- Be available
Provide your office hours and known commitments to your group. Determine how you would like to be in communication with your students (email, text, face-to-face meetings) and strive to respond within 24 hours. Remember that last minute and emergency situations happen, and your organization will appreciate a timely response.
- Stay involved
Keep in regular contact with your group. Attend group meetings and events throughout the semester. Know what is happening now and what is coming up.
- Be supportive
Provide guidance and advice that will empower your group to make decisions and take action. You have valuable insight to offer that will lend a new perspective to the organization. You do not have to make things happen for the group, but you can serve as a resource person and use your connections across campus to help them accomplish goals.
- Let them make mistakes
Sometimes the hardest thing to do as an advisor is to do nothing. Growth occurs from making mistakes and learning from failures. Determine the line between a safe failure and complete meltdown. Remember: we let students walk toward the edge; we never let them fall over.
- Ask questions
Ask about the organization’s mission and purpose. Ask how things have been done in the past. Ask what they would like to accomplish this year. Ask to read the group’s constitution. Ask how things are going. Ask how you can help. When they tell you they have thought of everything, keep asking questions.
- Give feedback
Discuss how and when your organization would like feedback. Should you speak up in meetings, or only jump in if things get off track? Determine the best way for you to communicate what the organization is doing well and what could use improvement. A rule of thumb: offer praise in public and criticism in private.
- Know the rules
Familiarize yourself with SORC policies and procedures to effectively advise your organization’s decision-making. A few key areas to review:
- Registered Student Organization Handbook
- SORC contract requirements and deadlines
- SORC program planning checklist
- WPU Reservations Office policies
- SGB allocations process (undergraduate student organizations)
- Build relationships
Get to know the members of your organization outside of their role. Ask about their classes, interests, and what their goals are for the future. Take an interest in their overall well-being, and remind them to take care of themselves. Developing a rapport and earning trust early on will help the organization’s operations to run smoothly all year.
- Keep record
Organization officers move in and out of the university every few years. Oftentimes, the group advisor serves as the historian, with longstanding knowledge of group operations. Keep important reference documents like the organization’s constitution, policies, procedures, event calendar, annual budget, and officer roles / expectations.
- Take care of yourself
It’s okay to say “no” sometimes. Your job is to empower and guide your organization to reach their goals, not to do everything for them. It’s important to find a balance between your professional commitments, personal life, and advisory role.