The advisor to a student organization is an integral part of the development and success of that organization. The commitment of a faculty member or administrator who volunteers to be a student commits to bring energy, excitement and their vision to the student organization. A student advisor will take an active part in the formulation of the policy of the organization through interaction with its members. while implementing long-term developmental goals. The voluntary relationship between an advisor and a student organization will continue as long as both parties believe the relationship is productive and mutually satisfying.
Commitment of Advisors
- 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. 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.
- Assist the organization in implementing the policies and procedures of the Office of Student Affairs.
- Discourage domination of the organization by any individuals or action.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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/Campus Life staff as a resource for advisor issues, student development issues, programming ideas and materials.
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.
Meetings with advisors should be productive. Students should have a purpose when scheduling meetings and be prepared to discuss relevant issues.
Students will be prepared to be accept constructive feedback.
Trust your advisor and maintain regular contact with them. Leadership and its responsibilities may require that you make some difficult or unpopular decisions. Consider your advisor your ally and work to establish a good rapport.
The role of the advisor
- Serve as a resource for the student organization president and organization members.
- Attend weekly meetings 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.
- Share insights at meetings, but avoid "ownership."
- Be aware of the financial status of the organization.
Some other thoughts
- If you can't make a meeting or follow through on a responsibility, let the other members know a.s.a.p.
- Constructive criticisms should be constructive and offered as suggestions.
- Be sensitive to other member'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. Let others 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:
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.