Pre-major advising in its current form does not provide adequate support to students who are deciding which classes to take. Though it is designed to help students find interesting classes before they select a major, pre-major advising often falls short. A single meeting with an advisor isn’t enough to give students a clear picture of academic life at Tufts. Departments and programs should have the time and resources to host events for underclassmen who are unsure of their academic direction during orientation and the registration period. While many departments already have open houses and information sessions around registration, we feel the university should do more to integrate these events into the course selection process, and set aside a day during registration for a university-wide academic open house.
Professor Anne Mahoney, chair of the Committee on Advising and Co-Curricular Learning, explained in an email to the Daily that building meaningful relationships with faculty ought to begin with pre-major advising. Mahoney emphasized that pre-major advising keeps students who already know what they want to do from narrowing their focus. It is easy for students to forget the plethora of classes beyond their chosen field, and pre-major advisors help push students to broaden their academic interests.
Sessions hosted by individual departments around registration period each semester benefit students who are looking for more major-specific guidance. By having specific times during which professors can meet students and discuss classes, students can start building relationships with faculty in their departments and navigate requirements.
Professor Mahoney noted that many departments do have information sessions, but they aren’t strongly promoted. By improving the advertising of these sessions and making sure to hold them at least once a semester, departments can make themselves more accessible to students. Tufts overall should encourage academic information sessions by setting aside one day before registration to host an all-school academic open house.
Mahoney added that for first-years, department sessions may not be very useful during their first semester. She explained that departments used to host sessions during orientation, but that this practice has fallen off in recent years. Combining an all-school academic open house with orientation for first-years would help students who are uncertain about their academic direction to decide which classes to take. In addition, these sessions could help first-years introduce themselves to others who are planning to major in the same area, helping them form connections with their peers early in the school year.
Pre-major advising has its benefits, particularly when it comes to fostering connections between students and professors and helping undecided students keep their interests diverse. On the other hand, department sessions during registration and other major-specific guidance would provide students with more direction while not detracting from pre-major advising. Tufts should set aside time for all departments to welcome interested students, and reintroduce small-department sessions during first-year orientation week to provide incoming underclassmen with adequate guidance.