Trying to See an Adviser Shouldn’t Be This Difficult: The Recent Frustrations of Academic Advising

If+advisers+prove+difficult+to+find%2C+students+may+find+themselves+waiting+endlessly+for+someone+to+notice+them.+%28Charlie+Puente%2FThe+Observer%29
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Trying to See an Adviser Shouldn’t Be This Difficult: The Recent Frustrations of Academic Advising

If advisers prove difficult to find, students may find themselves waiting endlessly for someone to notice them. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

If advisers prove difficult to find, students may find themselves waiting endlessly for someone to notice them. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

If advisers prove difficult to find, students may find themselves waiting endlessly for someone to notice them. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

If advisers prove difficult to find, students may find themselves waiting endlessly for someone to notice them. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

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Unneccessary Stress Builds When Students Have No One to Turn to for Help

If advisers prove difficult to find, students may find themselves waiting endlessly for someone to notice them. (Charlie Puente/The Observer)

By COLLEEN THORNHILL
Opinions Editor
Published: Oct. 5, 2011

I’m a senior. That means I’m scared out of my mind.

OK, I’m not that bad. I’ve still got my chin up. Kind of.

The point is I’m embarking on my fourth year at Fordham. I’ve been here long enough to know how academic advising works. I get a dean to set me on the right path freshman year. Then I pick my major, I pick an adviser and voila, all my problems have a means to be solved.

At least that’s how it used to be.

Over the summer my mom called me to tell me I’d gotten a postcard from Fordham telling me I needed to make an appointment with the senior dean as soon as possible to get all my affairs in order before I graduated.

“Yeah, Mom, sure thing, I’ll be right on it,” was my enthusiastic reply. Being the procrastinator I am, however, I of course did no such thing. Meanwhile my ever-timely suitemate informed me, “I’ve already made my appointment.” She’s a poli sci major. They tend to be organized.

But then during orientation training near the end of August, rumors started swirling that there was no senior dean. At first I felt relief, because that meant my procrastination would lead to no immediate consequences, but then I was pretty peeved. Here I am, at my wit’s end, no idea what the future holds for me, and Fordham can’t even provide me with a dean to help me make sure I have all the requirements needed for graduation? Oh, that is gold, Fordham, just gold.

On top of this debacle, there was the “wait, what?” email I’d gotten about halfway through the summer regarding my academic adviser. Apparently he wasn’t going to be around campus this year, so Fordham just assigned me to a new one.

I have two majors, the first being communications along with every other Fordham student and the second being history. Because I didn’t declare my history major until junior year, I didn’t really know as much regarding the requirements, and frankly I was absolutely in need of an adviser. Luckily, I got one, we met once to sign some paperwork and now if I saw him again in the hallway, I’m not sure I’d know who he is.

At least I had one, though, right? Wrong.

Because now he’s off doing research or something (those Ph.D. people, always studying) and I have a new adviser I’ve yet to meet. Well, isn’t that marvelous. I’d barely met the first adviser, and now Fordham was just surprising me with a new guy? Thanks.

I have a friend who’s graduating a semester early. You know what she needs? A dean. Girl had to wait three weeks before anybody would see her! Where is the respect, Fordham? Another friend of mine needed to speak to the head of her major’s department. Upon finally getting in touch with said person, he told my friend the head of the department had changed and there was nothing he could do to help her. Always nice to know the faculty has your best interests at heart.

Luckily, both those situations ended up working out just fine for my friends, but the hassle and the stress they caused were uncalled for. Jesuit ideals are all about cultivating the whole person and service and justice for and with others, but I’m seeing these ideas less and less from the upper tiers and it’s frustrating for all involved.

I understand that faculty members have lives. They do research. They support families. I understand that they’re not trying to make our lives harder. But after three full years at this school, I can’t help but note a small feeling of neglect, like I’m being shuffled around for their convenience.

What happened to the idea that Fordham students could easily form bonds with their professors? Father Grimes always challenges the freshmen to get to know at least one professor their first year. If I can’t even find the head of my department or have more than one semester to get to know my adviser, then the odds of my forming any kind of bond are slim to none. I’m basically traipsing along by myself, crossing my fingers that DegreeWorks and my own personal calculation skills are correct.

As I begin my senior year, I’d like to know the university still has my best interests at heart. I know I’ll be leaving them in a few short months, but I’ve given them a good chunk of time and I’d like to know they care about my well-being. Sounding self-centered and spoiled isn’t my intention here. All I’d like is for Fordham to give me some sort of sign that they haven’t left me to fend for myself just yet. I’ll be doing enough of that come May. Let’s not rush into things.