Skills, Knowledge and Attitudes Required for Good Academic Advising

"An Academic Advising Model" by Terry O'Banion

The O'Banion model originally appeared in the AAJC Journal, March 1972, and was subsequently widely circulated with permission by the ACT Corporation as part of compilation of advising resources prepared by David Crockett and Wes Habley. Used with permission of the ACT Corporation.

O'Banion suggests that advising is most effective when it proceeds from an exploration of students' life, vocational, and educational goals. He views advising as much more than the verification of completion of degree requirements. The advisor does not need to be a professional counselor in order to explore with students some of the hierarchical concepts outlined below. Nor does it necessarily require much time to consider with students where they see themselves with regard to their development, and their awareness and the appropriateness of the choices they are considering.


  • Knowledge of student characteristics and development.
  • Understanding of the decision-making process.
  • Knowledge of psychology and sociology.
  • Skills in counseling techniques.
  • Appreciation of individual differences.
  • Belief in worth and dignity of all.
  • Belief that all have potential.
EXPLORATION OF VOCATIONAL GOALS (all under #I above plus the following)
  • Knowledge of vocational fields.
  • Skill in interpretation of tests.
  • Understanding of changing nature of work in society.
  • Acceptance of all fields of work as worthy and dignified.
  • Knowledge of programs available in the college.
  • Knowledge of requirements of programs (special entrance requirements, fees, time commitments).
  • Knowledge of university requirements for transfer programs.
  • Knowledge of how others have performed in the program.
  • Knowledge of follow-up success of those who have completed the program.
  • Knowledge of courses available.
  • Knowledge of any special information regarding courses (prerequisites, offered only in certain times, transferability, does the course meet graduation requirements? What is the appropriate sequence for the university?)
  • Rules and regulations of the college regarding probation and suspension, limit on course load (academic and work limitations).
  • Knowledge of honors courses or remedial courses.
  • Knowledge of instructors and their teaching styles.
  • Knowledge of student's ability through test scores, high school record.
  • Knowledge of course content.
  • Knowledge of schedule.
  • Knowledge of the systems of scheduling and changing the schedule.
  • Knowledge of employment and commuting requirements.


  • Exploration of Life Goals
  • Exploration of Career/Educational Goals
  • Selection of Educational Program
  • Selection of Courses
  • Scheduling of Classes