Advice for Advisors

Students have spent the past few weeks scouring the Course of Study, filling out course planning sheets, and making contingency plans for Winter Term course selection. For many, this process consists of weekly meetings with advisors, supplemented with helpful counsel and the occasional donut. For less fortunate students, however, this process relies on the experiences of fellow students — sometimes misinformed — and trusted, non-advisor faculty to make decisions about scheduling, graduation requirements, and course levels and loads. Knowledge concerning Andover’s graduation requirements and courses varies from advisor to advisor, with some distributing sage advice while others struggle to answer basic questions concerning course selections or physically entering courses into the system online.

Advising at Andover is inconsistent at the expense of students’ academic success and overall well-being. With incredible support from Scott Hoenig, Assistant Dean of Studies for Advising, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, and the Dean of Studies office, adults serving as advisors on campus have no excuse to not support students to the best of their ability.

Advisors meet at least once a term — often more — with Hoenig, receive almost weekly emails from him, are provided with resources through an Advisor page on Canvas, and are encouraged to reach out to Hoenig and the Dean of Studies Office with questions at any point throughout the course selection process, according to five faculty advisors familiar with the systems in place. Considering that advisors are backed by such a strong network of support, there are few explanations for why some are simply unprepared to meet the needs of their advisees.

Advisors should be able to support students holistically: they should have a consistent line of communication with both their advisees and their advisees’ parents; they should be familiar with the course selection process; and they should know where to find answers to questions about Andover that they themselves don’t have enough information or knowledge to answer.

Every student should have access to a mentor whom they feel is capable of guiding them throughout their time at Andover. The influence of the academic advisor is of paramount importance to our academic security and success, especially for day students, who lack the added support of a house counselor, and new students, who are unfamiliar with navigating Andover’s complicated courses and diploma requirement system.

Though advisors — the adults — have the most accountability for their relationships with advisees, students are also responsible for investing in these support systems. All faculty and staff at Andover are capable of being great advisors. For the many that are, we are deeply grateful — your support and guidance have allowed us to make the most of our time at Andover. For those who are less impactful, we encourage you to take advantage of the resources at your disposal and reinvest in your role as an advisor and your relationships with your advisees — they want and desperately need your guidance.

This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXL.