add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Academic Advising is a Mixed Bag For BC Students - BANG.
Maddy Mitchell / Gavel Media

Academic Advising is a Mixed Bag For BC Students

Course registration, especially for underclassmen, is a time in which stress, naiveté, and the unknown overwhelm BC students. So many are unsure of their career paths, majors, and core requirements; they cannot go into this daunting experience alone. Of course, academic advising and the resources of BC are ready to help. Or are they? 

The myriad of advisors, tasked with assisting students in perhaps the most important aspect of their education, all differ greatly in their dedication to supporting of these troubled students. Some go to great lengths to ensure the best path is taken, while others spend minimal amounts of time preparing students for what’s next. How can one assure themselves that they are getting the most out of their tuition money when this crucial part of one’s education is an inconsistent hodgepodge?

“I told her I was changing my major,” an MCAS freshman recalled, “and she didn’t give me any guidance as to how to do so.” This was just the beginning of a lengthy five-minute zoom meeting between the student and their new advisor. She continued to be of little help to the student, as they detailed their course plan for the coming semester. 

“I didn’t know exactly when I needed to register for classes,” they said, so they turned to the advisor looking for help. Instead of helping, she placed the blame on the student, telling them to pay more attention to their email. The meeting ended, and the student felt “pretty disappointed, wanting more, especially because I’m pretty lost searching for a new major.”

This, of course, was not the only case of lackluster advising. Another freshman in the Carroll School of Management discussed his relationship with his advisor. They bluntly stated, “I have not talked to him once.” They actually found more help from a CSOM TA than they did their own advisor. 

One who is paid to assist students in their career-impacting decisions would be expected to take the time to ensure that their students are prepared. Instead, this advisor held a Zoom meeting for all of his almost one hundred students where he tediously scrolled through a document that could have easily been researched by the students themselves. “I had that thing on mute,” the student commented. They were probably not the only one.

Even a sophomore, one seemingly more acquainted with their advisor at this point, was remiss to discuss any aspect of their academic advising this year. When asked whether they even had a meeting, they confessed “I should probably meet with someone.”

Despite all of these helpless experiences, some students have been lucky to find advisors who truly care.

A freshman in the Lynch School described their experience with their advisor. Paired with a staff member within the school, the student felt that they were helpful and conscious of their future plans. “She helped with my second major and she helped with disability services,” they emphasized. Unlike other advisors, she was willing to go the extra mile and discuss the many offerings both within and outside of Lynch. “I felt on top of it,” they said “and it was helpful.”

Another MCAS student recalled their short yet accommodating meeting with their advisor. They discussed more than just their plans for next semester, and they were grateful to see the interest that the advisor had in their future. “He was very persistent about his questions and I was not prepared for them… but they were a good thing because it got me thinking about them,” they said. While this advisor went above and beyond, questions like these should be common in academic advising sessions.

There is a stark disparity within BC’s academic advising realm. No matter what school one belongs to, it’s a game of chance when it comes to getting paired with an advisor who cares. This inconsistency creates deep-rooted differences in every student’s education. While some are supported by helpful and experienced advisors, others are left in the dust, disregarded by the very people tasked with helping them.

How can BC improve upon this? Regulate and enforce some sort of system in which every advisor must attend to their students. The current system contributes to a form of academic inequality in which students with great advisors are given an advantage over the ones without. These students are helpless, and it’s not their fault, so why should they be the ones affected by BC’s lack of responsibility? Students face some of the most difficult challenges when registering for courses and planning their academic experience, and when advisors cannot do the job they are required to do, these students are bound to fail.