by Nance Lucasf

Many student affairs professionals assume advisory roles of various student organizations on college campuses. Some serve in a voluntary capacity, and others advise organizations as part of their job responsibilities. An adviser has the potential to impact positively with the group and can assist in the development of the leaders and members in an organizational setting.

To be an effective adviser, one needs to seek out rudimentary information and consider some practical applications on advising. Advisers need to continue to upgrade the quality of their interactions and interventions with their student organizations.

The primary definition of an adviser is one who is an educator in a nontraditional classroom. The adviser needs to stimulate individual development of the members by using student development, organizational concepts, and personal expertise relative to the purposes and objectives of the organization. A decision to advise an organization should be based on the knowledge or expertise one has about the organization and the time available to devote to the role.

Profile of an Effective Adviser:

•  One who can be viewed as a member or a non-member, given various circumstances.

•  Has the ability to provide tactful honesty in giving suggestions, providing feedback, and
    evaluating the group.

•  Possesses a sincere belief in the group and its goals and supports the group enthusiastically.

•  Is able to discuss organizational goals and directions with the group.

•  Can obtain the group's personality and incorporate a level of advising effectiveness.

The roles and responsibilities of the adviser are varied depending upon the type of group and the maturity of its members. The primary responsibility an adviser must attend to is establishing his/her expectations of the members and expectations the members have of the adviser.

This is best accomplished during the organization's meeting time. Discussion should include topics such as attendance, participation at programs and meetings, private consultations with leaders and members, and evaluations.

Allow the Leaders to Lead
It is important to be an active adviser, not an active leader. Allow the leader to develop his/her leadership opportunities and experiences. It is appropriate to serve as a resource person and convey knowledge to the group. The adviser should be creative in providing leadership development workshops to foster their skills and develop the group so it can operate more independently.

The adviser must learn the history of the organization, the organization's constitution and bylaws, and the group's major successes and failures.

The adviser can provide stability to the group by informing each new influx of members about the organization's history and purposes. In addition, the adviser has a responsibility to interpret the institution's policies and procedures and assist the group in following them.

Finally, the adviser should monitor the academic progress of the group leaders on a regular basis. It is important that the adviser confront the leaders who are not performing well academically and assist them in managing their time and balancing the activities and academics.

This article has examined the generalities of advising and has gleaned over basic rules of the adviser. Effective advising is maintained by a constant learning of theory and concepts, use of resources, practical interventions, and evaluations.