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Advice to advisors: be open to feedback

Every semester, students have to meet with their assigned advisors before they can register for classes they want to take next semester. While these meetings are intended to be a meaningful interaction between a student and an experienced faculty member in the field that the student is pursuing, they are treated by students as something to get over with so that they can register.

The cynical attitude that some students have developed towards advising is likely due to the feeling of being misguided in previous meetings or the notion that they were unproductive. Although many advisor meetings are beneficial, there needs to be a system in place to reform the ones that are not. A system similar to the feedback that students give to professors at the end of the semester would help reinforce helpful techniques and eliminate detrimental ones.

Junior biology major Jasmine Gulati agrees that it would have benefitted future pre-medical students if she could give feedback to her past advisors. “After your experience with your advisors, you should be able to give them advice looking back on their guidance. For example, I wished that I had started by taking both biology and chemistry as a freshman so that I was better prepared for my MCAT junior year.”

Some majors have different advisors for students depending on the amount of credits they have. For instance, as a biology major I had a ‘temporary’ advisor for when I had less than 30 credits, and then I had a more ‘permanent’ advisor for after I hit 30 credits. As a biology major that wants to pursue a career other than research, having an advisor that is informed in my career interest would be extremely helpful.

A good way to keep professors updated on the many ever-changing career paths would be by allowing students that have gone through the experience to give feedback on what they wished they were told by their advisors.

Although many pre-professional students such as pre-dental, pre-medical and pre-optometry have group advising meetings with their pre-professional advisor, a more effective approach would be to have one on one meetings. Especially when some students depend on their pre-professional advisors and committees to write them a strong, genuine letter of recommendation.

Having mandatory, semi-annual one-on-one pre-professional advising would help the advisors better know the students which they are recommending. It would also help the advisors get a better sense of how hard each student is working, and the adversity that each student has faced throughout college. Treating all students as the same through an objective meeting lacks the personal interaction that would otherwise take their subjective experiences into consideration.

The current Health Professions Evaluation Committee process grants students the opportunity to obtain a letter of recommendation from the committee through very few interactions with the committee within months before the students apply to pharmacy, medical, or dental school. Many of the students’ assumed personalities are a reflection of their GPA, standardized test scores and extracurriculars. Individual advising would introduce a more effective way for recommenders to write about the student’s personality.

It would benefit both the students and advisors in the long run, and would only take 10-15 minutes of the students time. If forms were made available online through Blackboard, it could make the survey easily accessible, efficient, and organized.