I grew up in Kansas, as many of you know.  One thing that happens when someone from Kansas travels beyond the borders of the state is that people from other states often quote lines from the Wizard of Oz. “You’re not in Kansas anymore” is the most common or “Did you follow the Yellow Brick Road?”  The Wizard of Oz is an interesting part of our culture as exemplified in the Broadway play Wicked or in the recent movie Oz the Great and Powerful.   I recently read an article by Jim Peacock (2012), entitled, “Academic Advisors and The Wizard of Oz.”


He likened the powers of advisors to that of the Wizard when he spoke to the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion.  He gave examples by stating, “Remember as advisors, we may be the first person to ever tell students these words:
‘I know you have the ability to pass this class’ (giving them a brain).
‘You are obviously a good person trying to do good things on campus’ (giving them a heart).
‘I know this looks scary to you, living in the residence halls can be difficult, but remember, they are all people like you, trying to figure this out, just like you’ (giving them courage).”
Reading Peacock’s article made me reflect on the question I asked everyone in the EHHS Division at the beginning of this semester, “What will you do with your power and your privilege?”  The Wizard certainly was perceived to have power and privilege and he used it to make a difference by helping those who sought his power to know and grow.

Another article I read about advising was by Jennifer Cannon (2013) entitled, “Intrusive Advising 101: How to be Intrusive Without Intruding.”  She stated, “As advisors it is important to be intrusive without intruding, and be warm, friendly and inviting while still providing the tough love and information that students need to hear.”  In her article, she pointed out that “students do not mind if we ask about their personal lives if they understand the purpose behind the question.”  She provided some examples question advisors can ask students:

Questions advisors can ask students:

  • “Do you work or have a family in addition to going to school?  How many hours do you work?  This will allow us to select an appropriate number of courses.”
  • “What do you plan to do with your degree and what do you plan to do after graduation?”
  • “What do you consider a ‘good’ course schedule?”
  • “Are you happy with your grades from last semester?”
  • “What challenges did you face last semester?”

There are many questions we ask as advisors that take advisees deeper into themselves and help them gain new perspectives.  The few extra minutes this takes truly can be life changing.  The reward for doing this brings trust and deeper conversations in later advisement sessions.  If done well, you receive letters or comments after graduation from students on social media about how you were instrumental in who they became.

The above articles are on the The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) website in the Resource Library with a link to Academic Advising Today: Voices of the Global Community.  This is a nice resource if you need to read a few articles to get you in the mindset for advising over the next two weeks.  You have amazing power and privilege when it comes to helping students find their brains, their hearts, and their courage.  I could make a reference to the Yellow Brick Road at this point, but I will refrain and say that I saw a joke recently that started by asking if anyone knew where the Red Brick Road led (look at the picture above if you have never noticed this road).  The punch line was Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Thankfully, Glenda gave Dorothy advice that led to the development of a community where she and her new-found friends grew together.  It was the harder path, but Glenda believed in Dorothy’s ability to reach her goal.  I wish you well as you make a difference in the lives of your advisees during the current advisement period.

This blog focused on our shared values of:

  • Helping Students Achieve Goals
  • Empathy and Respect

Cannon, J. (2013, March). Intrusive Academic Advisors and The Wizard of Oz. Retrieved October 20, 2013, from

Peacock, J. (2012, December). Intrusive Advising 101: How to be Intrusive Without Intruding. Retrieved October 20, 2013, from

Image (2013). Retrieved October 20, 2013 from:

Image (2012). Retrieved October 20, 2013 from: