I have been at this university for 2 years and 4 days. I assure you I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have had no fewer than 5 academic advisors. I'll take the blame for one of those extra bodies, but for the most part I think we can all agree that this is not normal and perhaps there is a slight flaw in the advising system at this university. As a freshman I met with Ranjit, a distinguished professor in the Anthropology department, a field I had relatively little interest in. Ranjit looked over my high school transcript, signed some arbitrary form of undetermined importance, handed me a list of requirements, and I was out the door in under 6 minutes.
I somehow managed to make it through my first semester with Ranjit's minimalist advising methods, but I craved more hands-on guidance. I signed up for a 2-credit class that was described as half advising and half Native American History. It came with a built-in advisor who was obligated to meet with me every week and listen to my problems. (Score!) Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that this advantage was not worth having to read 250 pages on Native American History (which, to be honest, originally sounded not entirely uninteresting). Little did I know that by dropping this course I would forfeit my rights to my shiny new advisor whose time was much too valuable to be wasted on someone who was not interested in Native American History. Naturally, I tried to reconnect with Ranjit, but was surprised to learn that he was spending a year on sabbatical. So the Powers that Be reassigned me to someone else, with whom I had another brief and fruitless meeting in a tiny, stuffy office filled with very intimidating books. One fascinating tidbit this new advisor brought to my attention (I'll call him Advisor #3 because I don't remember his name) was that, according to my transcript, I had not fulfilled my foreign language requirement.
STOP RIGHT THERE.
I am a Spanish major. I came into college with enough AP credits alone to fulfill the foreign language requirement, not to mention an SAT II score that doubly qualified me. If what he was saying was true, I had already taken two 300-level Spanish courses at this school that I was technically ineligible for. Apparently Ranjit had failed to notice this minor detail. I was understandably upset by my transcript's glaring discrepancy. Advisor #3 suggested that I go to the Registrar's Office to get everything straightened out, so the next day I paid a visit to Gloria, an appropriately high-strung administrator in the Registrar's Office. Gloria clicked and clacked away at her magic computer and announced that there had been an error which she was kind enough to fix. Everything was peachy until she noticed the ID number on my transcript was not the same as my student ID number. This was not something I had ever thought much about, but Gloria was incredibly alarmed and seemed convinced that if I did not remedy this situation I would not be able to graduate because the diploma-givers would see the mismatched ID numbers and assume some kind of chicanery had taken place, thereby invalidating my four years of college. I assured Gloria I would go to the Office of Such and Such and have them look into it immediately.
I never went to the Office of Such and Such. I never asked why they gave me two different ID numbers. I'll let you know in two years if Gloria was right about the whole diploma thing.
Life goes on, and one day in my second year I declared my major as Spanish (a process I thought would be much more dramatic than it was), at which point I was told I would be assigned an advisor in my department. Needless to say, I was filled with glee at the thought of an advisor who might actually be able to advise me. Then I met Thomas Thompson. Thomas seemed surprisingly competent (he was British, so I automatically assumed he was smart), and he got right down to business, telling me exactly what classes to take when. We had a generally productive meeting, and I was feeling good about things. After being accepted into the Education School, I was also assigned an advisor within that program. Her name was Ruby. So there I was, from zero advisors to two in just a few months. Lucky me.
FALSE. To this day, I have met Ruby exactly one time. That was the day of our orientation of the Education School where all of my fellow advisees and I were introduced to the woman that would be our mentor for the next four years. She seemed like a lovely woman, but God bless her, she responded to 2 out of the 8 e-mails I sent her in the last year. She cancelled her office hours twice. And the other day I received a mass e-mail from her in which she apologized for giving all us advisees the wrong time and place for a meeting we were supposed to have with her. I had received no prior notification of this meeting or any of the other important-sounding events she mentioned. Although it was not easy having a borderline negligent advisor, Ruby in no way contributed to my decision to leave the Education School, and I hope when the time comes I'm able to get a hold of her long enough for her to sign the form notifying the world of my withdrawal from the Ed School, at which point I'm sure she will say to me, "Who are you?"
So yesterday, when I decided to abandon the Ed School and my hopes for a decent, stable career, I called on Thomas, my reliable advisor in a department to which I am fully committed and have every intention of graduating with a degree from. I sent him an e-mail calling an emergency meeting to discuss what could be done to salvage what's left of my college education. (Those were not my exact words, but the overall tone was something similar.) In his usual expedient manner, Thomas responded within 12 hours of my desperate e-mail. The news was not good, however. Thomas informed me that he will not be doing any undergraduate advising this semester due to his administrative responsibilities and asked that I contact Shawna who will assign me a new advisor.
And this is how you end up a third-year college student with two classes, one major, and no advisors. In my crazed frustration I turned to the person who has been my personal advisor for the last 20 years and hasn't let me down yet: my mother. Her words of wisdom (and hugs) were more helpful than anything I heard from my parade of academic advisors at this institution. So BOO-YAH, Ranjit, Ruby, and various other short-lived advisors. Who needs you.
My mother's advice was this: Start a blog.
LIFE IS A COOKIE
Image property of Disney-Pixar
I am a twenty-three-year-old graduate of the University of Virginia. I don't believe in "hobbies," so I spend my time watching an unhealthy amount of television, rereading my favorite books, and practicing for my exciting future career as a professional recluse. My favorite things are Christmas, the Oscars, and Joss Whedon.