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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Getting Around the Advising Issue

<st time you considered mission statement of our college? (Yes, we have one.) One section states this: “The College’s aspiration is to prepare students to lead lives of learning that are broadly rewarding, professionally satisfying, and of service to humanity.” Considering that the end results of using various College resources, from the Career Center to the academic advising system, are to help find our narrowed possible particular paths to how we wish to live our lives for ourselves and for others (i.e. “humanity”), the College is trying to live up to its mission. Like anything in a world in flux, it’s a work in progress, but we are perhaps better off now than we were a decade ago, now with the Career Center and alumni network more utilized by the College.

That there is yet more to do in terms of achieving this section of the mission, while also achieving what we hope to see ourselves in, is obvious upon reflecting upon the events of last week’s Sophomorphosis. It is fitting to address the issue of “what happens next” for sophomores, inching closer to post-Carletonalia, especially if they weren’t aware of things from the Tunnel to the alumni network. Even recent actions done under Professor Newman’s directorship have been helpful. Even though I did feel exhausted – don’t pretend you didn’t nod off at some point, Class of 2017 – I was glad to have experienced the advising session during New Students Week. Or at least I will be more so later on.

When looking Hart’s coverage of the past week, many of the issues about the advising system (or undeclareds at least) have all circled the theme of not having enough outreach by advisors to their advisees. It is already scary enough when we don’t know what to do about things from registration to course selection for the long haul. But much of this discussion has mostly been unilateral – that is, that some criticisms of the advising system are based on the premise of “what can the College do for students?” It is a question the College has to address to live up to its mission, lest we find ourselves feeling cheated of our education here. But isn’t our education, our experience here, meant to be self-driven as well? (After all, that’s how we got here in the first place, right?

What does this mean? Initiative is perhaps the best way to define the idea of a self-driven education. It is something we already do in the minutiae of academic decisions, from selecting term classes, to electing our own ideas for projects to do, and even finding ways to complement our education outside of the lecture halls and laboratories. We have leeway in the form of these liberties and various other benefits of living in a close-range residential college, and as the aphorism goes, “to whom much is given, much is required.” Given our leeway, what are we to do that is required of us now?

Herein, we have one possible solution that comes from our side of the relationship between the College (i.e. our professors) and us. We already had a good example from Hart’s story about the residents of 4th Goodhue seeking help from their R.A. This is a case of students that look for help from other sources when needed. Now, this technically should not be case – perhaps this can be fixed with Carleton wiki articles for example – but it does happen, whether we or the College like it or not. But when we do not know what to do about our path, our future, does it not behoove us to seek out multiple sources of help and support, of advice? It makes sense to find those knowledgeable, for students to seek out their own relationships with the professors who could help, or the departmental advisors, alumni, or even current students in a desired academic path. Carls helping Carls isn’t just a tagline – it’s how sometimes we know what we want to do.

That is not to say that our colleagues who feel shafted by their relationship with their advisor are not taking enough initiative. Even my suggestions are speculative from anecdotal evidence. And I do wish your academic paths well. Yet our relationship with the College is a two-way street. We cannot expect all the answers from our advisors. Above all, we exist in this world as adults, and even though we do live in Carleton’s bubble (or monastery, to borrow Griffin Johnson’s proper coinage), we will soon be expected to live in a world where people won’t always be able to tell us how something works – we have to ask and find out on our own. Perhaps in preparation for this future (goodness, what an overused word at the moment), we must take charge of our academic paths ourselves in the meantime. We don’t need to be deterred by what our advising system currently lacks. Thankfully, knowledgeable people exist right around the corner here in Carleton. All you need is to do is ask.

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