Opportunities for Professional Development and Scholarly Contributions

Professional development is an investment in your career that can hone your skills, prevent burn-out, enrich your work, and make your job more interesting while increasing your value to your institution. Try it – you’ll like it – and you’ll like it even more if you do it with a friend or colleague!

Scholarly contributions are “passing forward” the expertise you have gained from your professional development. Even if you are new to advising, you can help others by sharing your experience and what you have observed/learned, by creating helpful advising materials, or by pointing out new ways to connect to students.

Ideally, professional development leads to scholarly contributions that provide professional development, in a continual cycle of enriching our work with students.

Opportunities for Professional Development

Professional Organizations: Membership

Pros: Membership is good; active membership is better.
Membership offers connections to

  • current information, trends, ideas, and best practices;
  • professional resources and materials;
  • subscription to a journal;
  • opportunities for networking and collaboration;
  • opportunities to publish; and
  • opportunities for service.

Cons: Membership typically costs at least a nominal fee and active membership requires time.

Consider these:

  • National Academic Advising Association, or NACADA, is the premier professional organization for advisors and offers numerous resources – check out their website!
  • A national association in your area of specialization (Business, Social Work, Student Services/Affairs, Health Professions, First Year Experience, Student Athletes, etc.)


Workshops, Webcasts, Colloquia, and Other Informational Sessions

Pros: These types of sessions offer information on specific topics such as assessment, transfer students, advising
syllabi, etc. Investment in time and money is usually minimal, and they are offered by a great variety of organizations on a great variety of topics. These are a fast, easy way to pick up specialized information. Many informational sessions are now available online, so you can participate from your own office, without the expenses of travel.

Cons: You have to be diligent or “in the loop” to hear about them.

Look for sessions:

  • On your campus. Check your instructional support office, look for lecture notices, check the events calendar, etc.
  • By state and national organizations, such as the NACADA Advising Web Events


Courses, Certificates, Degrees

Pros: Formal education offers high value.

Cons: These options take considerable investment of time and money.

Look into:

  • Advising-related courses, certificates, and degrees at your own institution
  • Kansas State University’s Certificate in Academic Advising (see NACADA website)


Opportunities for Scholarly Contributions

Professional Organizations: Conferences

Pros: Attending conferences is good, but presenting at conferences is even better. Conferences offer everything membership does, plus:

  • opportunities to present; and
  • even more opportunities for service.

Cons: While local conferences are inexpensive and require little investment, regional and national conferences
typically require a significant investment of both time and money.

Try some of these:

  • Advising conferences offered locally
  • Regional and national conferences by NACADA and by organizations in your specialization (Health Professions, Student Services, First-Year Experience, etc.)
  • A national association in your area of specialization



Pros: Because publishing requires a lot of time and effort, it is highly valued and considered a significant contribution.

Cons: Publishing takes a lot of time, and the larger the project, the more time it takes – share the joy by collaborating!

To get started, consider:

  • Writing a book review (see the NACADA website)
  • Writing online articles (for example, for the NACADA Clearinghouse)
  • Writing articles for the journals of national organizations, such as NACADA or in your specialization
  • Creating an maintaining a website
  • Developing advising materials for your office
  • Summarizing a conference or conference presentations for colleagues (on your campus or in your area)
  • Compiling a bibliography of resources
  • Conducting and then summarizing a survey
  • Summarizing, assessing, and evaluating a project or departmental initiative
  • Researching and then summarizing an area of interest
  • Maintaining a social media site on advising (a blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Developing podcasts for your office
  • Writing a book
  • Starting an “advisors club” dedicated to professional development
  • …and more – get creative!


last updated 9/17/13