Alpha Lambda Delta advisors are essential to the operation and functioning of all our chapters across the country, and advising is a great opportunity to guide students in building upon their leadership potential. Advising student organizations is a privilege that can and does make a difference in the lives of students.
Benefits to Advising an ALD Chapter
- Contributing to your institution’s mission of teaching, research, and service
- The satisfaction of seeing and helping students learn and develop new skills
- Watching a student group come together to share common interests and work toward common goals
- Developing a personal relationship with students
- Serving as a mentor and sharing one’s knowledge with others
- Helping advance ALD’s mission to encourage superior academic achievement among first-year students and promote service to others
- Making connections with other student organization advisors on campus
Advisor turnover is inevitable. Faculty and staff retire, change jobs, or move from one institution to another. If an outgoing advisor can help to identify a successor, all the better. Oftentimes it is left to student officers to find a new advisor, and sometimes there is no one to take it on. When this happens, the ALD National Office is available to assist.
It is recommended that chapters have two co-advisors, but we know that is not always possible. When it is, it is often a teaching faculty member or someone from Academic Affairs, plus an administrator or staff member. Sometimes it is two faculty or two staff – whatever combination works best is fine! One advisor is certainly feasible if that is what your institution chooses.
ALD advisors typically come from a few areas on campus, but essentially can be any faculty or staff member willing to serve. Ideally, the advisor will be someone who supports first-year student success. Some of the common areas include:
First-Year Experience Office
A First-Year Experience Office exists to support first-year students as they transition to their college/university. Typical FYE programs include freshman seminars and other first-year courses (such as UNIV101); living-learning communities and FIGS (First-Year Interest Groups); orientation and new student programs, undeclared advising, common reading program, etc.
Sophomore Year Experience
More and more institutions are developing sophomore year experiences, creating an intentional focus on the needs of students during their second year of college. While Alpha Lambda Delta recognizes academic achievement in the first year, members are involved and taking on leadership roles during their sophomore year. Advising an ALD chapter could be an added initiative to a sophomore program looking to improve retention and student engagement, and help prepare students for major selection and career decisions.
Honors Colleges are special programs tailored to students who have a record of academic excellence. They often include specific honors courses, personalized advising, funded research, study abroad opportunities, community service, and social and cultural activities. A number of our current advisors work very closely or directly with honors programs, so if there is ever a question about how Honors and ALD can best co-exist on a campus, the National Office can put you in touch with an experienced advisor to talk about successful relationships with honors programs.
Academic Support Offices encourage the academic development and educational goals of students, and provide the foundation for academic success. Typical programs include early alert programs, academic outreach, tutoring, writing labs, retention initiatives, supplemental instruction, and study-skills workshops. Consider library staff as well.
Academic advisors assist students in the clarification of their life/career goals and in the development of educational plans for the realization of these goals. Many institutions have focused advising for first-year and sophomore students. It can be a natural fit to advise an ALD chapter, particularly as it relates to our mission of encouraging members to “recognize and develop meaningful goals for their role in society.”
Student Affairs Departments
There are many professionals on your campus with a background in student development, who are well versed in advising student organizations. Look to Student Activities, Leadership, Student Orgs, and Residence Life. Many will have a keen interest in first-year students and student programming, especially if they also work with orientation or in a first-year residence hall.
This might seem like an unlikely pairing – but it is something to consider. A Judicial Affairs Office is responsible for overseeing the institution’s judicial system and provides proactive programming and educational interventions in an effort to foster the development of student responsibility and community. Many judicial programs offer community service sanctions as an outcome to assist students in learning about the impact of their actions on themselves and others. Alpha Lambda Delta chapters are also involved in community service activities. An ALD advisor who coordinates judicial affairs can combine efforts and involve students fulfilling sanction requirements with ALD service activities, providing a positive take on service and collaboration with engaged students committed to giving back.
Someone Students Know
Advisors can come from anywhere on campus, there is no rule that it has to be from a particular department. It can be a faculty or staff member willing to help – a favorite professor, or a staff person student officers know. Oftentimes someone will be willing if they are just asked by a student!
Advisors can be graduate students, but it’s not ideal because of the turnover every year or two. However, some chapters have found success with graduate students serving as co-advisors. See a sample graduate student job description for some ideas. For chapters reactivating after a few years of inactivity, graduate student chapter advisors can be useful as a temporary measure- perhaps an office mentioned above would be willing to assign one of their students to assist for a year to help get things established or back on track, and a more permanent advisor can eventually be identified.
Wondering About the Time Commitment?
Our philosophy is that an ALD chapter should primarily be student-run and student-led. An advisor’s role is just that—advisory. While it will be the advisor who obtains eligibility lists each year, the National Office can be a valuable resource in providing leadership development for student officers so they can lead their chapter. We hear from most chapter advisors that the time commitment is quite manageable.
Support from National Alpha Lambda Delta
The National Office can assist in any way needed to facilitate the identification of a new ALD advisor and continues to offer guidance and support to those new in the role. Advisors are the backbone of an Alpha Lambda Delta chapter, and we are committed to providing the resources for a seamless transition and a positive advising experience.