The functions of the adviser system can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Personal Adjustment - assisting advisees in their orientation to the school and aiding in their physical, social, emotional and scholastic adjustment and growth
  2. Guidance - helping advisees in their course selection and post-high school planning
  3. Communication - facilitating dialogue with advisers, students, parents and teachers
  4. Administration - processing records, reports and bulletins

The Assistant Principal for Student Services at the Winnetka Campus has administrative responsibility for the adviser system (including the adviser chair and advisers) and school social workers. He provides leadership and direction in planning, developing and coordinating the various services and assists personnel in developing and executing policies and procedures. He also serves as the chief disciplinarian.

The Assistant Principal at the Northfield Campus has administrative responsibility for student services, the adviser system, and other guidance services related to freshmen. He also is responsible for building and maintaining the master schedule and serves as the chief disciplinarian at the Northfield Campus.

The adviser chairs direct the work of the individual advisers. There are two adviser chairs - similar to a dean of girls and dean of boys - for each class. With the help of the Student Guidance Team, the chairs conduct weekly in-service and training for the advisers under their jurisdiction. The adviser chairs provide advisers with adviser room procedures, review the course planning and registration of the students under their responsibility, handle all disciplinary referrals for their year group and work with their respective student steering committees in planning class activities.

The adviser is a faculty member who accepts the adviser assignment as one-fifth of his or her teaching responsibility. The adviser meets with the adviser group of 24-26 students for 25 minutes each morning, thus developing a rapport with the students and a sense of responsibility for their personal and academic progress. When a student is experiencing difficulty of any kind, the adviser is generally the first person a parent or teacher will contact for information or advice. In general, the adviser, an adult role model, serves as a resource person whose counsel and perspective on individual students is highly valued.

Each adviser room reflects the combined personalities of the adviser and the advisees. Ultimately, each adviser room develops a personality of its own as advisees make friends with students from different communities and with varying interests. The casual observer may perceive the adviser room merely as a mechanism for taking attendance or distributing mail. While 25 minutes is often too short a time for much structured group activity, the Guidance Plan provides a framework for activities and support for one another over four years. Outside activities may vary from frequent social gatherings and projects to only occasional socializing.

While it serves students in countless ways, the adviser system cannot stand alone. Part of the training offered to advisers and adviser chairs is learning when, how and to whom to refer a student who is in need of additional supportive services.