I’m learning to advise again, but this is an entirely different experience than advising my hall council. I’m coming into an organization in the middle of the year so there is already a knowledge base that the students are operating on, which gives me the chance to catch up to their culture, policies, and rules rather than focusing on training them on what they need to do.
The biggest struggle that I’m having currently is knowing when to speak up. Trying to filter out the things I might say if I was a student in a group and add to the discussion as an adviser is probably the most difficult thing that I’m re-learning. The difference between voicing my own opinion and helping to put things into perspective is the struggle that I usually face. When my students are discussing how to approach an issue, rather than trying to answer it, it’s important to help them find their own answer.
For instance, my students were discussing how to approach the fact that they would not have quorum for their retreat in which they would be passing the budget for the semester and deciding on the programs for the semester. Earlier in the year, they had established that they would follow parliamentary procedure for any business that they would be passing and not having quorum on retreat but approving the budget conflicted with their established procedure. During that discussion, it wasn’t about what I thought they should do, but it was working to understand how they wanted to approach the situation and whether their solution was consistent with their established policy.
Advising a large student organization is an entirely different ball game from my advising experience with my hall councils in Metcalf. I’m really looking forward to working with my students.
Have you had any growing pains with a new advising group? What did you do to overcome those? What’s been the most important thing you’ve learned about advising students?