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A trial balloon floated last month that would shift first-year advising to the Houses appears to be failing.
Associate Dean of the College Jeffrey Wolcowitz, who oversees the curricular review, acknowledged in March that the working group on students’ overall academic experience was tentatively considering the idea of Yale-style housing, which assigns first-years to upperclass Houses before they arrive at Harvard. The proposal would allow students to use those Houses’ advising resources—resident tutors who are graduate students from most of the departments—before actually moving to the House as sophomores.
Responses from professors, however, have been critical.
Assistant Professor of Government and Head Tutor Sharon R. Krause says she is not sure what benefits a change to Yale-style housing would bring. “It seems to me that what students would get through that method is information already easily accessible to them, at least in the case of the government department,” she says, noting that graduate students are already available to advise first-years in the department office.
Lindsley Professor of Psychology and Head Tutor Stephen M. Kosslyn says that in his opinion, linking first-years to the Houses “would put a little more strain on [advising]. But the Houses have got three-quarters of the students already, so adding another quarter on top of that wouldn’t crush the system. A problem is that freshman year, you might want to be advised by more than one concentration, so it might turn out to be a very inefficient use of resources.”
Several House Masters said last month that at least currently, their Houses would not be able to accommodate an influx of first-years.Dean of Freshmen Elizabeth Studley Nathans adds that she does not think that the Houses could cater to all of the first-years’ needs. “There is no way that Houses will ever have a tutor for every concentration,” she says.
Gregory C. Tucci, the assistant director of undergraduate studies for chemistry and chemical biology, who opposes assigning first-years to Houses, suggests an alternative that might accomplish the intended goals of such a shift. “What about hiring more concentration advisers to be in the freshman dorms? You could add graduate tutors, but you could add them to the freshman dorms instead of transferring freshmen to the Houses. You could still have proctors, but they might be in charge of advising about social things if you throw in more specific concentration advisers that would live in the dorms,” Tucci says.
—Staff writer Alan J. Tabak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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