Advisor Resources

Advisor Resources

Leadership & Engagement appreciates faculty and staff who volunteer their time, energy and expertise to help student organizations thrive at Allegheny College. Advisors are a vital component to the success of student groups and an integral part in building community, and without your contributions, the rich co-curricular environment so important to our students would be unavailable.

What is Advising?

Effective advisors develop styles that match the needs of the organization and its members.  When developing this style, it is important to keep in mind the mission of the organization, the activities they plan, and the values of Allegheny College.  Some groups will need more or less attention depending on leadership, activity and schedule.  It is important for each advisor and organization to develop a set of expectations so that each one has a clear understanding of their responsibilities. Make sure to set aside time at the beginning of each year to discuss the parameters of your role with your student leaders.

Your primary objective as an advisor is to be available to guide and assist the officers and/or members in the mission and goals of the group. Communication is essential in this role.  Many student leaders depend on advisors to be available to brainstorm, troubleshoot and offer support to the organization. 

Expectations of Advisors

When it comes to ensuring the proper functioning of an organization, Leadership & Engagement considers the role of the advisor as one of the most critical relationships to establish. We look to advisors to assist the organization in meeting the expectations set forth below.

  • To provide leadership and guidance in the everyday operations of the organization.
  • To check in with the officers of the organization to discuss concerns with members, the organization and other issues either in person, on the telephone or via email.
  • To provide regular communication with Leadership & Engagement in any instance requiring the support of that office.
  • To serve as a role model for members of the organization.
  • To understand all College policies and provide support where appropriate, as well as indicate when actions and/or plans violate these policies.
  • To be involved and supportive in the training of new officers as needed.
  • To attend social and business meetings of the organization when possible.
  • To encourage sound fiscal practices and to assist the organization in the development of a yearly budget.
  • To encourage the officers to keep in mind the ideals and standards of their organization when planning events and in every day actions.

General Functions of an Advisor

Advisors can be involved in student organizations at varying levels. The general functions and roles of an effective advisor are:

  • Provide a historical view of the organization and Allegheny College.
  • Make the organization aware of all procedures and regulations affecting them, including the constitution and by-laws of the student group.
  • Encourage the organization to keep records, evaluation files and develop procedures for passing this information along to new officers.
  • Inform members of resources and opportunities that will advance the goals of the organization.
  • Communicate important information to Leadership & Engagement. Examples of this might include: changes in leadership, major conflicts, amendments to the constitution of the organization, or any situation in which you feel you might require some extra support.
  • Establish a rapport with the students and make yourself available to consult with them.
  • Mediate inter-group disputes when necessary.
  • Express sincere enthusiasm and interest in the organization and its activities.
  • Assist the group with the development of their mission and its practical implications.
  • Act as a positive critic of the group and provide feedback on their progress.
  • Encourage delegation and the assignment of tasks to all group members.
  • Enlarge the thinking of the group by introducing new ideas and challenging the group on “the way we’ve always done things.”
  • Review expenditures and financial accounts being maintained by the students.
  • Allow the organization to be on its own. You don’t need to do everything for them, and it’s okay to let your leadership make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Intervene if the group wants to do something that is not in line with their mission or the mission of the College.
  • Support students in practicing their management and leadership skills.
  • Form a positive, role-modeling relationship with the student leaders.

Advising Styles

Advising styles vary from person to person, and organization to organization. If this is not your first year, you will realize that your advising style may also vary from year to year. This is due in part to the changing dynamics of the different students involved. Depending on the experience and motivation of the students, you may be asked to be more active or passive as an advisor. Likewise, your own advising style will determine how you interact with the group.

Some advisors prefer to be highly involved in the groups they advise by attending all meetings, helping to make the group aware of current situations, and aiding in major financial or programmatic decisions. On the other hand, there are advisors who prefer to act as resources or sounding boards for the group. This style of advising is no less important or effective. What is most important is that the advisor, the leaders and members of the organization communicate to define your role as the advisor.

Benefits of Advising

Advising can be an extremely rewarding endeavor if you offer to undertake it, and we hope you will give the opportunity serious consideration! Some of the ways in which the position will give back to you are:

  • Knowing you have helped students accomplish their goals.
  • Having the opportunity to work with outstanding, highly motivated students.
  • Seeing the growth and development of students in academic endeavors and leadership roles.
  • Gaining a sense of accomplishment when you help your group to function well.
  • Knowing students on a personal basis beyond the classroom experience.
  • Increasing awareness of student challenges.
  • Getting to know a broader spectrum of students.
  • Being proactive when an organization member needs assistance with college resources.
  • Getting other faculty members involved with organization events.
  • Serving as a reference for students.
  • Being a mentor.
  • Gaining opportunities to form networks with colleagues involved as advisors of similar organizations.
  • Attending a variety of events and programs that may interest you both personally and professionally.

Additional Resources

Written Resources

Dunkel, N.W., & Schuh, J. H. (1998). Advising student groups and organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Keeshan Nadler, M. (1997). The value of student organizations and the role of faculty advisers. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 52(1), 16-26.

Web Resources

Leadership & Engagement Student Organization Resources: There are a number of resources on this site that are typically used by leaders of student organizations. Resources include information about finance, services, event planning and publicity.

Leadership & Engagement Leadership Tools: This database offers a spectrum of helpful leadership tips and tools for students who take on leadership roles in their organizations.  Information on everything from goal setting and running effective meetings to conflict resolution and campus-wide resources can be found here.

Click here to view the Student Organization Resource Guide!

Leadership & Engagement

If you have questions about your organization or feel that you need additional support and advice, Leadership & Engagement can help you find the answers you need. Contact them at 814.332.4356 or email