Be A Student Advisor
The advisor to a student organization is an integral part of the development and success of that organization. When a faculty member or administrator commits to advise a student organization, they should bring energy, excitement and a vision to the club.
The advisor takes an active part in the organization through interaction with its members and they can serve as a continuity factor for the organization, implementing long-term developmental goals.
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.
- Assist the group in setting realistic goals and objectives each academic year. Do not direct or dictate the organization's programs or activities, rather offer suggestions, considerations or ideas for the group's discussion.
- Assist the organization in implementing the policies and procedures of the Office of Student Affairs.
- Discourage domination of the organization by any individual or action.
- Be well-informed about all the plans and events sponsored by the student organization. Provide direct assistance, if needed, in the planning and evaluation of these programs.
- Be aware of the organization's financial status and demand the maintenance of efficient financial records. Supervise financial procedures. For M.S.G.-funded organizations, the advisor must sign all check requisitions.
- Direct students to register all on/off campus events with the Office of Student Affairs.
- 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.
- Assist in orienting new officers and in developing the leadership skills of members.
- 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 and Campus Life staff as a resource for advisor and student development issues, programming ideas and materials.
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.
- If you can't make a meeting or follow through on a responsibility, let the other person know a.s.a.p.
- Constructive criticism should be viewed as such - constructive and given as a suggestion.
- 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.
- When you need "uninterrupted" time, just let thoser around you 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?
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.
Use services available.
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.