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Superhero Capes and Conversation Launch Advising Fortnight

By Jonathan G. Adler, Crimson Staff Writer

Eschewing their everyday identities as mild-mannered advisers, members of the Advising Programs Office donned bright-red capes at the kickoff event for this year’s superhero-themed Advising Fortnight in a packed Annenberg Hall on Monday.

Advising Fortnight is a two-week period during the spring when freshmen must engage in mandatory conversations about the fields of study they are considering. It was created in the wake of a 2006 vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that moved the declaration deadline for concentrations from freshman spring to sophomore fall, according to APO Director Glenn R. Magid, who was himself decked out in a red cape at the Annenberg event.

“The faculty recognized that there was a real need for a touchpoint in the freshman spring for students to be connecting with departmental advisers to have more in-depth conversations about their concentration choice,” Magid said.

These conversations, along with the Harvard experience itself, are intended to bring out different sides of people’s academic interests, Magid said, which was part of the inspiration for this year’s superhero theme.

“Dean [of the College Rakesh] Khurana speaks often and very eloquently about the transformative mission of Harvard College,” Magid said. “We in the [advising] office were playing with that idea and coming up with variations on the theme of transformation, and it was one of our very creative department administrators who struck on this idea of the superhero transformation.”

Khurana himself was present at the event—though missing a cape—and offered advice to passing freshmen as they perused tables staffed by concentrators and faculty members from the College’s 49 concentrations.

“I know concentration declaration can feel so heavy, but it’s not a tattoo. It’s actually just the beginning of an exploration of interests,” Khurana said.

Khurana went on to say that he hoped freshmen would begin their Advising Fortnights with an open mind to a variety of academic pursuits.

“I hope everybody approaches this with what the Buddhists call the beginner’s mind,” Khurana said. “Seeing everything anew, thinking about where their motivations are.”

Students like Andrew J. Jiang ’19, however, were not so willing to consider alternatives to the concentrations that they already had in mind.

“I’m pretty set on Economics,” Jiang said. “Today I just checked out the booth to get some more information about the concentration.”

Other students like Maxwell N. Benegas ’19 were much less sure of what they wanted.

“I’m just really unsure of what I want to concentrate in, so I’m trying to get a feel for a bunch of different concentrations,” Benegas said. “I picked five or 10 that I might be interested in, and I’m going to talk to the advisers and see what they have to say.”

–Staff writer Jonathan G. Adler can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JonathanGAdler.

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