20 Student Affairs Advisor Survival Tips


Back in October 2009, I presented the “New Advisor Workshop” at the CA Community College Student Affairs Association Student Leadership Conference at the Doubletree in Sacramento.  I always have a blast giving this workshop. It is a great way to meet the new advisors in the field and share our experiences. The following is the handout I gave to the workshop participants.

20 Fun, Helpful and often Truthful Student Affairs Advisor Survival Tips
for the New and Maybe Not So New Advisor.

  1. Always give thanks!
  2. Network! Become a member of Student Affairs Professional Groups such as CCCSAA and NASPA.
  3. You know the campus pulse-communicate that with your Dean, Chief Student Services Officer/Vice President of Student Services or the College President. They want to know what is happening with the students.
  4. Put your staff’s needs first. In the end, you will realize, they are the backbone to your department. Take care of them!
  5. Know your student government’s constitution and by-laws like the back of your hand.
  6. Know your student government and department’s budget, budget process, including signatures and history. I say, redo a form if you need to. Also, keep your own balance, check book.
  7. Find and review College/District Policy related to student government
  8. Learn the Ed Code (76060+) and Title 5 Regulations (51023.7). Key concepts Student Representation Fees, Shared Governance, G.P.A. and Unit Enrollment
  9. Know thy Brown Act, Roberts Rules of Order and Parliamentary Procedure. (Don’t hide it; I know you love having agendas as much as student government.) You will be surprised, before you know it other departments committees will come to you’re for help on running an effective meeting.
  10. Take time to understand the Student Senate it will make a huge difference down the road.
  11. Know and form a first name bases relationships with your business office, risk management, facilities, media center, public relations, print show, cafeteria, etc.before you know, you will realize how important that you know everyone on your campus.
  12. Find your favorite Leadership Training Tool, Assessment, or Personality Test. A hot new one is Strengths Based Advising.
  13. Email or Call on a colleague, which is what the CA Community College Student Affairs Association is all about! List Serve address is:  CCCSAA@LISTSERVE.CCCNEXT.NET
  14. Have food available at as many meetings or events as possible.
  15. Schedule weekly meetings with your student government president. Trust us on this one!
  16. Keep developing yourself professionally!
  17. Find your own personal way to leave work at work.
  18. Create boundaries now. Students will think it is okay to call you after work. Keep it at work.
  19. Accept your students Facebook invite AFTER they have left the college.
  20. Follow your own advice once in awhile :>)

By Victoria Worch, Napa Valley College. This list has been adapted from Doug Barr, Saddleback College, 1997. He originally was part of developing these advisor suggestions for a workshop lead by Marilyn Kaeche, Mt. San Antonio; Joe Hudson, Canada College and Steve Robinson, College of San Mateo for the fall 1997 CCCSAA Student Leadership Conference, Sacramento. As we say in student affairs, add your own tips and suggestions to the list. If you can, try not to develop the wheel. There are plenty of us out there to help you.

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