As a compliment of freshman housing, advisers are now assigned on a more geographic basis than they have been in past years.
Most students are assigned advisers dependent on their residence area, with a few exceptions. Engineering majors, athletes and those enrolled in Quest courses have advisers according to their respective interests.
In the past, assigning freshman advisers has been somewhat random with little regard to residence or anticipated major.
Advisers themselves actually have the most say in who they advise. This is not a change from previous years.
The new advising system began this fall after faculty advisers and the Freshman Advisery Committee discussed the change last year. Along with Dean of The College William Scott Green, Dean of Freshmen Deborah Rossen-Knill is also among those who are responsible for this new advising system.
“In the College of Arts and Sciences, Rochester has never assigned advisers on the basis of a student’s anticipated major,” Rossen-Knill said.
“Assigning advisers on the basis of an anticipated major isn’t necessarily a service to students,” Green said.
“The role of the adviser is to talk with students about course decisions, help students consider options, and to help them make informed decisions that reflect their own interests,” Green continued.
“[The change] will make it easy for communication between Resident Advisers and faculty advisers with students living in the same hall, which allows for a team approach to addressing freshmen’s needs and interests,” she continued.
The freshman committee included members of student government, freshmen, future freshman RAs, D’Lions, faculty advisers, and staff from The College and from Residential Life.
Rossen-Knill said that all advisers are trained to help the students choose appropriate courses.
“I am very supportive of the new implementation. I like the geographic pairing. It creates a bond of sorts among a set of new students in a new place at the start of a new and sometimes unsettling time in their lives,” freshman adviser and professor of physics Steve Manly said.
For freshmen, the system has its benefits and drawbacks.
“It was kind of difficult choosing classes with my adviser, whose field of expertise is different from mine, because he didn’t know that much about the classes I needed to take,” freshman and math major Ethan McKenney said.
Freshman Jennifer Leung has had an experience similar to Mckenney. She is a biology and history major with her adviser in the philosophy department.
“She’s a nice person,” Leung said. “But it would be nice to have an adviser in my field of interest because then you could ask her questions about transfer credits and the field.”
Freshman Keith Rosenberg is someone who actually has an adviser in his anticipated major of psychology.
“I just set up a meeting with him today. I reminded him that I was psych major and he set me in the right direction. He told me about a stat class that I had to take that wasn’t listed,” Rosenberg said.
“I wouldn’t have found out about that if I had a history adviser,” he continued.
Rossen-Knill said that the purpose of this plan is to broaden perspective. “Freshmen should become familiar with the range of possibilities our curriculum offers and the range of careers it might lead to if they are to make the most of our interest based curriculum,” she said.
“I do not feel inadequate to advise students with an interest outside of physics. Most first year students really don’t know where they are headed yet. Therefore, general advice is good,” Manly said.
“In a system where more than 50 percent of students change their mind at least once, you can’t make a realistic advising system based on what people think their interests will be when they get to college.”
“Our advisors are well-trained and know how to give good advice to those they advise. That’s the besst we can ask,” Green continued.
As previously mentioned, freshman engineering majors have advisers in their field.
“The adviser not understanding your goals could easily misguide you,” said freshman and electrical and computer engineering major Stephanie Bartlow.
Since Bartlow has an adviser in her field of interest, she “understands the first-hand benefit and support of having an adviser from your field of interest.”
“I think that pairing a student and adviser from different fields of interest can’t be doing the student all that much good,” Bartlow said.
There are professors who consider themselves best suitable to advise within their field.
“I do not feel I would be qualified to advise students in an area outside of ECE,” faculty adviser and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Wendi Heinzelman said.
“I am much more familiar with classes within ECE and can better answer students’ questions about curricula, prerequisites, etc., for ECE classes than any class outside of ECE,” she continued.
Students who are engineering majors do see the flip side and the advantage of having an adviser outside their major.
“If a student were paired with an adviser from another department, he or she could possibly benefit by being exposed to people of different academic backgrounds. These people could provide the student with a more enriched perspective of the university,” freshman and chemical engineering major Brian Andalaya said.
Sport as interest group
Athletes are another group assigned advisers specifically by this interest so that the adviser understands the athlete’s needs.
“I like Professor Gamm because he has had athletes before and he knows the schedules and he knows that we have to play so many games,” freshman and soccer player Peter Francis said.
Other than athletes, there are freshmen who have advisers based on the special Quest course that they registered in.
These Quest course teachers advise the freshmen in their class. The other assignments are grouped by hall.
Additional reporting by Mansi Desai.
Lam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.