Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: Not all advisors are created equal

Op-eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.

An academic advisor is meant to lead you through four years of college to a successful career. When applying to Boston University, advisors are advertised like the dining halls. Applicants are told advisors will be more than a resource, but also a confidant and mentor. Bright-eyed students come ready for school and immediately enter the maze that is academic advising at BU.

The harsh reality is soon realized — not everyone’s advising experience is equal or beneficial. As a student in the College of Communication I have a small fleet of office staff and academic counselors I can consult, but I didn’t have an academic advisor assigned to me until COM Undergraduate Affairs instituted faculty advisors for upperclassmen this semester. Undergraduate Affairs is an office with knowledge and resources, but very few access points for students. I could go without seeing an advisor for months or semesters without a huge effect on my academic career.

The longer I’ve been in school the easier it has become to avoid Undergraduate Affairs entirely. With a little bit of work, I can find all the information I need online. The only time Undergraduate Affairs becomes necessary is when an online form requires a signature or approval. With each approval to overload, minor pickup or graduation approval, I am reminded I am one out of 2,000 COM undergraduate students without any significant connection to the person signing off on my request.

I look to my friends in other schools at BU to see if their experience is any better. Some happily engage with their advisor, while others can’t remember their advisor’s name. The staff varies from faculty to grad students to just straightforward advisors. Some students are forced to change advisors every year. Some have the same advisor from day one to graduation. Every school operates differently, and just by talking to students it becomes clear which schools are using advising as a tool to help their students succeed and which schools are using advising to make sure their students stay afloat.

Some students, such as those in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, seem to have a system that works in their favor. The students are assigned one of two general advisors at the start of their academic career, that advisor than stays with the student until they graduate.

Others, such as undeclared majors in CAS, are left to fend for themselves with a random faculty advisor until they choose their major.

Like many students, I can achieve my academic goals at BU without an involved advisor. However, with a good academic advisor I could do more than meet those goals, but exceed them. It’s clear the current advising system at BU is not fair for every student, but that’s not the real problem. Colleges within BU are wasting a valuable tool and losing a chance to reach students. The current advising system is being used to make sure students pass, but it could, and should, be used to push students to be more accomplished and ready to leave BU with more than the requirements found on one sheet of paper.

Katarina Rusinas, krusinas@bu.edu

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