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Responsibilities of an Advisor

Baylor > Student Activities > Student Organizations > Advisors > Forms and Information > Responsibilities of an Advisor
The following is adapted from the Resource and Policy Manual, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Student Organization Advisor Handbook, University of South Florida

Good advisors keep the following three sets of responsibilities in mind while working with student organizations:

1. Responsibility to individual group members

2. Responsibility to the student organization

3. Responsibility to the institution Baylor University


• The advisor may help the students find balance between their academics and their co-curricular activities.

Student leaders often have the tendency to burn the candle at both ends and will overextend themselves if not guided to balance these various responsibilities. The advisor has a unique opportunity to mentor students through their academic obligations and personal needs.

• The advisor may encourage each individual to participate in and plan group events.

Some students fade into background if not effectively encouraged. Being a member of a student group can provide students with valuable interpersonal and/or leadership skills, but these are best developed when the student is involved.

• The advisor may encourage students to accept responsibility for specific roles within the group.

The advisor may help them understand the importance of these roles. From officer positions to committee members, each student should feel invested in and accountable for their specific role.


• The advisor may assist the group in developing realistic goals for the academic year.

This will contribute to the education and personal development of the students involved. It is often a positive experience when the advisor takes an active role, rendering advice and counsel as circumstances allow.

• The advisor may be aware of all plans and activities of the group and inform the group of institutional policies that may affect these plans.

The advisor may recommend that the group and its officers know where policies are listed, what the policies are, why they exist, and the channels to be followed for changes, revisions, or exceptions to policies.

• The advisor may encourage collaboration and shared governance within the organization, and also encourage quieter students to take initiative.

Eager leaders may occupy the limelight more often than appropriate. This can lead to resentment by some members or pressure others into silencing themselves. The advisor can help provide a balance by pointing out such concerns in a one-on-one setting with the students or the organization leadership.

• The advisor may need to refer students to counseling. Invariably, during interaction with the group's members, the advisor will encounter students with personal problems.

The counseling role might require individual consultation on a personal level or referral to the student counseling service.

• The advisor may provide continuity within the group and should be familiar with the group's history and constitution.

Membership turnover in student organizations is high and often the only link with the immediate past is the advisor. The advisor can steer group members clear of mistakes and help them avoid the proverbial reinventing of the wheel. Serving as the group's memory and continuity link, the advisor can help new officers build on history and develop long term plans for the future of the organization.

• The advisor may offer ideas for projects and events.

The advisor will perform his/her greatest service by providing opportunities for the students to exercise initiative and judgment and to enjoy a proper measure of autonomy in self-directed social, educational, recreational, cultural, and spiritual activities. Advisors may help the group understand a program's complexity and discuss the necessary steps that need to take place in order for the program to be successful. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the active members to operate the organization; however, advisors are vital to the learning that occurs during this important educational experience.

• The advisor should assist the group in evaluation.

This includes evaluating individual programs as well as doing a complete evaluation at the end of the academic year. The advisor must be willing to give constructive criticism when necessary and offer words of praise for work well done.


• The advisor may work with the group, but not direct its activities.

Although the advisor's role is not regulatory or disciplinary, the advisor has a responsibility to both the institution and the organization to keep their best interests in mind. At times, the advisor may need to guide the organization to operate within institutional policies so that violations do not occur. The advisor may also work with the organization's officers to establish and maintain internal group standards and regulations for conduct.

• Occasionally, an advisor can help an organization during an emergency.

Although this type of intervention is rarely necessary, the advisor's good judgment can be the saving grace in the event of mishaps, internal conflict, or personal crisis. Assisting the group's president as a spokesperson or serving as the main contact for the University can help in these cases.