Advising Tips

Every student organization will differ and may require a different approach by the advisor. The following information can serve as a beginning point.

    • In the beginning of the advising relationship, agree on clear expectations about the role of the advisor and the role of the student organization. Discuss philosophies and reach a consensus.
    • Read the constitution of the group, get to know the members, attend events, and generally make yourself seen so that they know who you are.
    • Assist in the establishment of responsibilities for each officer and member.
    • Develop a strong relationship with the president or chairperson and other officers. This is key because these students will be your main contact with the group.
    • Discuss concerns with an officer’s performance in a one-on-one setting. Whenever someone does something extremely well, be sure to let others know.
    • Maintain a sense of humor-it’s college, not rocket science. Unless, of course, you are the advisor to the Rocket Science Club.
    • Be honest and open with all communication. The students need to feel that you are just in your dealings with them.
    • Realize that you have the power of persuasion, but use this judiciously. The students sometimes need to learn how to fail.
    • Help them to see alternatives and provide an outside perspective.
    • Remember: praise in public, criticize in private.
    • Find a balance between being the strict naysayer and the laissez-faire friend. The students must feel that you are supportive of them and yet that you will hold them accountable for their actions.

Advising Don’ts

    • Miss meetings
    • Leave meetings early
    • Be inattentive
    • Take but never give back
    • Only get to know the executive board
    • Never have the time
    • Try to be close friends with the group
    • Make all the decisions for the organization
    • Let the organization become your organization
    • Forget names
    • Fail to come through on promises
    • Say you know, when you don’t
    • Be afraid of the group failing
    • Forget the amazing contribution that you make in students’ lives