Dearth of true mentorship plagues advising system

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This week students at Occidental are registering for their Spring 2014 classes, lining up at the nearest ethernet cable with several course codes in hand, ready to grab a seat in their ideal classrooms. But while every student diligently maps out their schedule each semester, the role of the academic advisor still remains ill-defined and underutilized by both the school and its student body.

Firstly, the role of the faculty advisor for first-year and/or undeclared students must involve greater preparation on the faculty side and more initiative on the student side.

“Faculty advisors help students understand their intended major and may also help them identify the appropriate campus resources for further help,” the college website states.

However, it seems as if these students enter college with professors that give them the same advice: students should satisfy their core requirements, even if they know exactly what they are majoring in. Rather than placing emphasis on core requirements, faculty advisors should activate their roles by reaching out to students, truly providing them with resources and never hesitating to send their advisees interesting links, opportunities or articles of interest. The exchanges between advisor and advisee should not be limited to when the student is forced to go see them to get their registration PIN or their advisor’s signature on absurd forms; it should be defined through the authentic, curiosity-driven interactions in which Occidental prides itself.

Additionally, if the school wishes to invest in an advising program, the role of the advisor should be more defined. Although they can be a valuable resource for students, many find going to them to sign off on forms like class withdrawals and minor declarations tedious and cumbersome. Additionally, professors can make the process more difficult by sometimes being unavailable to sign these forms.

Rather than blaming professors for not being available or students for not taking advantage of faculty, the school must foster an environment where students feel comfortable switching advisors or approaching theirs regularly. Advisors must also do their homework before signing onto the job, be familiar with the ins and outs of major requirements, know which faculty to whom to direct their students and take the extra step to reach out.

If Occidental students and advisors leave the advising resource untapped, the relationship between the two parties will remain an inefficient, unnecessary requirement.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the Editorial Board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental community.


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