The Office of Student Affairs/Campus Life believes that the advisor to a student organization is an integral part of the development and success of that organization. The commitment of a faculty or administrative member to advise a student organization implies that the advisor will bring their vision and excitement to the student organization. The advisor recognizes and supports participation in student organizations for their contribution to the educational and personal development of the students. The advisor should take an active part in the formulation of the policy of the organization through interaction with members of the organization. Since members and officers in any organization are ordinarily active only as long as they are students, the advisor can serve as a continuity factor for the organization and can implement long-term developmental goals. The voluntary relationship between an advisor and a student organization should continue as long as both parties believe the relationship is productive and mutually satisfying.
Commitment of Advisors
- The advisor should meet with the Executive Board of the organization regularly to establish a meaningful working relationship and to exercise effective advisorship.
- The advisor should assist the group in setting realistic goals and objectives each academic year. The advisor should not direct nor dictate the organization's programs or activities. Advisors should be frank, however, in offering suggestions, considerations or ideas for the group's discussion.
- The advisor should assist the organization in implementing the policies and procedures of the Office of Student Affairs.
- The advisor should discourage domination of the organization by any individuals or action.
- The advisor should be well-informed about all of the student organization's plans and all events sponsored by the student organization. The advisor should provide direct assistance, if needed, in the planning and evaluation of these programs.
- The advisor should be aware of the organization's financial status and demand the maintenance of efficient financial records. The advisor should supervise financial procedures. Ordinarily, for M.S.G.-funded organizations, the advisor must sign all check requisitions.
- The advisor must direct all students to register all on and off campus events with the Office of Student Affairs. He/she should assist the student organization in filing the necessary forms to renew the group's recognition for the academic year. The advisor thus insures the group's compliance with the College's policies and procedures.
- The advisor assists in orienting new officers and in developing the leadership skills of members.
- The advisor should be prepared to deal with major problems or emergencies within the organization in consultation with the Office of Student Affairs.
Advisors to student organizations should use the Office of Student Affairs/Campus Life staff as a resource for advisor issues, student development issues, programming ideas and materials.
Responsibilities of the organization to the advisor
- Notify the advisor of all meetings and events.
- Consult him/her in the planning of events.
- Consult him/her before any changes in the structure of the group, or in the policies of the organization are made, and before major projects are undertaken.
- Understand that although the advisor has no vote, he/she has speaking privileges.
- Remember that the success/failure of the organization rests ultimately with the group, not the advisor.
- Discuss any problems or concerns with the advisor.
- Be clear and open about your expectations of your advisor.
- Periodically, evaluate your advisor and give appropriate feedback.
Advisors are required to sign an agreement in acknowledgment of their decision to advise and in understanding of the associated responsibilities.
Maximizing the Advisor/Student Relationship
As with any relationship, the success of the Advisor/Student relationship requires the commitment of both parties. Both parties must remain open to each other's suggestions and feedback. They must be able to trust each other. Student leaders must sense that advisors are available and attentive to their needs. Advisors must be shown that student leaders are responsible and dedicated.
A successful advisor/student relationship requires nurturing. Both sides must care enough about the success of the organization, to realize that this relationship is pivotal.
Students must recognize that advisors are full-time professionals with important obligations. Meetings with advisors should be productive, therefore students should have a purpose when scheduling meetings. Students should be prepared to discuss relevant issues.
Students should also be prepared to be offered constructive feedback, be it positive or negative. Do not resent what you may perceive as an intrusion on the part of the advisor. Remember that advisors have foresight and the benefit of years of experience and as such, may be able to recognize problems not readily apparent to you.
Above all, trust your advisor and maintain regular contact with him/her. Leadership and its responsibilities may require that you make some difficult or unpopular decisions. Consider your advisor your ally, so work to establish a good rapport with him/her.
In order to maximize the working relationship between the student organization president and the advisor, we have prepared the following information to serve as a guideline.
Expectations of Presidents and Advisors
- Lines of communication should be developed and stay open at all times.
- Academics are important and the advisor should have an idea of the student's academic load and peak times.
- Communication should be as specific as possible, leaving little to "interpretation".
- Responsibilities need to be discussed and agreed upon, preferably in writing.
- If disagreement occurs, determine where it originates, what compromises or alternatives exist, and try to reach an agreement on how to proceed.
- Be sensitive to the leadership styles of each other.
- Remember, there is a time for fun and a time to get things done. Make sure there is time for both.
At weekly meetings between the student organization president and the advisor
- Have some "How are you doing?" time.
- Review last meeting and any items that need to be followed up.
- Review "to do" lists - make new lists as needed.
- Set agenda for next meeting.
- Talk about areas of concern.
- Are there things we could be doing better?
- Is the student organization working okay?
- Share insights with each other.
- Talk about available resources to assist the student organization's work.
Monthly, the student organization president and advisor should
- Review student organization goals and progress.
- Step back and look at the "big picture". Are club members having fun? Are we providing good programs and activities that students want? What are we learning from this experience?
The role of the student organization president
- Provide leadership to the student organization.
- Chair the organization's meetings.
- Prepare agendas.
- Be available - keep office hours.
- Attend weekly meetings with Advisor.
- Delegate responsibilities to organization members.
- Try to insure that responsibilities are followed through.
- Attend your events.
- Lead the student organization in establishing goals.
- Try to insure that student organization members enjoy their experiences.
- Become knowledgeable about budget and oversee expenditures.
