Advising Ethics and Decisions Authored by: Paula A. Landon

An advisor's code of ethics is based on many standards and values. Although advisors' own values and ethical beliefs ground their ethical decisions, two professional documents provide guidance to advisors. The Council for Academic Standards guidelines for academic advising require that advisors:

  • maintain confidentiality (compliance with FERPA)
  • serve students on a fair and equitable basis
  • avoid any personal conflict of interest to advisors can deal objectively and impartially with issues
  • handle funds responsibly
  • refrain from any form of harassment
  • recognize their advising expertise and refer students when necessary
  • impart accurate information while complying with institutional policies and rules (CAS Standards 2005).

The NACADA Core Values challenge advisors to:

  • treat students and colleagues with respect
  • honor the concept of academic freedom
  • learn about and understand the institutional mission, culture, and expectations and interpret the institution's values, mission, and goals to the community
  • obtain education and training (NACADA Core Values, 2004 and Nutt, 2007, Legal and Ethical Issues).

Academic advisors hold a position of trust. As such, ethical behavior and ethical decision-making are expected. Ethics is reflected by the "caliber with which faculty and professional advisors render service" (Fisher, 2006). To be ethical, advisors must: provide the best advice to each student; present students with all options; get students to take responsibility in advising and curricular matters; and not cast aspersions on a colleague, class, or student. In addition, advisors owe advisees their recommendations and admonitions, their counsel and the moral responsibility of standing by that counsel, and the obligation to make things right if the advisor is wrong (Buck, et al., 2001).

Advisors especially have the ethical responsibility to never harass or discriminate against a student in any area: gender, race, culture, age, sexual orientation, disability, or intellectual ability (Buck, et al., 2001). Advisees should be treated with respect and equality. Advisors must not make assumptions nor be judgmental about a student and should always maintain an appropriate role with advisees.

You are encouraged to read the rest, courtesy of Dr. Janet Ikeda.