Pride of the Finest

Within the last few weeks, a cloud of post-war penury has filled the University's financial skies. Although this gloom seems to be a necessary evil, the Harvardman's pinched purse has already caused him to take another look at the value of the departmental advising system. The General Education Report has recognized the weaknesses as well as the potentialities of a function loosely designed as the left arm of tutorial, but most of its pregnant recommendations for worthwhile advising have fallen still-born. While the problem has always been an especially difficult one, the present inadequacy of many advisor-advisee relationships cannot be overlooked by a University which has been forced to raise both tuition and rent within the space of a term.

Inveighed most strongly against the present setup is the polar aloofness between advisor and advisee. In theory, the relationship is the ground-breaker for tutorial; it acquaints the student with the broader aspects of his field of concentration through the friendly medium of a personal association. It provides that the advisor's work with his charge shall transcend the signing of a study card, and that he shall attempt to awaken the latter's interest in the educational enterprise, or, finding it awake, pass him along into the tutorial program where he belongs. Where tutorial is too strictly limited, the advisor may assign readings and carry on the work of tutoring within reasonable bounds."

That advising does not correspond to this rosy design is woefully apparent to the student who has received little more than a grunt and a signature from his academic guardian. But even more apparent is the fact that advising cannot be abandoned. The majority of undergraduates needs the stimulation and guidance which good advisors can, and in a few cases do, give. Granting the difficulty various departments face in finding men capable enough to carry out an ideal program, insufficient attention has been given to the appointment and reappointment of advisors. The departments are obligated to their students to see that the part of tuition accruing to advisors is wisely spent. This obligation requires a more detailed survey into a graduate's personality and special ability than a hasty appraisal of his college record. The positions must be made more competitive, either through stressing their honorific aspect, or increasing the stipend when possible. Finally, even the mechanics of advising are needlessly lax. Four 15-minute visits a year can never establish a worthy program. They can barely accomplish the business of course selection.

The responsibility of the various departments is clear enough. The whole system of advising must be brought into line with the new flourishing General Education program. This means more carefully selected advisors, more frequent required conferences with advisees, together with a closer departmental check on the entire program. There can be no place for inefficiency. A Harvard education, dollars-and-conts wise, is more dearly bought today than every before. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences cannot afford to let a loosely-run advisory program cost the undergraduate a substantial share of his education as well.

Recommended Articles