Professional development for academic advisors is a concrete action colleges and universities could be taking to increase their performance. Through university partnerships, it’s easy to provide continued education to your talented academic advisors and get them to the best they can be to help students on your campus. However, it could be challenging to figure out where to start and what approach is best.

This article will discuss what exactly is considered professional development, why it is important in higher education for academic advisors, and how it could be implemented in these spaces to maximize student success.

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Article Contents
8 min read

What Is Professional Development? Why Professional Development Is Important for Academic Advisors Ways for Academic Advisors to Develop Professionally Conclusion FAQs

What Is Professional Development?

Professional development constitutes any action taken that is related to continued education for established professionals already working in their field. It is any additional training done by an employee to be more productive within their chosen field.

Improving performance as a worker in society never ends, and you should always strive to learn more, no matter what role you are in. On the whole, professional development aligns with the philosophy that it is better to grow than to stay where you are comfortable and never change. A competitive job market in some fields only accepts the most qualified and well-rounded applicants, so it is important to constantly learn, even if you seem to be exactly where you want to be. In the case of academic advisors, this means that the goal of helping students will never be perfected and constantly needs adapting to be effective. In higher education, things change as quickly as the wind, and academic advisors are part of the wave of post-secondary workers that need to be up to speed at all times.

Employee development programs can be delivered in many forms, such as classes, workshops, shadowing, certifications, conferences, microlearning, videos, and more. Consistently receiving and applying feedback could also be seen as part of employee professional development, as it allows them to improve their performance on a regular basis. When an employee takes on a professional development venture, they are usually trying to improve their knowledge and skillset to become the best that they can be.

Professional development is also about career advancement or progression. These opportunities tend to lead to a higher salary earning potential, make employees more versatile when it comes to projects they could work on and kept up to date with current industry trends. A lateral move within the same field may not result in a salary increase but can vary an employee’s skillset, for instance. In the process of improving their credentials as employees, workers are boosting their confidence and are able to work and maneuver in their environment with more conviction.

Professional development is very broad and could apply to almost anyone in any job. For academic advisors, the more they know about the school they work in or the higher education landscape in general, the better they can help students succeed.

Meanwhile, for businesses, professional development opportunities for employees can add to a company’s value and raise performance levels in multiple departments. Colleges and universities that encourage the proper training of advisors will only facilitate the fulfillment of their purpose and will contribute to a better overall working environment that will ultimately show in student performance.

Why Professional Development Is Important for Academic Advisors

Academic advisors receiving professional development has positive consequences for the growth of their careers, the college life of the students in their charge, and the university itself. A fundamental rule in education is that any college or university’s success is fully dependent on the success of its students. A school that cares about its performance should make its students its top priority. University performance is measured on graduation rates, dropout rates, research output, enrollment, and other factors. Making students’ experience at your institution a positive one is a major way to meet these performance targets. Having academic advisors who are knowledgeable about your school’s policies, courses, programs, and services is a must for any higher education institution. When trained properly, academic advisors can act as the oil in a well-running machine.

Professional development for academic advisors is important to a school’s prosperity because advisors who are passionate about their development will provide the highest-quality guidance to your students, leading to better enrollment and retention rates. Making sure your advisors are trained effectively goes hand in hand with some of the best college student retention strategies. These advisors need to consistently update their knowledge and skillset to be as helpful as they can for students. If they are setting goals and taking steps to achieve those goals, it may inspire students or fellow staff members to do the same. Energy is contagious and academic advisors confident in their skill will transmit that confidence to their students.

Because other schools may not have professional development opportunities for their advisors or other faculty and staff members, the ones that do implement this strategy will have a distinct advantage. As a result, your advisors will stand out and be a selling point for your school to prospective students. Over time, due to the higher satisfaction of students with their academic advising, as well as positive retention rates and a good reputation, more eyes will be on your school. Enrollment rates will rise, with a corresponding increase in income or revenue that can be funneled back into further improving quality of life at your school. While it may not be directly linked to professional development for your academic advisors, that is one piece of the puzzle that contributes to the bigger picture of a successful school that benefits everyone involved.

Ways for Academic Advisors to Develop Professionally

Now that we’ve discussed why professional development for academic advisors may be beneficial for everyone involved, how might advisors who want to expand their knowledge of their craft access these opportunities?

Training advisors, as with many aspects of a functioning school, is a process that needs constant updating. An external partnership with BeMo Academic Consulting can help advisors reach their full potential. Learn how we can help your university or college by training staff and aiding their professional development.

Develop Your Advisors' Skillset

A productive way for academic advisors to develop professionally would be to gain knowledge of other aspects of working for a university. Through BeMo, advisors could learn about admissions prep from experts working with students every day on their standardized tests, application help, and interview preparation. Students who are interested in highly competitive programs at the graduate level, medical school, or law school need guidance as early as they can get it. There are many moving parts that go into applications for these disciplines, and a dedicated advisor will help students succeed. Academic consultants passing on their years of expertise to your school’s advisors would be a great way to start assisting students.

Many students come to academic advising in vulnerable positions. However, academic advising that is promoted well and known to the student body will not be seen as solely a last resort. It may not be easy for students to ask for help when they want to switch programs, plan their degree, or figure out how to get into grad school with a low GPA. They may be anxious about their futures or what options they may or may not have. The greatest academic advisors provide a path with smart options for their students, which alleviates stress. It includes being hopeful, but realistic, in their approach when addressing the concerns of students. BeMo could help advisors learn how to handle these situations and provide the best quality of service to the student in need, potentially stopping them from dropping out of your institution. Most losses are preventable, and top-quality advising can prevent these unfortunate realities.

