Benefits and Responsibilities Of Advising

The organization/advisor relationship benefits not only the organization and students, but the advisor as well. Becoming involved with a student organization offers:

  • A unique opportunity to get to know and work with students outside of the classroom or office
  • The reward of watching the group develop to its fullest potential
  • The reward of watching students develop their individual skills and talents
  • The chance to informally share your knowledge and expertise on relevant topics
  • An opportunity to feel satisfaction and accomplishment through making a special contribution to a particular group of students
  • The chance for service to students, the university, and the larger community

The Role of the Advisor

The following is a list of some things that begin to define the role of advisor:

  • Serve as a sounding board off of which students can bounce new ideas
  • Support the group
  • Intervene in conflicts between group members and/or officers when necessary
  • Be knowledgeable of policies that may impact the organization's decisions, programs, etc.
  • Provide continuity and stability as student leadership changes
  • Provide an outside view or perspective
  • Provide student groups with university and community connections

Effectiveness of Faculty/Staff Advisors

Faculty/staff advisors use a variety of advising styles that are as unique as the advisor and the organization with which he/she is working. However, the following conditions should be met in order for the advisor to be most effective (Keintz, ACU-I Bulletin, Sept. 1995)

The advisor must:

  • Establish strong relationships with students founded on trust, respect, and communication
  • Have a working knowledge of campus resources, policies, and laws
  • Understand the parameters of the advisor from the perspective of the students and the institution


The relationship of the advisor to the group will vary according to the needs of the organization. The advisor has three major areas of responsibility:

Responsibility to the Group

  • Teaching skills: The advisor can serve as a resource for his/her area of competence as well as be a source of information for other resources and ideas.
  • Consultation: The advisor should expect that he/she will be consulted regularly by officers and members of the organization. The advisor should be aware of any programs or activities planned by the group and offer suggestions and ideas freely without dominating the planning.
  • Provide Continuity: Officers and members of an organization vary from year to year, so the advisor may be the only continuing link from past to present. The advisor can orient the group to this history in order to learn from past mistakes and successes.
  • Meetings and Social Activities: It is recommended that an advisor attend as many meetings and events as possible to assist in setting the tone of the occasion.
  • Goal Setting: The advisor assists the group in setting realistic goals and objectives each academic year.

Responsibility to the Individual

  • The advisor should encourage each individual to participate in the group in order to promote educational and personal development.
  • Group members may need guidance as they try to decide to what degree they should participate in activities. The advisor seeks to assist the individual students in maintaining a balance between the academic and extracurricular aspects of student life.
  • The advisor works with the individual members to help them understand the importance of their role in relation to the group goals.

Responsibility to Indiana University of Pennsylvania

  • Organizations are required to have faculty/staff advisors in order to be recognized as student organizations by the university. No exceptions. The advisor's confirmation must be on file as part of the student organization recognition system.
  • It is preferred that an advisor make a minimum of a two-year commitment to an organization in order to provide continuity, to increase effectiveness, and establish rapport with officers and members.
  • Advisors should work with students not as directors, but as guides for the group in accordance with the purposes and educational objectives of IUP.
  • The advisor is a representative of IUP, and, as such, should advise the group to uphold university policies and procedures.

Adapted from Student Involvement at Butler University