“No One Ever Told Me”: How Advisors Can Maximize Service and Minimize Risk through Effective Documentation

Student learning on laptop
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This article is an excerpt from Sue Ohrablo's acclaimed book High-Impact Advising: A Guide for Academic Advisors, which you can find here.

Electronic documentation has become an integral part of an academic advisor's daily life. Student records and notes are often maintained electronically, and email has been established as a preferred method of communication among students, faculty, and staff. No longer are advisor records locked securely in a file cabinet within the department; our records and communications are more transparent and accessible to a broader audience than ever before -- as colleagues within the department rely on accurate, timely notes for consistency in service, and departments throughout the institution may access these records to develop an historical perspective on a student.

"No one ever told me": five words that are sure to make an academic advisor cringe, yet are uttered all too frequently in higher education. The implications behind those words may range from mild frustration on the part of the student to the basis for a lawsuit. It is crucial for academic advisors, as well as all university personnel, to maintain accurate, timely student records and documentation. By ensuring that your documentation is clear, concise, and accurate, you can maximize the delivery of service to students and minimize risk to the institution.

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