Inclusive Advising


  • Do not make assumptions about what advisees already understand about university life
  • Provide as much information as possible about how to navigate university and college processes, using different methods such as verbal communication, handouts, email, diagrams, pamphlets, maps, etc.
  • Provide resources beyond academic resources such as campus life, mental and physical health, social activities and dilemmas, and family support
  • Consult UMKC Student Disability Services to find additional support accommodations


  • Accommodate faith-based observances and cultural holidays
  • If you decorate for holidays, ensure you represent a variety of religious and cultural holidays
  • If you have decorations in your office, ensure that different cultural, racial and gender identities are represented

Advising Climate

  • Ask advisees for the phonetic pronunciation of their names and use the pronunciation to address and identify them
  • Ask advisees for their pronouns, and use their pronouns accordingly
  • Recognize that all of your advisees have multiple identities that inform their cultural practices, beliefs, behaviors and expectations.
  • Acknowledge that because someone does something differently than you would expect does not make it wrong
  • Recognize that you have multiple identities that inform your cultural practices, beliefs, behaviors and expectations
  • Reflect on how your multiple identities differ from your advisees' practices, beliefs and behaviors, and how that might affect your advisees' success at the university
  • Recognize the power you hold as an advisor and consider how this dynamic may affect an advisee's ability to ask for help, provide feedback or respond to a request
  • Monitor the assumptions you make about your advisees and work to challenge negative assumptions or biases that do not support your advisees' success
  • Advisees may have varying ideas about what is helpful for them. Seek to understand their perspective before offering yours, particularly when there is disagreement


  • Ask your advisees questions about themselves and actively listen to their answers.
  • Recognize that not all advisees will feel comfortable sharing or may need multiple interactions to feel comfortable enough to do so
  • Do not pressure advisees to share information about themselves
  • Share information about yourself, but do not overshare or take up too much time
  • Use intrusive and proactive advising techniques; meet advisees outside of the office environment, go with them to their appointments, personally introduce them to relevant personnel, etc.
  • Validate advisees' experiences; do not challenge or negate the experiences of your advisees
  • Verbally express and affirm your advisees' ability to be successful.
  • Take note of advisees with which you struggle to maintain contact. Are there other methods of connecting that might be more effective?
  • Regularly ask your advisees for feedback on what has or has not been effective in your advisor-advisee relationship
  • Understand that intention is not the same thing as impact.; the impact of what you say or do may be harmful even when you do not intend it
  • Make repairs when harm is caused even when the harm is not fully understood
  • Admit mistakes openly and model your own self-improvement
  • Ask open-ended questions to gather information about advisees' academic performance.
    • What classes do you think you performed best in?
    • Why do you think you performed better in that class?
    • What do you think is the relationship between your grade and what you have learned in that class?

Other Considerations

  • How can l build trust with advisees?
  • How am I empowering advisees to take risks and be confident in their ability to be successful?
  • Am l making assumptions about advisees' knowledge of the higher education process?
  • In what ways can I support advisees' transitions through the higher education process?
  • How can l infuse issues of social justice and civic engagement in our advising relationship?

Additional Resources

  • Kirwan Institute Implicit Bias Module Series
  • Inclusive Excellence Toolkit from the University of Missouri
  • Ukpokodu, O.N. (2010). "How a sustainable campuswide diversity curriculum fosters academic success," Multicultural Education, 27-36
  • Carnaje, E.G. (2016). "Advising across race: Providing culturally-sensitive academic advising at predominantly white institutions," The Vermont Connection, 37-47
  • Museus, S.D. and Ravello, J.N. (2010). "Characteristics of academic advising that contribute to racial and ethnic minority student success atpredominantly white institutions," NACADA Journal, 47-58