Opinion: To improve advisings, meet more

According to Urban’s curriculum guide, one of the purposes of advising is to encourage students to “turn first to each other for reassurance, assistance and advice.” However, this doesn’t always happen at Urban. The schedule does not permit regular meetings, perpetuating a lack of community and creating fewer opportunities for students to truly bond with their advising peers.

“I think the goals of advising would be better served if we could meet more often,” said Dean of Student Life, Charlotte Worsley.

Coming from a middle school where advising met consistently, transitioning into Urban was difficult. Here, advising typically meets between six and eight times per term, totaling around only eighteen to twenty-four meetings a year. Six of those meetings are dedicated to one-on-one sessions between the student and their advisor to review grades and academics. During those six days, the strengthening of community is put upon the members, either strengthening or diminishing relationships, as there is no one to facilitate a bond.

Based on a survey of 70 random students, over 80% had an advising program in their prior schools and roughly half mentioned being unhappy with the amount of time allotted for advising in our schedule. They found themselves wanting more.  

Adrianne Francisco, my advisor and chair of the history department, noticed similar experiences in her previous schools. Her advisings would have weekly meetings. “It would most likely turn into study halls…but that’s what the students wanted. At my previous school, our advisings were more social based. We talked about academics, but I felt like I had a relationship with them.” Because of this style of advising, she was closer to her advisees, and they were closer to her. 

This opinion is shared amongst students.  In the survey, only 45% of students said they would rank their advisory above a five on a one to ten scale. Alex de la Cruz ‘24 said, “the only drawback is the fact [that] we only meet for such a limited amount of time.” Many irregularities are brewing within this program; some advisories love each other, while others hate each other. At Urban, no advisory is the same.

This inconsistent experience became apparent when I began comparing other advising dynamics with mine. While viewing more cohesive and tight-knit advisings, I simultaneously found myself more likely to go to my grade dean when needing help. Similar to advisors, grade deans are tasked with getting to know students in their grades. The appeal of grade deans, however, is the more interpersonal connection. Meetings with grade deans are consistently personal, whereas with advisings the student has to reach out to get additional one-on-one time. 

“[I] often find students coming to [me] and have to turn them away to their advisor. Advisors are supposed to be the[ir] number one,” said Ricco Siasoco, 11th-grade dean and advisor.  

“I think I enjoy [advisory] more than most. I like the people in my advising, so I don’t really mind it,” said Bella Boshernitsan ‘23. “There needs to be a balance. Forcing a community doesn’t work for everyone.” Boshernitsan says that advisings should try to have more productive and new conversations as well. “There should be a difference between constantly talking about school and constantly talking about different things. It kind of sucks when there isn’t anything new.” 

Regardless of inconsistencies in scheduling or the assortment of people in a group, advising ends up becoming what you make of it. There is no one advising experience at Urban, and this unique quality isn’t going to change if there are more meetings for advisory. “There are people that love [advising] and there are people that hate it. It’s different for everyone, and that’s kind of the point,” Boshernitsan said.