As an advisor of a student organization, the Center for Student Involvement expects you to:

  • Be actively involved in the functions and operations of the student organization. We suggest meeting with organization leaders, attending organization meetings, and participating in organization events whenever possible.
  • Maintain regular communication with organization leaders
  • Be familiar with the organizations mission, vision, purpose, operating bylaws, intended outcomes, goals, structures, and procedures. Hold the organization accountable to maintaining those standards and ideas at all times.
  • Understand university policies and procedures and how they relate to student organizations.
  • Have a basic understanding of university funding structures for student organizations and the process for requesting funding.
  • Work with CSI and the organization to ensure proper management of organizations finances.
  • Facilitate personal and professional growth and development to student organizations members.
  • Encourage smooth and successful organization transitions at the end of each year. This includes encouraging student to take on leadership positions and updating signer and communicator information.
  • Meet with organization leaders to assist in planning all events and travel experiences. This includes reviewing event/travel funding requests and event management forms.
  • Assist the organization with evaluation of individual programs and overall organization success.
  • Assist the organization with group dynamic issues. This includes successful navigation of conflict, organization member burnout, or lack of motivation from members. Advisors should help the organization navigate these circumstances.
  • Help students find balance between their academics, personal lives, and co-curricular activities. 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Advising

Student organization advisors often play multiple roles within the organization. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work within the organizations:

Do’s

  • Empower students to take ownership over the organization and its programs
  • Celebrate individual and overall organization successes
  • Understand university policies and educate students on those policies when necessary
  • Develop strong relationships with student organization leaders and members
  • Know the student organization mission, vision, purpose, and bylaws
  • Assist the organization with solving group conflict
  • Hold students accountable to challenge their viewpoints and processes
  • Allow students to fail

Don’ts

  • Assume ultimate responsibility for organization decisions, problems, and failures.
  • Run organization meetings
  • Assume the role of absolute decision maker
  • Try to solve every issue or problem that arises
  • Serve as primary recruiter or marketer for organization and its programs
  • Assume the organization doesn’t require your guidance and assistance
  • Be afraid to try new ideas

10 Tips for being a successful advisor

  1. Create meaningful relationships with the students and gain their trust. This will allow you to have a personal comradery with the students and they will value your opinion more.
  2. Constantly ask questions, even if the students tell you they have thought of everything. Students sometimes miss the small details, so by asking a lot of questions, you may help them remember something they forgot.
  3. Be available, stay involved, and attend meetings as often as possible. Students want their advisor to have and/or make time for them. Being present is the best way to show you care.
  4. You don’t have to know it all. Use your best judgement when making decisions and offering suggestions. It is also ok to say “I don’t know.” Just try to help them find out.
  5. Encourage the students and celebrate their successes.
  6. Use your connections on campus to help the students get things done. As the professional staff member, you will have relationships and influence the students will not have. Use those connections to assist the organization.  
  7. Often times, students need help with things that have nothing to do with the organization. Be willing to give them guidance and support on their personal lives, school, career goals, etc.  
  8. If you challenge the students or tell them something is not going to work, be willing to help them figure out positive solutions.
  9. Completely read all emails, contract, notes, and requests before you sign or agree to them. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to and what the organization is getting in to.
  10. Choose your battles. Challenge students on things to prevent them from making huge mistakes or suffering large repercussions and let the small things go. Failure is ok, so allowing them to fail, if it is not completely damaging, can be necessary.

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