Students Serve Up Pizza, Advice

Peer advice aids first-years in choosing concentrations

Betty Ho

Ted P. Nicolais ’06, left, speaks with Joshua M. Tesoriero ’06, center, and adviser Jeffrey P. Clemens ’05 yesterday at first-year advising night in Lowell House.

Between bites of pizza, seasoned upperclass students taught first-years the ins and outs of concentration choice during the first-ever campus-wide advising night yesterday.

The House Committees (HoCos) and the Undergraduate Council co-hosted the event, which brought together upperclass students and first-years in their newly-assigned Houses.

Advising night fell during the ongoing undergraduate curricular review, which has scrutinized College advising.

Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 wrote in an e-mail that he thought the curricular review would be “bold in its tackling of advising” but that peer advising offered a step in the right direction.

“The idea is that while it would be a one-shot advising event, a concentration advising night has the potential to reach a large segment of the first-year population...I think that it is one additional proactive and complementary method for aiding first-years in their search for the right concentration,” he wrote.

Council representative Matthew J. Glazer ’06 said he felt advising for students “was a problem.”

“Advising night was based off the idea that students need better advising at Harvard, and particularly that peer advising would help out a lot,” said Glazer, who chairs the council’s Student Affairs Committee.

Glazer said that Mahan, along with student representatives from the Committee on Undergraduate Life of the curricular review, had used Lowell House’s “great advising system” to come up with the idea for advising night.

“The U.C. then pitched the idea to the HoCos earlier this spring,” Glazer said. “We recommended that the Masters provide the funds.”

Glazer joined Winthrop House HoCo Co-President Caroline H. Gottesman ’05 in offering concentration advice for students in the Winthrop House dining hall.

Gottesman estimated that 30 first-years came—more than she expected.

“I saw one girl approach the Ec table and introduce herself. When the group asked her what she would concentrate in, she said she had no idea. She then sat down and talked for a half hour or so,” Gottesman said. “I think in general this was a success.”

While some students came seeking concentration advice, others arrived with a choice already in mind.

Vivek G. Ramaswamy ’07 said he came to Kirkland House’s advising night to “get to know freshmen” from Kirkland, already confident that he would concentrate in the biochemical sciences.

“The pizza was also a big reason to come out,” Ramaswamy said, glancing at the empty boxes piled on one table.

Another first-year who lotteried into Kirkland, Susie E. Skoda ’07, said she did not receive concentration advice during advising night, since she was confident she would choose Russian studies.