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Student Organizations

Advisor Resources

Thank you for your interest in student organizations at UW-River Falls! Advisors are a critical part of the success of student organizations.  Over 100 student organizations make UW-River Falls a place where students can find a sense of community. By clicking on the plus sign next to any of the content categories, you will find many resources that will assist you in advising your student organization.  If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Student Involvement.

Who is eligible to be an Advisor?

In order to be an Advisor you must be employed at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  All faculty and staff are eligible to advise a student organization.  Full time versus part time status does not affect you ability to serve in this role.

What is the time commitment that comes along with being an Advisor?

An Advisor's time commitment can vary.  Faculty and staff interested in being an Advisor should have a conversation with the leadership within the student organization they are interested in advising to discuss their expectations versus those of the student organization.  Once a consensus is met around time expectations you can make a decision on whether to advise the student organization.

Is it important that I be at ALL of my organization's events?

In most cases, Advisors are not expected to regularly attend events and are never expected to be at every event.  This being said, your attendance at large events such as Involvement Fairs and the Leadership Gala is appreciated.

What are the responsibilities associated with being an Advisor?

The responsibilities of an Advisor can vary from one student organization to another and should be discussed with the leadership within the student organization you are interested in or are currently advising.  Most Advisors are expected to attend large events, help with budgeting, and be available to answer questions from the Office of Student Involvement or organizational leadership.

Can I be paid to be an Advisor?

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls does not pay student organization Advisors.

My organization is not performing as well as I think they should be.  What should I do?

Remember that you are advising a student run organization.  Encourage your students to accomplish the goals that they have set out to do, but do not accomplish them for them.  Allowing them to struggle and discover how to effectively run a student organization will help them out in the long run.

As an Advisor, should I be an administrator on MyOrgs?

Yes, all Advisors should be an administrator on MyOrgs.  If you do not have administrative privileges please contact the Office of Student Involvement.

Where can I get more information?

If you have further questions about becoming an Advisor or the roles and responsibilities associated with such a role contact the Office of Student Involvement.  Staff would be happy to schedule a meeting with you to discuss the benefits and opportunities of being an Advisor, as well as to answer any questions you may have.

Advising a student organization gives you an opportunity to interact with students outside of the classroom setting about something you are both mutually interested in.  An advisor-advisee relationship is one that impacts student's lives and allows you to create meaningful relationships with students and can lead to friendships and life-long mentoring.

Advising will give you the opportunity to make a difference in the community, keep up to date on campus events, and make UWRF a home away from home for students.  Advisors have a unique role, walking a line between leading an organization themselves and giving students the tools to lead the organization.  Seeing students develop new skills and grow as individuals and a group is another benefit of advising.

The ABCs of Advising can help you further understand your role as an Advisor.  The tool helps you develop an understanding of your role prior to discussing expectations with the leaders of the student organization you are interested in advising. 

Being an Advisor can be an extremely rewarding experience, but when your student organization is struggling it can be challenging.  Below are some dos and don'ts to remember while filling your role as a student organization Advisor.

  • Serve as a resource
  • Interpret and clarify University policies
  • Suggest program ideas
  • Serve as a role model
  • Provide history for the organization
  • Allow the group to succeed
  • Allow the group to fail
  • Teach leadership skills
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Enjoy being part of the student organization
  • Get to know members individually
  • Discuss concerns with officers privately and praise them publicly
  • Help students find a balance between activities and academics
  • Encourage feedback and evaluations
  • Be visible
  • Help resolve conflict
  • Meet with officers and help them establish goals
  • Micromanage the organization
  • Run organization meetings
  • Use veto power over organization decisions
  • Be the sole recruiter for new members
  • Say "I told you so"
  • Break promises
  • Be the leader of the student organization
  • Be unavailable
  • Be afraid to let the organization fail
  • Impose your own bias
  • Close communication
  • Assume the organization handles everything okay and doesn't need you

Each Advisor fills a different role within their student organization.  Some Advisors play a very active role by attending meetings, working with student officers, and assisting in program planning and development.  Others maintain a more distant relationship with the student organization.  No matter your style, keeping some regular contact with your student organization is critical.  While Advisors accept the responsibility of keeping informed about the activities of the organization they are not responsible for the actions or policies of the student organization.  Students are solely responsible for the actions and activities of any student organization.  It is always important to understand the Advisor role within each student organization.  Below are some of the roles Advisors can fill.  Please note that some of the content of this section has been adapted from the 2015 University of Central Missouri Advisor Manual.

