Students’ Perceptions of Academic Advisors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Significance of the Study and Theoretical Framework

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are the places, where all African American students can get the necessary portion of education, improve their knowledge, and make their employment possible in the future. For a long period, HBCUs were the center of numerous struggles for equality and dignity of Black people (Allen, Jewell, Griffin, & Wolf, 2007). The success of such academic institutions depends on the abilities of tutors and advisors to analyze the needs and goals of their students and make use of students’ skills and abilities to turn ordinary Black Colleges and Universities’ students into experts in different spheres of life.

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At the same time, it is important to understand what students think about their academic advisors, how they accept the information offered by tutors, and if they enjoy the impact their academic advisors could have on them. One of the possible ways to gather the required portion of the material on the chosen topic is to rely on case studies and read how other writers and researchers describe the experience of students and their perceptions of academic advisors. Case study analysis is effective in situations when the author of the project cannot manipulate the behavior of people of the chosen institutions but has to cover the contextual conditions and explain how the information gathered from HBCUs’ students could help to discuss such topics as the quality of academic advisors’ help and compare their perceptions of academic advising in a particular context defined by the authors of case studies.

Three main concepts play a central role in the study: HBCUs’ students, academic advising, and students’ perception of advising. HBCUs’ students differ from ordinary students from local schools by their respect and perpetuation of culture and the intentions to improve the quality of Black community lives for their next generations (Allen et al., 2007). HBCUs help students to understand the worth of their social capital and achieve the required success by means of deep peer interactions, stimulating the environments, and the development of student-faculty contact. Though a number of HBCUs face some financial and social challenges, the ways of how the relations between students and advisors are developed there help students discover and use their best qualities.

Therefore, academic advising plays an important role in the lives of many students. First, students can choose the activities they find the most attractive and be sure that they could find additional help, explanations, and support in cases of emergency. There is no need to wait when certain time comes in order to ask for help. Students at HBCUs are free to ask for help and develop the required professional relations with the faculty as soon as they are in need of help. Academic advising in one of the key factors that influence college retention and student satisfaction (Young-Jones, Burt, Dixon, & Hawthorne, 2013). The evaluation of academic advisors should be based on several important factors such as the selection of advisors, the process of advising that include training and development, and the recognition of the rewards that could be observed after the implementation of certain advising practices. Case studies could help to observe what students think about different advisors’ approaches if they are satisfied with the support and help offered by advisors, and if the results of cooperation between students and advisors are positive.

As a rule, academic advising could be of two main types: prescriptive and developmental. At the core of this differentiation, there is the purpose of academic advising and the methods of how the information could be exchanged between advisors and students (Holmes, White, & Cooley-Doles, 2014). Both types have certain advising characteristics, and students take into consideration their own needs and expectations to comprehend what style of academic advising is more appropriate for them. Prescriptive advising is appropriate for new students, who cannot understand what kind of work to begin with and what results they have to expect. Developmental advising focused on student self-actualization and the necessity to promote personal development (Holmes, White, & Cooley-Doles, 2014).

The main challenge is that there is no certain theory of academic advising that that could be applied to this study. It is possible to take some concepts from educational or social science theories and find some explanations in the chosen case studies. The achievements of Creamer and Creamer and their colleague Crookston in the middle of the 1990s could be used to introduce a theoretical basis of the study under consideration. Prescriptive and developmental approaches of academic advising and such factors as student satisfaction, college retention, moral development and career development should be taken into consideration.

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Importance of Research and Theoretical Framework

Any educational process is the collection of activities that have their own order and impact on students. Academic advisors should take responsibility for an educating process and analyze the current achievements and possible improvements. For example, research developed by Holmes, White, and Cooley-Doles (2014) informs about the necessity for students to choose what kind of academic advising they prefer and clarify the reasons for their choices. Prescriptive advising is for new students, who should have and rely on comprehensive guidelines offered by their academic advisors. From a theoretical point of view, the goal of this approach is to teach students identify their needs and clarify the expectations of student-faculty cooperation. Developmental advising is another type of academic work that could be offered to HBCUs’ students. Developmental advising is a chance for students to demonstrate their skills, understanding of the tasks, and personal abilities to organize their work, complete their functions as the students of HBCUs, and cooperate with tutors and advisors effectively.

The major topics of research that should be examined could be divided into three main groups: preparation, advising process, and rewards. Students’ perceptions of academic advising from the case studies could vary depending on the attitudes of students to their educational process and the abilities of advisors to meet their responsibilities. First, it is necessary to understand what academic advisors do in order to get ready for cooperation with students. Students’ perceptions could depend on the level of advisors’ education, their past experience, and awareness of current needs of their students (Young-Jones et al., 2013).

Then, students’ perceptions should touch upon the advising process itself. It is necessary to investigate how the advising process is organized, what students’ roles are, how advisors identify their own roles, and what expectations are established. As soon as the advising process is analyzed, students’ and advisors’ should compare their expectations and achievements and conclude if there are some differences and similarities. The more similarities could be observed, the better results could be achieved. Students have to understand that their perceptions and their understanding of what advisors could do to promote their educational development influence their future in a variety of ways. If students gain certain rewards after the process of academic advising, they could use them in their future, learn how to use their communicative skills, and improve their social situation and employment opportunities (Allen et al., 2007).

In general, the review of the theories (prescriptive and developmental theories of advising), the analysis of academic advising, and the role of students’ perceptions help to clarify the worth of educational processes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The behavior of students described in case studies become the main sources of information. The quality and academic advising methods serve as the main criterion according to which students’ perceptions could be classified. The study should help to underline the importance of advisors in the lives of their students and to clarify the opportunities students could get. HBCUs may serve as successful examples of how academic advising should be organized. Two different ways of advising have their own characteristics and outcomes that could be observed students’ academic and professional lives, and advisors should realize that their attitudes and abilities define the quality of knowledge offered to students. With the help of the offered reviews, it is possible to reexamine the purposes of academic advising and choose the activities that meet the needs of students in the most effective ways.


Allen, W.R., Jewell, J.O., Griffin, K.A., & Wolf, D.S. (2007). Historically black colleges and universities: Honoring the past, engaging the present, touching the future. The Journal of Negro Education, 76(3), 263-280.

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Holmes, K. Y., White, K. B., & Colley-Doles, J. (2014). Rethinking teaching and advising: Strategies for integrating the principles of student-centered teaching into the advising process at a historically black university. In K. Y. Holmes, E. A. W. Duncan, & T. E. Zinn (Eds.), Diverse Perspectives in College Training (pp. 56-63). Web.

Young-Jones, A. D., Burt, T. D., Dixon, S., & Hawthorne, M. J. (2013). Academic advising: Does it really impact student success? Quality Assurance in Education, 21(1), 7-19.

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