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Excerpts from the Advising Report


Following are quotations from some of the relevant sections of the Faculty Committee on Educational Policy's report on "Advising in Harvard College," which is reported on page one.

Student-Teacher Ratio

. . . it is obvious that the great increase since the war in the number of our students, both graduate and undergraduate, without a corresponding increase in faculty, has increased the ratio of students to faculty, increased the enrollment in courses, increased the burdens on the faculty and thus diminished the possibility of individual contact between faculty and students on which advising depends.

. . . one quarter of the student body commands a considerable amount of attention from individual members of the faculty; the remaining three quarters got relatively little attention.

. . . (The advising program, however,) compares favorably with the advising programs in many other colleges and universities.

What the Advising Program Should Be

Advising is an important part of the educational process, essential if the student is to obtain maximum benefit from his college experience. Harvard has, in the last sixty years, clearly committed itself to this proposition . . . (But) advising, in a college which emphasizes independence, maturity and self-education, will not be paternalistic.

The College is concerned with the whole person, with the healthy all-round development of its students . . . Thus an effective advising program will be concerned with emotional problems, moral problems, economic problems, personal relationships, and career and vocational problems. The College's competence and responsibility in dealing with these matters, however, are not as great as they are in dealing with specifically academic problems. . . .

The demand for improved advising stems from more than just a need for better advice narrowly defined. It reflects a need for personal relationships with members of the faculty, a need to be known and valued as individuals with unique qualities, not to be anonymous, one of an undifferentiated mass of students. The Houses provide the most favorable environment for meetingx this need. It is central to our whole concept of a good advising system that the need be met.


. . . a relationship characterized mainly by interest in the student's intellectual development, but at the same time sufficiently easy and personal to give the student the feeling of being known and valued by some member of the faculty.

Harvard's Neglected Students

It is in the five largest departments, however, that the major difficulties lie. In 1948-49 almost 60 percent of Harvard upperclassmen concentrated in Economics, English, Government, History and Social Relations . . . To carry this load, the five departments in question have only 32.7 percent of the total faculty manpower . . .

The Recommendations

Each House should have a new officer to be called the Dean of the House, and the present office of Senior Tutor should be eliminated . . .

The House Dean would have decanal powers and responsibilities for the students living in or associated with his House. He would also have the duty of organizing and supervising the advising program in the House and would work with the Master and staff to develop the House to its fullest extent as the principal center of student life within the College.

The arguments for decentralizing the Dean's Office in the manner here proposed are two-fold. First, it would eliminate most of the serious defects . . . which arise from the present Assistant Dean system and the concentration of responsibility for 4300 students in University Hall. Second, it should add significantly to the importance of the Houses and thus contribute to the achievement of the unique kind of Harvard education this report envisages.

Tutorial for All

Individual tutorial instruction for concentrators (in the five largest fields) should be either abolished altogether or drastically curtailed so that not more than five percent of the Honors candidates might receive it in their Junior or Senior years. . . .

For all Sophomore concentrators and for all Juniors and Seniors who did not receive individual tutorial, tutorial instruction would be organized on a group basis. Each tutorial group would ordinarily consist of five students, chosen as far as possible from the same class and the same House and tutored by a member of the House staff. . . .

Benefits of Tutorial

Tutorial instruction, if well done should, in fact, lesson the pressure on many students because of the emotional and educational benefits that it would provide . . . The different kind of experience from that obtained in large lecture courses, the opportunities for individual expression, the personal relationships these should bring satisfactions. that would more than balance the additional hours of work required.

Advice for Freshmen

The committee has considered various alternatives to the present system, but has been unable to find any which would not be open to more serious objections than the present one. . . . The present Freshman advising system (should, therefore) be continued with several changes.

(Changes mentioned have to do with staffing, training, and size of the Freshman Advisory Board, and with the possibility of a non-credit, Freshman orientation course.

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