Many students will come to see their Advisor as a mentor and the success of these relationships can last many years and be rewarding for both the student and Advisor.  If the student is seeking an education and career in your field, you may be asked to assist in their professional development.  To be effective in this role, you will need knowledge of their academic program and profession, a genuine interest in the personal and professional development of new professionals, and a willingness to connect students to a network of professionals. 

Team building is important because it enhances the relationships of the students.  Positive relationships help the organization succeed as well as work through conflicts and difficult times.

Inevitably, students are going to join a student organization with different agendas, goals, and ideas about how things should function.  When working with students who have come into conflict, if needed, meet with them and have them discuss their issues with each other.  In many cases, remind them that they both want what is best for the organization.  Ask them how they think they can work together, point out the organization's mission, and ask how their conduct is helping the organization thrive.

Sometimes, one student may be causing problems with other students.  In many cases, this student may not realize that their actions are causing a problem.  Speaking with the student individually could be helpful.  Chances are that no one has met with the student previously and discussed how their attitudes and actions are impacting other people and how they can be changed to make everyone feel better.  In many cases, the student will appreciate honest feedback.

Your role as an educator will often come through modeling behavior geared toward success, guiding the students in reflection of their actions, and being there to answer questions.  One of the most difficult actions to take as an Advisor is to do nothing, but sometimes this can be the most important action of all.  Allow the students to make their own decisions even if they do not align with your ideas.  Sometimes, students will succeed; other times, they may fail.  They key is to be a reflective agent and give students a safe place to reflect and learn from their experiences.

As an Advisor, you may have to motivate students to excel, carry out their plans, and achieve their goals.  Some students are easily discouraged and at the first sign of difficulty they may want to quit.  You will need to be their "cheerleader" to keep them excited about all of the potential successes they will experience.  You can motivate students through the recognition of their efforts, appealing to their desire to create change, and connecting their experiences here at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to the experiences they will have upon graduation.

Student organizations operate under policies, procedures, and rules.  At times, students may not be aware of these policies and will unintentionally violate them.  The more you know about these policies the better advice you can give to students on their plans.

Instagram Takeover

Student Organizations have an opportunity to participate in a Student Involvement Instagram takeover. The organization is able to utilize the student involvement Instagram page (@uwrfgetinvolved) and post about a story about their organization and what it entails. The student organization’s story will be saved to a memory titled Org Takeovers. They will work closely with a social media intern within the Office of Student Involvement during this time. If you have any questions please email



As an Advisor you are often asked to serve as a resource as groups form and develop.  The models and inventories below can be used as personal references or can be given to your student organization as a way to enhance self awareness and group development.

Group Dynamics: Tuckman's Model

All organizations are faced with the challenge of bringing together a team of diverse individuals.  Tuckman's Model can be used to help develop a productive and high-functioning team.  The model explains the various stages teams face as they become a high-functioning team.  All teams will make their way through each of the four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing; although some stages may be more pronounced for some teams than others.

Conflict Resolution: Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

All organizations will face conflict at some point during the group development process.  The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument helps members understand their own and other member's conflict styles.  This self awareness and understanding can prove beneficial when conflict arises within your student organization. 

Yardsticks for Organizational Success

While most student organizations are high-functioning and operated fully by students, the Yardsticks for Organizational Success provides a tool to measure such successes.  This tool will allow you to passively measure success and intervene when potential problems arise before they grow and interfere the progress of your student organization.

Each student organization has different needs and expectations of their Advisor.  When transitioning officers within your student organization it is critical that the new leadership team and you as their Advisor have reached consensus regarding needs and expectations.  Use the following checklists as a way to begin a discussion with student organization leaders about the responsibilities and expectations of each party.

Advisor Self-Evaluation Checklist

This checklist can help you as an Advisor further process what type of role you would like to fill within your student organization.  Filling out the checklist prior to discussing roles and responsibilities with new leadership within your student organization can lead to a richer discussion.

Student Leader-Advisor Worksheet

This worksheet is to intended to assist in identifying expectations of Advisors and student leaders.  The worksheet should be filled out by the Advisor and each officer within a student organization.  Once all parties have filled out the worksheet they should meet to share and compare answers and discuss differences.

Officer Transition Checklist

Most successful student organizations implement some form of officer transition program.  The Officer Transition Checklist should be used in additional to overlapping officer terms by at least one month so that new officers have the opportunity to work closely with outgoing officers.  Any questions regarding officer transitions can be directed to the Office of Student Involvement.


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