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Freshman Advising Strategy Shifts to Seminar and Residence Plans

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

The great majority of next year's freshmen will be advised through Freshman Advisor Seminars, and the remainder through residence-based advising under a new plan being developed by the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office.

The plan, which represents a major departure from the administration's previous intentions to phase out residence-based advising, will require every living group to have at least one advisor/associate advisor team.

The plan arose out of a Tuesday night meeting to discuss the future of residence-based advising. "We went into the meeting with one set of expectations and left with a different outlook," said Travis R. Merritt, associate dean for student affairs.

Professor of Physics Hale V. D. Bradt and Registrar David S. Wiley were the first to suggest replacing the Institute advisor program, currently a third advising option, with residence-based advising. Institute advising groups a set of students together without regard for their living group or other common experience. Bradt and Wiley are both advisors in the residence-based advising program.

"I'm very grateful to the people at the meeting for suggesting [the new plan] as an option, because I hadn't thought of it as a solution, and in fact, neither had Art [Arthur C. Smith, dean for undergraduate education and student affairs]," Merritt said.

Freshmen will choose several advisor seminars over the summer, as they have done in previous years. Those who do not get into a seminar will be placed with an advisor in their living group. Freshmen who get a place in a seminar will be expected to stay in the seminar, Merritt said. "We don't want people dropping [their seminar] because they've been told to get into residence-based advising."

The number of seminars is expanding, Merritt said. "This year there were 95, and we're hoping for 150 next fall, and we may actually make it."

Merritt said the plan has its difficulties, including the need to find a faculty member or administrator for each of the 43 living groups. "There are good advisors out there, but it's a question of getting them to link up" with a living group, he said. "They will have to be in limbo about how many advisees they have until the Tuesday of rush week," when seminar assignments are made.

Merritt also thought residence-based advising would be difficult to implement in every living group. "I'm not sure the climate [in living groups] is uniformly receptive" to the idea of residence-based advising, he said.

Students currently involved with residence-based advising admitted there could be some difficulties. "I think there could be problems, but if there is leadership in the house willing to present what they can do, to give it a chance, I think it will work," said Kathy E. Howe '93, an associate advisor in Next House.

Howe also said she thought convincing faculty to participate would not be a problem. "It's definitely a better situation for faculty... . I would think they'd welcome the change... . It's so much easier when all your advisees are in the same dorm," she said.