I’m sure Buck Owens of “Hee Haw” fame never imagined that his famous song, “Crying Time,” would be used (abused) in conjunction with academic advising time. But the tune, recorded by singers from Tammy Wynette to Ray Charles, has been stuck in my head for the past few days as students begin the semi-annual ritual of stopping in to say hello and to set up schedules for future semesters. For some, it might BE crying time: those whose GPAs won’t meet scholarship minimums or those who aren’t going to graduate “on time,” whatever that is, because they’ve dropped too many classes or taken the wrong electives.
And that’s only one reason advising time is so important. Advising is an opportunity for students and their advisers to talk about requirements for majors and minors, options for advanced common curriculum courses or those “free” electives. It’s not just your adviser saying, “Take Biology T122 on Tuesday/Thursday at 11:00.” It’s not just about reminding you that you need to average 15 hours a semester to graduate in four years or trying to figure out what those study abroad credits are going to substitute for.
Sure, advisers do those things. But your adviser also helps you plan your academic life, reminding you about prerequisites (you have to take XXX before you can register for YYY) and alternate semester courses (course ZZZ will only be offered in fall semesters of even years). And your adviser can help you identify good electives that will enhance your education, not just easy ones that lift your GPA.
Your adviser will help you figure out what minor suits you, personally and professionally. And more than that, a good adviser will help you figure out what you’re going to do AFTER your academic life at Loyola ends.
Every semester I get a new advisee who comes in and says, “I just want you to take my adviser hold off so I can register for classes.” While other departments may “advise” that way, we don’t do that in the School of Mass Communication. We make you sit and talk with us, and we talk about things that you might not see as relevant to the advising process.
I ask my advisees a lot of questions: what do you want to do with your life? how do you spend your spare time? where do you want to live after you graduate? All this helps me make better, more appropriate suggestions for your courses, as well as to steer you into professional organizations, internship opportunities or even career paths.
I like advising, even when there are more than 40 of you and only one of me. (And there was that semester I had 120 advisees, but that was at another school!) I get to know my students better through the advising process, and we often chat about non-academic topics. I’ve had tearful sessions (and keep a box of tissues nearby), and I’ve celebrated engagements, job offers and revelations of newly-found career enthusiasm.
I look forward to seeing my advisees in the next weeks. I encourage you to come prepared, to have a tentative schedule made out or at least a list of proposed courses to take. But I also remind you to come see me when it’s NOT advising time, just to say hello.