Advising & Student Supports

CCRC studies how colleges can support students outside the classroom so they have the tools, guidance, and resources they need to earn a credential and plan for their future beyond college.

Fast Facts

High-quality advising and student support should be sustained, strategic, integrated, proactive, and personalized, or SSIPP.
Multifaceted support is especially important to the success of students from traditionally underrepresented groups.
Although technology can facilitate communication, progress tracking, and personalized intervention, it is not enough to achieve high-quality advising on its own.
Nonacademic supports such as financial aid, emergency grants, and food aid can be essential for many students to stay in college and complete a program.

Why We Study Student Supports

Across the United States, community college graduation rates are too low. Intensive advising and supports—including reaching out to students when they are struggling—are key elements of programs that have been shown to be effective at helping students stay on track. The thoughtful design of advising and student support programs is especially important for addressing educational inequity. In many cases, however, advisors have large caseloads that limit the amount of time they can spend with students, making it challenging to offer students more than basic, drop-in advising. Moreover, advising systems often function separately from other student service departments and offices, including career counseling, and students may not have the support they need to address financial challenges, child care struggles, and other issues.

CCRC research suggests that the best advising is sustained across a student’s college career and allows advisors to develop a relationship with the student. Under this model, which can be enhanced by the use of technology, advisors are assigned individual students and regularly interact with those students to help them formulate short- and long-term education plans, identify and address their needs, and intervene when they struggle. Academic advising also works best when integrated with other nonacademic services and when faculty and staff are involved in student support initiatives, providing students with a cohesive support experience that meets their varied needs.

How One College Used Technology to Boost Advising

With iPass, I learned…not just to chase after an early alert and saying, "Okay you're missing class, go to class." [Instead] talk about "why are you missing class? What is going on in your life?"

Fred Bowen
Director of Academic Advising Systems, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Principles of the SSIPP Advising Framework

CCRC research suggests that effective advising is based on a SSIPP framework.

  • Sustained support of students throughout their tenure at college
  • Strategic deployment of advising resources based on need
  • Integrated with other student supports
  • Proactive outreach to vulnerable students
  • Personalized advising attuned to students’ needs and interests

Sample Guiding Questions in an Advising Toolbox

Colleges that participated in the iPASS project created resources that can be used by advisors to implement effective practices. These include questions that advisors can use in their conversations with students:

Our Advising & Student Supports Experts


Hoori Santikian Kalamkarian

Senior Research Associate


Elizabeth Kopko

Senior Research Associate


Serena C. Klempin

Research Associate

Read More

View all of our publications on advising and student supports.