Advising Fortnight Provides Freshman Glimpses into Potential Concentrations

English Advising Event
The English Department hosts a"Cupcakes and Soundbites" event during Advising Fortnight. Teaching Fellow A. Joseph McMullen wraps up a two minute discussion on the English Junior Tutorial.

Throughout the past week, freshmen have discussed concentrations over pizza, cupcakes, and sushi as part of Advising Fortnight, a two-week series of over 50 events hosted by different Harvard academic departments across campus.

Advising Fortnight is organized by the Advising Programs Office each year in order to encourage students to learn more about their academic options.

At Tuesday’s open house for Human Evolutionary Biology, sushi and baked goods were served as Dominique N. Kim ’17 and other students spoke with faculty members, advisors, and concentrators. According to one advisor, the spread fit into “humans’ biologically preferred high-fat diet.”

“[Advising Fortnight] puts a face to the department,” Kim said. “You usually just think of it as just this bureaucracy.”

Kim said that she was better able to assess the concentration after interacting with the department’s faculty.

“It’s easy to think, ‘Oh, I can find all this information online,’ but it’s good to see that the professors are interested and excited about what they’re teaching,” she said.

The APO created Advising Fortnight in the wake of the College’s decision to move the deadline to declare a concentration a semester later, to the end of the student's third term. According to Advising Programs Director Glenn R. Magid, the change initially drew faculty concern that students declaring a concentration during their sophomore years would not engage as deeply in them as students who had dome so as freshmen.

“With so much time for students to explore before they were perhaps connecting with departmental advisors to get really critical informationespecially in those fields that really did require advanced thinkingthere needed to be something to close that potential gap,” Magid said.

To remedy the problem, the APO decided to hold Advising Fortnight in the middle of freshmen spring.

Some freshman this year said that they were unsatisfied with the selected dates for Advising Fortnight. Job B. Nyaosi ’17 said that attending events has been difficult for him because it has coincided with some of his midterms.

Others, like Allyson R. Perez ’17, disagreed, though, saying that they were satisfied with its timing.

“[It’s] after Housing Day, after Spring Break, but not quite towards Visitas,” she said. “We’re able to think about our own lives, before we start selling Harvard to other people.”

Magid agreed, adding that freshmen only have so long before they have to decide a concentration.

“This is really meant to be a reminder to students about the enormous decision that they will be making so many months hence at the end of the third term,” Magid said.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at meg.bernhard@thecrimson.com. Follow her on twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at quynhnhu.le@thecrimson.com.

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