Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

W. Hal Knight

Committee Members

Nancy Dishner, Norma MacRae, Terrence A. Tollefson


Professional advisors are bearing the burdens of a) helping students make a connection to their institution; b) being largely responsible for the efforts to retain these students; and c) providing a multitude of services to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. While a great deal of information is available about students, retention, and services, the literature is void of detailed information on the professional advisor and the advisor's work life. The purpose of this study was to learn more about how advisors experience the elements of work life (job satisfaction, relationships with colleagues, commitment to the organization, performance, variety, and autonomy) and, in doing so, illuminate ways in which institutions can create environments in which advisors are encouraged to maximize their potential.

Advisors' perceptions and the way they experience their work lives were collected through eighteen one-on-one personal interviews. The interviews were audio-taped and then professionally transcribed for a verbatim transcript. The transcripts were coded into the categories of work life and then sub-coded by emergent themes.

In general, the professional advisors interviewed reported they were satisfied with their jobs as advisors, and most particularly with the support and guidance they receive from their colleagues and supervisors, the amount and level of variety in their work responsibilities, and their level of autonomy. These advisors described a strong degree of commitment to quality advising and notably to their students. Most of the frustrations they reported were related to concerns of 'letting the students down.'

As a result of this study, recommendations for further research in the area of academic advising include 1) examining the roles, attitudes, and responsibilities of professional versus faculty advisors, 2) investigating the reasons institutions do or do not employ professional advisors, 3) collecting more detailed, preferably qualitative, information on the advisor/student relationship from the student perspective, and 4) addressing the issue of whether advisors would advocate for academic advising to become a profession.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.