Students have consistently given poor marks to academic advising at Bowdoin, and with last fall's reaccreditation report finally mirroring the sentiments of disappointed advisees, the College has taken steps toward reforming its academic advising program. With the appointment of advising czar Steven Cornish as the associate dean for curriculum, the administration is looking to replace a hit-or-miss system with one that could offer overwhelmed first years better guidance.
This change has been a long time coming.
As it stands now, first years are paired?and too often, stuck?with their assigned advisers from the first week of Orientation until they declare their major(s) up to two years later. While some students develop good relationships with their pre-major academic advisers and benefit from the insights they can offer on course selection, others find that they become little more than another name on a list and another course registration card to sign.
Almost any change to the academic advising program will be a vast improvement, and the College's preliminary brainstorms represent good forward thinking. The proposed peer advising system would complement the faculty program and add another level of support for new students. Increasing the frequency of student and adviser interactions would strengthen the advisor-advisee relationship, and a student information system would help professors put a face to each course card that passes over their desks.
We commend the College for making strides to revamp the presently weak academic advising system, though we regret that it took a formal reaccreditation report by eight outsiders to motivate Bowdoin officials to fix a system that has dissatisfied students here for years.
Cornish told the Orient he anticipates the College will name an official committee on advising by second semester, which will issue formal recommendations by the end of the academic year. We urge all parties to be thoughtful yet prompt in pushing this process along so that no members of the Class of 2012 slip through the cracks.