An additional skill that could be very useful for advisors to learn from BeMo involves curriculum, program, and course development and implementation. If academic advisors have a hand in what the school’s academic calendar looks like each year, they will be more at ease in recommending course and program options to students. If said advisor has a specialty or department they advise in, it may be a great opportunity for them to expand their learning to a new area.

Furthermore, advisors could take advantage of training programs that provide guidance on the best college recruitment strategies and measures, why they are effective, and how to implement them in your institution. By the next year’s recruitment season, they will already have more knowledge than they did the year before.

Classes related to marketing tactics and how to execute them or the basics of graphic design could also aid advisors with professional development. Teaching advisors about various software or programs that are used by the university will also never hurt and can only benefit their progress.

Develop Your Advisors' Mindset

As much as learning and developing advisors’ skills will allow them to perform more effectively, their outlook on their surroundings at work can greatly influence whether they succeed in this transition. A general tip for any employee interested in professional development is to create a timeline with goals about how to improve their productivity throughout their professional life. Keeping track of these goals throughout the year and perhaps having a supervisor hold advisors accountable will get them accustomed to a goal-setting mentality. University employees have busy schedules, and fusing professional development into their calendars can make advisors place more emphasis on this aspect of their career. Advisors should be encouraged to visualize these objectives and make them a reality, all with the ultimate goal of helping students achieve their dreams.

While academic advisors are known for being helpful to students, as they should be, they also usually work with a team or with other professionals. When it comes to professional development, it is a worthwhile experience for advisors to shadow other advisors or professionals on their campus, and vice versa. Shadowing higher-ranking advisors, in particular, will allow them to base their own growth on people with more experience. These superiors could become mentors or role models for whomever they are building a working relationship with. Advising is a role that necessitates social connection and learning about other people’s lives and having strong relationships will only strengthen the connection of these advisors with students. Moreover, they will feel like they are part of a team geared toward the same goal.

Attending workshops about various workplace topics could also expand an advisor’s horizons and keep them current with modern concerns that are relevant to their school. For instance, students as well as employees of higher education have been much more vocal about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in recent years. Familiarizing themselves with these concerns through a talk or workshop could be rather helpful for an advisor who is not as accustomed to them. If an advisor is empathetic toward a student’s experience, it enhances their ability to advise them on any problems that may arise. As a rule of thumb, putting yourself in the shoes of the students on your campus is a great way to improve college life. Becoming aware of different perspectives will advance an advisor’s career by teaching them how to address the various needs of more students in their school.


An improved skillset and a focused mindset are a winning combination for the professional development of academic advisors. Students from every walk of life need guidance to navigate the trials and tribulations of post-secondary education. It is up to their school to ensure that the academic advisors hired to help students are given the opportunity to continuously grow and improve their services.

One of the ways to receive guaranteed aid in planning professional development services is through a partnership with BeMo Academic Consulting. This can have a large impact on students, employees, and the school as a whole. The higher education industry is vast, but a college or university thrives when students are able to receive the most quality support. A lot may have to adapt quickly when it comes to higher education, but that is an objective that never truly changes.


1. How is professional development necessary for higher education?

Professional development can be extremely beneficial for any industry to help improve employee versatility and performance. Colleges and universities have many moving parts that allow for their success, mainly all directed at the satisfaction to their students. Professional development can be that extra something that takes your institution to the next level due to highly qualified employees who are all dedicated to student success.

2. What makes a good professional development program?

A successful professional development program will allow the employee to grow while still giving them the freedom to progress in the ways they wish to. The entire process should make them more confident with their work as they learn new skills or ways of approaching their career.

3. Should implementing professional development be seen as solely a business move for my college or university?

Yes and no. There are financial benefits to having a professional development program in place. It is essentially a good way to increase income and revenue to your school. However, the needs of students take priority, and an increased income allows for a higher budget given to retention methods. Putting more money into the best college student retention strategies to make students’ experiences better is essentially the biggest business move to make for a college or university. The more positive experiences at your school, the more enrollments, and the greater the chance of academic success.

4. What are some ways academic advisors can benefit from professional development?

Academic advisors in particular can benefit from professional development opportunities, as they will eventually lead them to perform their job more effectively. Knowing the most they can about university services and resources will allow advisors to point students to them when necessary. If they receive expert training regarding the academic and career needs of students, they will have greater expertise in addressing these concerns.

5. How do I evaluate whether professional development for my advisors is making a difference?

The results will mainly be seen in student and advisor turnover within your college or university, not in the short term. If advising is of a higher quality, it will be one of the most effective strategies for dropout prevention. The goal is for dropout rates to decrease and graduation rates to increase over time. You should conduct regular surveys and feedback on the quality of advising and other services of your school to be able to assess common issues as they come up. 

6. How would I go about promoting the academic advising services available in my institution?

Spread the word as much as possible through all the avenues at your disposal. Letting students know during recruitment or orientation proceedings will inform them of the help available to them off the bat.

Additional ways to promote your academic advising services are live and virtual events, workshops, social media posts, email blasts, newsletters, classroom visits, and any other medium your school uses to connect with students.

7. Can having great academic advisors attract students to my school?

Absolutely. Having a team of trained advisors that is dedicated to student success is one of the best ways to increase student enrollment for colleges and universities. If students wish to pursue graduate school or other programs post-graduation, they may be looking for qualified academic advisors who can provide them with the guidance they require.

8. How do companies like BeMo Academic Consulting help with the professional development of my school’s academic advisors?

First, academic advisors can receive career counseling certification to enhance the knowledge they transmit to students about career planning beyond their degree. They can also become more familiar with admissions screening design and execution, recruitment strategies to boost enrollment, and the development of courses and programs with the respective faculties and departments that dictate them. The goal of partnering with BeMo is to guarantee an increase in the quality of your institution, and that does also extend to academic advising.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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