Advising System for Lowers Overhauled For 2016-2017 Academic Year

Two major changes will be implemented to the advising system starting in the next academic year. All boarding Lowers will have their House Counselors or complement as their academic advisors, and the College Counseling Office (CCO) will initiate contact with students starting their Lower year, as opposed to their Upper year.

The Dean of Studies Office decided to remodel the Lower advising system based on the success of the current Junior advising system, in which students have their own House Counselor or complement as their academic advisors. In the revised advising system, Uppers will be assigned advisors based on their own preference.

“[With the current system,] we end up having Lowers advised by someone new and someone who is difficult to access because they’re generally people who our Lowers have no connections with. Our system has been working fine overall for many students, but we felt like there was a better way to go,” said Scott Hoenig, Assistant Dean of Studies for Advising.

Hoenig added that having House Counselors as advisors would be more beneficial and convenient because students could cultivate closer relationships with their advisors and have easier access when in need of advising.

“The big thing that we heard from students is wanting a closer connection with advisors, wanting an advisor that they have had some kind of shared connection with whether it was a coach or a House Counselor or somebody who taught them… I think we’re going to be able to accommodate a lot of those desires because faculty and parents think it’s a good idea too,” said Hoenig.

The dorm-based advising system for Lowers was partially piloted this year. Some House Counselors already have two to five Lowers from their dorm in their advising group.

The advising system for day students will remain the same.

The College Counseling Office is also under revision. The office will get in touch with students to discuss the college application process during Lower year. This, however, does not necessarily mean that college counselors will be assigned to students during their Lower year. The Dean of Students Office is still discussing the extent of the college counselling office’s earlier involvement.

Additionally, there will be one meeting each term where Lowers can familiarize themselves with CCO. These meetings will commence this Friday; Lower day students will meet some of the college counselors with their advisors to discuss ways to alleviate anxiety and stress during the college application process.
“This will enable students to build relationships or at least start to get to know college counselors, even if it’s not their college counselor. It will be getting to know the office, building some trust between students and college counselors and advisors and therefore, paving the way to better relationships down the road,” said Hoenig.

Hoenig hopes that college counselors will be able to review course requests before they are officialized by the scheduling office for certain students.
“Certain students who are maybe first generation college students or underrepresented minority students who may have special considerations and need to be extra careful with how they schedule their program to study here, college counselors may be able to take a close look at [them] and just generally be available for students to ask for guidance,” he said.

These two changes were devised after the Strategic Plan Implementation Working Group for Advising and Counseling studied surveys sent out to the student body last winter regarding the advising system and athletics at Andover. The group also took into consideration the survey responses from parents, Seniors and faculty, anonymous questionnaires filled out by students and advisor evaluations.

Hoenig said that the Dean of Studies Office hopes to better utilize technology in the advising system. In particular, the office hopes to develop an online multi-year course planning worksheet.

“Right now what we have is all in notebooks, we have hard-copies [of worksheets to keep track of diploma requirements, notes from previous advisors and multi-year planning worksheets] because we don’t have a good way to electronically track all of this so we have to do it by hand. We count on advisors to come up with multi-year plans first and include them in the advisor binder then to pass it on to the advisees…I think it would be much better to have that in an electronic format,” said Hoenig.