Advice vs. Advise; Lessons from ARLP Undergrad Mentoring

    Posted on Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018
    During the summer 2018 term, I decided to participate in the ARLP-Aggie Research Leadership Program and conduct two projects. I recruited 10 undergraduate students to work on the projects with a single goal, to participate in the LAUNCH poster session at the beginning of August. All participants were made aware of this goal and expectations along with deadlines were set to meet this goal. At the end of July, it became clear that we will achieve our goal and on the 1st of August 2018 the undergrads participating in the two research projects presented their posters at the LAUNCH poster session. As evident, only 5 out of the 10 participants survived the research workload and more importantly the expectations. But those five who survived were able to accomplish a milestone. As I continue with the next semester and the next project(s) I will remember the lessons learned during the glorious summer of 2018 through my mentoring experience. I learned many lesson through this experience but one of the biggest takeaways for me was the importance of understanding the meaning and difference between advice and advise.

    Advice is a written prescription given to someone based on their condition (requirement) and the prescribers personal experience. The receiver of the advice has no options in what they are receiving. The choice for receiver is a simple binary one, yes or no. To agree to act on the advice empowers the person giving advice and not agreeing on it becomes a sign of defiance resulting in punitive action and/or the danger of cessation of further communication between the two parties. In my experience, advice seldom works.

                To advise however is an act of facilitation. It’s an act of empowering the other party by allowing them to look at their own situation and come up with the best solution. An advisor doesn’t tell, instead they ask. An advisor helps the person seeking recommendations find the best course of action by providing them with a view of the big picture while helping them focus on the small parts of that big picture. If I learned one lesson during my work as a mentor for the ARLP during summer, it was that when you advise people, you encourage creativity, independence, freedom, risk-taking and you receive bigger and better results. I have decided to renew one of the projects from the summer for the Fall semester. I hope that I can continue to advise the undergrad participants and help them become researchers.

    Aamir Fidai
    Aamir is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education and Human Development

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