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Student Activities


Advisor Tools

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The advisor tools provides student organization advisors with important information to support the student organization which he or she advises. Here you will learn about advisor roles, advisor responsibilities, and resources to help students' organizations thrive.

Who is eligible to become an advisor to a student club or organization?

Any full-time SAU faculty or staff member can be a club/organization advisor. The advisor must have a general interest in the club/organization purpose and mission and be committed to the club/organization and its members.

What is your role as an advisor?

As a club advisor your primary role is to serve as a key resource person to the students. The advisor works very closely with the president of the organization. The president of the organization is the actual leader of the organization/club and your role is to provide support to the president and its club members by supporting and challenging the students. Challenging the students refers to not always supplying the students with answers to all of their questions. For example, if a student would like to book a particular event or artist for their club and needs to know the cost of purchase, it is the students' job and not the advisor to research such information. Students tend to learn best by doing, and by allowing the student to complete the task, he or she learns more and becomes a better leader. Therefore, the advisor's role is to help the students develop into better leaders.

In order for the advisor and the club/organization to determine the extent of the advisor's role within the club/organization, please complete the Student Club/Organization Advisor Agreement Form (.docx).

Why should you become an advisor?

Part of the mission of the St. Ambrose University Student Activities office is to appreciate and understand community through social, cultural, leadership development, and co-curricular opportunities that enrich the lives of students. As an advisor, you too will be able to enrich the lives of students outside of the classroom. Likewise, you will be able to stay up to date with campus events, help continue to build the SAU community, and foster mentoring relationships with students in a setting other than the classroom. This experience will also allow students to get to know faculty and administrators on another level outside the classroom.

Advisor Roles

Each Advisor interacts with their student organization differently. Some advisors are very active while other advisors are a more distant liaison to their organization. As an advisor we would like you to maintain some contact with your organization, but it is up to you to decide how much contact is necessary for the students to run their organization effectively. The following are some roles that may be expected of you as an advisor:

Students may approach you for guidance. If the student is looking for more information about a career in your field you might be asked to help with professional development as well as necessary course work to get into the field after graduation. At this point you will need to be knowledgeable about your academic program and profession, but also have an interest in the personal and professional development of your students. Other things that students may look to you for may be relationship issues or conflict issues.

Team Builder
When students join the organization or become elected members of your organization you may be required to help the organization work as a team instead of individual members. This may mean training students team building techniques in order to keep students devoted to the organization and to show them what is involved in being a team member.

Conflict Manager
In any organization students will have different ideas and agendas. When dealing conflict it may be necessary to meet with both students to discuss both sides of the matter together and to form a plan in order to work together more effectively. In some cases students may be causing problems with other students. In this case it may be better to speak with students individually.

Reflective Agent
Often times it is important to have members reflect on how things are going within the organization as well as how things are going personally. Keep in mind, criticism should be constructive. Also students don't always like to ask for help so asking students if they need anything could be beneficial.

As an educator education often comes through being a good role model. Let students to make their own decisions even if you do not completely agree with the decision made. The key is to give the students a place where they can talk about their successes as well as their failures.

As an advisor you may have to help your students carry out plans and achieve goals. Students may be discouraged by difficulty and you may need to be supportive in order to keep them motivated and excited about what they are doing.

Policy Interpreter
At times students may be not be aware of policies. The more knowledge that you as an advisor have about policies within the university the more help you will be to your student organization.
As an advisor you will be asked to play many different roles, the key is to remember that you are the advisor, not the leader. You should provide guidance, insight and outlook to the students but you should not be doing the work. Students should make the decisions and should be accountable for those decisions.

Advising Styles and Skills

You will need to vary this based on the group that you are working with. Here are ideas on how to advise.

Directing: the advisor provides specific instructions and closely supervises task accomplishment.
Coaching: The advisor continues to direct and closely supervise task accomplishments but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions, and supports progress.
Supporting: The advisor facilitates and supports the efforts toward task accomplishment and shares responsibilities for decision making with the students.

Delegating: The advisor empowers the students to conduct their own decision making, problem solving, and delegating.

Flexibility: You must be able to move from one style to another in order to meet the needs of the different types of students and multiple circumstances you will encounter.

Diagnosis: You have to learn how to diagnose the needs of the students you advise. Determining what is needed as opposed to what is wanted is sometimes a difficult task. It is also important to note that what is needed is not always the thing that will get the most positive response- it is what will lead the student through a problem, set standard for the future, or help teach the student a valuable life lesson.

Contracting: Learn how to come up with some agreements with students. It can be helpful to work together to reach an agreement as to which advising style they seek from you. This is a valuable lesson for assisting students with understanding the rules of engagements and interaction that will be carried forth as they mature.

*Information provided by Jon Kapell, Associate Director of Campus Activities, Drexell University. Pg 7 of ACPA Commission for Student Involvement Advisors Manual