Editorial: Pre-Major Advising does not fully address student needs

The recent class registration period had students scrambling to fill distribution requirements and major prerequisites. Tufts students have the privilege of advising programs that span throughout their undergraduate experience. However, as students take on more ambitious schedules, add majors and minors to their repertoires and change their courses of study, a more comprehensive advising system is crucial to ensure success for an increasingly driven student body.

Tufts has two advising programs, not including advising deans: Pre-Major and Major Advising. Major advisors are chosen by the students, so they foster a relationship that is rooted in the students’ interests and career goals. Alternatively, pre-major advisors are more random and students with undecided majors are often assigned to professors who have little to no expertise in areas beyond their own professions. This results in unproductive meetings with advisors, which may conclude with little more than advisors referring students to existing resources like the Tufts website.

Some students have minimal opportunities to meet with their pre-major advisors, who are frequently high-demand professors and staff with little time set aside for office hours. For example, some pre-major advisors have only one office hour, limiting flexibility for students to ask questions and rearrange schedules to meet with their advisors. Advising communication is often flawed as well, with some advisors not posting their office hours online, and there is a lack of standardization when reaching out to advisees.

Student Success Advisors Margot Cardamone and Jared Smith told the Daily in an email that measures are in place to ensure the quality of pre-major advisors.

“Pre-Major advisors participate in yearly summer trainings to review policies and refresh on requirements and other information pertinent to advising students,” they wrote.

Additional workshops are offered for more specific advising needs, including the Academic Resource Center and Student Accessibility Services, according to the student success advisors.

Any department chair or full-time staff member can choose to be a Pre-Major Advisor, Cardamone and Smith said. The selection process is primarily based on the interest of the applicant. Additionally, once someone becomes an advisor, there is no additional compensation for the position. Thus, it is unsurprising that professors with already busy schedules don’t cut out extra time for their advisees, as the program is entirely volunteer based.

There are undebatable virtues to the advising process: helping students transition from high school to college, finding the best way to satisfy distribution requirements and prerequisites, as well as streamlining the enrollment process, to name a few. However, how can we expect advisors to devote ample time to this if they are focused on their paid job? The university should consider changing the advisor selection process to make the position harder to get, but more rewarding once they do.

By compensating advisors, we would incentivize them to set aside more office hours and be better armed with information to help their process. Also, by instating a more formal application, the university would ensure that advisors really do want to put in that time for their students.

It is important to note that students and faculty share this responsibility to communicate and simplify the registration process as much as possible. But students, who have invested so much to be here, would benefit immensely from the solid commitment of their advisors. For students to receive proper direction, the advising process needs to be revised.