Archive for November 28th, 2010

Last year I watched my colleagues going through the advising process, meeting with seemingly endless waves of students, and feared the day that I would have to advise students myself.  The downside of having one of the largest departments on campus is that there are a lot of students to go around.  As a result, I am responsible for advising over 40 students, despite the fact that I barely know what I’m doing.  One of the drawbacks of advising this many students is that time with each student is short, which leads to the following advice for students who are planning to meet with me:

  • Check your e-mail.  Remember that message I sent out at the beginning of the semester noting that I was your new advisor?  How about the one I sent the week the spring schedule came out detailing the advising process?  Checking (and, I suppose, reading) your e-mail on a regular basis makes the process a lot smoother.
  • Schedule a meeting.  If you don’t schedule a meeting with me I cannot meet with you.  If I am in my office but not meeting with a student it is likely that I am insanely busy trying to cram all of my non-advising work into a brief respite.  When you ask if I am free I will tell you no and ask you to schedule a meeting.
  • Look at the classes you need to take and the classes that are being offered.  Based on our meetings you may be shocked to discover that I don’t have any more information about this than you do.  As I said in the e-mail that you didn’t read, I will not spend my time watching you look at the available classes.  If you have not done this when we meet, you will be invited to schedule another meeting.
  • Come to your scheduled meeting.  Scheduling a meeting does not do you any good if you do not show up for said meeting.  As I said in the e-mail that you didn’t read, imagine how you would feel if you scheduled a meeting with me and when the meeting time came I wasn’t in my office, I gave you no indication that I wouldn’t be there, and I gave you no indication of when I would return.  Of course, that would mean that I’m either unable to keep track of appointments or an asshole who thinks my time is more valuable than yours.  Also, arriving at your scheduled meeting three minutes before it ends does not count, even if your excuse is “I was in bed with this girl…”
  • I’ve never taken a class here.  I know that you know nothing about the academic job market, but you should know enough to realize that I have never taken a class at this institution.  As a result I can’t tell you if a class is easy or hard.  What I can tell you is that you should probably not approach a class that others report is hard in the same half-assed way you approach the rest of your classes.

Despite the misadventures with several students that led to this advice, the advising experience wasn’t bad as a whole.  In fact, I think that I would enjoy it if I had more time with each student.  I was also a lot more comfortable with the process when meeting with students that have been in my classes, which gives me hope for the future.  Nevertheless, I think that advising will always mean crossing a few weeks worth of productivity off of my schedule.

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