Advising Fortnight began on Monday night with a kickoff event in Annenberg Hall. As freshmen sampled finger food and pamphlets filled with concentration requirements, representatives from every academic department at Harvard engaged them in conversations regarding their future studies.
“For the freshmen, this is one-stop shopping,” said William J. Anderson, a human developmental and regenerative biology adviser. “It’s very easy for them to ask a particular question and move onto the next department.”
Over the next two weeks, freshmen will have many opportunities to attend more focused events geared toward helping them choose a concentration next year.
Anderson said that freshmen who have interests in fields without much overlap would be best served by the kickoff event. However, freshmen who were choosing between several closely related concentrations also said they found the concentration fair helpful.
“It’s tough for students who are into social studies or history because they’re so interconnected,” Andrew D. Talbot ’15 said. “Events like this are good to get a better sense of the concentration.”
Freshmen who were set on a concentration had mixed reactions.
“I probably can’t get as much out of this event as most people because I’m already pretty decided,” said Marina Molarsky-Beck ’15, a Crimson magazine comper. She said that she plans to concentrate in history of art and architecture.
But other freshmen who consider themselves mostly decided found a use for the event.
“I’m using this event to explore my secondary options because I don’t know very much about requirements for that,” said Andrew S. Flesher ’15, who has set his sights on a primary concentration in economics.
The event’s large size may have worked to the advantage of small concentrations. Representatives from these departments said that this event gave them a chance to better explain their disciplines to freshmen who otherwise might not seek them out.
“Many seniors come to me and say they wish they had known about hist and sci,” said Alice J. Belser, manager of student programs for the Department of History and Science.
The talks that students had with faculty members at the event did not count to satisfy the required advising conversation that each freshman must document on the Advising Network Portal.
“This is meant to start the conversation,” said Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67. “There are opportunities throughout the week to meet with people in less frenetic settings.”
Deborah D. Foster, head tutor for folklore and mythology and director of undergraduate studies for special concentrations, said that such crucial conversations could not be had in the busy atmosphere of Annenberg.
“I think it’s good for students to actually talk to someone in the department to see what it’s about,” Foster said. “Without that kind of exchange, you’re not going to get the full range of what’s possible.”
—Staff writer Petey E. Menz can be reached at email@example.com.