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Who, What, When, Where, Whatever

It’s been more than 20 years since I wrote a Record news story, but I seem to remember something about “Who, What, When . . .” That lesson comes to mind in reading this Record article about an academic advising fair.

Seniors representing every academic department filled Goodrich Hall the evening of Feb. 7, eager to advertise their major or concentration and answer questions from inquiring first-years and sophomores.

How many students showed up to be advised? Why doesn’t the Record tell us this? Dean Roseman has a variety of sensible things to say later in the article, and we all know that the quality and quantity of academic advising is a perennial concern. But, as a Record reader, I want to know if dozens or hundreds of students showed up to be advised. If only dozens did, then I would safely conclude that, whatever problems there might be in academic advising, there isn’t that much to worry about.

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#1 Comment By Noah Smith-Drelich ’07 On February 28, 2005 @ 10:28 am

As a sophomore who attended the advising fair, I can say that the total number of non-advisors attending was in the dozens and not hundreds. I actually didn’t go to get advising–I went because my friends were going.

However, this is not to say that advising isn’t lacking at Williams or a necessary area of campus life which must be improved. I think the mediocre attendance is more reflective of the amount students feel that they have to gain from other students than the need for professorial advising at Williams.

#2 Comment By David On February 28, 2005 @ 11:34 am

Thanks for the info. One longer term project of EphBlog is to help and solve the advising problem. It is a classic case of something that could be solved with little if any money, but which requires cooperation among current students and alums.

Simple outline is to create department centered teams of people who would gather information about that department, provide a FAQ and answer questions. For the most part, one students plus one alum would be all that you really need. There can’t be more than a few thousand words worth of things that students need to know about, say, the Political Science department.

These posts could all be categorized to make it easy for someone to pull up the collected wisdom of the participants about, say, Art History.

I hope to get some members of next year’s Gargoyles interested in this . . . It would also be very cool to get current professors involved in such an effort, but they would (rightly) expect to see some progress before signing up.

#3 Comment By Diana On March 1, 2005 @ 8:38 am

I am also a sophomore who went to the advising fair, mostly because I am planning to double-major and I have spend all of my effort and energy on only one of those majors, so I wanted to find out a bit more about the other one. I talked to two seniors who gave me some excellent information and advice about which classes they say are required for prerequisites but really are not necessary. Then I went over and talked to Noah about anchor housing.

#4 Comment By David On March 1, 2005 @ 9:56 am

The shame is that your good question and their good answers were not recorded anywhere. Why not write them done and post it? A collection of such questions and answers, maintained and updated over time, with input from students, alumni and faculty, would essentially solve the academic advising “problem”.

A perfect project for Gargoyle (and EphBlog would love to help).