain electronic advising files are posted in the Faculty Advisor Resources section of the Academic Advising website at:

Advising files, when used in conjunction with advising tools in WebAdvisor, are valuable information resources. Faculty may find the following information items in advising files:

  • Student Data Sheet

  • Linfield Transcript

  • High School Transcript

  • Provisional Admission requirements (if student was provisionally admitted)

  • Advising Notes Page

    A student who has transferred college credit to Linfield will also have the following documents in their electronic advising file:

  • College transcripts (if student has transfer credit)

  • Transfer Equivalency Report

  • Program Evaluation Report

    Faculty advisors are encouraged to maintain and update their advising files with additional information, including:

  • Notes recording advising meeting dates, discussion points, and recommendations

  • Class schedules

  • LC worksheet and/or printed copy of long-term academic plan

  • Major / minor specific advising worksheets