- Establish personal goals to improve individual leadership and team-building skills while building a stronger foundation for the organization.
The role of the advisor
- Serve as a resource for the student organization president and organization members.
- Attend weekly meeting with president.
- Attend all student organization events, in accordance with the by-Laws.
- Review student organization plans and provide insight and advice to help facilitate their success.
- Help the organization evaluate the program/activity and the process to emphasize the learning experience.
- Assist the student organization president in the coordination and facilitation of organization business.
- Help keep everything in perspective.
- Share insights at meetings, but avoid "ownership".
- Be aware of financial status of student organization.
Some other thoughts
- If you can't make a meeting or follow through on a responsibility, let the other person know beforehand.
- Constructive criticisms should be viewed as such. They should be constructive and they should be suggestions.
- Be sensitive to each other's personalities.
- Don't always meet in the office. The interruptions and atmosphere may not be conducive to the business you have to conduct.
- Sometimes you will need "uninterrupted" time by yourself. If so, tell someone who can tell those who need to know.
- Challenge each other to grow and develop.
Roles and Functions of an Advisor
As an advisor, you will play numerous roles while working with individual students and student organizations:
Mentoring can be defined as a one-to-one learning relationship between an older person and a younger person based on modeling behavior and on an extended, shared dialogue. Characteristics of a mentor can be:
- Knowledge of the organization.
- Enthusiasm for the organization and its importance.
- A genuine interest in the organization and personal development of new members.
- Warm and understanding in relating to students in all types of settings.
- An active involvement in and support of the student organization.
- An honest emotional rapport.
- The available time and energy to give freely to others.
- The time to stimulate others to extend themselves intellectually, emotionally and professionally.
There are many similarities between supervising and advising:
- Team-building - Work with the president and executive board to establish relationships that will enhance the ability of the organization's leadership, members, and advisor to work together.
- Performance planning - Write position descriptions, expectations and set goals. Expectations should be developed early, discussed openly, agreed to, and reviewed periodically. Goal setting is important for knowing that work will be required at various times of the year, what positions need to be filled, and what finances will be committed.
- Communication - Verbal and non-verbal. You should be knowledgeable about several written forms of communication as well as electronic communication and home pages on the
- Recognition - You need a knowledge of student emotions, characteristics, and backgrounds to respond effectively in unexpected situations.
- Self-assessment - Have students complete a verbal or written self-assessment of how they are progressing in their position. This allows students to reflect on programs, their skills, their involvement in the organization, and their responsibilities.
- Formal Evaluation - Opportunity to provide feedback to the organization or individual members.
The purpose is to broaden a person's understanding to help the person examine a problem from several points of view, and to place the problem in the proper context.
Students want to develop their leadership abilities:
- They challenge the process by seeking ways to improve the organization
- They inspire a shared vision by creating an image of what the organization can become.
- They enable others to act by involving students in activities and committees.
- They set standards and assist other students through their problems and concerns.
- They encourage the heart by recognizing members for their achievements and by motivating members to accomplish goals.
The characteristics of followers are important for you to understand in your work with student leaders. You can assist the student leadership in developing activities to identify "follower" expectations.
Suggestions for Advisors
- Determine if the organization is achieving the goals they set forth at the beginning of each semester.
- Attend as many meetings as possible.
- Advise and evaluate the officers on the performance of their duties.
- Help the group develop a well-organized recruitment plan.
- Help new members feel welcome - encourage the group to integrate new members by providing orientation and/or training programs.
- Advise the organization on financial matters.
- Guide the action of the organization to prevent harmful decisions or acts.
- Be aware of Molloy's rules and regulations as they apply to the organization.
- Work closely with members of the Office of Student Affairs/Campus Life.
- Know as many students as you possibly can and know them well.
- Treat each student with the dignity and respect that you want for yourself.
- Deal with the important and relevant aspects of your position. Avoid getting burned out.
- Be honest with yourself and with others. It does no good to tell students what you think they want to hear.
- Never underestimate the power of your influence on a student. Your conduct and conversations are what you are - a model for others.
OK, in short, what are my responsibilities?
- Be there.
- Help plan programs and events.
- Know college policies.
- Use the Event Checklist.
- Use facilities available.
- Know about money.
- Keep Office of Student Affairs/Campus Life informed.
- Mentor others.
- Use services available.
- Give praise.
Rewards of Being an Advisor
- You are helping others achieve their goals and to build a sense of community on campus.
- You are watching and helping young adults mature.
- You build valuable relationships and make an impact on students' lives outside of the classroom.
- You see a group take form, establish priorities and dynamics and set goals. Most of all, you watch them achieve success.
- When the relationship has been positive, you receive "thank-you's" in a variety of ways.
But I Don't Want to be an Advisor
There comes a time for most advisors when they can no longer find the time or muster the enthusiasm to continue advising their organizations in the way they feel is necessary. When that time comes, be honest about your feelings. Students, as you are aware, are not all that fragile. They will respect you for your honesty and probably be very supportive for your need to pursue new interests. If an organization is determined to succeed, it will find a new advisor with new enthusiasm. Changing advisors will not damage the organization nearly as much as having an advisor stay on after his or her interest has dissipated. Organizations need advisors, not sponsors.
If and when you decide that you no longer want to serve as an advisor to an organization, simply send a letter of resignation to your organization with a copy to the Office of Student Affairs/Campus Life.
One more tip: If you decide to step out of advising for a while, get some rest. A new group with a new purpose you believe in may be calling you soon.