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Teachable Moments

By Marcy Kraus, dean of freshmen and director of the College Center for Advising Services

The concept of “advising as teaching” has had a significant impact on the academic advising profession in the last several decades. Good advising engages students in their educational choices, just as good teaching engages students in their learning activities. As teachers, good advisors challenge students to think critically about their personal, academic and career goals.   As teachers, good advisors can help students negotiate the often-complex systems and pathways that are a part of today’s higher education environment.  And as teachers, good advisors can help students become “self-authored” and transform from individuals who have always taken the advice of others to individuals who listen to their own advice.

Inevitably some students will be disappointed by their early advising experiences in college. Advising that focuses primarily on course scheduling and registration, while important, is not sufficient. Advising that is conducted solely via email, while convenient, is likely to be less meaningful than the face-to-face interactions that we, as people, value in our closest relationships. What options do students seeking a more personal advising relationship have? Discussing your concerns with the dean of freshmen or the dean of sophomores may reveal that the advising “match” isn’t working and warrant a reassignment to a new advisor.  In other cases, students’ expectations of what their advisor should be doing don’t “match” with their advisor’s actual job description. And in still other cases, some students will discover that connecting with a team of people who are available to offer advice and mentoring will provide the best support for their individual needs.  Regardless, good advising is not optional, it is instrumental for supporting student success.

The University of Rochester has an over abundance of committed and involved faculty and staff who look forward to guiding and supporting undergraduate students. Students who have not yet made that critical advising connection are encouraged to contact their class dean, their major department, or the College Center for Advising Services for advice.