Advisement burdens professors and students alike

Registration for classes may be one of the more stressful points in an undergraduate's college career. There are the issues of alternate PIN numbers not appearing on Knightweb, of trying to input the CRN number of your desired course only to find that the section closed just seconds before you could hit "submit," and the frustrating issue of prerequisites. Thankfully, as students we are provided with our own personal advisor to assist us in difficult decisions regarding our academic futures. That is, until we truly need help.

Many students are unaware of advisement problems until they've experienced them. Take undeclared majors, for example. If a student comes to Geneseo with a bunch of interests but no specific direction, he or she will have a very hard time registering for classes, let alone knowing which ones to take. He or she will undoubtedly turn to the advisor for assistance, hoping for genuine guidance and concern. However, the advisor has 12 other advisees, three classes, grading, and a personal life to worry about in addition to this lost student, who will not be high on the advisor's priority list. What is the student to do? Registration ends in five days, most of the core classes are filled up, and the advisor could care less. Part of the problem is the responsibility of the student, but it only makes matters worse when the advisor can't be sympathetic and put more effort into trying to help the student figure out what he or she has to do.

An easily avoidable scenario is one that involves meeting requirements in order to graduate on time. Use the English major as an example. One of the many requirements a student must meet is to complete five English classes at the 300 level in order to graduate. If the student pays complete attention, reads all manuals and handbooks, checks the College's Web site, and confirms the information, then they will be informed enough to proceed with schedule building. However, if the student is na've, ignorant, or simply trusts that the advisor will warn them of missing requirements while building a schedule, then they may be left behind to take undergraduate courses for another semester when they should have graduated on time.

This is not completely the fault of the department, the advisor, or the student. It is a terrible combination of many factors that often come together at the worst possible time. The student is supposed to be aware of their academic progress. However, many students have difficulty adjusting to the freedoms and responsibilities of college, face emotional or academic stress, or truly believe that their advisor wouldn't allow them to screw up as long as he or she asked for help. The department is constantly busy with his or her own work, and even attempts to warn students of their impending academic doom by e-mail if students are paying attention.

The problem is that everyone is too caught up in their own work to be able to efficiently function together. Most SUNY and private colleges use professors as advisors, and students run into similar problems. As a way to reduce the burden on professors and to benefit students, some schools, like Clarkson, hire special advisors for specific departments, or have student mentors during registration periods like at Syracuse University. Geneseo should put more emphasis on registration periods by either hiring more temporary advisors, or providing a work/study option to upperclassmen familiar with their department's needs for providing mentoring services.