Taking Appointment Notes

Effective advising notes provide a historical record of communication between students and university personnel.

Notes provide support throughout a student’s academic career. When documenting notes, briefly summarize what was discussed as it relates to academic advising, student success, or other campus policies or procedures.

Why take advising notes?

Descriptive notes provide the following benefits:
  • Help remember what was discussed or agreed to during prior appointments
  • Help advisors and other support staff communicate and provide consistent service
  • Create a history of contacts, actions, recommendations, and other information
  • Personalize the experience by reviewing what was covered in prior meetings


Tips for Taking Helpful Notes

Documenting the outcomes of the academic advising appointment is especially important. Make sure you cover at least these four areas in your advising notes:

  • Document why the student was seeking help and listen for the intention/purpose of the appointment
  • Provide advising or guidance as appropriate
  • List what recommendations/referrals were made to address concerns and support success
  • Identify the agreed upon follow-up actions or referrals


Ask open questions and give students time to formulate a response. Try to understand the purpose of the meeting, or why the student has asked to meet with you.

Example Questions:

  • How can I help you today?
  • What brings you into the office today?

Example Notes:

  • “Student shared still unsure of major/minor, discussed possible GOAL courses for fall registration”
  • “Student shared concern about fall grades and wanted to review academic status and related policies”

Make conversation and ask questions to start the advising appointment, then provide guidance accordingly.

Depending on their concerns, you might also refer a student to the Warrior Success Center, Counseling Services, TRIO, Warrior Hub or any of the other available support services.

Example Questions:

  • How many credits do you want to register for this spring?
  • What GOALS or program requirements do you want to focus on next semester?
  • What strategies will you use to balance lecture and lab requirements in your science course(s)?
  • What are your top three internship options?

Example Notes:

  • “Advised that taking Sociology 150 next fall as it will meet both goal 5 and goal 7”
  • “Advised taking Stats 110 as meets goal 4 and is requirement for Athletic Training major”
  • “Reviewed Biology major requirements and catalog information, advised/reviewed pre-requisites”
  • “Recommended planner or other organizational tool to manage time throughout the week”
  • “Discussed where/when/how learns best and recommended resources with more information”
  • “Discussed fun/healthy ways to reduce stress, referred to SLD and emailed clubs/activities info”
  • “Referred to tutoring services for support with college algebra class”

Be sure to follow through on any information you agreed to provide. This could include an email with clarification on graduation requirements or follow up on transcript evaluation.

Example Notes:

  • “Contacted department chair with student, confirmed application deadline and emailed app to student”
  • “Contacted HUB with student, transcript evaluation done next week, gave student HUB contact info"

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) entitles students to access any notes considered part of their academic record, including notes in Advisor Trac.

Any notes completed in Advisor Trac are part of the student’s academic record and are accessible by students, open records request and court subpoenas. This applies to notes whether they are designated as shared with student.

Assume students, parents or other members of WSU will read what you document.


When writing notes, ask yourself:

  • Is this something the student would want other people to know?
  • Is this something another advisor or WSU professional would need to know?
  • Is this something that is within my scope of practice to include?
  • Are the details in my notes based on fact or personal observations?
Notes should be academic-related and avoid including personal or sensitive content. Personal and/or sensitive topics that should be referred or are generally not appropriate as Advisor Trac notes:
  • Addressing specific medical or mental health concerns
  • Providing legal advice
  • Counseling related to relationships, family or personal issues
  • Mediating conflicts with instructors