MCC Advisor Handbook

HomeStudy GuidesMCC Advisor Handbook
Chapter 1: Integrated Advising
Chapter 15: Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Distance Advising

Available Distance Advising Modes

Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each method of distance advising:


  • Closest alternative to an in-person advising appointment
  • A bit more personal, as you can video chat and see each other
  • Ability to screenshare so that you can show a student the same things you would show in an in-person appointment
  • Requires a bit more planning
  • Requires student to have internet access to view the advisor's video feed and screenshare, if applicable. A webcam is needed for anyone who would like to share their video feed (smartphone access does work). With just a landline phone, students can still dial in to the Zoom meeting, but will only have the functionality of a phone call.

Phone Call

  • Second-closest alternative to an in-person advising appointment
  • Even though the advisor and advisee cannot see each other, appreciative advising conversations can still take place
  • Cannot show a student what you are referencing at the time – they must follow along on their own device independently, or refer to links sent by email
  • Confusion can result if the scheduling process does not clearly define who will call whom
  • A follow-up email recapping the conversation is strongly recommended


  • An alternative when synchronous advising is not possible
  • Difficult to have a true advising conversation. Is more suited to transactional advising.
  • If a student emails a question that seems like just a quick yes or no answer, ask some follow up questions to make sure that their real concerns are being addressed. A student might have other concerns and may not realize they can request an appointment over phone or through Zoom.
  • A good companion to email or phone call to follow up on what was discussed, in much the same way that advisors often send students away with a piece of paper listing resources, classes to take, etc.
  • Some best practices on email advising are available at this link:

Scheduling a distance appointment

If you use Starfish to schedule your advising appointments, you can easily update your location to include options for phone and/or Zoom. Visit the Starfish tab in myMCC for more information. For phone appointments, be sure to indicate who should call whom at the appointment time.

If you schedule appointments using email, ascertain what method will work best for the students concern. It may be helpful to get some information from the student upfront to better prepare, such as:

  • Your pathway in Degree Works is _______. Is that still your academic goal?
  • Are you primarily looking for advice regarding courses for next semester, or do you have something else you’d like to discuss?

Generally, those simple questions are able to provide enough information ahead of time to know how to prepare for the advising session.

Preparing for a distance advising appointment

  • If you didn’t have the opportunity to ask the above questions while scheduling the appointment, consider sending a preparatory email to your advisee.
  • Before the appointment, navigate to the resources you think you will need. This could include the student’s Degree Works worksheet, the course catalog, program information, etc. Having these resources already loaded will minimize awkward silences while on a phone call or web conference.
  • If you will be advising over the phone, consider emailing the student links ahead of time that you might refer to, such as links to transfer resources, program information, or career information.
  • If you choose to share your screen during a Zoom conference, consider whether you would like to share your entire screen, or if you will just share one particular application (for example, a web browser). If you’ll be sharing your entire screen, make sure that no other student records are open to avoid possible FERPA violations.

Conducting a distance advising session

  • At the beginning of the session, let the student know whether they should try to take detailed notes, or if you will be sending them a summary email after the session. Sometimes students can become distracted from the conversation if they are trying to write down every word that you’re saying.
  • If advising over the phone, remember that the student cannot see your screen. Let them know what you are referencing so that they can follow along.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the student that you don’t have the answer to something and will follow up with them by email. Searching for an answer might seem to take longer during a distance conversation.
  • At the end of the session, review the “bullet points” of what was discussed. Let the student know that you will enter a note in Degree Works, and if you will send them a summary email.
  • Sending a summary email at the conclusion of the advising appointment is a best practice. A summary email includes a brief overview of what was discussed, actions the student needs to take, and other items that you as the advisor are planning to follow up on. For example:

    • Plan to talk to transfer schools over summer and next fall. Make sure everything this semester is C or better. Log into DegreeWorks and click the “GPA Calc” tab then use “term calculator” on the left hand side to see how grades in your courses this semester will affect your GPA.

      For fall: Register for BIO 145, PSY 212, HED 130, HEG 215, SOC 101. Most important to do really well in BIO 145 and try to get that GPA up. Your advisement key is XXXXXX.

      Please contact me if you have any trouble or any other questions going forward. Email is the best way to get in touch.


For any questions, concerns, or need for support concerning advising during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out. Send an email to [email protected] and we will do our best to respond within the hour, during normal business hours.